Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.(Zechariah 13:7-9)
In the last part of the vision, Zechariah reveals what happens when Israel looks upon her Messiah. Profound repentance comes upon the nation at the horrifying realization of the national sin. They realize to their shock, they had already been visited by Messiah, but instead of receiving their King they had pierced and repudiated Him!
What follows is a nation wide, profound soul searching and repudiation of false prophecy, and any intercourse whatsoever with idolatrous and false religion or syncretism in any way with paganism.False prophets are hunted down, renounced, repudiated in the national zeal to distance themselves from what had long deceived them, keeping them away from their God.
Now Zechariah’s prophetic attention is turned back to the Shepherd theme again. In the vision of Zechariah Chapters 10-11, it was shown that Israel’s false Shepherds had led them astray, seeking their own and not the welfare of the Sheep.
Then we briefly see the good Shepherd, appointed by God to “the flock of slaughter”, sold for thirty pieces of silver and eventually rejected. He is replaced by the “Idle Shepherd”, who is worthless and against whom the LORD calls for the sword of judgment , which shrivels his arm and and darkens his right eye.
For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.(Zechariah 11:16-17)
This is the Judgment of God upon AntiChrist, the other Shepherd who comes in his own name and not the name of the Father, and who for a brief moment deceives the flock of Israel.
Now in this prophetic song, the Good Shepherd is again in view, as is the flock.
Both Shepherd and Sheep, are slated to go through Divine Judgment.
The LORD calls for the Sword again , This time against his own Shepherd. Israel undergoes the judgment of God, but so also does her Shepherd! This Shepherd is the good Shepherd, not a mere hireling, but He is the “man who is his close companion”. It is He who must be smitten by the sword of the LORD.
. This echoes what Isaiah predicted and what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, that though it was the actions of evil men that condemned and even crucified the Messiah, it was all done also by the “Predeterminate foreknowledge of God…”.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief… (Isaiah 53:10)
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.(Acts 2:23-24)
Jesus applied this passage of Zechariah to himself when he warned the disciples on the night he was betrayed,
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.(Matthew 26:31-32)
That “flock” which should be scattered would go far beyond those 12 disciples entrusted to Jesus on the day of his death.
This prophecy is expansive, extending all of the way to the end of time and is a prophecy of the future of the whole nation down through time. Moses had centuries earlier predicted this scattering of the flock as a consequence of the Judgment of God on an unfaithful people.
The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:(Deuteronomy 32:25-26)
The sheep have been scattered and are going to go through a trial of purification. One third of the nation will come through and be saved, it will be one third who live to see the vision of the pierced one, and who mourn for him as for an only Son.
God deals in thirds with Israel. Ezekiel was to shave his head and count his hairs, dividing them into three piles,
And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.(Ezekiel 5:1-6)
The flock of Israel down through the ages has suffered one of three fates;
A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.(Ezekiel 5:12)
Yet the nation survives. It was estimated that in the holocaust alone, in 1933-1945, a third of all world Jewry was annihilated. It is a miracle that there is an Israel, but the nation will live and not die, and declare the good works of the LORD. Purified through the fires of affliction and judgment, but preserved, to be resurrected and saved at the end of the Age, Israel’s resurrection shall also be resurrection from the dead for the whole world!