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THE DELIGHTFUL DRAMA:
AND HEAVEN'S HAVEN -
IN CHRIST'S CALL
ZECHARIAH 13, IN CONTEXT
The Word of God is fulfilled not only in detail,
but in drama and definitively
Zechariah 13 may not seem challenging, but it is; and as in all scriptural challenge, it is pure delight to find its meaning, apply it and see the way thus shown.
As a preliminary, first today, let us consider the current plight of man.
You do not seek credit if you see yourself as wealthy; and if man is in debt to reality, and imagines credit, in defiance of royalty, or as more interested in royalties than his King, then this needs to be realised. Bankruptcy of spirit is not avoided by swagger. He inherits war, and despoils, being spoiled, and soiled and shows all the wisdom of folly.
One of man's mesmeric follies, his fascination for which is as deep as his alienated life from the God of creation, is war.
MAN AND WAR
Man is the most endangered species precisely because, granted power to reason, he violates its principles, and becomes his own little god; and this being not so, he famishes in spirit, through pride of heart, and is dashed in his own dynamics until the entire surface of the sphere called earth is now at risk. This is of course as foretold (Matthew 24). He even manages to blame God for his forwardness of aspiration (Romans 1), and backwardness of understanding, and wonders endlessly how to live in peace with his neigbour until there is no help (II Timothy 3, Jeremiah 5), and then he tries whether through communist or Nazi practice, to force conformity, as if tight-fitting shoes removed bunions.
The 'god of forces' (Daniel 11:37-38, SMR pp. 707ff., Of the Earth ... Ch. 13) however does not help. Man is capable of far better things than self-inflicted robotism (Little Things Ch. 5, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, Life, What is it ? Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 2).
He is not however, in himself, showing this potential.
Instead, he blasts with ever more powerful weaponry, the co-creatures of God's creation, his fellow mankind. There is little too horrid, too torrid, too inherently wicked, for him to embrace. Hr id as an enemy to himself, because he will not make peace with his Creator, or bear the rule of his King.
Nations are as prey to man. If he is not destroying their churches, their bridges, their railways, their health with poison or nerve gas, as in Iraq and in Europe before that, then he is indoctrinating their children with the desire to be 'martyrs' by marring children and destroying youth abroad in the name of some suppositious but meretricious god whose will is submission, but whose methods are as shown by those who claim to know and do show him. If this were God, alas for man; but it is not so (More Marvels ... Ch. 4, SMR pp. 1080ff., Divine Agenda Ch. 6).
Carnage multiplies, and indifference to lives of misery lived by thousands as a result of indiscriminate social bombing, not in martial field but in suburbs and shops, in restaurants and in the forces for order, this is mandatory for the merciless. And what to the residues of life left to maimed children and severe repression at the level of gender and pity, what remains ? It is woe by aggression, land by intimidation, glory by force and error made mandatory, as has been the case in Romanism's Inquisition and Nazi anti-semitism, now joined by newly packaged brands.
The "god of forces" of which biblical prophecy speaks, that worship which involves FORCE as an emblem and SUBMISSION as a tool, which requires martial power to implement or SUPPRESSION to militate over the populace, this is seen on all sides, aspiring like a wolf for more and more. It is in much of Islam, has been in Communism - where it still is, where that is left in any but transmuted and metamorphosed form, as in Nazism, in Romanism as appalling for more than a century in the Inquisition (Ancient Words, Modern Events Ch. 14), and it is to be found in foolish sects, as in Jonesville, and in foolish notions, such as transfer through death to some planet, with suicide the vehicle to get there. People have believed such things, acted on them; are dead.
As it was to be, so it is. But this is not good enough. Force by its very nature is not faith (cf. Divine Agenda Ch. 6, The Meaning of Liberty, the Message of Remedy Ch. 9 ). Force may secure lips that lie, but not hearts that live. Man is just not like that. These prescriptions are folly. People may call on others to help Iran, whether from Australian clerics or elsewhere, but the idea of battling with the nuclear for supremacy of religion is as ludicrous as is that of marrying for money. It falsifies the point of life. It makes morality a machine tool, something to be working at power levels; but the heart is not so.
MAN AND FORCE
The underlying folly of not finding the living God, attested in verification and validity
(Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ, Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer, Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host),
is seen in such places as The Christian Pilgrimage, Ch. 3. Indeed, it is precisely the absolute sufficiency of the validity, unlike that of any other claimant, and the precision of the verification that makes the avoidance of the issue not merely impossible, but ludicrous*1. Further, it is the comprehensibility of it all, seen in the light of Christ and the Bible, and the comprehensive character of this comprehensibility, as it looms clear on every horizon of systematic knowledge, that confirms past all quaver, quibble and quiver, the simple fact as to man and the universe: it is something that God did in creation, and the answers are to be found in the Maker.
This is scarcely surprising; but one needs to be apprised of the fact, and to realise that rebellion ONLY is the alternative; and this is as much against logic, as the Lord (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7), against reality as against redemption's gift, and ends in a natural (that is appropriate), but anti-natural (that is, denaturised) oblivion from the light that is the end of the desire for darkness, direct or by implication alike. Let us however return to the sub-category of gods of forces, the faith-force miasma, where force is construed as apt in the maw of faith, to shove it in, and get out some kind of ejaculation, which is then regarded as rational, rather than a scream of horror, and to our excerpt from The Christian Pilgrimage, Ch. 3.
Forcible inundation with religion is demeaning to man, degrading to faith (c. SMR pp. 50ff. 62ff., 1186Aff., Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8, esp. *1), impotent before the Lord, a fiasco instead of a reason, a ruthlessness instead of a reality, and it has afflicted this earth long centuries at a time, while the idolatry of some is seized roughly by the idolatry of others, whether the object of this false worship be a man, or woman, as with Romanism, not Christ but His "vicar on earth" whose authority proceeds from himself, or a false god as with Allah through a false prophet, Muhammad, or the worship of mankind, as in Communism, with special emphasis on SOME of them, who are the Party Commissars, through whom as allegedly through the pope and Muhammad, comes the inspiration to 'interpret' what rules the world.
Meanwhile, there stirs a martial lust in North Korea: that living example of the folly of Communism in its idolatrous leadership (NOT in the sense, this time, that the people worship him, or his status, or his ways, but that it, the leadership, is erected for such expression of life that all must submit). This is that same Muslim idea, with that same misplaced force as so often there found, as indeed also in Romanism, all as far from the realities of human nature, which must be touched in profound love, moved in assured faith and energised with personal conviction, as is the East from the West!
While these feverish ideas spend themselves like obsessed ocean breakers in the stormy surf, SARS adds itself worldwide to AIDS, earthquake to famine, insurrection to ideas of more, and one could be forgiven for thinking or at least feeling that the whole scene had been wrought by a world devoted to the fulfilment of the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24, Luke 21), all but obsessively; rather than to the ignoring of His ways and the affirmation of its own. The power of God is seen in this, that the more the world TRIES to be serenely autonomous, free to and for itself, the more it is enchained, and the more it is bound by its own bewildered arrogances, aspirations and thunder, the more it meekly expresses what Christ declared would be its own outcome!
There, it is power.
It is also irony, that the more this world grows into a formless, shapeless mass of evil and derogation of the living God, or at least departure from Him, the more it conforms to the words of His mouth: subject even in rebellion to His telling truth! Even if they will not tell it, it tells them where they are going in ways eminently verifiable and verified constantly!
GOD AND PRACTICAL LOVE:
THE SPIRITUAL SWITCH
The divine antidote to such disease is seen in The Meaning of Liberty, the Message of Remedy Ch. 9.
Christ did not proceed to imprison you, if you left Him out; but went to others who would take Him in (cf. John 9:51-56). He did not requisition land for His program as the Communists did with a cruelty which was a sort of living crucifixion, sending the owners off as criminals to slave virtually unpaid for the State in maximally horrid conditions, dying by degrees; but rather declared - "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
§ His kingdom is giving;
§ the distortions of various kinds, diverse, obverse, converse, perverse,
§ amount to TAKING.
These kingdoms of force, whether Moslem, Communist or Romanist (cf. SMR pp. 1079ff., Barbs, Arrows and Balms 30), Holy Roman Empire or Hitleresque, Fascist or Chinese, as in Tibet, alas the land, do not realise one crucial thing. Man is made by God for God and THEREFORE his ultimate allegiance is to God ALONE. What seeks to get between or operate with mere force at the level of faith is an intrusion, an abuse and an evil. Where people choose to live, as in Israel of old, where God is the known ruler, that is one thing (as in Joshua 24); where the people have not so sought, it is another.
Where however, as now, there is no one nation, and there is no State authorised or enabled, called or chosen for this purpose, it is merely worse than heresy: it is futile refashioning of man as if man were God. Indeed, violence concerning faith and the terrain of such conviction is like teaching a baby to walk with a cat and nine tails, scorpions or an electric screw-driver (cf. SMR pp. 1186Aff.).
These little gods act without authority and without truth, in a guise they cannot make real, and their follies of force, cruelty, compassionless flamboyance are like flames from hell. They torture and roar into the faces of men. This is the end of many, to be sure, the flames of their own follies torturing their rebellious souls; but to God be the things of God, and God knows mercy even where men may not see it. The tender mercies of the wicked, as Proverbs 12:10 declares, are however cruel.
Cruelty ? He took it. Compassion ? He has it. Knowledge of the heart of man ? He displayed it. He followers are volunteers (Psalm 110). NO ONE else ever manages that and invests a multitude world-wide with peace, while truth confirms itself and is verified on all sides. Fear and force replace genuine faith, and manipulation takes the place of loyalty and love. Not fanaticism but delight is the flavour of truth; and it has no need of force, for it speaks for itself.
When all the lies are done, then the sentences will indeed be set in judgment; but what patience has God, and what love, that for centuries since the murder of Christ, while He shows so clearly He has all in control (cf. II Peter 2:19, and see SMR Chs. 8 - 9), He yet predicts and permits the endless heresies that put human power or distortion in His very own name, and abuse the glory of the Christ. Each such contender contends; none amends. All fall together. Only the word of God stands.
As to God, He is not vindictive; He is not selfish; He is sovereign and He is sacrificial and if, in the end, lies are ruled out, and those who love them must inhabit the land of their own choice, He has done the uttermost both in practice in the Cross and resurrection, and all the following miracles (cf. Hebrews 2), while in patience, allowing here this one and here that one to forsake the idolatries of the flesh, including that of atheism where the self becomes the puny god and useless arbiter, ex-truth, of truth, in hopeless confusion (cf. That Magnificent Rock Ch. 5, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 and 7, Repent or Perish Chs. 2 and 7).
His glory is not a piquish one, not a power dazzled one in which compulsion is the meaning and illiberal compression is the method; but it is something which being lovely, is loved. It is pure, without deceit, without mere force as its criterion, authoritative with the authority of truth, intrinsic and not merely extrinsic, patient with persons as persons, and willing as a person to die for persons that something personable and pure might arise from the salvation. It is just and justice being heavy, HE has personally met it (Romans 3:23ff.), so that when justifying the ungodly (Romans 5:1-12, 4:5), who come to Him, He may still be JUST.
If He had not, then having power and all knowledge of all things for all time, He would have been implicated in the evils that swarm like some mental patient, vexed and impotent, making and destroying; but having met it, He is exhibiting His purity, for from His exhaustively created universe, there is not blade or a spirit which is unknown to Him, there is nothing which can contribute to Him, but much that can confront His creation to defile it: so that it attacks Him, spoils itself, soils its spirit, shames its name.
Having made man free to love, He has made him free to sin, and having made man,
He makes Him free if he will, from the spoliage to which he seems now so utterly addicted,
whether in mind, body or spirit, or all three. It was ruin or remedy; and God chose remedy;
but this discounted, it is only ruin.
Hell is not some amazing judgment; it is merely the result of failing to let God pick up the tab. Not that it is within our power; but it is within His to make the offer effectual, and knowing all, His choice reaches to the uttermost (Romans 9:16), since He would that ALL should be reconciled (Colossians 1:19ff.), but not at the cost of the validity of the nature which He made for man. Hence did He weep over Jerusalem, that it did not recognise the day of its visitation from God, its vast and ample opportunity (Luke 19:42ff). He wept because He would it were otherwise, but would not smash reality in order to achieve mere plausible results.
THIS is the condemnation (and NOT something else) that light has come and men have preferred darkness (John 3:19), not GOD! The light of His living suffers no shadow of contrariety, but where others prefer it, in the eyes of Him who knows all but would deliver all (I Timothy 2), then into their own darkness, without Him, do they go.
If man wants to live in a spiritual glass-house, made of pretence and pretension, so be it; the stones of reality will assuredly ruin it; but man is suffered so to do.
For the Lord, expediency is no rule, but truth and peace in love, like a river in its splendid courses, cohering and continuing (cf. Isaiah 48:18ff.). It is, in fact in view of this love and peace like a river, this justice and truth, alas then so vastly rejected by so many, yes then as now, that He appeals in that very place relative to the prototype Babylon itself,
- "Go forth from Babylon!...
- Utter it to the end of the earth;
- Say, 'The LORD has redeemed his servant...' " (Isaiah 48:20).
Babylon the city typified religious relativism, embracement of anything, the polyglot spirituality which trying to have all, and speaking in many tongues, speaks nullity and gains nothing. It has many applications; but for now, the chief is this: making up your brew, instead of finding out what God has done for you.
Now let us look at Zechariah 13, to see the divine cost and the human result of what God did; for what man does is never nearly enough, any more than is the bite of a flea, for the health of its victim. It is wrong both in method, direction and in power. It is worse than irrelevant. So is man's effort to heal himself; for it is like a man with an infectious disease, visiting the sick, and making them yet sicker.
GOD AND COST -
the ZERO SIN LEVEL of the MESSIAH
Folly shown to Israel, by A Foolish Nation
In the immediate context of Zechariah 13, the preceding chapter, we find there is the End of the Age scenario of a restored Israel (cf. Ezekiel 38-39 - newly returned), and that there are to be battles about Jerusalem. That is the forecast.
Thus, many are those who seek to give to the Jew a strange substitute. They now would bring to that people, a polluting contest , instead of the promised country of the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations, namely Palestine. They are treated by many as if they were in occupation of their own city. This has been now so long divorced from them that the nations tend to regard it as an imposition, for Israel to have returned, despite the fact that it seems Israel has lived there in singular occupancy for well over a millenium (say 1000 years - from David to A.D. 70, minus 70 years in the interim exile in Babylon, plus since 1948, nearly another 60) long enough to establish an ancient heritage, and not just a more recent advent.
It is the city to which they gave fame and glory, the centre of their religion and the site of their implanting. Here was the temple of glorious symbolism, of immense wealth, famous the world over. No sooner was it destroyed, than in a generation or so, it was up again, until the last time, in AD 70, its removal being a visitation on a delinquent people on the one hand, and its point being fulfilled in Christ, it has not been rebuilt. It is a standing rebuff to failure to receive what it symbolised, the Messiah and His sacrifice, because of its fall. What needs to be rebuilt is faith in Christ, not a symbolic figuring of what He has already done! So it was to be (Daniel 9, Matthew 24) and so it is. God is very eloquent.
Moreover Jerusalem has been THE site of Israel, and not a merely occupied territory for an empire with many lands and outlets, as has been the case for the Moslem invaders of the judged land of the desolate nation. What is equally forgotten (cf. Genesis 17:7-8 and consult Galloping Events Ch. 4) is this: that the God of the Bible has IRREVOCABLY assigned the land to Israel. To be sure, He has likewise imposed penalties for unbelief (as in Leviticus 26), including exile, and this has of course been ABUNDANTLY fulfilled.
However, as one reads Deuteronomy 32, cited by Paul in Romans 11:26, it is clear that there is far more than mere discipline in this. God has deliberately by PRE-ANNOUNCED plan, made Israel to be stricken by "a foolish nation", people of idolatry and false religion, so that its own depravity in leaving the living God, their covenant God of peace and mercy, might the more sharply be exposed (explicit in Deuteronomy 32:21ff.). If your Ferrari is chugging along behind a Volkswagen, then it becomes rather clear that there is something - dare we say it - wrong! It needs PUTTING RIGHT!
Folly Exhibited by a Burdensome Stone : Jerusalem
Thus in Zechariah 12, we see predicted the ineffectual efforts of the nations to deal with Jerusalem, who make it their business to assign it; and this is precisely what has happened some 2500 years later. It has become a 'burdensome stone' to them. Moreover, we are told that such will be the triumphs of Israel at this time, at the approaching end of the Age (Zech 14 focusses it in some depth) , that it will seem as if God Himself is fighting for them. This is given great emphasis in this Chapter of Zechariah, just as it has been focussed in world news in this phase of history, in the conflicts of 1948, 1967 and 1973, and indirectly in the Gulf War of the nineteen nineties. In fact, Iraq, which stressed that it was still at war with Israel and had been since 1948, found just how heavy Jerusalem can be to those who make it their property and a matter of their thoughts for it!
The Second Gulf War may have been costly for the USA; but it has been an end to the face of power, which the USA itself helped to build up, in order to help combat Iran it seems, of that aggressive nation. Not only has it suffered in its war of attrition and horror with Iran, but both in the First and Second Gulf Wars. While it strives in compartments, its glory has paid a heavy price. A heavy burden is it, like a great stone, which the interfering nations are offered, as they seek to silence to word of God, or at least act in that way, to the detriment of returned, but not yet spiritually restored Israel.
In Zechariah 12, it is this latter part which presses into the text, after the account of the amazingly triumphant wars, and the discomfiture of the interfering or assailing parties.
through the Crucified Messiah,
Where Faith has its Object
Thus, suddenly, in Zechariah 12:10ff., we find a new element in the equation. It hits like an asteroid to summon the parties.
Israel in its triumph, and in its troubles, both as foretold, is brought drastically to its spiritual senses. Through the express power of the Holy Spirit, it is made to realise that it has a missing engine in its car. It is like the case of an imaginary Volkswagen which while keeping the front part free, overcome by convention, neglected to put the engine in the back area also. Although in this, it would a 'self-made' car, it is none the better for that. In fact, in this plight, it cannot go.
So is it with Israel. Whatever might be the pity, the compassion, the care and concern, the illustriously faithful compassion of the living God to protect it, despite its evil passion against Christ (at the national level, in refusing His integrity), there is still the heart. Until this is given back to the Lord, Israel is at war with Him, though He be faithful to it. Now at last, as seen likewise in Romans 11:25ff., the vast reaping occurs. Many in Israel come to Christ, so that a new nation, a nation of priests and kings as in I Peter 2, might be formed, where all are one in Christ Jesus. Its own phasing into history, then coming to culmination, enters into the generic dominion of Christ, in whom all are one.
What follows this amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit, predicted in this period or its adjoining chronological property, for Israel ?
Faith Finds a
It is this. First there is a vast mourning for sin and repentance. This account completes Zechariah 12.
In Zechariah 13, we find that instead of a sacrifice of animals (one prevented in Jerusalem for some 1000 years, since it was lost to the Jews, just as the Messiah, at their own hand, was lost to them), there is to be another and a far better, a predicted and a performed sacrifice. it is that of the Messiah. Indeed, God says this, as He speaks: "They will look upon Me whom they have pierced!"
It would always be upsetting to be confronted by one whom you had murdered, the more so if this had been accompanied by official deceit; but when the One concerned is the LORD, then the extremity of grief and shame knows no bounds.
This is what is shown in Zechariah 12:10-13:1.
In the last verse noted, however, we find that just as the remorse, the grief, the anguish at such folly as the crucifixion of Christ strikes home, borne into their very hearts and lives, minds and spirits with force by the "Spirit of grace and of supplications," so there is an abundant provision to cover their sin, shame and folly. Instead of blood dripping from the deceased flesh of animals, as in the days of the Temple, there is a fountain with cleansing agent surging forth like a stream, jutting into their midst in abundance, its flow liberal, its magnitude of mercy uncontained! Small wonder in Jeremiah's predictions, we find that the time would come when the symbolic things of the temple, would not come to mind, such would be the intensity and immensity of the gift of God to man.
Jeremiah 3:16 is in this, almost like a prelude to John 3:16, and the more so when you wed it to Jeremiah 31:31 and 23:5-8!
This fountain of Zechariah 13 reminds one of John 4, where those who drink of the living water which Christ gives, will have in them, a fountain, a spring of water arising to eternal life.
It never fails. God never fails (Zephaniah 3:5). What had been a purificatory norm of sprinkling as in Leviticus 4ff., and Hebrews 10, where baptisms (Hebrews 9:10) are listed in such sprinkling terms in the following verses (King James 'washings', Greek, literally baptisms), and one still to be sacramentally normative as seen in Ezekiel 36:25 in the era of their return, now has an effectual and not merely a sacramental depiction.
Changed and charged is the communal reality. It is a FOUNTAIN SPRINGING UP which is the designation of the washing, splashing with abundance from the ground up. The intensity of the change is notable, for what had been sprinkling as in the day of the atonement (Leviticus 16:15) is now so abundant, that its depiction is in terms of a city fountain to which all may come!
The sprinkling as in Hebrews 10:22 is still the term used with respect to the actualities of the cover, but in Zechariah 13 the vast wonder of God's mercy is seen in something rushing upwards and outwards, denoting the strength, the torrential character and the startling grace, abundant adequacy and laughing radiance of the wonder. If there is grief at the cause of it, there is joy at the cover thus provided. The splashing of the fountain may still sprinkle, but it does so in a surge of splendour.
Presumption Finds its Shame,
and Keeps its Name
Far to the contrary is the spiritual result for many. There is focus on this in Zechariah 13:2-5.
There are always those who resist, resent grace and insist on saving themselves by, or in companionship with their own works, as Romans 10 so strongly attests of Israel, at Paul's lips. Such is the love of Christ, however, that it is precisely this Paul who for all that, could almost wish himself cursed for their sake (Romans 9:3).
It is however Christ who was cursed for their sakes, and it is to Him they must come. Neither Paul nor Moses could avail for such a purpose (cf. Exodus 32:32). The Lord's Christ ONLY could do this (Galatians 3), and did it in precise conformity to all the predictions, as in hearty love in all His ways.
It is a major miracle of the entire Gospel Age, that in Israel there is to be such a massive and sudden reaping, returning to the Lord. FIRST HE out of pure grace and faithful wonder, brought them back to their land as Ezekiel 36 shows would be the case, and 37 dramatically confirms. History has already had to say AMEN! to that.
Then out of impure disgrace they are brought to see the purity of their Lord and the cost to Him of their grace, and in grace they respond, and by grace, for they are brought back where it is far harder to come, than in any journey on land, sea or air.
The journey of the heart to the hallowed and hallowing name of the Lord, and in particular, to the murdered Lord (something wrought by Rome in conjunction with Israel), is one far more difficult. Only the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of the living Lord, acting in His name, can accomplish that for anyone (cf. John 16). By grace through faith you are saved ones, says Paul in Ephesians 2; and as to that ? it is not of works. The whole thing is of grace through faith.
How many stop at the brink, and in this resemble ancient Israel. As for that people, when at last out of Egypt's imprisoning slavery, brought through MANY miracles wrought, to the Promised Land, it baulked, it jibbed, it failed, it refused! Unwise is he who does so, as both the 40 years which followed, wandering in the desert, and the text of Hebrews 6 and 10 alike show! When there is one bridge, do not try jumping 5 kilometres to cross a chasm. Try that bridge. It has been built at ... cost!
When a fountain is installed, do not try quenching your thirst by having earth-moving equipment and boring means, brought to the desert. Use the fountain. Both wash and drink abundantly. Splash about in it. There is plenty (cf. Isaiah 44:1-5).
But what of those who DO refuse ? Zechariah 13:2-3 considers the leaders. The false prophets (for all prophets, in the Old Testament sense of adding to the Word of God by inscripturation, are false by this time, the canon being complete, the Cross a thing past and the resurrection already performed), these are to be 'cut off'. They are by the very act of adding to the word of God, rebelling against it in this era!
The effusive pretence by which many have for some time now, tried to tell us that the Lord has said this and that, and adding whole books as in Mormonism, or ideas as in the sects, of their own, misdirect many, be joined by those who are furiously and spuriously affecting an authority they do not possess. The Gospel which PAUL HAD PREACHED ALREADY IN HIS OWN DAY, the one which the word of God in his epistles makes plain as light itself, this is the one which is to be the criterion, with NOTHING ALTERED. It does not change. To add is to change. Such is Galatians 1:6-9. Suppose Paul erred, changing it ? He too would be cursed, in such a case, he affirms. It is inviolate, not of man or of man's teaching, but of God.
It is the same.
Thus we read in Zechariah 13 that the prophets of that day will be cut off in Israel. Someone who 'still prophesies' will be severely rebuked, ostracised, by even his parents. It seems in view of Deuteronomy 13, as Poole in his commentary points out, unlikely that there is any sword death in view, as stoning in the Old Covenant was the method of death penalty in such cases of misleading prophets. The piercing may be rather to the heart; but in any case, such prophets are despised and rejected now that Israel is awakened as in 12:10, for Christ is enthroned in their hearts.
Accordingly, speakers in the name of the Lord, who have their own new words to provide, will be ashamed, for so manifest does the Gospel of the Lord become in Israel at that day, so impacted by the Spirit of the Living God is the reality and power IN THE MESSIAH, that any tampering is seen as mere untruth. In no other of any kind is there salvation, for there is no other foundation, and in no other word but that of His apostles and prophets of old, a word of constitutive force (Ephesians 2:19ff., cf. Acts 4:11-12), is there sound ground. It is the Church which was already built (past tense), in Paul's day, as a structure, that comes into focus, so that the enormity of ANY OTHER principle, procedure or prince is at once obvious.
What then ? What does this teach us ? Ministers minister Christ; the Bible is the source book, the Book of the Lord: the thing is finished, the work is done, the word is spoken (cf. Revelation 22:18-19 with 20), the eyes being now opened, and they are closed to fraud. No more of that will be tolerated from false prophets, who had for so long in so much misled so many.
Were they not already misled by Caiaphas and his crew ? Have they not paid! Do they need further instruction of what Proverbs had so long taught (30:6), that you do not ADD to His word lest He rebuke you and you become a liar. Let liars love it. It is no more to be found for the truth.
So we move to Zechariah 13:5.
'Prophets' now, instead of glorying in their special ways and garments, will be ashamed, will seek to return to manual labour rather than false instruction. The era of blindness is thus replaced by the entry of light. Such is Romans 11, such is Zechariah 12-13.
The Glory of Love
contrasted with the Love of Glory
Suddenly, once again, in these most dramatic of chapters, Zechariah 12 and 13, we move next from the detestation of the fraudulent prophets, and their at least metaphorical despatch, thrust through with truth as with a sword, and find now the contrasting parallel.
What is this ? A contrasting parallel ? Is this not oxymoron gone wrong ? Not at all. The parallel is close and even intense. Just as the false prophets in Zechariah are exhibited as worthy of death, as the law prescribed, and utterly rejected at the arrival of this realisation of the deity of the Messiah and the cost of His redemption which love paid, and mercy provided, so the Messiah comes in close parallel, in the following verse: 13:6.
He also was rejected and literally nailed. He has been relegated to the realm of FALSE PROPHET at His arrival, and like them He is rejected. So He is at once seen on the very heels of the disappearing false prophets of 13:5.
The contrast is just this; that just at the false deserved all they got, and paid, so He providing the redemption, got what they deserved also, but in the prescribed manner for the predicted Messiah, He received it in the hands. So vast was the effect of the body weight as it bore down on the pierced hands of the crucifixion of the Messiah (as also predicted in detail in Psalm 22), that doubtless the result in the arms was not absent, as the entire tissue became ruinous in appearance, cut and gaping. Between the hands, then, is the text, and that is where this PROPHET is shown. Parallel to the worst, He is placed with the false.
In practice, of course, Christ was crucified between two thieves. The conjunction in Zechariah 13 is just as in history; and moreover, it is as specifically foretold in Isaiah 53, where He is placed together with law-breakers.
The contrast then ? It is this, that as Isaiah put it, He is numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:9). That is not very good accounting, is it ? To put the prince with the polluted, and the Deliverer with the frauds, the failures, is a mix up so much in kind, that it allows Israel, one of the perpetrators, to be mixed up as a nation. Thus it gained a mix-up: instead of leading, following, instead of shining, sinning, instead of declaring, it became for many, a subject of mockery (as foretold, Ezekiel 22:4, 36:15). So it was to be; so it has been; but so no more.
We see then the Messiah, shown in a setting of the false, where Israel had put Him, but at once disclosed as the Swan among the sparrows, and the lion among the kittens, yes and the Deer among the rats.
This one, the One of Zechariah 13:6, is given a question. Not merely consigned to shame, but suddenly becoming a focus of question, He is asked:
"What are those wounds between your hands ?"
His reply is utterly devastating.
"Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends."
We at once reflect on the closely preceding verse 10 of Zechariah 12. They will look on "Me whom they have pierced."
The result confirms the obvious. "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Fellow..." Such is the divine response of the Father to this outrage (cf. Matthew 21:41). To the grieving conscience, Christ's inclusion among the false prophets, these exposed as such on His return, elicits the tableau, the picture of His false accusation. As in a vision, there is the attention given to a very different 'false prophet' from a very different judgment, at a very different time.
What are these wounds! It is almost as if He were replying in this way: Those wounds ? You are then interested ? Let Me then acquaint you with the facts. These are those of My betrayers, those of the fiendish crew who before this current revelation, in their own day of history, put Me right where the frauds stand, or rather fall. With Me, they did not fail to be particular, to attack the hands of healing with the nails of treason. And do you think My Father did not notice!
Awake O Sword! This was killing the key to mercy. In that, judgment had to come.
Then there follow what on the one side, is judgment, but on the other, are simply logical outcomes. If the Shepherd of the sheep is to be stricken, which is what happened when He, though true, gave His life, using the rejection for the gracious and indeed loving payment of redemption by bearing sin's guilt in His own flesh, what of the sheep ? This: they will be scattered.
companion, fellow, equal (Zechariah 13:7, as in Philippians 2);
if the Lord
Himself as coming and Sent (as in Isaiah 48:16) to be Saviour;
if HE is to
be so treated; if the Shepherd
if His very
body is to be ruined until the resurrection;
if this was
the plan of His enemies in His own day:
His reception was to be unequivocal, negative and bitter,
As Zechariah is moved to look down the coming era of the crucifixion, he is likewise led to see the national results for the Jewish people.
Neglect follows, for the sheep; and even the young would suffer for this folly of the powers that were so grossly abused, in Israel, and all the long tolerance of utter corruption (even the high priesthood having a ... price) would see its ultimate outcome in ruin.
With the Shepherd summarily rejected, and the sheep scattered (and HOW they were scattered when Rome destroyed Jerusalem, a long generation later), the little ones inherit the non-bliss (13:7).
Indeed, as Zechariah 13:8-9 goes on to show, the entire company of what had been Israel, scattered to many nations, as long foretold before this prophet, indeed by Moses, would come to lose MOST of its number. It would be only a REMNANT that remained: what in Isaiah 49:6 is called the chosen of Israel, or the elect, they would have spiritual life, but the nation would be all but terminated; or so it would seem. Two thirds would be consumed!
It is a parallel to what is found in Isaiah 11:10, this same concept of a remnant ONLY, which is there found to be called a SECOND TIME, back to the land. This is that of Ezekiel 36, where no more are they to have idols, once they are at last cleansed, and where the Messiah is to come to their midst, practising in peace and power (Ezekiel 37:24ff.). Indeed, this reference is most fitting, as Isaiah 11 is one of the numerous Messianic passages in Isaiah, concentrating in this case, on His earthly domain and reign to come, at His return, That promise of His personal and bodily return is most carefully delivered, as seen in Acts 1:7ff., and Zechariah 14:5, I Thessalonians 3:13; and its eventual mode, in II Thessalonians 1, Revelation 19!
For trespass, payment is made in the precincts of purity. Sin is sorrow and has no place in heaven. The case is costed, covered; and the worse it was for Christ, betrayed in the house of His friends to such incredible seeming mockery and physical, spiritual anguish, the worse it therefore must be for those who ignoring the payment, insist on their own accounts being brought in to judgment. Bankruptcy is a mere beginning. Loss is the name of it.
Love did not act in mercy at such cost for any other reason than this: the judgment was so naked and horrid for such naked and horrid things, that it would rather bear it, and merely see it reach those to whom it belonged. If then, love is consigned to the ghetto, then loss is assigned to the lost.
Facts do not become fancies because of love. The profundity of the mercy, the heights of the love are alike measures of the depth of what comes to those who not only sin, but secure themselves under its weight, ignoring the mountain of cover, and audaciously await it, like those drinking and dancing, as the atomic bomb looms above.
The plans were, and are grand; but where they are set alight, they do not help.
Truth and love are inseparables, and mercy and truth appear as companions, so that judgment through love comes into the agreement, which allows faith to absorb the splendour of sacrificial forgiveness. Such is foreshadowed in Psalm 85:10-11.
Truth indeed sprang up, as the Psalmist indicates, from the earth, when Christ came; but man hacked it down. Yet in the resurrection this Truth remains become part of the Gospel, that He is alive, the source of life for those whose death He actually bore. Thus when Truth comes to isolates from the protection of God, though He did not come to JUDGE the world, but that it might be saved, as He declared (John 3:17), yet all disdained, the judgment at last supervenes, and lodges where it belongs. But where is that ?
It is where mercy is mistaken for option, and truth for a cloud, where the Cross is deemed a thing needless for the mighty, and an additive for the moral, where man declaring himself innocent, or out of the reach of truth, finds the loss of lie. Lie may protect from trouble for a time, but not from Truth, ever.
For each abandoning the truth of God, it is his life. He has only one of those. Lose it and it is lost. Ignore mercy and it is doomed. The marvel is that the divine love was interested, the divine mercy saw fit to face the bill, the divine wisdom and courage and character actually paid it, and the redemption for two millenia has been presented, with this foreword on the topic, than when the time is past, judgment sets in.
Is it a threat that if you do not take the antidote, the disease will run its course ? or information, and when the rescue operation involves death of the One giving the mercy, then is it not more than mere information ? Is it not invitation, and hope, and good will to all ?
It is rather like a typhoon. If you do not care to make safe your house, how foolish are you! You are vulnerable, but inactive; you are warned, but do nothing. Kindness is shown you, and the matériel provided, but you kick it away. For kicks ? for quietus ? It is the same. It is not there; but judgment is.
Is there glory in judgment ? There is none in flesh, in that conceited, depleted, evanescent career of autonomy and self, which shows the world its colours, and in the end, is but pale. It is "the Lord alone" who be glorified in that day (Isaiah 2:11). The best products are merely due for the account paid in the wounds and the life of Christ so given. The least are dead loss. Sin is not an additive, but inherent; and 'good deeds' are not a substitute for the quality of Christ, the acceptable life, but a parade of the puny. Man without God is like the blooming of a weed, affliction with effrontery, exalting its coarseness and imagining itself thrice refined! Escapees from the life founded in truth, one and all, they become foci of guilt, to which if moral boasting be added, there is the irony of intoxicated pretence.
He has PAID. Those who trifle with the cost, are simply lost. Those who want to add to the payment, are merely presumptuous: they ignore both the level of perfect purity, perfect life required for the kingdom of heaven, and the pointlessness of their own lives, settling for something short of their Creator, and grieving the Spirit of God instead of receiving the truth. If it hurts, this is nothing compared with living the lie.
Fraud in spirit is a special thing, not at all seductive, but for the seduced.
The scripture asserts what reason depicts. See:
Jeremiah 2:13,27, 8:9-10, 23:21-29, Romans 1:17ff., Psalm 96:4-5, Acts 1:3. The last has the Greek term relative to the resurrection tekmhrion - defined as an indubitable evidence, a proof, what is plainly shown. In the same vein, in II Corinthians 10:5, Paul speaks of himself in the Lord's work as casting down imaginations (or false ideas about God and His ways, or contrary to Him, like forts) and bringing every thought into captivity to Christ (so that the illogical character of the contrary is exhibited, as is the inferiority of an enemy's battle host, when its leaders are subjected to public parade, as could occur in Rome! This of course relates closely to Paul's inspired word in Romans 1:17ff., where the logical ludicrousness of suppressing indubitable fact is exposed, concerning the nature of the living God, who had indeed made Himself known!
The outrageous character of naturalism is well evoked in Jeremiah's repeated approach, as in part cited above, and the incontinent character of failure to see the glaring contrast between the work of that the Bible often calls 'nothings', or 'nullities', one word biblically used for what we call idols. Their 'vanity' is thus often mentioned, and their inability in high contrast to the proven character of the Lord is both featured and focussed, quite systematically as you see in Jeremiah 2:28, Isaiah 44:9ff., where once and for all the incompetence of mere callow imaginations compared with the Lord and His known and established, verified and repeated actions and words in consort, is ridiculed.
Similarly, the poignant grief of the Lord that such infatuating fancies are taken in assault on truth and departure from wisdom, reason and righteousness, is shown in Jeremiah 2:30-32, 2:13, 18:13-19. The latter is as follows:
" 'Ask now among the Gentiles,
Who has heard such things?
The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing.
'Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon,
Which comes from the rock of the field?
Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?
'Because My people have forgotten Me,
They have burned incense to worthless idols.
And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway,
To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing;
Everyone who passes by it will be astonished
And shake his head.
'I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy;
I will show them the back and not the face
In the day of their calamity.'
"Then they said,
'Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah;
for the law shall not perish from the priest,
nor counsel from the wise,
nor the word from the prophet.
Come and let us attack him with the tongue,
and let us not give heed to any of his words.' "
So not only the truth, but the truth-bearer, the messenger is to be assaulted just as Christ portrayed it in Mark 12 and in Matthew 23:35-36, so that the result becomes impassible, like a huge bog; yet for all that, straight after this, you see the impelling lament of the Lord Jesus Christ for what is now assured to be, just as He foreknew it, now realised in practice. HOW OFTEN would I have gathered you under My wings, as a hen her chickens, He mourns, but now your house is left to you desolate!
Again, the Lord actually acts, takes intimate steps to SHOW the folly of such misplaced trust, whether in this or that god, or image, as He details in Isaiah 44:25-28), whether made in this way or that, in the heart or in the mind or with the hand: for the gods of the nations are idols! He remarks (Psalm 96). Let them arise, says Jeremiah, and save you in trouble! Similarly, in the affair of judgment, you see from Jeremiah that EVEN WHEN an entrail of some animal is investigated in order to prognosticate, get a sign as to what to do! Thus so great was the sin of Israel that the Lord shows through that prophet (Ezekiel 21:23), that the king of an enemy country, Babylon, had seen an animal inspection SHOW that rather than attack any other place, his true role was to attack Jerusalem. However, apparently for some technical reason - the affairs of 'vanities' can be very exacting! this sign was deemed invalid. Yet the king STILL decided to assault Jerusalem anyway.
In other words, the Lord can and does intervene, when judgment seems apt, so that even if the NATURAL ways would exempt someone from receiving judgment, some nation, yet the SUPERNATURAL God would ensure that His will and determination would prevail. Thus His predictions, based on truth, knowledge, and in the case of Israel, enormous patience and mercy over CENTURIES, are always carried out, and His decisions are not invalidated!
Again, in perhaps an even more ironic and steely glitter to the end of unconfessed, or unrepented sin, you see the picture of an enemy attacking Israel: such was His land's sin, that the Lord declares that EVEN IF all the soldiers were wounded, yet would they rise on the arm and slay the offending nation, in this case, Israel! In Jeremiah 37:10, accordingly, we see this:
"Even if you destroyed the entire Babylonian army
until there was only a handful of survivors and they lay wounded in their tents,
yet they would stagger out and defeat you and put this city to the torch!"