Summary: During the tribulation period severe testing will be given the repentant righteous remnant to purify them and to prepare them to be the center of Christ's reign on earth.



[Zephaniah 3]

Here begins a new section in Zechariah's great last oracle. The focus is abruptly shifted from the deceitful visions of the false prophet to the sufferings of the Messiah. Clearly it is the time of Christ's death that is again previewed.

Those who truly trust the Messiah are not only purged of sin in their inner being (their heart, conscience, and mind) but also in their daily walk, for their spiritual and moral life for Christ must be brought forth. During the tribulation period severe testing will be given the repentant righteous remnant to purify them and to prepare them to be the center of Christ's reign on earth (CIT).

As with the previous verses, from here through the end of the book a fountain of victory flows but in this final section the emphasis is directly on the part our Lord plays in achieving it.

Let us continue the victory note of the previous verses and see:

I. The Shepherd Struck, 13:7. and

II. The Sheep Sanctified, 13:8-9.

In contrast to the false prophets just described God's true Shepherd is presented in verse 7. "Awake, O sword against My Shepherd, and against the Man, My Associate," declares the LORD of Hosts. Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered:"

The LORD Himself is now speaking. He immediately switches the attention of the reader from the wounds the false prophets received in worshiping his god or gods to the One True Prophet whose wounds were received in the worship of ultimate obedience (in the house of those who professed to be friends with the Lord God Almighty).

The wounds of the false prophets were self inflicted but the wounds of our Savior were the engravings of God (Zech. 3:9). This is one of the two aspects of the Messiah's suffering and death, namely that they were inflicted upon Him by God because He was the Offering for sin. Isaiah 53: 10 & 11 says, "But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting (Him) to grief. As a result of the anguish of His soul He will see and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities."

Yes, it was indeed the hand of man that put Jesus to death, but human malice acting freely could do no more than whatever -"Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur" (Acts 4:28). Yes, the envy and hatred of Satan, the blind fury of the chief priest, the contempt of Herod, the guilty cowardice of Pilate, and the complicity of the multitude, all of their own free will accomplished the death but it was only because God had decreed it before the foundation of the world for the salvation of the world (Acts 2:23; Jn. 19:11).

There is no other interpretation than that these word apply to Jesus, for Christ Himself quoted them as applying to Himself in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. Thus we have the highest hermenutical principle possible, the very interpretation of Jesus Christ Himself. Let us look at this amazing verse a phrase at a time.

God calls upon the instrument of death with the words, "Awake, O Sword." The sword (hereb, fem.) is addressed as a person by God and called to arouse itself as if it were asleep so that it could execute divine justice. The sword expresses the highest judicial power (Rom. 13:4) and represents any means of taking life. Here it is employed of divine justice in judgment against sin (Ex. 5:21; Deut. 32:40f; 2 Sam. 12:9; Ps.17:13; Jer. 47:6-7). The Sword of the Lord is often seen in Scripture.

Upon whom shall the Sword fall? Upon the wicked who deserve it? No, but upon Him who is the only One absolutely innocent and holy. Upon Him who stands in the nearest and closest relationship to YHWH. It is called to awaken against His Shepherd, His Associate. This would be inexplicable to the wisdom of man but not to the wisdom of God. For the salvation of man as revealed in the Scriptures is that the Messiah willingly becomes the Lamb of God in order to redeem a lost world and is "pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities" (Isa. 53: ) and "pours out His soul unto death" in order that sinners might not only be saved from the penalty of their sin but also inherit eternal life( Jer. 47:6).

This sword falls "against My Shepherd." The Shepherd metaphor in 11:4-14 is continued. The Sovereign Shepherd of the Universe, YHWH, calls Him, His Shepherd, because He has been appointed to this calling and because Jesus Christ is in the fullest sense God's representative and through whom the Shepherd relationship between God and His people is realized.

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