In the last chapter, we were met with an assurance that the Lord would save and defend His people when the nations of the earth rose up against them! (chapter 12:7-8) We read of how the long-rejected Messiah – accompanied by His Bride, the Church – will appear in the clouds for the support of His brethren. Then we began to consider the effects of this saving interposition upon the people of God themselves. Chapter 12 showed us how “in that day,” there would be a “great mourning” (verse 11) as the people of God looked upon Him Whom they had pierced. And now, in this chapter, we have the privilege of examining the other two effects: “in that day there shall be a fountain opened” (verse 1); and “it shall come to pass in that day, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land” (verse 2). Let us again be reminded that although the prophet’s words were originally addressed to the Jewish nation, yet they still have an application to the people of God in our present day.
First, the prophet tells us that there shall be “a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (verse 1). On the day of Pentecost, Peter pointed his listeners to those cleansing streams. He “said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is the “fountain opened” that cleanses from all sin. If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer were sufficient to render a person ceremonially clean, then how much more shall the blood of Christ cleanse our consciences, since He offered Himself without blemish to God? Again, we hope and long for the day when the words of the Apostle Peter, spoken centuries ago in Solomon’s porch in the Temple, will be physically fulfilled – that day when the whole nation of Israel shall repent of her unbelief and return to her Messiah; and when her sins will be blotted out, and when times of refreshing shall come to her from the Lord’s presence (Acts 3:21). But in the meantime, this cleansing fountain of Jesus’ precious blood is freely open and accessible to each and all – whether Jew or Gentile – who desire to be purified from the pollution and defilement of their sins!
Another effect that will be worked upon the people of God by His wonderful deliverance is the destruction of idolatry. “It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (verse 2). It is not enough for God to merely forgive His children’s sins; He must also deal with the sources of all their waywardness and backsliding. There will be, therefore, a strong and radical dealing with idols, false prophets, and demons. In the Jews’ case, this was fulfilled indeed; the exile in Babylon cured them of the sin of idolatry. Never again in all their history did they succumb to the temptation of bowing down before heathen gods and graven images. And when the grace of God is at work in the lives of each and every one of His children, all idols that have formerly held the throne of their affections will be expelled from their hearts. The absolute transformation that comes over the Lord’s people causes their devotion and love for Him to overpower even their natural love for their own sons and daughters. Verses 3-6 describe how their passion against idolatry and false prophets would become so intense that false prophets and deceivers of the people would be ashamed and afraid to acknowledge their evil profession. The children of God should consider it a very gracious deliverance indeed to be liberated from the bondage of Satan’s deceptive agents.
Beginning in verse 7, we have a connection in thought that is tied back to chapter 11. We will recall from that chapter how Jehovah sent the Lord Jesus to reclaim His wandering sheep – the “flock of slaughter” (chapter 11:7) – who were “scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). Remember also how the Jewish nation appraised the worth of the Savior’s ministry for a despicable “thirty pieces of silver.” It was for that meager sum – the price of a slave – that the Messiah was sold, betrayed, murdered, and rejected by His own people whom He ardently longed to save; but still, as the Good Shepherd, He went forth alone to meet the sword of Divine retribution, which was summoned here in the seventh verse of this chapter. That sword had flashed in the hand of the cherubim at the gates of Eden’s Paradise; it had turned every way to guard the path to the Tree of Life, and it had threatened to pursue fallen and sinful man with its relentless edge. It was the sword of justice – the two-edged sword of the Word of God – which avenges disobedience with death. For 4,000 years, it slept in its scabbard – pacified, so to speak, by the Divine assurance that the mercy shown to sinful men would be reconciled with the proper acknowledgment of the righteous demands of the broken Law. But it could not sleep thus forever. God’s promise of righteous vengeance upon sin must be fulfilled; and so, in the fullness of time, Jesus was set forth to be our Propitiation – thereby enabling God Himself to be both just and the Justifier of all who have faith in Jesus. Let us pray for grace that we may never despise the precious blood of our Good Shepherd, nor refuse His grace when it is freely offered to us!
Lord, as we sit down by faith around the crimson fountain that has been opened for sin, help us to look up and bless You for this unequalled gift whereby all our uncleanness, filthiness, and sin can be done away with! Amen.
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