Book of Zechariah Chapter 13 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The End Of Idolatry
Idolatry is rampant in this world. People worship television, computers, sex, fashions, fame, notoriety, drugs of various kinds, and much more. This chapter in Zechariah is a reminder that all of time is seen by God at once. He is dealing with Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, David, Joseph, Mary, Peter, John, you, me, and every person who has ever lived or will live—right now. He takes us forward from the time of Zechariah to the cross of Christ in Verse 1, revealing—"In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity." That's the Lord Jesus Christ, paying the price, dying for the sins of us all. And then in Verse 2, He takes us ahead to the end of time, when all of the rampant sins in this world will finally be done away—"'It will come about in that day,' declares the Lord of hosts, 'that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.'" His first appearance as a Suffering Servant dealt with the penalty of sin, and He will come again as our Conquering King to remove us from the presence of sin.
The Second Coming of Christ will be the end of all idolatrous thoughts and actions. Prophesy will no longer be necessary—time will end along with our sinful ways. The direct reference here is to false prophets, as you can see from the mention of "the unclean spirit" that wants to take us from faith in the Lord, into programs and efforts that cause unrest. Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Go to the Lord in simple faith. He was asked at one point, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" His reply should wake up all of us as we read: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:28-29).
Prophets have been around for a long, long time, perhaps from the beginning. Some truly speak the words that come from God, and others are questionable. Paul the Apostle said, "Do not quench the Spirit, Do not despise prophesies (but) test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). True discernment comes from God, and we should pray continually, not only about what we hear, but also about what we say. Those who have faith in the Lord have been given gifts of service to the body of Christ—we are needed, for what we have is from God. We are incomplete without one another, but we also need to "test all things."
But there will come a time when prophesy will not occur because it will no longer be needed. In the meantime we should speak when the Holy Spirit so directs us, and be quiet when He says "Shhh" into our hearts. In those times when the Lord communicates that we are to be silent, our words are no longer required, and the words of Verses 3-5 must become alive in our hearts and minds—"If anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, 'You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the Lord;' and his father and mother who gave birth to him will pierce him through when he prophesies.' Also it will come about in that day that the prophets will each be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies, and they will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive; but he will say, 'I am not a prophet; I am a tiller of the ground, for a man sold me as a slave in my youth.'"
And by the way, notice the words, "they will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive..." It's true that in Israel and also in the church through the centuries, many have deliberately worn uncomfortable clothing, such as sackcloth, to send a message that they are "fasting" from the pleasures of this world. Some very good people have worn "a hairy robe," such as John the Baptist—Mark 1:6 reveals that "John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey." But others wear certain clothing or have special titles in order to be noticed. That was not John the Baptist's intention, for he who was "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15), and knew better. He responded to the leading of the Lord like we all should. Outward appearances can mislead us, and we should pray until we know the difference.
I've met people who have injured themselves, attempting to produce piety (religious devotion) in their lives and thoughts. Self-whipping is a common method, and I have good news for us all—it's not required. In fact, God discourages such behavior. We need to have faith in the Lord...salvation is not from some effort on our part. Abraham discovered that very thing—"he (Abraham) believed in the Lord, and He (God) accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Paul the Apostle commented, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). That's the sense of Verse 6 in this chapter—"And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.' When we discover that it was Jesus who did the work necessary for salvation, we will finally disavow our own efforts to be saved. Attempts to please God through religious works, tend to be like "wounds" that lead us—nowhere.
A shift in perspective occurs in Verse 7—"'Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,' declares the Lord of hosts. 'Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered.'" It's about the Lord Jesus Christ. The false shepherds had been encouraged to roam freely in Israel, whereas He was the true Shepherd and our sins murdered Him, causing His followers to be "scattered." You can see it in Matthew 26:31-35 and Mark 14:27-31, where Jesus quoted this verse to His disciples...to which Peter responded, "I will never fall away." But it happened just as the Lord said it would.
Our goal, the goal that was set for us before we were born or thought about, is to have true faith in the Lord, believing that He exists, He loves us, and the grace of God through His death and resurrection will give us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Most do not find that faith, preferring their own works to simple trust in the Lord. Jesus encouraged us to "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. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). The life He offers is "difficult" to find because people prefer look in all the wrong places, prefering works to faith.
It has been true for the Hebrew people and it is true for us all. You can read about their struggle in Verses 8-9..."'It will come about in all the land,' declares the Lord, 'That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it.' And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.
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 my God.'" At some level, we all want approval, and the challenge is to see that the approval of other people is merely temporary. Can you imagine an eternity of being faced with the utter realization that you are a complete failure? Only God can utter the words "They are My people" in a way that will last. First you must decide, "The Lord is my God," and then be willing to accept Him and the life He has chosen for you. Just like gold and silver are heated in order to eliminate impurities, you will experience a process called "sanctification," in which sin is removed. Yes life is difficult, but you will like the outcome when God says of you and yours, "They are my people."
Father, I have decided: I trust in the Lord. I place my faith in Him now, and accept the life You have in store for me. I am Yours, Lord. Forgive my sins, make me clean inside and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.