Zechariah 13

Here’s a happier start to the day, as we end the week with the penultimate chapter of Zechariah. The ‘day of the Lord’ is not as threatening as in Zephaniah, eh? (You can go back and check those notes). The experts will be humbled, their own families silence the false prophets. They won’t get away with Jacob’s trick of impersonating his brother the ‘hairy man’.

The day ends badly. The shepherd is struck and the sheep are scattered. The small are vulnerable and two thirds are lost, while the remaining one third are tested to their limit. So much for progress, or a promise of love without struggle, mercy without justice: our glib liberal discourse reflects our privileged, narrowed worldview, but simply can’t contain the prophetic biblical oracles. Sorry about that.

1 On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

2 On that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more; and also I will remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit.

3And if any prophets appear again, their fathers and mothers who bore them will say to them, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD’; and their fathers and their mothers who bore them shall pierce them through when they prophesy.

4On that day the prophets will be ashamed, every one, of their visions when they prophesy; they will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive,

5but each of them will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a tiller of the soil; for the land has been my possession* since my youth.’

6And if anyone asks them, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’* the answer will be ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’

7 ‘Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is my associate,’ says the LORD of hosts. Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.

8 In the whole land, says the LORD, two-thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one-third shall be left alive.

9 And I will put this third into the fire, refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. 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.’