The subject matter of chapter 13 is well defined in the first two verse. We are using the ESV this time. It is more inclusive and understandable than are some other translations.
Zechariah 13:1,2 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
“And on that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the *idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness.
*Idols: hinderances blocking our fellowship and commitment to God alone.
We again read the identifying words of “on that Day”. Our previous chapter article comments have defined the meaning of On That Day as the coming of Christ. At minimum the conclusion of the 7-year tribulation in not only Israel but the world i.e. Daniel’s 70th week as found in Daniel 9. Chapter 9 begins with Daniel praying for Israel, acknowledging the nation’s sins against God, and asking for God’s mercy. As Daniel prayed, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and gave him a vision of Israel’s future. [cf. see our ahabiblemoments commentary on Daniel 9 then continue below]
The future to which Daniel is directed by the angel Gabriel is spelled out in the Book of Zechariah. Verse 1 and 2 are multiple and incredibly significant events.
- On that day…not a traditional 24-hour day, but the turning point in God’s plans for his creation. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” [Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2] now begins.
- A cleansing fountain is opened (in Israel)
- This cleansing includes the mind, memories, bad deeds, wrongful hearts, false intentions of those surviving members of God’s chosen people of Israel. The seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- To whom? The House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem
- The church of the Gentile age is not even hinted
- Do not spiritualize what is not there. The First Church of anything is NOT mentioned including the Papal Roman church and global denominational branches
- Cut off the names of idols
- This is major. Distractors will no longer be remembered by those being cleansed by the “fountain” in Israel. A totally clean memory of God alone will be on minds.
- As we will find out at the end of this chapter, 2/3rds of Israeli life is gone. Only 1/3rd remains. They receive a second chance of salvation entering the Millennial Reign.
- This is God speaking through Zechariah about THAT DAY that begins the transition of this world to the Kingdom of God with Jesus on the throne. It is not a traditional 24-hour period but a beginning of a new time, a new age, a new world rule. ”Thy kingdom [IS] come”.
- Idol worship will be cut off. The names or memories of any god other than Jehovah-God will no longer be on the minds of Israelites.
- Removal of distractors and deception in Jerusalem and Israel.
- David Guzik says it well: “Idolatry and false prophecy were the two principle ways Israel was led astray from God. God not only provides a fountain to cleanse, but He also promises to cut off the source of uncleanness – in this case, idolatry and false prophecy.”
- This includes any type of substitute or distractor that impeded worship of God by man.
All of this is packed into the first just two verses of Zechariah 13. A study in and of itself.
Verse 3 needs a bit of insight. We read that the sons of some will be “thrust through by their own parents” for continuing to prophecy in this land of Israel. The sons will know (yadda) that they are false prophets seeking recognition in that land by their appearance including the wearing the traditional animal skin clothing. The Hebrew word for through is dâqar. It can mean to be fed no longer, tossed out, starved, reviled [Strong 1856]. We should not automatically think it as thrust with a spear, knife, or sword. We must also allow for it. It will be like a parent disowning a child. ”You are no longer our son” is the interpretation of strongest value.
Zechariah 13:4,5 offer additional consideration to the above dâqar. They must still be among the living to deny their being prophets, claiming to be mere farmers, to be shamed by others including themselves, etc. Verse 6 gives us additional understanding of the corner into which these “sons” have painted themselves. It was a tradition in bible times and in the dark ages of the Catholic Church [and other religious groups] up to today, to validate their honesty and chastity by wounding themselves with whips, knives, or devises to leave bodily wounds visible to others in hopes of being held in awe for their sincerity. These wounds are thought to somehow increase their viewed honesty of intent. This is false pretentiousness. These “sons” who will claim to be farmers, not prophets, would have callused hands, not bleeding hands. They will also lack the dark tans and rough skin of active farmers.
V6: “Wounds from the home of a friend.” When a false prophet wanted to make an example or public statement of his predictions or prophecies, he would wound himself while taking a vow in the name of God for his truthfulness. Recall the prophets of Baal and Elijah [I Kings 16]. Between verse 5 and verse 6 of Zechariah 13 we find this false prophet being caught changing his story. In v5 he claims to be a farmer. In v6 he claims to have provided evidence to a friend of his prophetic sincerity. One should consider that this is the basic meaning of taking the Lord’s name in vain, i.e. to prophecy or make false claims using God’s name as a witness to his prophesying truthfulness by making a vow. He may also be claiming to have had a fallout with a friend and received his wounds from a fight at his friend’s house.
Zechariah 13:7 changes the focus. Now Zechariah isolates his discussion to the false shepherds of the flocks in Israeli towns and villages. That is, the people (flocks) over whom s/he has authority but do not have their interests at heart. Commentaries are divided over this verse. Some see it as the cross and crucifixion of Jesus some 600 years later. Some see it as the continued scattering of the Tribes of Israel to the four corners of the earth with or without provocation. But Zechariah is talking to those who returned from Babylonian captivity. This is long after the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were scattered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The Babylonian remnant to whom Zechariah is prophesying will later be dispersed by Alexander the Great (Greek) and the Romans. However, Zechariah is discussing a time 2,000 or so years later “On the Day” at the end of the Tribulation yet to come.
Zechariah 13:8 is another controversial verse or prophecy. It is best to take this verse just how it is presented. Two-thirds of those living in Israel (Jerusalem) will die at the hands of their enemy. One third will survive. The answer to this dilemma is in a question itself. What will it take for the stubborn Israelites to accept the Messiah who their descendants will crucify? It will demand that they be put into an impossible situation of which there is no escape. Any intervention will need to be from God. They will know it and no longer deny him. This is the summation and the beginning of every verse that says “in or on that day” statement throughout the entire Book of Zechariah. His prophesies mark the end of the way it was and the beginning of the way it will be during the Millennial Reign. The Messiah Jesus will finally be recognized and accepted as their King on the Throne of David. Jesus is in the DNA line of David, a Judean from the Tribe of Judah.
This slaughter of 2/3rds of Israelis in Israel will be at the hands of all nations aligned against then. Those who have since the establishment of Israel have been the thorn-in-the-side of the world, particularly against *Satan since King David made Jerusalem his home and capital city of Israel. This takes us back to Zechariah 12:3 keeping us within the context of who is being discussed and prophesied about by Zechariah. The church of believers is no longer on earth. They had been raptured but return with Christ in the clouds to rule and judge alongside of him.
*This issue between man and Satan goes back to Genesis 3:15. “And I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman [Israel; God’s chosen], and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” [KJV]
What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
(Bill and Gloria Gaither)
Rev Dr. Jstark