Summary: how God uses the sword for good purposes
July 8, 2001 Zechariah 13:7-9
7 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
8 In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.
9 This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. 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.’”
One of the first stories recorded in the Bible involves the “sword of the Lord.” If you remember, after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, he placed a cherubim on the east side, with a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the tree of life. That’s kind of a scary picture. And one thing is sure - when God wakes His sword up, His sword starts slashing. Think of the firstborn of Egypt - how they all died in one night at the hand of the angel of death. Think of Sennacherib’s army - in one night the Lord put 185,000 of them to death. Imagine the piles of bodies laying everywhere! All Sennacherib could do was retreat to Nineveh - never to return to power again. When God uses His sword, this isn’t like some kid playing with a plastic sword. So when Zechariah prays, “awake, O sword,” it should perk your ears up. This is serious stuff. Today we’ll see how -
The Strike of the Sword of the LORD Turns Sinful Sheep into Silver Saints
I. As God struck the Shepherd
There was a period in David’s history where he had to run from his country and live with the Philistines - the enemy of the Israelites. However, David gained the confidence of the king while he was living there. As a matter of fact, he was so confident of David, that the king wanted him to help him fight against Saul and the Israelites. But when His generals caught wind of this, they basically said, “what are you doing? If he goes into battle with us he’ll turn on us and regain favor with Saul! They were afraid that while they were in the thick of battle David and his men would turn his sword on the king and the Philistines. They were very cautious as to who they were fighting next to - as they should be. One traitor behind the ranks can do more damage than 50,000 men on the other side.
Our God is holy. He is a Triune God. That means he is three persons in one Godhead. These three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are always on the same page. They always work in concert with each other - just like our hands and arms all work in conjunction to enable us to run and walk. That’s why we confess the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father and the Son. He performs his word in accordance with the directions of the Father and the Son. At any rate - these three Persons - this one God - works together against the devil and the evil forces of this world every day.
The last thing we would want - would be a “break in the ranks” - so to speak - of the Trinity. Where one would turn against another Person of the Trinity. If you think about it - this would be morally impossible. For all three are all-holy and all-righteous. There is no way the Holy Spirit would have a disagreement with the Son - or the Son not wanting to do something that the Father thought was best.
Yet in the Word of the Lord for this morning that very thing appears to be happening. He says, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. The Lord tells his own sword - his own wrath - to awake against the man who is close to him! In vs. 8 he says, “strike the Shepherd.” On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he quoted this very verse and applied it to Himself - he - the one who was closest to God because he IS God - the Good Shepherd - would be struck by God’s sword. Jesus was struck that night by many things. Spiritual leaders blindfolded him and struck him in the face. Others slapped him. The soldiers struck him in the head again and again with their staffs. After he died, a soldier stuck a sword in his side. But none of these strikes were nearly as painful as when His Father took the sword in His hand - and pierced Jesus’ soul. With one mighty and precise blow, the Father severed His relationship with His One and Only Son. Jesus went from His dearly beloved son and was cut off from His Father’s favor - treated like a rebellious and evil Son. In that one moment, the Father completely withdrew his grace and favor from His son - and put Him through hell. This would be the most painful thing that the Son would endure at the hand of God. His own Father, His own God - deserting Him and putting Him through a living hell. This was the worst kind of pain and suffering that anyone could ever go through. At the crest of this pain Jesus cried out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”