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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 13

 

 

Verses 1-9

Results in Great Blessing

(vv. 1-4)

Zechariah 13:1-9 is directly connected with what went before in Zechariah 12:1-14. Judah's repentance will find a wonderful restoring answer on the part of God. The fountain opened for the house of David in that day (v.1) will be the same fountain that was opened at Calvary, but never before acknowledged by the Jews. Only when they realize their sinfulness and uncleanness will they truly appreciate God's means of cleansing it away.

As to judicial cleansing from sins in the eyes of God, it is "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son" that "cleanses from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Judah then will realize the value of that blood shed at Calvary and find peace by virtue of this. But the fountain is not a fountain of blood, but of water. This implies, not judicial cleansing, but moral cleansing. The water of the Word of God (cf. Ephesians 5:25-26) will have wonderful effect in cleansing away the very attitude of disobedience on the part of the Jews. They will be cleansed before God from their guilt, and will be cleansed in character by their reception of the Word of God which has wonderful power to purge away their unclean habits. The Hebrew word opened has a continuing force, that is, the Word of God will continue to have precious effect in their lives from that time onward.

There also will be a cleansing of the promised land (v. 2). The Lord of hosts will sovereignly work to completely purge even the names of idols out of the land: their very memory will perish. The false prophets, energized by unclean spirits, will no longer have any place. In fact, prophecy will not be required at all, and anyone who attempts to pass as a prophet will be manifestly false. When one does this, the person's closest relatives are instructed to declare him false and be the first to pierce him through in solemn judgment. This illustrates the fact that not every individual who enters the millennium of blessing on earth will be born again, but the judgment of rebellious acts will be swift and decisive. Compare Isaiah 65:20 which teaches that if one dies at 100 years of age, he will be still virtually a child in age, and will die only under a curse because of his own sin.

Isaiah 65:20 reminds us of Deuteronomy 13:6-10 which speaks of anyone (either brother, son, daughter, wife or friend) enticing others to serve other gods. That person was to be killed. Thus, in the Millennium, if anyone prophesies, it will not be God who has sent him; therefore, the underlying motive will be to turn people to false gods.

When the millennial kingdom is introduced, false prophets will be ashamed of their visions, knowing full well they are guilty of deception, and they will no longer wear a hairy mantle to deceive people into believing them (v. 4). Elijah and John the Baptist wore such garments, but this was in accord with the stern self-judgment that characterized them, and of their genuine mourning over the condition of the people to whom they prophesied. Prophecy was generally given because of a poor state among the people, but prophecy and mourning will be out of place when the Lord Jesus introduces the thousand years of peace.

NOT A PROPHET, BUT THE TRUE SERVANT

(vv. 5-9)

"And He shall say" (v. 5). This refers to a specific Man in contrast to the prophets of verse 4. The Lord Jesus will not be a prophet in that day: "He shall say, I am no prophet." Then He adds, "I am a tiller of the ground; for man acquired me [as a bondman] from my youth" (JND). The Hebrew word for tiller of the ground or farmer comes from a root meaning "to serve" (Strong's Concordance). From His youth the Lord Jesus was devoted to the service of mankind. While He was on earth He was a prophet (Luke 7:16), but even then His servant character was more prominent than His prophecy. However, there will be no need for prophecy after He comes to reign, yet He will remain a Servant forever (Exodus 21:5-6 and Luke 12:37). How good to see that service is much nearer to the heart of God than is prophecy! May we too be found always in a spirit of willing service. We are not to neglect prophecy in such an evil day as ours, but prophecy may still be given in a spirit of lowly service.

"And one shall say unto Him, What are those wounds in thy hands?" (v. 6-JND). If He is simply a servant, why such wounds? The questioner is evidently one who has no knowledge of the crucifixion of this blessed Servant of God who had so graciously served man in his deepest need. The question could not come from Judah, for Judah was guilty of Christ's crucifixion, and Zechariah 12:10-14 shows Judah in deep repentance before this question is asked. So it seems likely that the question comes from among the ten tribes who will return to the land about this time.

There are those who deny that this passage has reference to the Lord Jesus, but the internal evidence is transparently clear that it can refer to no one else. The answer, "those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends," reminds us that it was His closest friends, the tribe of Judah, that had so grievously wounded the Lord Jesus.

Verses 7 to 9 embrace the entire time from the rejection and crucifixion of Christ until the introduction of His millennial kingdom. This type of prophecy is often found in Scripture, that is, the emphasis on important facts and their connection, though they are separated by a long period of time. The intervening history is left out in order to focus upon the significance of the prominent facts. "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man who is My companion, says the Lord of hosts. Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones." It is God who speaks, but He used the sword of ungodly men in the carrying out of His words. Israel was virtually His sword, awakened in bitter animosity toward the Man who is God's companion, His equal. In fact, because of His claim to be the Son of God, Israel was determined to kill Him. Only Christ has such a relationship as this, for He is God. But not only did Israel strike Him: God's sword of judgment pierced His soul when alone He bore the agony of God's forsaking on account of the guilt of our sins.

The sheep would be scattered. At the very time of the Lord's crucifixion the disciples were scattered (Matthew 26:31-32; John 16:32), none being able to stand with Him in that terrible hour. More than this, following that most awesome death of all deaths, the people of the land of Israel were scattered in every direction among other nations, and this has continued all through the dispensation of grace toward the Gentiles.

"Then I will turn My hand against the little ones." The expression the little ones infers those who appear to be little-"the poor of the flock" (Zechariah 11:11), the despised remnant of godly Israelites. Even these will suffer for a long time, though we know that God will preserve them by His grace through all the suffering and eventually manifest His goodness toward them in the coming day of millennial glory.

Verse 8 goes on to the end of the age, passing over our current dispensation of grace, for this prophecy considers God's dealings with Israel. The end of the age for them will involve the Great Tribulation and the introduction of the blessing of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. In the land of Israel two thirds of the population will be cut off in death, while one third will be left to enter the thousand years of peace (v. 8). The estimated population of Israel in 1992 was 4,770,000. This means that well over three million will be cut off in death in that land in 3.5 years! How staggering will such a decimation be! A great sifting of Israel has continued in Gentile countries for centuries, such as the holocaust of six million of them under Hitler at the time of World War II. But this slaughter of Zechariah 13:8 will take place in the land. We read in Ezekiel 20:34-38 of the Lord's dealings with Israel (evidently the ten tribes) also at the time of the end, bringing them out from among the nations and pleading with them in the wilderness, causing them to pass under the rod and purging out the rebels from among them. Though they will be brought out from the countries in which they were living, these rebels will not enter the land of Israel, for the ungodly will be sifted out before they reach the land.

Therefore, Zechariah 13:8 must refer to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin who will be sifted in the land. Revelation 14:20 refers to this time of tremendous bloodshed, speaking of "the space of 1600 furlongs," which is the length of the current land of Israel, approximately 200 miles or 320 kilometers.

The remaining "third part" are evidently "the little ones" of verse 7. Their faith will be tried by the fire of great tribulation. The hand of God will be on them in severe chastening as a father chastens his child. This is to refine the silver, for the fire does this: it separates the dross from the true silver or from the gold, that the pure metal may shine in all its radiance and give delight to the great Refiner. Malachi 3:2-4 connects this occasion with the coming of the Lord, as He Himself sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. Well may it be asked, "Who may abide the day of His coming?" This reminds us of the words of 1 Peter 4:17 concerning God's dealings at present: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end be of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" The same fire that will refine and purify believers will burn up unbelievers, for there is nothing of pure silver in them.

Those who are refined, however, will honestly call upon the name of the Lord. He will hear them and respond with the cheering word, "This is My people." This is in contrast to God having before disowned Israel for centuries because of their rebellion, calling them "not My people" (Hosea 1:9). Then Israel will wholeheartedly say, "The Lord is my God." Though they have before rejected the Lord Jesus, they will then say just as did Thomas when he saw the wounded hands and side of the Lord Jesus, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:26-28).

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Zechariah 13:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/zechariah-13.html. 1897-1910.

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