Friday, October 29, 2021

Zechariah 13:7-9

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7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the Lord Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. 8 In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. 9 This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” ~ Zechariah 13:7-9

Today, we conclude our study of Zechariah 13 where God has been reiterating to Israel their need for salvation, repentance and restoration. And, as with you and me, Israel will be saved not from something but through something. Israel will be cleansed through the death of the Shepherd.

In v.7 of today's text we read, "Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the Lord Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones."

No one can be cleansed from the defilement of sin unless we are cleansed through the death of the Shepherd. The Lord Almighty, here, speaks of the True Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 10:11 the Lord Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." There is no mistaken He is the shepherd of whom the prophet Zechariah wrote so long ago.

As God moved in His judgment of sin, He unsheathed His sword against the one true Shepherd. And, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ was the plan of God. God called for the sword to strike His Shepherd. God takes the responsibility Himself for the death of His Son because man could not remedy his problem with sin and death. The Lord Jesus Christ had to come as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world to do in sin and death. Long before man rebelled and went the way of Satan, God had the remedy to mankind's problem. And, since man could never remedy his own problem, man's problem became God's problem. And, He solved it through the willingness of the Lord Jesus Christ to lay down His life for His sheep.

In Isaiah 53:10 we read, "And it pleased God to bruise Him." This does not mean that the death of His Son made God happy. This means the righteous requirements of the God of truth were satisfied through the death of the second person of the Trinity.

The word "man" used here in v.7 means a strong man or a mighty man. So, this is not just talking about any ordinary man. He says, "Take the sword against the strong man." And then the phrase "who is close to me" literally means "OF MY UNION." Literally, it should be translated "The mighty man who is coequal with Me." You see, God had to be our Savior for only God can conquer sin and death. And, this is why it is so important that the Lord Jesus Christ never sinned. He is perfect and only God can measure up to the righteous requirement of perfection. 

The second half of v.7 of today's text reads, "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.The result of that strike would be the scattering of the sheep. 

Now, in Matthew's account of this, the Lord Jesus added "this night you will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, 'I will strike the Shepherd.'" Therefore it is very clear that Zechariah was predicting the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane's struggle was the smiting of the Shepherd, and the result would be the scattering of the sheep. We can see how true that is if we look at Mark 14:50, where it says of the disciples, "And they all forsook him, and fled." 

It is interesting that never did the Lord Jesus speak of His cross to His disciples without setting it against the dawning light of the resurrection. And yet, they never seemed to grasp it. Not one of the disciples believed the Lord Jesus would be raised from the dead. I think that, because they did not want to hear about His death. Since they would not consider His death, there was no need for the resurrection. 

Now, it was far beyond the scattering of the Lord Jesus' disciples that Zechariah spoke, because a few years later in 70 A.D. when Titus came in and conquered Israel and Jerusalem, the whole nation of Israel was scattered throughout the world. The Jews have, to date, not been fully returned to the promised land. In fact, half of the worlds population of Jews live in America. I have often wondered, "What will it take for them to return?" And, one day very soon, all of the Jews will be brought back to the promised land to await the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to this earth.

And then he adds an interesting note at the end of v.7, "I will turn My hand against the little ones." The little ones are the believing remnant of Jews of Israel who believed in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. That phrase "turn His hand against" is used in the Old Testament to refer to chastening and disciplining. This is what happened to the early believers. The little ones were immediately persecuted for being believers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In v.8-9 of today's text we read, "8 In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. 9 This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.'"

These two verses speak of the time of the Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble or the seventieth seven in Daniel 9. At the end of the Tribulation, at the battle of Armageddon, there will be a terrible slaughter. And here, the prophet Zechariah says that that slaughter will take the lives of two out of every three Jews in Israel. The majority of the Jewish people in the Armageddon battle are going to die. And, just a portion, a third, will remain. And, there will be an attempt by the Antichrist to wipe out the whole nation. But, he will only able to wipe out some of them. Two thirds will die and one third will be left and they will be purified and refined like silver and like gold.

This one third that will make it through the Tribulation will be those in Zechariah 12:10 who will look on Christ and mourn when He returns. These will be the third who will enter the kingdom in their physical bodies to populate the earthly kingdom during the Millennium. 

In Matthew 24 we read, "There shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved." 

These Jewish believers will be refined, meaning, the intensity of the times will lead them to believe in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. He will become the object of their faith. And, that little third will be the remnant of Israel that inherits the kingdom.

At the end of v.9 we read, "They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God."

In the end, those with a willing heart will be in God's family. God does not sovereignly redeem anyone apart from faith in His Son and His promises. The God of the Bible forgives us because it is His nature. And, because we are the sinners we are, we cannot tolerate a God less than He, because only He can take away our sin.

Forgiveness is man's greatest need, and therefore, God's greatest gift.  And, through the gospel of Jesus Christ will God forgive all of the sins of all of those who ask for it. The gospel is that all are sinners, all are under the wrath of God, all are headed for eternal judgment because of our sin, and, God, as a righteous judge, will bring about that eternal punishment. But, God, also, is a God of mercy and grace, who will forgive the sinner who comes to Him with a repentant heart and asks for that gift of forgiveness.

I close with a quote from Alexander Maclaren who once said, "The essential of the gospel is the unrestrained flow of love from the offended heart of God who has been sinned against. Pardon is God's love unchecked and unembittered, granted to the wrongdoer. That is a divine act exclusively."