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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

Zechariah 13



Verses 1-9

WHEN DEEP REPENTANCE thus takes place, a fountain is opened to cleanse from sin and uncleanness. We all know Cowper's hymn, based on this verse, notwithstanding we believe the reference here is not to the blood of Christ, shed long ago, which cleanses from sin judicially; that is, as before the throne of God in judgment, but to that 'clean water', that God will 'sprinkle' upon them, as predicted in Ezekiel 36:25. It was to this verse that our Lord referred, as we believe, when He spoke to Nicodemus of that new birth, which is needful if any are to enter the kingdom of God. It was overlooked by the Jews, so Nicodemus was astonished, at the words of the Lord. As a teacher in Israel, he should have known it, as John 3:10 indicates; for both 'water' and 'the Spirit' of which man needs to be 'born', are mentioned in Ezekiel 36:1-38.

At last then there will be a born-again Israel, and as a result of that they will possess a new nature: the unclean spirit will be gone, and the idols and other evil things that once ensnared them will be put away. No more will false prophets appear to deceive. If any should attempt it, their very parents would condemn them to death. Their unreality will be made perfectly manifest, as verse Zechariah 13:4 indicates.

Verse Zechariah 13:5 begins, 'But he shall say... 'Who is this 'he'? Verses Zechariah 13:5-6 present a difficult problem. Some take them as referring to one of the false prophets, just alluded to: others as reverting to the true Shepherd, referred to in the previous chapter, and again very clearly in verse Zechariah 13:7; and with this we are inclined to agree. The true Shepherd took the place of the 'Hebrew Servant', as indicated in the opening verses of Exodus 21:1-36, and was pierced amongst those to whom He came in the spirit of friendship. He took the humble place, and one of suffering, even among men. And there was far deeper suffering beyond this.

Verse Zechariah 13:7 predicts that far greater matter. Israel nationally were God's sheep, and their sins and apostasy had a twofold effect. It stirred up God's governmental retribution in this world, of which the prophet had much to say; and it also raised the far more serious matter of God's eternal judgment in the life to come. The true Shepherd was to meet that in such fashion that Jehovah's sword was to awake against Him. The sword that had been awakened by the persistent sins of the faithless sheep, was to smite not them but the holy Shepherd.

'The Man that is My Fellow' — these words may have been an enigma to the prophet who wrote them, for 1 Peter 1:10, 1 Peter 1:11, tells us that often the Old Testament prophets had to discover they were saying things, the full meaning of which would only appear in an age to come: the privileged age in which we live. These words are no enigma to us, who can read Romans 1:3, and learn that He who became 'seed of David according to the flesh' was none other than 'His Son Jesus Christ'. When the Son of God assumed Manhood in holiness and perfection, there was indeed a Man that could be called Jehovah's Fellow. He could take the place of sinful men and allow the judgment sword to awake against Himself.

But the immediate effect of the smiting of the Shepherd would be the scattering of the sheep, on the one hand, but also the turning of God's hand upon the little ones. The children of Israel had been scattered 'because there is no shepherd', as Ezekiel 34:5 says; but since the smiting of the true Shepherd, a far more serious and prolonged scattering has taken place, and yet the 'little ones' have not been forgotten but rather remembered for blessing.

If we turn to Isaiah 1:25, we find the same expression, 'I will turn My hand', and the context there indicates that the turning of His hand means blessing, when for His adversaries there is judgment. If we read the closing chapters of the Gospels and the opening chapters of the Acts, we see God turning His hand in blessing upon the 'little ones', when the great ones among the Jews were pursuing their way in blindness to the hour of their great scattering. The great verse we have been considering has indeed been wondrously fulfilled.

And the two verses that conclude the chapter will be fulfilled with equal exactness in their season, for they refer, we judge, to what God will bring to pass at the end of this age, when He will deal with a people to be found in the land at that time. In Ezekiel 20:34, Ezekiel 20:38, we learn how God will deal with the people scattered throughout the nations, purging them before He brings them into the land for blessing. Here we learn what He will do to such as may be left 'in all the land', in the last days. Judgment will fall on two-thirds of them, and only a third will come through into blessing. And those blessed will have to pass through the fire of tribulation, which will refine them in a spiritual sense, and bring them at last into vital connection with God. They will truly own Him, and He will own them in blessing.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Zechariah 13:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

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