In our previous study of Zechariah, we looked into chapters 9-11 where we saw the coming of the Shepherd prophesied who would remove the false shepherds. In chapter 11 the imagery was very detailed as the shepherd takes His two staffs called Unity and Favor and breaks them. The wages are given to the Shepherd is thirty pieces of silver which were cast to the potter, prophesying of Christ’s betrayal price and use of the blood money. In chapters 12-14 Zechariah receives his final oracle from the Lord. A careful study is required of these passages, for these chapters have been subjected to all sorts of wild speculations. We will attempt to do better and make sense of the images that are revealed to Zechariah.
Enemies will not stand against Jerusalem (12:1-9)
The oracle begins with images that reminder the readers of the creation events found in Genesis 1. The Lord declares that Jerusalem will be a cup of reeling against all the surrounding peoples. All peoples that go against Jerusalem will be cut into pieces. The question concerning this passage is: who do the people of Jerusalem refer to? Is it the people at that time or a future people of Jerusalem? It seems clear that this cannot be a reference to the people of Jerusalem at that time because history does not verify the events described in this passage. After 520 B.C., Jerusalem was still going to be in much upheaval and persecution. In fact, Daniel prophesied that Jerusalem would be made desolate and brought low (Daniel 8:13-14, 24; 11:16-31). I do not believe that Daniel and Zechariah, both moved by the power and will of God, were contradicting each other. Therefore, we must understand Jerusalem to refer to the new people of God under the rule of the Messiah. I believe the rest of our study will bear this point out.
Also notice the time markers that are given in this passage. Five times the prophet says, “in that day” or “on that day.” In verse 3, “And it shall happen in that day…” In verse 4, “In that day says the Lord…” Also in verse 6, “In that day I will make…” In verse 8 we also find, “In that day the Lord will defend…” Finally, in verse 9 we read, “It shall be in that day…” The phrase “in that day” is repeatedly used as a prophetic reference to the last days. We noted this many times in our study of the prophecies of Daniel, with its many proofs. Peter, in Acts 2:17, and the writer of Hebrews, in Hebrews 1:1-2, declare the last days to be the days of the Messiah. Therefore, the first nine verses are describing the strength of the true people of God during the days of the Messiah. Those who would truly follow the Lord will be protected such that none will come against them. This time marker concerning the days of the Messiah is further proven in the following section of scripture.
For us today, we must see the strength in these words. There is no foe that can defeat when we are walking with the Lord. Though calamities have been prophesied by many of God’s prophets, including Zechariah himself, God tells His people that if they will be His, God will defend them. Further, as noted in verse 9, judgment will come against those who desire to do harm to God’s people. The wicked will receive their just punishment from the Lord. Let us never believe that God does not see the hands of the wicked against His children. God knows and He will judge them and deliver us. These are words of hope to those who put their trust in the Lord.
Mourning the Pierced One (12:10-14)
In verse 10, Zechariah prophesies of two events that would happen in the days of the Messiah. The first event listed is “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication.” This is the same thing that Joel prophesied of in Joel 2:28, which is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.” What had occurred in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of these prophetic words (Acts 2:16). Peter then preached forgiveness of sins through repentance and baptism and the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This again shows that Zechariah is speaking about events that would occur in the days of the Messiah.
The second event is recorded by Zechariah saying, “then they will look on Me whom they have pierced.” God declares in the first person that He will be pierced by the people. I do not believe anyone could comprehend the meaning of these words until these things were fulfilled. How is it possible that God could be pierced by His very people? I would expect that many simply understood this as a figure of speech, yet it was not to simply be a description of God’s pain when we rebel against Him. The gravity of these words go much deeper. Turn to John 19 and read this account about the crucifixion of Jesus. In verses 36-37 of this chapter we read that these things we done that the Scripture should be fulfilled. “And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.'” The fulfillment of the words of Zechariah is found in the days of the Messiah, when Jesus was crucified. This was the event that the Lord prophesied through Zechariah would take place, a prophecy made 550 years before the event.
The significance of the prophecy cannot be lost upon us today either. The Lord said that the people “will look upon Me whom they have pierced.” That was God speaking these words. The implication of this prophecy being fulfilled is the subtle reality that Jesus was not a mere man or another teacher that was rejected. Jesus is God. These words being fulfilled in Jesus being pierced by Roman soldiers and dying by crucifixion proves that Jesus is God. God said in Zechariah that they would pierce Him and then says in John 19 that those words were fulfilled in these things. The necessary conclusion for all is that Jesus is God.
The rest of verse 10 through the end of the chapter describes the great amount of mourning that will be done by all the families of the earth. The mourning is described in verse 11 to be “like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.” Most scholars believe that this is the location of where Josiah was slain in battle against Egyptian forces (2 Chronicles 35:20-25). It is this kind of great mourning for a fallen king that is represent in the mourning for the Pierced One, who died as king over mankind.
This prophecy also has meaning under the new covenant of our Lord. As John begins to write the book of Revelation, he makes a statement concerning Jesus in chapter one and verse seven. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” The imagery of coming in the clouds is used as a reference to a coming judgment. Everyone will see the Pierced One, every knee will bow, and every family will mourn because of Him when He comes in judgment. At judgment there is reality of who is ruling and what we have done to Christ because of our sins. We often ignore these realities now, while we consider ourselves and not Jesus. But when judgment comes, whether it be final judgment or judgment nationally or individually, we will see what our great sins have done to the Son of God. I believe these thoughts lead us into the next section of Zechariah’s prophecy.
Cleansing from sin (13:1-6)
Once again we must consider the time markers that are given in this chapter. Notice in verses 1, 2, and 4 that we see the phrase “in that day” pointing us to the time of the days of the Messiah. The time frame of the events of chapter 12 continues to be the time frames of the events of chapter 13. In verse 1 we see that in that day “a fountain shall be opened…for sin and for uncleanness.” As the Lord has brought judgment to the minds of the people, He now turns to describe a fountain that is opened for sin and uncleanness. “A fountain” suggests an abundant provision for the forgiveness of sins. The piercing of our Lord is tied to the opening of the fountain for forgiveness of sins. This is an open fountain that will not dry up. It conveys the imagery that one can continue to find forgiveness from the fountain. There is no sin in your life that you cannot turn to the fountain of God to receive forgiveness of sins. There is no sin too great or so evil that God is unwilling to forgive. The fountain has been offered to those who will turn to God pricked in the heart concerning their sins. The fountain is not open to those who sin with impunity. Zechariah dealt with that in Zechariah 11 where Favor and Unity were broken because the people sinned with impunity. But to those who desire to be cleansed from their sins, God has provided a way to be made clean. This point is seen in that the text does not say that the fountain has been opened for all, but “for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
It is important for us to make another point here. Some desire to understand chapters 12-14 to refer to the second coming of Christ and the events that will take place in the supposed millennial kingdom of Christ. Therefore, it is argued that the phrase “in that day” refers to the second coming. Consider that this is not possible due to the content of things that will happen “in that day.” If “in that day” has not happened yet, then the fountain for forgiveness of sins has not been opened for all yet. Thus, we are dying in our sins and do not have forgiveness, if these are all future events. We must understand these events to be referring to the work of the Messiah in His first coming to the earth.
Ending of unclean spirits (13:2)
In verse 2 we see another event prophesied by Zechariah. Zechariah says that in that day the names of the idols will be cut off from the land. Idolatry will not be found among the people of God. This was a constant problem throughout the history of Israel. The temptation of idols began earlier in the exodus of Israel through to its destruction. Now, no one will be able to be considered the people of God, the true Israel, and participate in idolatry. Further, it is worthy of consideration that we no longer see the temples to idolatry that was found during the rule of the Grecian and Roman empires. The names of those idols have been cut off from the land. This may be yet another proof of the fulfillment of this passage. Zechariah also says in verse 2 that the prophets and unclean spirits will be depart from the land in that day. This is either referring to all prophets or simply the false prophets. It is possible that this means the false prophets since these are listed in between idolatry and unclean spirits. Either way, we can see that prophecies ended in the days of the Messiah. While prophets were used in the laying of the foundation of the kingdom (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11), they would no longer be needed when the word of God was fully revealed. The purpose and definition of a prophet is to be a mouthpiece for God. Now that God has spoken through His word, the prophets would not longer be necessary.
Further, Zechariah says that the unclean spirits would be cut off “in that day.” I believe this is a very useful passage in answering those who ask if demon possession still occurs today. God said that unclean spirits would be removed in the same days as when the prophets were removed from the land. Verses 3-6 seem to further prove that the prophets have been cut off from the land. Notice in verse 3 that if anyone prophesies, it will be said to him “you have spoken lies in the name of the Lord.” Anyone who claims to have the power of prophecy is a false prophet. These false prophets will be unable to deceive anyone who compares their words to the revealed word of God.
Cutting off the Shepherd (13:7-9)
The final three verses return to the events that will take place against God’s chosen one, the Shepherd. We have seen the Shepherd previously in Zechariah 11, where the thirty shekels of silver are given as His wages which is then thrown to the potter. These images were fulfilled when Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Upon his remorse, Judas gives the money back to the chief priests and religious leaders. They use the money to by a potter’s field (Matthew 27:5-8). The Shepherd is a clear reference to Jesus. The sword is to be awakened against the Lord’s Shepherd, which is another statement that this event was by “the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). The prophecy continues in verse 7, “strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Jesus Himself said that He was about to fulfill this prophecy in Matthew 26:30-35. Jesus has just finished instituting the Lord’s supper and He and His disciples are going to the Mount of Olives. Jesus then predicts that all of His disciples would be made to stumble because of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. This is fulfilled in Matthew 26:56 where all the disciples forsake Jesus and flee.
In verses 8-9 we see that judgment and refining will follow the striking of the Shepherd. Immediately we see that two-thirds of the flock shall be cut off and die. However, one-third will be left and they will go through the fire and will be refined as silver and tested as gold. This may have references to the destruction of Jerusalem, which would fit in the time frame of the last days and the days of the Messiah. At the very least, we see Zechariah prophesying of God’s remnant enduring and being tested. Jesus gave a similar warning in Matthew 7:13, which says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Again in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Jesus repeatedly tried to warn the Jews that if they did not listen to Him and obey that they would be removed from the Lord and cast away in judgment.
To those that do belong to the Lord, we must expect times of testing. Peter said very similar words to those of Zechariah in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We must be prepared for the winds and rains of trials to beat against us. But when we are built upon the firm rock of Christ, we will endure. Thus, verse 9 concludes, “They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.'”
What a fitting way to end the prophecies found in these two chapters. God determined before the foundation of the world that He would sacrifice His Son so that a fountain could be opened for sin and uncleanness. Jesus was pierced for our sins, calling for the sword to smite Him so that we can call on His name and He will answer us. Let us mourn for the Pierced One by turning away from our sinful ways and obeying His gracious call. When we do, God will respond that we are His people. Let us say that the Lord is our God.