Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 3 2019 - Zechariah 13 – Cleansing from sin

We are approaching the end of the Book of Zechariah. It has not always proved easy reading, but I hope that you have found it rewarding. Zechariah points us forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, our great high priest greater than Joshua and the one who is not just the builder of the temple like Zerubbabel but the temple of God himself.

In the last chapter we saw that the captain of his people's salvation was slain in battle even as he gained the victory. Nevertheless, he is the one who will draw people of all nations to come and bow down in worship before him – a prophecy of the death, resurrection and extending reign of the triumphant Lord Jesus.

Today we read of "a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity" (13:1). This comes as an answer to the fountain of tears in the previous chapter; those who have mourned over the piercing of their Saviour now find that his shed blood is the source of cleansing for all their sins.

The picture of a fountain is used in the Old Testament of an "overflowing, never-failing, inexhaustible supply" (Barry Webb). David used it to describe the abundant life he had found in God: "with you [God] is the fountain of life" (Psalm 36:9). Jeremiah spoke of the spring or fountain [same word as the one used here in Zechariah] of living water that his foolish contemporaries had abandoned in favour of their broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13). Here in Zechariah, this fountain of cleansing is sufficient to wash away every sin, as expressed in William Cowper's hymn:

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’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 may I, though vile as he,
Wash 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.

That fountain of cleansing will turn people away from the broken cistern of their idols to seek the living water that is to be found in our living and triune God (Zechariah 13:2).

Verses 7-9 look back to the pierced captain of salvation. These verses express the shocking truth that he, the great shepherd of his people, suffered not only at the hands of his enemies but was stricken by God himself (compare Isaiah 53:4-10). The Shepherd was struck down by God and the sheep were scattered (see Jesus' use of this verse from Zechariah in Matthew 26:31), but that was not the end of the story; through the fire of persecution the risen Lord will gather his people from many nations, "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'" (v 9). "Through many dangers, toils, and snares we have already come; 'tis grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home."

Father, we stand amazed that you were willing to strike your Son that we might be redeemed. Lord Jesus, we thank you for the fountain of cleansing and life that flows to us from your sacrificial death in our place. Holy Spirit, we thank you that you have directed that flood into our own hearts and brought us to acknowledge that God is our God and that the Lord Jesus is our Lord and our Saviour.

Peter Misselbrook