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The fountain of purgation for Jerusalem from idolatry, and false prophesy. The death of Christ, and the trial of a third part.
Before Christ 517.
Zechariah 13:1. A fountain opened—for sin and for uncleanness— The blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all sin, (1 John 1:7.) is manifestly here intended, the Jews being, upon their repentance and conversion, to be admitted to all the privileges of the Christian covenant. The Hebrew words
חטאת chattath and נדה niddah, which we translate sin and uncleanness, are legal terms; the former denotes sin generally, or any transgression of the law which required atonement, and is sometimes put for the means of purification from it, Numbers 9:17.; the latter is used for that uncleanness, or legal defilement, which secluded a man from all intercourse with holy things. Now whatever efficacy the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on the unclean, had to purify from legal sin and defilement, the same is ascribed to the blood of Christ in the Christian dispensation, for purging the conscience of a sinner from the guilt of dead works, or all moral pollution. Hebrews 9:13-14.
Zechariah 13:2. Idols— It has been urged, in proof that this prophesy was uttered before the Babylonish captivity, that idolatry and groundless pretensions to prophesy were common among the Jews at that time; which has not been the case since. But this argument proves nothing; for, supposing the Jews themselves to remain untainted with those corruptions, it surely will not be denied, that they do and may still prevail among other nations, who may be included in the term הארצ haarets, taken in its most general sense, the earth; and so I conceive it should be; for we are taught to expect that the conversion of the Jews will be followed by a farther reformation of the world, Rom 11:15 and that the time will come, when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ;" Rev 11:15 and "the beast," the emblem of idolatry, "and with him the false prophet, shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone," Revelation 19:20.
Zechariah 13:3. Thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord— We may collect from these words, that those prophets only were to be exterminated who would be esteemed prophets of the true religion, as the most dangerous and abominable of any when they prophesied lies in the name of Jehovah, and under the pretext of being the servants of the true God. Zechariah here continues manifestly to refer to the times of the future restoration of the Jews.
Zechariah 13:6. These wounds— Two ancient usages are clearly alluded to here; the one, that of the idolatrous priests and prophets, who sought to engage the attention and favour of their deity by cutting and slashing themselves, as the priests of Baal did, 1 Kings 18:28.; the other, that of those who cut themselves as a token of their grief and mourning for their deceased relations and friends. It appears also from Jer 48:37 that these cuttings were performed on the hands in particular. When therefore the man, now ashamed of his pretensions to prophesy, came to be challenged for those fears which were visible on his hands, he would deny them to have proceeded from any idolatrous cause; but would have them thought to be marks left by those wounds which he gave himself in the house of his relations and friends, in the paroxysms of his grief for the loss of them.
Zechariah 13:7-9. Awake, O sword, &c.— The prophet here begins a prophesy concerning the suffering of Christ, and the rising church of Christians. St. Matthew, Mat 26:31 assures us, that these words were spoken of Christ. Instead of smite, Houbigant reads, I will smite, conformably to the last clause; but I will turn, or bring back my hand upon the little ones: that is, upon that third part of the people, which was to be tried as gold in the furnace. The third part of the people is that part who call on the name of the Lord, Zec 13:9 whence it is rightly collected, that the two other parts of the Jewish nation which were to perish, were those Jews who received not the Gospel, and who were slain by the Romans: for it is said of the third part, they shall call on my name, in opposition to the two parts, Zechariah 13:8. But of that third, many Jews who had embraced the Gospel, apostatized: so that the number of Jews who continued in the faith of the Gospel was comparatively very small, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles. See Houbigant. Dr. Sharpe observes upon these verses, that the shepherd called the fellow of God, was to be smitten; the sheep were to be scattered; two parts of all that inhabited the land were to be cut off and die; a third only would be left, which was to be brought through the fire, refined as silver, and tried as gold. Then it follows, Zechariah 13:9. They shall call, &c. The like events happened under the Gospel. The shepherd was smitten, the sheep were scattered; they were to endure several trials, and their faith was to be more precious than gold tried with fire. To the Jews our Saviour said, Behold, your house is left unto you desolate; and, verily, I say unto you, ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Our Saviour here foretels the desolation and destruction of Jerusalem; and instead of comforting the Jews, with the prospect of a third temple, and the restoration of bloody sacrifices in some future age or advent of the Messiah, he expressly declares that they shall see him no more, till they shall acknowledge him by saying, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. See Dr. Sharpe's Second Argument, p. 356.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The subject of the former chapter is here continued, and the great blessings arising from the Gospel of Jesus are set forth.
1. The guilt of sin shall be done away through his atoning blood. In that day of the crucifixion of Jesus, there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to all sinners of every rank and degree, for sin and for uncleanness; for all need this cleansing, being defiled with guilt, and by mere nature altogether as an unclean thing before the God of purity; nor can any thing wash out the stains but this fountain opened, where there is all fulness of merit, and to which all are freely invited, that they may wash and be clean. They who neglect so great a salvation, ignorant of their pollution; or too proud, like Naaman, to stoop to this humbling method of salvation; must perish in their sins.
2. Idolatry shall be rooted out, and the names of their idols be never again mentioned as objects of worship: which was the case with the Jews after their return from captivity. But the promise seems to look farther; namely, to the destruction of the idols of paganism, which fell before the Gospel; and to the rooting out of the image-worship that remains in the antichristian church.
3. The false prophets shall deceive no more. I will cause the prophets, and the unclean spirit by which they were actuated, to pass out of the land; so that when any pretender to prophesy shall arise, his nearest relatives, Deuteronomy 13:6; Deu 13:11 shall seize, accuse, and execute judgment upon him; yea, so ashamed shall they themselves be of their former pretensions, that they shall strip off the rough garments which they had worn out of seeming sanctity and austerity, and say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman, and from my youth was bred to this occupation, unwilling to own that he was ever engaged in any other; and when questioned concerning the wounds in his hands, he will reply, to evade the truth, that they were wounds received in the house of his friends, not as the rebuke for assuming the prophetical character, as they really were, but as inflicted on himself through excessive grief on the death of his relations or friends. Note; (1.) Our dearest relations, who would turn us away from God, must be looked upon with abhorrence. (2.) Pretenders to godliness will sooner or later be detected; the demure look and rough garment of the hypocrite will not always deceive.
Some suppose that the sixth verse refers to Christ, upbraided by the Jews as a false prophet; and from the wounds in his hands they suggest that he suffered justly as a deceiver. To which he replies, that he was so treated indeed among those who should have been his friends; but that the wounds were not for any crime that he had done, but in consequence of the satisfaction which he had undertaken to make to divine justice as the Saviour of mankind; as is implied in the following verse.
2nd, That the Messiah should be cut off, was before prophesied: we have in the latter part of this chapter the execution of that sacred purpose of divine love.
1. God the Father commissions the sword of justice to pierce the Redeemer: Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, even against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts. In essential dignity he was God's fellow, and counted it no robbery to be equal with God; in office he was God's shepherd, appointed to be the great covenant-head of his faithful flock, who should lay down his life for the sins of the world. This sword our sins had provoked: it had long slumbered; but now awakes against the Son of God, since upon him are laid the iniquities of us all: he who bears our sins must carry our sorrows.
2. The sheep hereupon are scattered. Which the great shepherd himself quotes, Mat 26:31 as fulfilled on that dismal night when he was apprehended, and all his disciples forsook him and fled. But he promises, I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. They were now like children, timorous, affrighted, and weak; but soon returned in grief and true repentance, and were then endued with power from on high; so that they went forth bold champions in their master's cause; and God mightily supported them, and gave them wonderful success in their labours.
3. The impenitent Jews shall perish, but some will penitently return, two parts being cut off during their war with the Romans. A third shall escape, as through the fire, getting out of Jerusalem to Pella before the Romans formed the siege: and these, refined in the furnace of affliction, returning in true repentance, and proving faithful, will be a people for God, calling upon his name, and answered in all their requests; he will own the relation that they claim to him as their God, and give them every blessing which they can ask or need. Some refer this to the world and church in general, one third of which, they suppose, will scarcely be found faithful amid the far more numerous herd of professors, the hypocrites, formalists, and self-righteous. Note; (1.) Those who are saved, are in general first refined in the furnace of affliction. They who were never more or less thus exercised, have reason to fear that they are bastards, and not sons. (2.) They are gracious troubles which serve to purge us from the remaining dross of corruption. (3.) The people of God are all ceaseless in prayer; and they find the blessedness of being so employed, in the answers of grace and peace which he bestows. (4.) They who have taken the Lord for their God, will never have cause to repent of their choice.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Zechariah 13". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany