The Refinement of Judah
1 “In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the dynasty of David and the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity. 2 And also on that day,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will remove the names of the idols from the land and they will never again be remembered. Moreover, I will remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. 3 Then, if anyone prophesies in spite of this, his father and mother to whom he was born will say to him, ‘You cannot live, for you lie in the name of the Lord.’ Then his father and mother to whom he was born will run him through with a sword when he prophesies.
4 “Therefore, on that day each prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies and will no longer wear the hairy garment of a prophet to deceive the people. 5 Instead he will say, ‘I am no prophet – indeed, I am a farmer, for a man has made me his indentured servant since my youth.’ 6 Then someone will ask him, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ and he will answer, ‘Some that I received in the house of my friends.’
7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is my associate,”
says the Lord who rules over all.
Strike the shepherd that the flock may be scattered;
I will turn my hand against the insignificant ones.
8 It will happen in all the land, says the Lord,
that two-thirds of the people in it will be cut off and die,
but one-third will be left in it.
9 Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire;
I will refine them like silver is refined
and will test them like gold is tested.
They will call on my name and I will answer;
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Zechariah 13:1. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.
They shall see that pardon when they have truly seen their sin. When once the foulness of their transgression is perceived, then the fount, sin of cleansing shall be perceived, too. No man ever knows the preciousness of the God given remedy till he has felt the force of the terrible disease. No one by faith plunges into the crystal fount of perfect cleansing without first lamenting the filthiness which needs to be removed.
Zechariah 13:2. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.
Where there is pardon, there is sure to be sanctification. The idols must fall, and the false prophets must go. We cannot have our sins and have a Saviour too. If we have Christ to blot out our sin, we must have the same Christ to remove sin as to its authority, and power, and dominion over us.
Zechariah 13:3. And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy,—
When any false prophet shall still pretend to prophesy,—
Zechariah 13:3. Then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesy.
So intense shall be the hatred of false prophets, that men shall not spare even their own children. They shall abhor them when they stand up against the Lord of hosts and against his truth.
Zechariah 13:4. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
They shall give up this wicked employment at once and for ever. Just as when one, who has pretended to tell fortunes, is converted, and he forsakes that evil occupation; so converted men must never be in association with those who are familiar with the spirits of the dead, and who practice sorcery and the like abominations. Everything of the kind is to be, abhorred by godly men, and they must turn away from it with holy horror and disgust.
Zechariah 13:5-6. But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husband-man; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth. And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands?
What are these marks of the idol gods and goddesses? Have you not been branded with them? Did you not belong to the accursed fraternity that worship idols, and receive the sigmate in their hands?
Zechariah 13:6. Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
Idolatry shall become so detestable a thing that he will say anything rather than acknowledge that he has had aught to do with idols. Those very marks in which the false prophets once gloried, they shall loathe. The Brahmin shall throw away his sacred thread, and those who have been tattooed is honour of other false gods shall hate the marks of shame that are upon their persons. Now, brethren, inasmuch as the heathen prophets received in their bodies the marks of their gods, we understand something of what Paul meant when he wrote to the Galatians, “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” He regarded his baptism as a kind of water-mark that could not be removed. He looked upon the marks of the scourge, with which he had been beaten again and again for Christ’s sake, as being proofs that he belonged to Jesus. They stamped him with the broad arrow of the great King, so that all men might know that he was dedicated to him and to his service, tattooed with marks in his flesh that were indelible, and never to be re moved.
Zechariah 13:7-8. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
So, in the times of God’s fiercest judgments, he has a remnant according to the election of grace who shall escape the sword, because that sword has been awakened against him who was their Representative, their Surety, and who stood as Substitute in their place.
Zechariah 13:9. And I will bring the third part through the fire,—
“Saved; yet so as by fire.” This is true in a certain sense of all the righteous. They shall certainly be saved, and though the fires of persecution should rage around, the Lord will bring them through the fire. They shall not perish in it, but they shall even derive good from it; “I will bring the third part through the fire,”—
Zechariah 13:9. And will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried:
If you are God’s people, you will certainly be tried and tested. As surely as ever God has put you in the third part that he will save, he has also ordained that you should pass through the fire. You shall have, both within and without, that which shall test your sincerity, and prove whether your faith is of divine origin or not. There is no easy road to heaven.
“The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.”
Yet we who believe in Jesus are not an unhappy people. The character of God’s saints is still according to Paul’s paradoxes; “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
Zechariah 13:9. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them:
What a precious little sentence: “they shall call on my name”! And God will give ear to their prayer: “And I will hear them.” The “shall” and the “will” are put close together, and the one is as much the work of God’s grace as the other is: “They shall call on my name, and I will hear them.”
Zechariah 13:9. I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
Note these quick responses,—echoes, as it were. They call and God hears. God speaks, and they reply. God says, “It is my people.” They answer, “The Lord is my God.” Blessed are you if you can join in these heart-echoes, or can say, with the spouse, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” Is there this mutual interchange of love between you and the all-glorious Lord? If so, thrice happy are you; but if not, God grant that you may speedily enter into this secret of the Lord! May he bless to every one of us the reading of his Word, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.