Zechariah 13:1-6 Israel cleansed and evil cut off

fountain-in-patio-restaurant1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. 

2 “And on that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more; and also I will remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit.  3 And if any one again appears as a prophet, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD’; and his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.  4 On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; he will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive,  5 but he will say,  ‘I am no prophet, I am a tiller of the soil; for the land has been my possession since my youth.’  6 And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’” 

On that day.   This phrase seems to be a literary device that compiles related events and sets them in a timeframe.  It is not always in one literal day, although here we have both.   It is like Zechariah has a basket full of ideas that he pulls out randomly to examine. In this passage it conveys the idea of historic events whose chronology seems unimportant; idols removed from the land, false prophets ashamed of their visions.  It is that one day, however, when he is pierced, which brings about the cleansing of sin and uncleanness. Here again, we are witnesses to a singularity, that is the LORD of hosts is the center of this passage.  Its place here in Zechariah is the prophecy of his death, the piercing one must look upon. The removal of idols and false prophets [Revelation 13:8, 17:8] takes place within the timeframe from the Babylonian exile to the destruction of Jerusalem.

This follows chapter 12:10-14 where a spirit of compassion and supplication is poured out beforehand, so as to prepare the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. While salvation is to all who believe, the Messiah came first to the Jew.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Romans 1:16,17

There will come a “day” for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem when a fountain will cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. This fountain washes clean all those who would come to the Temple services as required by the Law. Mikvah’s or baths were everywhere in Israel.  Numerous scriptures cite the need for ritual cleansing for a variety of causes. This needed to be done over and over again. (See Also: Appendix note on Baptism)

You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; Lev. 10:10 

  • Food [Lev 11:34]
  • Touching the dead [Lev 11:39 & Num 19:11-22]
  • Women after menstruation and birth [Lev 12 & Lev 15;19-24].
  • Lepers and other maladies [Lev 13-15].
  • Anointing of Priests [Lev 14].
  • Men having running issue [Lev 15:1-16].
  • All kinds of defilement [Lev 15:16].
  • Carrying out the ashes of the Red Heifer [Num 19:9].
  • War booty and warriors [Num. 31: 21-24].

One cannot be near the LORD without being cleansed, set apart and holy. However, this cleansing is forever because His blood covers sin and makes clean forever.

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1Cor. 6:11

but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  1 John 1:7 

The Basket

We have a number of events that might on the surface look like they should be chronologically arranged, however they are not. The Hebrew way of explaining events often resembles more of a basket full of various items that may or may not be in any particular order. This “basket” of Zechariah’s appears to be what action takes place to clean each one and the land from sin and uncleanness. This basket also contains from the previous chapter [Zech 12:10-14] a pouring of a spirit, piercing, and mourning. A fountain, idols, false prophets, and wounds on his back come from this passage [Zechariah 13: 1-6].

The first item in our basket is idolatry.  The Jews gave up idolatry after the Babylonian exile, there was no more compromise.

FYI:  Among the many insane ideas of the Roman Emperor Caligula who ruled from 37 – 41 A.D, was the erection of a statue of himself in the temple in Jerusalem.  He ordered Petronius the Syrian proconsul, to march his imperial troops to Jerusalem and force the Jews to erect this statue in the Temple.  He was met by a large Jewish delegation at Acco, numbering in the tens of thousands. The Jews begged Petronious not to carry out Caligula’s orders, insisting they be killed rather than have to witness such a travesty.  Petronius managed to put off the Emperor, and averted the riots that surely would have occurred.

The next item in our basket are the false prophets.  The false prophets were to be removed from the land. There is to be no more false teachings or doctrines.  The consequences of being a false teacher is also in this “basket”.

Certainly, from Malachi to John the Baptist there were no prophets at all.  Those 400 years were silent, just like the 400 years in Egypt before the escape from slavery and the giving of the Law.  And the 400 years of silence that we have experienced since the Reformation.

John, who denied being “the” prophet.  He called for repentance.  He comes wearing camel’s hair, the traditional garment of a prophet, calling out “prepare the way of the Lord”.  The Messiah was to put His Laws upon our hearts.

“And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” and he confessed, and did not deny, and he confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” John 1: 19-23 

The hairy mantle of a prophet, usually camel’s hair, will not be worn on that day. There will be only one prophet. We learned from Zechariah 12:12 (the house of David), that THE prophet is the one who is pierced.

Falsely testifying in the name of the LORD, these teachers who accuse Jesus of blaspheme will be put to shame and deny they ever were a prophet.  His miracles and resurrection from the dead will ultimately silence them. The false teachers and prophets of “that day”, when he was pierced, are the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the scribes. Singled out by Jesus repeatedly, they were accused of leading many to hell [Matt. 23:15].

Claiming to be farmers, these people quickly take the easy escape by denying they ever lied. The false prophets who choose to deny the Messiah, are declared to be worthy of being pierced unto death by father and mother. Friends will initially try corrective action, so much so that the false prophet’s back is wounded.  There appears to be no tolerance for false teaching and this follows Deuteronomy as to the course of correction family and friends are to take with people who try to lead others to a different Lord [Deut 13:6-11;  21:18-21; 25: 2;  Prov. 19: 29].

“but woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matt 23:13 

During the ministry of the Lord, there were also many who falsely prophesied they were the messiah.  After Jesus’ resurrection, the false prophets were so bothersome, the Romans had many crucified.  No other people but the Jews look for a messiah.  Pagans do not look for a deliverer, as they almost always have a god or demigod who takes on the character of a redeemer.  Therefore, they have no need or desire to look for another.  We know from Josephus that indeed there were many false messiahs at that very time.

Felix, Governor of Judea, put to death imposters daily.

4. There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty. But Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

an Egyptian prophet led 30,000 men in commanding the walls of Jerusalem to fall.

5. But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.War 2.13.4,5

Theudas prophesied he would part the River Jordan in 46 AD

1. NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews in the time of Cuspius Fadus’s government.  Antiq. 20.5.1

Festus deals with a Certain Imposter

10. Upon Festus’s coming into Judea, it happened that Judea was afflicted by the robbers, while all the villages were set on fire, and plundered by them. And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers, grew numerous. They made use of small swords, not much different in length from the Persian acinacae, but somewhat crooked, and like the Roman sicae, [or sickles,] as they were called; and from these weapons these robbers got their denomination; and with these weapons they slew a great many; for they mingled themselves among the multitude at their festivals, when they were come up in crowds from all parts to the city to worship God, as we said before, and easily slew those that they had a mind to slay. They also came frequently upon the villages belonging to their enemies, with their weapons, and plundered them, and set them on fire. So Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain impostor, who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also.  Antiq. 20.8.10

The Bible also lists many of these false men. [Acts 5:36-37; 8:9 Simon the Sorcerer; 21:38, 2 Cor 11:13, 2 Cor 11:26, Gal 2:4, 2 Pet 2:1, Jude 4, Acts 13:6 Bar Jesus a sorcerer and false prophet]

Today, Judah is back in the land in unbelief.  The false/prophet/teachers of Judaism actively oppose their Messiah.  Many people are under the erroneous impression that Judaism is older than Christianity, but that is backwards.  The Temple sacrificial system that existed from the time of Moses is not Judaism.  Judaism is the creation of Rabbi Akiva after the failure of the Bar Kochba rebellion in 137 AD.  Judaism has two main points, how to worship God without a temple, and that guy from Nazareth is not the Messiah.  This is what all their prophets teach.

The LORD is the one who scatters and the one who brings them back from the four corners of the earth.  That Judah is in the land in unbelief and with false teachers denying their Messiah, is part of a different basket. It is difficult to understand in any other way.  This passage appears to be speaking of the false prophets related to the “day” that he was pierced.

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