Zechariah 13:1-2 – Zechariah 12 described the day when Israel will turn to the Lord. This chapter describes her cleansing. When Israel as a nation finally looks on her Messiah and recognizes who He is, a fountain will open to her to provide forgiveness and cleansing.
Israel’s problem has been sin. The sin that brought her into captivity was idolatry. The resolution to her problem is couched in terms of what faced the Jews of Zechariah’s day.
The fountain of Zechariah 13:1 covers two areas cleansing “for sin and impurity.” The sin of putting other gods before the Lord this could very well refer to the sins that resulted from idolatry and sexual sins. This verse shows that forgiveness will be open to the nation. God despises idolatry. He removed the Shekinah glory from Solomon’s Temple when idol worship moved in. He removed Israel and Judah from the land because of rampant idolatry in the land.
In a sense Israel learned her lesson about idol worship through the Babylonian captivity. The worship and making of graven images is not a problem among Jewish people, however other forms of more subtle idolatry is. Anything that comes before the will of God in our lives is idolatry. But in Zechariah 13:2 all the name of idolatry will be removed. God will remove the idols not only from the land but from people’s memories as well. Furthermore, the false prophets who led them in idolatry will be gone, as well as the “unclean spirit,” the demonic agents behind the idols.
Zechariah 13:3-6 Should any false prophecy break out in that future day, public opinion will be so strong against it that even the false prophet’s own parents will not tolerate it. To speak “lies in the name of the Lord” will be a most reprehensible distortion of revelation and of God’s character. Instinctively, the false prophet’s parents “shall thrust him through when he prophesies” (Zechariah 13:3d). This is the same penalty as Deuteronomy 13:5,18:20.
What is unusual here is that the parents carry it out, not the judges or the community under the judges’ instruction. The verb “to pierce” is the same verb that appeared in Zechariah 12:10 and that describes Phinehas’ action in Numbers 25:7-8. The result is that false prophets will be much more hesitant to announce “a vision.”
This is a significant change from the false prophets’ of yesterday and today. Evil will be on the defensive not as the God’s people were and are today. In Zechariah’s day prophets wore coarse hair garments as a symbol of their prophetic office (2 Kings 1:8) but in the future they will not do that for fear of being challenged by God’s people so that they will not be able to deceive others. False prophets will claim that they have been farmers and herdsmen since they were young (Zechariah 13:5).
It is an awesome responsibility to deliver the Word of God. Toying with it, distorting it, or twisting it to fit some agenda other than the will of God in the and through the Spirit of God is extremely serious, since it involves the lives of other people. There are serious consequences for distorting God’s Word. The wounds of Zechariah 13:6 could refer to self-mutilation practiced by prophets as part of their rituals. When questioned they will say “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
Another very good possibility is that this might be a reference to the prophet who was to come, the Messiah Yeshua. The wounds in his hands would refer to the wounds He suffered on the cross. His own friend, Judas, had betrayed Him, and His own people had turned their backs on Him, rejecting Him as their Messiah. Nails were driven into His hands and feet, and a Roman spear was thrust into His side. He was wounded in the house of His friends.
Zechariah 13:7– calls the shepherd “My Shepherd,” and the “one who stands next to me” This Shepherd is One who is side by side with, or the equal of, the Lord! The equality that such a relationship brings to mind is the equality with God claimed by Yeshua in John 10:30,14:9.
The sword is told, “Strike the Shepherd”. This lines us with what Isaiah taught: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10). Thus Yeshua was delivered up in the plan of God, although it was men who did it and they are held accountable for what they did (Acts 2:23).
As a result of the Shepherd’s death, the sheep were scattered. This is an accurate description of what happened to the disciples—the sheep—after the crucifixion of Jesus. With their leader dead, they lost all hope. They believed that the earthly kingdom they had anticipated would never come. With no hope, no leadership, and nowhere to go, the disciples began to scatter.
Zechariah 13:8-9 Here is the stunning prophecy regarding Israel’s judgment in the last days, 2/3 of the Jewish people will be cut off and die. 1/3 of the Jewish population perished in the holocaust but in that day 2/3 will perish. The remaining 1/3 will be brought through that great affliction. They will be like brands plucked from the fire (Malachi 3:3). It is in the furnace that impurity is removed from God’s people if they will call upon Him.
This is exactly what the remaining 1/3 will do. And the Lord has promised to answer them when they call. Each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God’ ” (Zechariah 13:9). Only then will the first part of the three part formula of God’s ancient promise and plan for His people be re-instituted: “I will be your God, You shall be My people, and I will dwell in the midst of you” (Hosea 2:23;Ezekiel 36:23,27-28). In that day, as Paul saw, “All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26-7).