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Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Zechariah

Zechariah 13 Commentary

Zechariah 13 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Zechariah

 
 
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Let’s turn our attention to Zechariah 13.

Last time we heard about the Jews at the end of the Tribulation looking upon their pierced Messiah – Jesus Christ, whom they had pierced and rejected. And we heard how they were all going to mourn and lament their treatment of him.

And so, chapter 13 is following-up on those events. So, let’s read Zechariah 13 and then attempt to explain the details.

{Read Zec 13…}

Zechariah 13 Commentary Cleansing for Jews

So, after all of the mourning that we heard about in chapter 12 with all the families of Israel mourning their pierced Messiah, the reality of verse 1 will materialize.

KJV Zechariah 13:1 ¶ {In/On} that day there shall be a fountain opened {to/for} the house of David and {to/for} the inhabitants of Jerusalem {for/to cleanse them from} sin and for {uncleanness/impurity}.

So, the order of events presented to us in chapters 12 and 13 so far is this – Jesus returns and delivers the Jews from their enemies that have surrounded them to destroy them. Then the Jews look on him whom they’ve pierced, and they mourn for the way they treated him. And now, we see in verse 1 of chapter 13 that a fountain as it were is opened to them to cleanse them from their sin.

Now, the Scripture does teach us that in the Millennium there will be a river of water flowing from Jesus’ throne in Jerusalem east toward what is called today the Dead Sea.

But I’m uncertain as to whether that’s the same thing as this fountain mentioned here.

If this fountain in Zechariah 13 is the same thing as the River that flows from the Messiah’s throne in Jerusalem, then I suppose we are being told that at the end of the Tribulation there will be this literal physical river that can somehow result in the cleansing of these Jews from their sins.

But I’m a little uncertain as to whether the Lord is really going to use a literal fountain of water to cleanse his people of their sin. He does that nowadays through our believing in Christ. He promises to cleanse us from our sin as we confess them to him. So, is he all of a sudden going to change his approach in the last days and allow people to be cleanse of their spiritual sins by dipping themselves into a physical fountain?

The other possibility is that this is a metaphorical fountain. So, when the Lord here speaks of opening a fountain for the cleansing of the Jews’ sin, he’s speaking of his forgiving them as they receive his son as if he were plunging them into a cleansing fountain. Just like going into a fountain of water cleanses the skin of dirt, God is saying that he is going to cleanse the souls of the Jews as if he were putting them into a fountain of water. I think this is more likely what the Lord is promising – not a literal fountain in the last days, but total forgiveness of sins, the effect of which mirrors on a spiritual level the cleansing benefits of a fountain of water.

So, once these Jews receive their pierced Messiah and demonstrate their faith in him by mourning for the way they treated him – the Lord will forgive their sins. He will cleanse them spiritually just like a fountain pouring out fresh water would do for a person’s body.

Zechariah 13 Commentary God will Remove Idolatry

And with past sins cleansed and forgiven, the Lord will begin to remove the sources of sin from the land of Israel after Jesus returns to earth to set up his Millennial kingdom.

2 ¶ And it shall come to pass in that day,

{saith/declares} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty},

that I will {cut off/remove/banish/utterly destroy} the names of the idols {out of/from} the land, and they shall {no more/never again} be remembered:

{and also/Moreover} I will {cause/remove} the {prophets/false prophets} and the {unclean spirit/spirit of impurity} {to pass out of/from} the land.

So, idols and false prophets will be done away with. Things – other than God – that demand people’s worship, and the unscrupulous seemingly-religious folks who advocate that kind of worship will be a thing of the past when Jesus returns to setup his kingdom.

Zechariah 13 Commentary The People Will Cooperate

And of course, the Lord has always forbidden these practices. But people generally wouldn’t cooperate. In fact, numerous kings of Israel would try their hardest to get rid of idolatry and false prophets. But they would always return. Why? Because people want idolatry and religious teachers who speak falsehood!

But things are going to be different when Jesus returns to reign. His people – all of them – will reject idolatry and false teaching, according to verse 3.

3 {And/Then} {it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy,/if anyone still prophesies/if anyone prophesies in spite of this} then his father and his mother {that begat him/who gave birth to him/to whom he was born} shall say unto him,

Thou {shalt/can} not live; for thou {speakest lies/have spoken falsely/lie} in the name of the LORD:

{and/then} his father and his mother {that begat/who gave birth to} him {shall thrust/will pierce/will with a sword run} him through {i.e., pierce…12.10} when he {prophesieth/prophesies}.

So, people in the Millennial kingdom will be so much in agreement with the Lord’s directives and desires that even parents will not tolerate idolatrous behavior from their own children. In fact, they will be so serious about obeying the Lord and so opposed to the dangerous practices of idolatry and false religion that they will take actions that will be sanctioned by the Lord in those days to even end the life of the one who would dare to attempt idolatrous prophesying.

Zechariah 13 Commentary Shame for False Prophets

And because of this cold reception that idolatry and false prophesying will receive in the Millennial kingdom, false prophets will be ashamed of themselves. Whereas they run rampant in our day and deceive numerous people, these false teachers will attempt to hide their true nature, according to verses 4-6.

4 {And it shall come to pass in/Therefore, on} that day, {that the prophets/each prophet} {shall be ashamed every one/will each be ashamed/will be ashamed} of his vision, when he {hath prophesied/prophesies};

{neither shall they/and they will not} {wear a rough garment/put on a hairy robe in order/a prophet’s garment of hair in order to} to deceive:

So, the false prophet might think-up some false prophesy in his mind, but when Jesus returns to rule that false prophet is going to keep his mouth shut on that matter.

In times past a practice of prophets would apparently be to put on a robe made of hair in order to indicate that he was a prophet. And false prophets – who would have wanted to trick people into believing that they were true prophets of the Lord – they would wear this clothing as well. But the Lord states that when his Son is reigning in Jerusalem on earth for a thousand years that these false prophets will not even attempt to look like a true prophet. They won’t put on the typical prophet’s attire.

Instead, any person who might be inclined to give false prophesies will try to hide their identity. They’ll pretend to be something else – a farmer perhaps, according to verse 5.

5 {But/Instead} he {shall/will} say,

I am {no/not a} prophet,

I am {an husbandman/a tiller of the ground/a farmer};

for {man/a man} {taught me to keep cattle/sold me as a slave/made me his indentured servant} {from/in/since} my youth.

So, the Lord gives this almost-humorous picture of how false prophets will behave in the Millennium. They will attempt to hide what they had done or were inclined to do.

And so, we have this interesting confession of a false prophet in the Millennium. He declares that he is not a prophet but rather he’s a farmer. He then continues to elaborate on his story, claiming either that someone taught him how to take care of cattle or that someone sold him as a slave when he was a child.

And this behavior of this false prophet is so contrary to how such people have behaved in the past and do behave even now. False prophets – those who speak lies in God’s name – are usually not ashamed at all of their behavior. It makes them a lot of money. It brings them a lot of fame and notoriety. What’s to be ashamed of?

Well, when Jesus returns these people will fear for their life because they are disobeying God’s orders and Jesus is there to execute swift justice. And so, these people will be forced to make up stories about themselves and their sordid pasts.

Currently these people make up stories about God. But in the Millennium they will make up stores about themselves.

But people are going to be fairly astute in those days – unlike those in our day who blindly accept what false prophets tell them. And Millennial folks are going to ask some questions of these people, according to verse 6.

6 {And/Then/If}{one shall say unto/someone will ask/someone asks} him,

What are these wounds {in thine hands/between your arms/on your chest/on your body}?

Then he shall answer,

{Those with which/Some that} I {was wounded/received} in the house of my friends.

Now, we see elsewhere in Scripture that one practice of false prophets was to cut themselves. Think of the incident with Elijah and the prophets of Baal. They were cutting themselves quite a bit. And as a result, they had some scars or wound marks.

Well, the discerning folks of the Millennium are going to see those – wherever they might be – on their hands or arms or chest or their body in general – and they are going to ask about those.

And it seems like this whole discourse between the false prophet and these unidentified people in verses 5 and 6 has been a context of their questioning and even interrogating this false prophet. And so, the people are examining to determine whether there’s any guilt on the part of this man and so he’s lying and trying to cover-up his old profession or his secret hidden lifestyle of speaking lies in the Lord’s name.

So, his excuse for the wounds on his body is that his buddies injured him. He isn’t involved in cutting himself as part of a perverse inclination to prophesy falsely. No, indeed, his buddies did this to him. Maybe they were wrestling around and things got out of hand and some cuts and scars ensued. Yeah, that’s what happened… ;)

At any rate, the difference between now and then is noticeable. Now and since the beginning of the world after the fall of Adam falsely speaking in the Lord’s name happens. It’s common. And in numerous cases, there is no repercussion to these false prophets.

But things are going to change when Jesus returns. Idolatry and false prophesy will be things of the past.

Zechariah 13 Commentary The Sword, the Shepherd, & the Sheep

Well, some things needed to happen before idolatry and false prophesy pass away – before Jesus returns and stops false religion. In particular, Jesus – the Good Shepherd – needed to be struck, according to verse 7.

7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,

and against the man {that is my fellow/My Associate/who is my associate/who is close to me},

{saith/declares} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}:

{smite/Strike} the shepherd, {and/that} the {sheep/flock} {shall/may} be scattered:

and I will turn mine hand {upon/against} the {little/insignificant} ones.

Notice who is commanded to do what here. The Lord is commanding a sword – an instrument of death – to do something. The instrument of death is supposed to awake and take action against a man – against the Lord’s fellow or associate or one who is close to him. This man is further revealed to be “the shepherd.”

And both Matthew (26:31) and Mark (14:27) record this prophecy on the lips of Jesus Christ. And he’s speaking of himself as the shepherd of Zechariah 13:7 who is struck. Jesus says that this is why the disciples would flee from him on the night of his betrayal and trials.

And so, that’s the result that both Jesus and Zechariah are pointing to. If you strike a shepherd, the sheep will scatter.

So, this happened with the disciples. The Lord struck Jesus and the sheep scattered.

And in a sense, this is what has happened to Israel. A few decades after the Lord struck Jesus – and raised him up again – the nation of Israel was scattered by the Romans. They’re still somewhat scattered, though they’re gradually returning. But they have no shepherd. They will seek for one and receive the Anti-Christ before Jesus the true and good Shepherd returns for them.

But the Lord predicted this scattering. And he says that he will turn his hand upon the little or insignificant ones. I think that’s probably a reference to the Jews who did not receive Jesus.

Zechariah 13 Commentary Fractional Salvation

Now, and it’s at this point in the text where the Lord finishes this chapter talking about a kind of “fractional salvation” in verses 8 and 9.

8 {And it shall come to pass, that/It will happen}in all the land,

saith the LORD,

two {parts/thirds of the people} {therein/in it} {shall/will} be {cut off/struck down} and {die/perish};

but {the/one} third shall be left {therein/in it}.

So, two-thirds of the people in the land of Israel in the Tribulation – as I interpret this – will die. And that means that one-third of the Jewish people will survive to the end of the Tribulation.

Well, what happens to that one-third that survives? Verse 9.

9 And I will bring the {third part/remaining third/this third} {through/into} the fire,

and will refine them {as/like} silver is refined,

and {will try/test} them {as/like} gold is {tried/tested}:

they {shall/will} call on my name,

and I will {hear/answer} them:

I will say,

{It is/They are/These are}my people:

and they {shall/will} say,

The LORD is {my/our} God.

So, the third of the Jews whom God will deliver at the end of the Tribulation will have a special close relationship to their God whom they had rejected for a long time.

They will look on him whom they’ve pierced – Jesus their Messiah. They’ll mourn for him. They’ll receive him. And Jesus will be their God and they will be his people.

And we non-Jewish Gentiles thank the Lord for sending his Son the Messiah – not just for the Jews – but for those whom he has chosen from every tribe and people and race – so that we too can say with the Jew at the end of the Tribulation, “The LORD is my God.”

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