A Fountain Will Be Opened
Key Verse 13:1
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”
Zechariah and Haggai both prophesied to the returned exiles from Babylon, encouraging them to rebuild the Temple of God in the city of Jerusalem in spite of all the opposition they were receiving from their enemies at the time as the prophet Ezra testifies. (5:1) With God’s voice of hope, Zechariah encouraged them not to be afraid but to be strong and to trust his purpose to save them and to make them a source of blessing on the world. (8:13-15) It’s the same promise he made to Abraham, and that promise will never fail! The point is that whatever prophesies God is making in this book, [let’s not be mistaken, for that’s how the people he spoke to understood it] he is making for the people of Israel, and every one of these prophesies is either fulfilled for them or will surely be fulfilled for them one way or another. Now the question we have is this: How should we, who are not Jews by birth understand this book? How are we non-Jews to receive promises seemingly directed at Judah and Jerusalem? How are we, Gentile Christians to view a prophetic book of this nature? That’s the question! But we can.
We can when we bear in mind several things. First, we need to bear in mind that for the most part all these prophesies were aimed at the Jewish people themselves, that is, the physical descendants of Abraham. Who else would the house of Judah and the house of Israel be other than the very descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob rather than simply the Christian church! Second, we also need to bear in mind that the Lord still loves his people and has reserved for them a time and place for glory when they finally repent and return to him. As true as it may be that the apostle Paul spoke of the church becoming the new Israel of God (Philippians 3:3) and God’s new chosen, it is too immature to simply disregard Abraham’s descendants as God’s old chosen. The Scripture teaches us that the Lord hasn’t rejected them at all, but temporarily until he’s done saving the Gentiles; after that the Lord will restore them to himself. (Romans 11) That’s where we know for certain that the church and Israel are distinct one from the other and we’re to bear in mind that he’s reserved for them a gracious time and future. Be assured that a time is coming for Abraham’s descendants when they will repent and turn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior [if it’s not already happening now]. Third, we must bear in mind that as Gentiles believers, the apostle bids us be humble. Since we belong to Jesus Christ, we too are Abraham’s offspring [by faith, that is], and so we become the heirs of all the covenant promises made to Abraham and his offspring. More than that, we are co-heirs with Christ, the offspring of Abraham and the heir to God’s Kingdom.
Fourth, as long as we are Abraham’s descendants by faith, we must bear in mind that whatever prophesies apply to Israel also apply to us as a church and a people of God. We, the church of the living God and of his Son Jesus Christ are as much part of this prophetic scene as Israel ever was and still ever are. Here’s the point then. Together with ethnic Israel whom God [in this book] encourages, strengthens, chastises, and prophesies making promises to, he very much speaks to us Gentile converts too, to his church. So, if you are in Christ Jesus, then you are one of those this book of prophesy speaks to because you are very much one of Abraham’s heirs and co-heirs of Christ. Here’s the point again. Prophesy doesn’t have to be about the end times, and about what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. One day when our Lord and his disciples were walking past Herod’s temple, the disciples made a remark about how magnificent it was, and Jesus uttered a prophesy right there and then: “Not one stone here will be left on another, every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2) he said. Of course, the disciples asked him when and how will the prophesy take place. But that’s not always the point of prophesy! [As so many people seem to think it is] So, Jesus never answered their question. Instead, listen to what he said: “Watch out that no one deceives you.” (24:4) They wanted to know when and how. On the other hand, Jesus wanted them to be on the look out now! And he wanted them watchful now against widespread deception. Jesus didn’t want them occupied with when & how these things would happen as much as he wanted them alert in the fight against deception as they fought to uphold the Truth!
I believe it was “the Truth” that was on God’s heart when he spoke through the prophets to the returned exiles in Jerusalem and called them to rebuild his Temple. In 8:3, Zechariah had prophesied: “This is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.’” There’s no doubt that the Lord’s heart is set on restoring Truth to this world— Truth that’s been high-jacked from the human race and corrupted by lies and deception. And we need not ask what is Truth? Let me put it very simply: “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4) Jesus said: “Your word is Truth”. (John 17:17) To be absolutely accurate and specific, Jesus declared: “I am the way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) God is Truth and purposed to restore the Truth to a world living in deception beginning with his own people who had obviously strayed far from the truth [as all other peoples had]. And so he would establish the Truth at the very heart of the city and nation he called to be his own people— a people he’d commissioned to bear the banner the Truth to the world. Now, we’re certain that “On that day” the Lord will still “Return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem” according to his sovereign will and purpose. But clearly the moment the Lord Christ was born on this earth, and grew up to fulfill his mission as the Messiah, His Truth came! And his Truth has been marching on ever since. More than that, even “The gates of Hades will not overcome it”. (Matthew 16:18) It has not and will not and never will overcome it until his Kingdom Come and every lie and deception that have soiled this world and the hearts of men has been abolished.
So why are we talking so much about prophesy, Truth and deception today? We started out with describing that prophesy is both for the Jews and Gentile Christians, and it speaks to us personally as a church and as individuals as well. Then we said that God purposed to reestablish Truth to replace the deception that has flooded this world and corrupted the hearts of all people. And God would begin to reestablish the Truth in His City, in the midst of God’s people. For several chapters now we have been seeing prophetic images regarding the first coming of the Messiah. They were mostly images of rejection. In 11:12-13, there’s reference about the Christ being betrayed by his people for a very small price. In 12:10-11, there’s reference about the Christ being Crucified and mourned over by a people who recognize their sin against God whom they’ve pierced, for in his mercy, God would pour upon them a spirit of grace and supplication so that their deep remorseful mourning may bring about forgiveness and eternal life. And the prophetic story of God’s incredible grace and mercy to an undeserving people doesn’t end there! It continues in chapter 13. In this chapter God prophesies to them the reason why the Messiah had to be betrayed and sold for a small price; why he had to be given over to be pierced in a most terrible way, and thrown outside the sinful city of Jerusalem like a criminal, rejected and abandoned by his own people. In this chapter (13) we see why all this had to happen to the Promised Messiah and Son of God; and it had to happen for two reasons. First, God would open a fountain of cleansing for his people. And Second, God would abolish idols of impurity and deception from the hearts of his people. In this chapter, we see the ultimate price God would pay to save his people and us, and to restore and uphold the Standard of His Truth.
Look at verse 1. “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” We’ve talked before about “that day”. It’s the day when God brings all things in heaven and earth towards fulfillment of his universal plan. But that’s a bit above our pay grade of speculation. As we live in time and space, we know that “on that day” God promised something his people had never heard of in all of the previous ages they had lived through. It was a day unlike any other day in history, a day of grace and mercy; a day when he was ready to begin fulfilling all the promises and blessings for them through the Messiah he sent them. Their hearts were hard. They were sinful. Their souls were impure polluted by idolatry. But God had promised them: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 26:25-26) There weren’t enough animal sacrifices enough in the whole world to cover even the sins of one of his people. Even if rivers of blood should run, they would not be forgiven. What could atone for any of our wicked sins anyway! But “On that day” what God promised he would do, he did! A fountain was opened that was sufficient for cleansing from all sins and impurities. What kind of a fountain was it? It was a never ending fountain of blood shed from the wounds inflicted on the Lamb of God— the Messiah— whom they rejected, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and pierced on the cross and left to die. But it was God’s plan to deliver his precious Son to death. It was for the sake of opening the fountain of cleansing.
Look at verse 1 again. “To cleanse them from sin and impurity”. “On that day” when Christ died, and rose again, a fountain of grace was poured out on God’s people to bring them what generations of obedience to the law and good work could never do. The forgiveness of God and the cleansing from sin. More than that, deliverance from the impurities of heart, mind, and soul. Sin must be atoned for, for every human being, for the Jew and the Gentile alike, for the bad man as well as for the good man, there is no difference. Everyone must make amends if they want to escape God’s judgment. No man or woman can ever hope to make atonement and receive forgiveness for their sins by their own effort or the effort of another. It is only in and through Christ Jesus and his blood shed for sin, and then through faith in him that one receives those. More than that, one must also be purified from all the garbage that has damaged the image of God in them and made them the ugly soul they are before God. Only the fountain of cleansing can do that— and only through faith in Christ who rose and ascended to heaven and who has authority to send his Holy Spirit to those who believe— the very Spirit who gives new birth and new life and works a work of cleansing and purification in their heart, mind and soul until they’re purified in the Lord. Ever since the Lord Jesus died and rose again, “That day” has had that fountain of cleansing gushing forth grace in abundance! — but for whom? For anyone who comes to Christ by faith, repents of their sins and submits to his Lordship.
How precious is that fountain for those who come, and how tragic for those who ignore God’s invitation! How often has God spoken these words to his people and to anyone who would listen: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15) The fountain of cleansing is still open and flowing with grace for anyone who comes to Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. “On that day” shouldn’t be just another day for you and me. It should be a day we cherish dearly and remember fondly— for it is the day that our hearts finally opened up to the word of God, and the day we listened intently to his voice— the day the Lord spoke to each of us from the cross about the sins we’ve committed in ignorance of God, and the shame and guilt of our offenses— the day he called us to look inside and realize that we’re in great need of his mercy— it’s the day we saw our own wretchedness and our conscience bore witness against us that it is I who should be the one crucified instead of this innocent Son of God— it’s the day when Love spoke to us from the cross wiping our tears and said it was alright, that he gladly took our place, and gladly forgives us in our repentant hearts— and with faith in Him in, his death wont be the end, but the beginning of a new life for you and me and for anyone we love and bring to the foot of the cross where sins are forgiven and forgotten. It’s a day we should remember dearly because it didn’t end in sadness but in joy when in faith we witnessed him rise from the dead and ascend to heaven and promise to return. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. If we’ve hardened our hearts, it’s a day to come to cross once again and to remember and to mourn and to repent and to receive new life and strength. How can we be sure of that? Because the fountain is still flowing with grace! And if your heart isn’t hardened, it’s still a day to celebrate his grace of cleansing and sanctification, for that flowing fountain still purifies our hearts and lives as we come to him anytime. Amen.
We had a question earlier: Why did it have to happen his way? Why did the Messiah have to be rejected, betrayed and crucified and shed his blood on a cross, no less by his very own people? And we said it was necessary, so that the fountain may be opened. There was yet another reason why it was necessary as well. It’s best expressed in verses 2-6. And it was to purge the land and the very heart of his people from idol worship. More than that, it was to obliterate the very names of idols and those who invoke them from their midst. Specifically, God would purge the spirits of uncleanness and of impurity from the hearts and minds of his people [and eventually from all men] which have encouraged idol worship and by doing so have been the cause of people’s ruination since the beginning of time.
Before we get into that, let’s look at verses 2-6. “’On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the Lord’s name.’ When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him. ‘On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. He will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.’ If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’”
“On that day” the names of the idols will be banished from the human heart and forgotten. Here we have two questions to ask. The first question is this: Why is the Lord so dead set against idols and the false prophets who invoke their names? And the second question is: If idols and those who serve them are so tenacious throughout the ages to the destruction of the human race, what power can remove them from the heart? What power can come close to wiping out their names while they hold sway over people’s hearts and minds? Let’s answer these questions then. So, with all the evils that Israel were engaged in, why was the Lord so bent on eradicating idols? Simply speaking, idols have been the scourge of mankind ever since he walked this earth. There is one truth that stands above the rest. “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Matthew 4:10) “And take you oaths in his name”. (Deuteronomy 6:13) Another truth stands as tall and says: “Give to … God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) Whether we like it or not, the truth is that human beings were created to worship God. We owe it to Him! It’s in Genesis and God also imprinted it upon our hearts through the first commandment, among other things. (Exodus 20:3) We were created to worship God and God alone. It’s our privilege and honor. It’s our joy and glory. Now, here’s the thing. If we don’t worship God, perhaps because we think we don’t believe in him, or perhaps because we’re too proud to worship him, or perhaps because we just don’t want to give him the time of day, we can’t be foolish enough to think that we’ll be left alone. On the contrary! Whether we like it or not, if our hearts are not in worship to God, our hearts go out to something else— to worship something else. Idols! And God won’t have it.
And we’re not talking idols of wood and stone like the old days. The people he was talking to had grown out of that. But idols remained, because their names endure. In other words their influence endures, and the evil spirits that drive that influence by tempting people to worship them also endures throughout the ages. And God won’t have it! God is dead set on destroying the idols and their names until they are remembered no more! We will see how. But let us consider the influence of idols in our time for a moment. For example, the idols of self love and of self exaltation are the icons of today’s scene! Just look at the megastars who worship themselves and those who worship them in return. How about the stock market idols and the idols of fame and of fortune sinking their venomous teeth even into the churches! The worship of sex and violence is a daily affair in the inner cities of every nation where kids grow up idolizing worshiping their macho peers. And if that’s not enough, the internet has provided an altar of worship through games of sex and violence— legally. Idols enslave men and women through their unholy desires, manipulating them, addicting them, obsessing them, coercing them. God never ever asks that of his people for worship. The worship God requires is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) For this reason he sent his Christ to deliver his people and the world from the scourge of idols.
Through the Messiah God wanted to purge the land of idols and their influence. We see that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die, for the fountain to be opened, so that not only sin and impurity may be removed from the heart, but so that idols may be banished for good! And God wasn’t playing around. God promised to rid the earth especially of those false prophets who have for generations served the idols and caused the suffering and fall of many. In verses 2-6, you will see how thorough God’s purge would be and why. You will see how extensive a corruption the idols engage in. You’ll see that their major modus operandi is through the agency of deception. (4) Deception is the way they earn their living [livelihood] (5), although at God’s act of purging they will continue to deceive by lying about their trade, or by hiding their true nature in order to escape God’s judgment. They’ll say: “I’m not a false prophet, I’m just a farmer.” But although they don’t wear a prophet’s garment, the evidence of their deceptive ways and their true trade is evident— just look at the wounds on their bodies! (ref. 1 Kings 18:27-29) The very wounds are telltale sign that they are still pandering lies and deception.
Verses 2-6 speak of the seriousness of deception— the seriousness of deceiving others (3, 4). Especially through the lies of a prophet speaking lies in the name of the Lord (3). Listen carefully! God is the Truth. And there’s no greater glory one can do than “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), there’s no viler sin than to violate or twist the Truth of God. In history, many spoke the truth of God even when they knew it would cost them their lives— when they could have easily flattered those who held the power of life or death over them. Others were too weak and compelled to say whatever the impure spirit bid them say in order to appease their listeners— while they claim to do it in the Lord’s name! And these false prophets have persisted throughout the ages up to this very day. That’s what Scripture also tells us. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) And there’s many of them speaking lies in the Lord’s name. Clever as they are, they’re experts at distorting the gospel truth, and bending it to their own purpose and agenda. In our day and age, to soothe the god of the age (2 Corinthians 4:4) who rules the hearts of most people, the false gospel seems to be on the rise in many churches. His gospel of tolerance to the abominations of men and women has proven itself effective. It assaults the very essence of what is sacred in marriage and the family which God created for his own purpose and glory. The lying prophets and false truths are on the rise as prophesied by the apostles. But the Lord’s community need not be concerned. The same apostle who said: “Test the spirit to see whether they are from God”, also said: “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6) Those who know God, know His Truth as well; they recognize the truth from the lie; and they also live by His Truth exactly as it is passed down to us by his Son and his Apostles.
“On that day” when the fountain was opened, and the grace of Almighty God was poured out on his people, something glorious happened. When we come to him for cleansing through faith in his blood, our sins are forgiven, our hearts and minds are purged of all idols and even the memory of them. We are given a new life through the Holy Spirit who purifies our hearts and minds daily through his sanctifying work, and who helps us stand on the Truth and fight for it. We have a sacred duty towards the truth we have been given. The gospel as it has been passed down to us is the Truth we have to hold on to and pass on. But we need to come to the fountain day by day to give thanks for his grace and to receive its blessings. May God bless you.