A BLOOD-FILLED FOUNTAIN
Mighty God, renew my sense of thankfulness in worship, and show me what you want of me. I bless your name.
Read ZECHARIAH 13
Cleansing From Sin
13 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
2 “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the Lord’s name.’ Then their own parents will stab the one who prophesies.
4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. 5 Each will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.[a]’ 6 If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body[b]?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’
The Shepherd Struck, the Sheep Scattered
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.’”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… it was the Lord’s will to crush [Jesus] and cause him to suffer, and … [make] his life an offering for sin.’1
Chapter 13 continues the theme of Jewish national repentance by emphasizing God’s action in their favor. It is he who opens for them a fountain of cleansing ‘from sin and impurity’ (v 1), ridding them of idolatry and false prophecy. But his hand will be raised in an even more remarkable way. For, whereas chapter 12 speaks of the Jews ‘piercing’ their Messiah, 13:7 has God himself drawing the sword ‘against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!’ (v 7). This ‘shepherd’ and ‘man’ can be none other than Jesus, who quotes verse 7 with reference to his disciples being scattered after his crucifixion.2
We noted yesterday that while Jews and Romans were both responsible for the Messiah’s death, in reality the sin of all humanity made it necessary. Now we learn that God’s sovereign hand was behind it.3 Jesus was no victim of circumstance! God willed that Christ should die in the place of guilty sinners, knowing that we could not save ourselves and that we needed him to act on our behalf. A ‘fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins’4 was opened by God himself for our cleansing from sin. We can but kneel with humble adoration in awe-filled contemplation of all that our Lord has done for us!
The interpretation of verses 8 and 9 has long been disputed by theologians. Some believe they refer to the persecution that scattered Jesus’ followers after his death,5 or to the Jewish diaspora following Jerusalem’s destruction in ad 70, or to the Jews’ end-times destiny. Whatever their meaning, they promise that all who call on the Lord’s name will be answered. In God’s hands lies our security, whatever befalls us. Truly, God’s people can say, in the words of Horatio Spafford,6 ‘It is well with my soul’.
Look up the William Cowper hymn quoted above and meditate on its words as part of your devotions today.
Lord Jesus, You were made sin for me and a curse for me. You bore the condemnation for my sins on the cross and set me free, Hallelujah, what a Savior!
1 Isa 53:10 2 Mark 14:27; Matt 26:31 3 See too Isa 53:10; Acts 2:23 4 William Cowper, 1731– 1800, ‘There is a fountain’ 5 Acts 8:1–4 6 Horatio Spafford, 1821–88, ‘When peace like a river’
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