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Victory, but with mourning (12:1-13:1)
On occasions God used Gentile nations to punish his people Israel, but if his desire was to fight for Israel, no enemy attack could be successful. On the occasion that Zechariah speaks of in Chapter 12, God strengthens his people to overthrow the armies that besiege Jerusalem (12:1-3). The charging horses of the enemy are thrown into confusion as God comes to the help of his people. The Jewish leaders acknowledge that, above all, God is the cause of Jerusalem’s victory (4-5).
The Jewish fighters who lead the attack against the enemy are not from Jerusalem, but from the country areas round about. This prevents the people of Jerusalem from boasting that they have been responsible for the destruction of the enemy. Fitting honour is given to their brave brothers from the country (6-7). All, however, realize that God is really the one who has saved Jerusalem (8-9).
God’s people may have won a great victory, but the victory has been costly. As they mourn their dead, the people are humbled to a new attitude of sorrow for their wrongdoing, and they cry to God for mercy. The chief cause of their mourning is their realization that a man whom they had recently murdered was the one whom God had sent to save them. They may have objected to his announcements or directions concerning the battle, but now they realize that they should have honoured him (10). There is mourning throughout the land, but it is particularly intense among those connected with the civil and religious leadership in Jerusalem (11-14). Yet God’s forgiveness is available to all who are genuinely sorry for their disobedience and treachery (13:1).
False prophets and true shepherd (13:2-9)
Having introduced the subject of forgiveness and cleansing, Zechariah goes on to deal with those evils that had to be removed from the land. One of Israel’s chief sins was idolatry, and this had been encouraged by the false prophets. Therefore, all false prophets must be killed (2-3).
If a false prophet escapes, he might try to preserve his life by throwing away his prophet’s cloak and disguising himself as a farmer. But he will not be able to remove the scars on his back. (Such scars were a characteristic of sorcerers and false prophets. They were made by cutting ‘magic’ marks in the skin; see Leviticus 19:28; 1 Kings 18:28; 1 Kings 18:28.) If someone notices the scars, the false prophet will lie to protect himself, saying that he received the scars through a fight or an accident in a friend’s house (4-6).
Zechariah returns to the subject of leadership, using again the illustration of the shepherd. (The leader referred to here may be the person of 12:10 who was killed by his own countrymen.) The leader of God’s choice is one who is close to God and who truly cares for God’s people. But the people kill him and persecute his followers. As a result of this shepherd’s death, the majority of his people fall under divine judgment. The minority who are left go through a time of suffering, but through this they become better people and come into closer fellowship with the God in whom they have trusted. These are God’s true people (7-9).
No doubt this true shepherd was Jesus the Messiah (Matthew 26:31; John 19:37). His own people killed him, and with his death the majority of Israel fell under God’s judgment. Some, however, were saved. These became God’s true people, though they suffered persecution at the hands of the rebellious (Romans 9:6-8; Romans 11:5-7; Galatians 4:28-29).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Zechariah 13". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany