Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Zechariah 13:1-9.  While not an easy passage, there are some powerful lessons to learn.  As usual, I encourage you to read the passage yourself first and see what you can glean with the Holy Spirit’s help, then read the GAME sharing below.  Let’s go!

Zechariah 13:1 (NIV) 
“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. 

On verse 1:  In Zechariah 13, Zechariah continues to describe the vision God has given him concerning the end times.  In chapter 12, Zechariah has just finished describing how God will protect Jerusalem and Judah against the attack of other nations (12:1-9), and how God’s people will weep bitterly upon realizing that they had pierced and killed the Messiah (12:10-14).  Now Zechariah 13:1-6 describes how God will cleanse the people of their sins by opening up a fountain.  The fountain is a picture of God’s forgiveness and cleansing through Jesus Christ.

It reminds me of when Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38)  There Jesus describes how through faith in Him, God gives us His Holy Spirit who, like a fountain within us, gives us a never ending supply of God’s forgiveness, cleansing and life.  Praise God that even though we had sinned against Him, through Jesus Christ God has made a fountain available to us for our forgiveness and cleansing.

In the five verses that follow, I believe we see a picture of what it looks like when we experience the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Zechariah 13:2 (NIV) 
“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.”

On verse 2a:  Here God says that He will banish the names of idols from the land such that no one will remember them.  What can we learn from this?  The first effect of being cleansed by the Holy Spirit is that we stop bowing down to the idols that we used to worship.  In fact, our worship of them becomes a distant memory (“remembered no more”) and we can’t imagine why we had clung to those idols for as long as we did.

“…I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.”

On verse 2b:  “The prophets” Zechariah is referring to here are false prophets, which the Lord promises to remove from the land.  What can we learn from this?  A second effect of being cleansed by the Holy Spirit is that no longer do you want to listen to false messages and false messengers.  Instead you desire to fill your heart and mind with truth from the Word of God.

A third effect: when you are cleansed by the Holy Spirit, no longer are you controlled by the desire to keep sinning against a holy God (“a spirit of impurity”).  Instead, you desire even more to please God with your life.

Zechariah 13:3 (NIV) 
And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD’s name.’ When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him. 

On verse 3:  Zechariah paints what might seem like a harsh picture of parents condemning their own son because he had engaged in false prophecy.   It’s to describe the fourth effect of the Spirit’s cleansing on your life:  instead of living in fear of people, you want to love and honour God more than you love and honour any other person in your life, even your family.  You will not allow sin to keep hurting your home and relationships.

Zechariah 13:4-6 (NIV) 
“On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive.
He will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.’
If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ 

On verses 4-6:  Here Zechariah describes how those who were once false prophets will be ashamed of their previous attempts to act as prophets and will do everything they can to disassociate themselves with prophecy.  That’s how much false prophets will be shunned and despised in the end times.

What can we learn from this?  A fifth effect of the Spirit’s cleansing on our lives: when the Spirit cleanses us from sin, no longer will we chase after visions that are not from God, or dreams that are all about elevating ourselves.  No longer will we pretend to be someone we are not (“put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive” (v4)).  Rather we will be comfortable in our own skin and accept the calling God has placed on our lives (v5).

Zechariah 13:7 (NIV) 
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty…  

On verse 7a:  Here God talks about the Messiah, whom He describes as “my shepherd” and “the man who is close to me.”  By using the phrase “the man who is close to me”, which can also be translated “neighbour” or “near relative”, God is insinuating that this Messiah is not an ordinary human being but is of the same divine nature as God Himself.  In other words, this Messiah would somehow be both God and man at the same time.

Zechariah 13:7-9 (NIV) 
“…Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will bring 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.'” 

On verses 7-9:  Here God describes how His chosen shepherd, the Messiah, will be struck down by the sword and the sheep will be scattered (v7b).  God will turn his hand against the sheep.  The result will be that two thirds will perish (v8a) while the remaining one third will be refined in a fire and have a personal relationship with God (v8b-9).

What can we learn from this?  After Jesus ate his last supper with his disciples, Jesus, in anticipation of his betrayal, crucifixion and burial, would quote verse 7 where it says, “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (see Matthew 26:31-32).  It’s because Jesus knew that the striking down of the shepherd would lead to the scattering of the sheep.  In other words, Jesus knew that as soon as he the shepherd was arrested and handed over to die, his sheep, being all of his followers, would scatter, and only time would tell which of these sheep would remain faithful to Him in the end.

In the same way, most people in our world have no problem with Jesus as a moral teacher, but what causes the sheep to scatter — that is, to run in different directions — is when it comes to Jesus’ death, the striking down of this shepherd.  For those who refuse to believe that Jesus was struck down for us but rose again, they will be among the two thirds who are struck down themselves.  For those who choose to believe that Jesus was struck down for us, they will be among the one third remnant who will survive, be refined, and be brought into a personal, close relationship with God.

God is in the process of saving “a remnant” for Himself, that is, a group of people out of a larger whole that will devoted to Him and believe in Him even when the majority of people reject Him.  Decide today that you are going to be a part of that remnant.  Resolve that you will trust and obey God even when others around you do not.

Father, thank You that You had a plan all along to save us, to cleanse us, to refine us and to bring us close to Yourself.  It was all through Your Son and Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the man who is close to You.  Thank You Jesus for being my fountain of forgiveness and that through You I can be accepted and belong to God.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

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