Zechariah 13:7-9 NIV
“Awake, 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. In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put 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. ‘ ”
This seems a harsh scripture, and yet run through with the mettle of true and living faith. The Lord Almighty, the Father, cries out for His justice to strike in action against one who seems gentle. A carer who tends the very people of God. This shepherd is the Saviour Jesus, one with His Father and close to Him. This Shepherd is the Saviour Christ, the one chosen to lay down His life for sinners. He can bring them to God, because He has paid for their sins, through His suffering on the cross.
He is singled out for destruction by the sword of God’s justice. Jesus will pay the price that God’s justice now demands. The sword is ruthless in its intent and action. When the shepherd is struck down the people will be scattered and find themselves in a chaotic state with no guide or guard. Destruction is coming and even the small flock of God’s people will be affected.
In the whole land, two thirds of the people will perish, physically and eternally. The remaining third will be put through trials. All God’s people face trials. It is not a surprise. If the shepherd Saviour suffered the consequences of our sin, why should not we face pains as we learn and grow. God puts all His people through the furnace of affliction. No one is spared the ordeal. He knows what He is doing and He understands the effect of trouble on the Christians life. The furnace melts us and our impurities come to the surface where they can be smelted away. Our God watches us in the furnace to make sure we are being refined and at the right moment will deliver us.
He put us to the test as gold is tested. Gold is put in a bone ash crucible and heated. The impurities are burned away and the silver is extracted using nitrous oxide, leaving behind the pure gold. This is a thorough and careful procedure, to get the pure product at the end. God puts His beloved people through careful processes to extract the evil that clings to them, and make them pure and holy. He will mound our characters according to His will and make us the people we are supposed to be..
“My daughter, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves…” Proverbs 3:11-22
If a person does not love the Lord, this process will be too much for them and they will not make it to the end. They will go back to their usual ways and forsake the Lord. The Christian will call out to their Father and seek to see His face in the eternal Word. They will pray and earnestly follow, holding on to the precious promises. As a result faith will bloom and God will be known in a deeper and deeper. way. The Holy Spirit will be daily desired by the Christian and they will call on Him and seek His fullness in their lives. God will answer them and they will rejoice in Him.
God will love His people and rejoice over them.. “they are MY people..” this is ultimate belonging. This is a real felt and known experience… The Christian will say, “ The Lord is MY God,“ and all God’s people will say, “The Lord is our God.”
There is no other God, and no other pathway to follow. As our Saviour walked that lonely road for us, so may we also follow Him to teach others and spread the good news about the Kingdom.