Lee Gambrell Preaching
Asia Bibi and Pakistan
Unemployment in the Church
Text – Zechariah 13
Today we’re going to look at one of my favorite passages in scripture. This passage doesn’t have as much prophecy fulfillment as chapters 9,11,12, but it does have some good ones. What I like the most about this passage is that it gives us a nice little glimpse of Heaven where sin is absolutely abhorrent and something that Christ’s saints want nothing to do with.
Before we look at our chapter though, I want to briefly look at what is called the “Millennial Reign”, which is when Christ will reign. Most Christians throughout history have held to the one I believe in, which I’m about 99% is correct, but there have been some great Christians in history that believe in a different one, so this isn’t hugely important, but I want you to know that there are different views and why I hold to the one I do. Ultimately though it’s more important that we have a hope for Christ’s return rather than a perfect understanding of how it will happen. The reason I am teaching this now is because chapter 13 of Zechariah is a little speed-bump in my belief. Pastor Aaron jokes that he’s “Pan-Millenialist”, that however it pans out is fine with him; ultimately I agree completely.
Millennial comes from Millennium, a thousand years, which are named in Revelation 20 as the reign of Christ when Satan is bound, and at the end of those thousand years, Satan is loosed for a little while until he is defeated at Armageddon. All three of these views believe this, they just disagree when this millennium takes place and what brings it about. These thousand years are either literal or mean a very long time.
Our first view is called the “A-Millenial View”, which doesn’t mean there is no millennial reign, but that the millennial reign isn’t something to come in the future, but is right now. This age began with the gift of the Holy Spirit to all believers at Pentecost and it will conclude when Christ returns. Currently Satan is bound and can’t do whatever he wants, though at the end of the age he will be able to do whatever he wants, killing believers and unbelievers and waging war against Christ and his church. The end will come as Christ wages war on Satan and defeats all of his enemies. This will be the major theme of Zechariah 14 next week. I believe that Christ is reigning now and Satan is currently bound, which is one of the reasons I don’t spend a lot of time telling you how to defeat the devil or fight him, because James tells us if we stand against him, he’ll flee from us; we don’t need magical incantations.
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 For he (Christ) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
The next view is the “Pre-Millennial View”, which is the belief that Christ will return, turning everyone to him, then reign for 1,000 years in perfect peace, until a final battle with Satan and then the judgment.
Revelation 20:7-9 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them…
The third view, which I put very little stock in, is the “Post-Millennial View”, which is the belief that after the gospel conquers the world, Christ will return to a totally conquered world and will then judge the quick and the dead and destroy Satan. I’ll tell you that I really dislike the Post-Millennial View because it puts a lot of power on men and ignores some pretty explicit verses, let’s look at one in Luke,
Luke 18:8 When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?
If Christ asks if there will be any faith on the earth, then clearly we can’t expect for the whole world to be full of faith when he returns. None-the-less, our passage today in Zechariah is one that is used for the belief that the faith will increase further and further and sin will decrease and decrease. I could see that in Zechariah 13, but I’ll tell you that my own personal belief is that Zechariah 13 shows us how much we will hate sin in Heaven, that we won’t want to sin, neither will we be able to sin; rather than a literal look at an opportunity to sin.
So all that to say, let’s read it, and I’ll show you the Millennial View in this passage in a moment.
Zechariah 13:1-9 "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. "And on that day, declares 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 spirit of uncleanness. And if anyone again prophesies, 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." On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, but he will say, 'I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.' 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.' "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me," declares the LORD of hosts. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land, declares the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
The crazy part of this passage is that it switches from Christ’s First Coming, to sometime after his Second Coming, to back to his First Coming, to the end of the First Century. There is a lot of time changing going on, I can’t tell you exactly why it does that, except I can tell you that God is outside of time and sees his major goal as being completed in smaller details, instead of worrying about a linear plan. It’s neat that God shows his power in this because it’s so much more complicated than how we would make a plan. We make plans like, for example, a building, 1. Pour a foundation, 2. Put up the walls, 3. Put on a roof, 4. Put in the plumbing and wiring, 5. Finish the house. If we skip one of these, the others will be wrecked, for example if we put the roof on before we put up the walls, our roof would be on the ground. Or if we finish the house before putting in the wires and plumbing nothing will work. But God sees the finished product and knows precisely how it will all come together and he’s so confident it will happen the way he wants that he doesn’t lay out for us a linear plan to accomplish.
v.1 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.
Think about a fountain for a moment, usually we think of a fountain as a big comprehensive structure with a pool and a spout. Really the pool part of the fountain isn’t the fountain; the fountain is the part where the water comes out. Universally this passage is understood to be the piercing of Christ from Zechariah 12, when his blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins of many. The amazing thing is that in the Old Testament this fountain is described as both blood and water, which seems a bit impossible.
John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"
That is a quote of several scriptures, Joel 2, Isaiah 44, Ezekiel 47, and alluded to in other passages. So how could blood and water flow forth from the same fountain?
John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
This occurs when the heart muscles rupture, spurting blood, and the pericardium, which surrounds your heart and is filled with a watery substance to protect your heart, bursts. Such was fulfilled in Psalm 22 and 69 that say Christ’s heart melted or broke inside of him.
This event led to the forgiveness of sins, as Christ was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. We were GREAT sinners, but something major has happened in our lives to turn us from sinners to saints, let’s read my favorite verse in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 6:11 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 by the Spirit of our God.
William Cowper was reading Zechariah 13 once late in his life and had been writing songs and poetry for a while. As he read this passage, he wrote his most famous hymn, which is still sung today, called, “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”, it reads like this:
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,
For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!
Now, verse 2-3, we finally jump into the end times, either Heaven as I believe with my amillennialism, or that millennium as either of the other two believe, namely post-millenial.
vv.2-3 And on that day, declares 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 spirit of uncleanness. And if anyone again prophesies, 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. "
Based on the complete ability of Christ’s blood to cut off sin, there will no longer be any sin or idols. There are two types of sin, there is a sin of commission, when you rebel and break the law of God, which would be by being a false prophet. And the other kind is when you ignore someone sinning, like supporting a false prophet. Here we see both cut off, that neither will there be any one who falsely prophesies, nor will anyone, even the most personal of relationships, ignore sin when it is committed. It is beautiful that in Heaven we won’t tolerate sin, nor commit sin.
In this passage I want to show you sin is abhorrent, it is a murderer of souls, it is evil and never good. We can see why murder is evil and abhorrent, but sometimes we miss why the smaller sins are abhorrent. At this point we always get into the point of discretion, what if I lie to someone to spare their feelings? Like the GEICO commercial with Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln where she asks if her dress makes her look fat. A lie in this point would be discretionary, saving her feelings, but even a discretionary lie is sin, and in Heaven we won’t tolerate even a single one.
Think about it this way, if I tell a tiny lie, it wrecks my trustworthiness. The Bible tells us both that Christ never lied, and also that it is impossible for him to lie. This is why he is trustworthy. This is why it will be so glorious in Heaven when all sin is impossible and all of us hate sin with a complete hatred. I believe this was one of the reasons that Adam and Eve had such an easy time sinning, because they didn’t have any idea how much damage their sin would cause over the next six-thousand years; us on the other hand know how much suffering and death sin causes and will hate it completely, and won't tolerate it for a moment.
So if I were to ask, does this uniform make me look fat? What is the right answer? No, Canyon, your fat makes you look fat…It’s harsh, but we have to remember that if we can’t be trustworthy in a minor thing, how then can we possibly be trustworthy in major things? I want your honest opinion if I ask for it. Thoughts on this point? I want to make sure we get this, because one of the greatest passages in the whole Bible is in James 5,
James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
I REALLY want to make sure you get this point, so what is this passage saying? That if we confront someone in their sin, we have the opportunity to lead them to the truth and save their soul from eternal damnation. Check out two of my favorite passages,
Psalm 119:104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
If we really love someone, we’re going to seek to turn them from going the wrong way, even if it requires us emotionally hurting them. That leads to an absolutely amazing passage of scripture.
vv.4-6 "On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, but he will say, 'I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.' 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.'
The picture we see here is a man working on a farm, who used to be a false prophet, but not anymore, he’s ashamed of what he used to do. The person speaking to him sees that he’s been whipped, and they ask, “How did this happen?” And he readily affirms that the wounds came from his friends.
Here’s what happened, this false prophet was on a sure road to Hell, the deepest pits of Hell were reserved for him. We really don’t have time to read 2 Peter 2, but it’s so important that we need to read it,
2 Peter 2:17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.
This was our false prophet here described, headed for Hell at full sprint. His friends loved him enough to turn him from his destination, they needed to confront them, they needed to wound him with their words and even, when words failed, with physical confrontation. Our false prophet was ashamed and no longer was a false prophet, in his repentance his soul was saved. Charles Spurgeon sums this point up this way,
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
If we don’t care enough to wound them, then the Bible very specifically says we hate them; consider a father who won’t discipline his children and turn them towards the right. Because he lets them continue on a road to destruction, they will perish, and it shows his complete lack of love for them.
Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
So beloved, let this be your greatest application today, that there is no greater hatred in this world than to affirm someone in their sin and pretend that there is no need to repent. There is a great wrath from God which rests on unbelievers and on those who presume to speak for God but don’t speak truth, but lies. One of the greatest lies is that there is no animosity between God and men and that people may be forgiven apart from Christ. For if there is forgiveness in any other way, then Christ suffered and died in vain.
Let there be many in Heaven that say, “I was wounded greatly by my friend Matthew, or John, or Shelby, or Grant, and this led to my repentance from my false idols; leading to my faith and salvation in Christ.”
Think about how neat it would be if we ran into Joel Osteen in a few years working in a gas station in Houston, and we asked, “Hey, didn’t you used to be that pastor?” He answers, “I was, but I have repented of my false gospel because David Baalbergen confronted me and showed me the error of my ways, I can no longer in good conscience deceive people though it led to my financial ruin. I have lost all of my material possessions, but my soul is secure in Christ.”
Now then, let’s try to finish Zechariah 13.
v.7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me," declares the LORD of hosts.
Here is where our sins go, because justice is due. Because of our great sin, God’s wrath was kindled, but in his great love he provided a substitute, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his friends. We’ll see in just a moment that this is clearly Christ.
Psalm 7:12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword.
God has sharpened (whetted) his sword in preparation for dealing with sin, and in Christ’s love for us, he stepped away from his throne in Heaven seated next to his Father, and he stood between us and his Father and absorbed the full blow, pierced in his soul by the wrath of God, suffering more on the cross than any sinner ever will in Hell.
Christ’s crucifixion will have massive implications for both his followers and the Nation Israel,
v.7 "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
This is quoted explicitly by Christ in Mark 14,
Mark 14:27 And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
Christ’s crucifixion was the point when Zechariah 11 began to take place, the rejection of the Nation Israel. Now we jump forward in time a little bit to the siege of Jerusalem in AD70 when over a million Jews lost their lives and the Temple was destroyed.
vv.7-8 I will turn my hand against the little ones, in the whole land, declares the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive.
This was a massive loss of life, but the guaranteed consequence God had given to Israel over and over again for their unfaithfulness. This includes men, women, and children, and reminds us that God is totally vindicated in punishing sin. His right to punish sin magnifies his grace when he saves some of his enemies, which is verse 9, my favorite in this passage.
v.9 And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
This could be said to be the entire millennial reign, as God is taking people who should have perished and is sanctifying them, changing them into images of Christ, causing them to love righteousness and hate wickedness.
What sort of things can be used to sanctify the believer, which is here represented by fire? Trials and tribulations, persecution, loss of health and wealth, anger from friends, rejection by family. Basically what God wants us to be is pure from sin, just like pure gold has no impurities in it because they have been burned off in the fire, so is God desiring us to be pure as Christ is pure. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
The amazing thing is that this is one of the ways that we know Christ loves us,
Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
This all comes together beautifully, doesn’t it? That in the beginning part of this passage we see that true love is confronting sin, turning our friends away from paths to destruction, pointing out their idolatry, desiring their sanctification, and in the latter part of the passage we see that God’s love is expressed beautifully towards his believers in purifying them from sin so that they reject idols and call totally on him.
I hope your application is clear, that you must know what sin is, confront people in it, whether they be strangers, friends, or family, point them towards the truth, and in doing so you may save their soul from death. We can’t stand idly by watching sinners jump headlong into Hell, we must stand in their way, even if it means wounds for ourselves, for Christ stood between us and certain death when he became our substitute. Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends; the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
In all of this, we want our love to be true, so let’s conclude with Romans 12:9,
Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.