When we read Zechariah 12, the poetry and power of God’s promise to at once, rescue, honour and bless His people, whilst allowing the glory on them to burn their enemies all around (verse 6), shows God’s heart to vindicate those whom He loves. It also assures us that He is deeply aware of the injustice that His people face and that He is willing and able to address every case for justice. After all, Abraham declared; “Will not the judge of the whole earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
Within the detail of this chapter of Zechariah, we see the beauty of God’s meticulous justice, and order; He states that He will rescue Judah first, and their strength will enable them to be a great shield to cover the initial weakness of Jerusalem (verse 7). This weakness has a purpose because it brings the humility needed for the heart transformation of the people of God’s Holy city. Those who are most loved and honoured have to be a witness to others of God’s love and justice, His goodness and truth.
Sometimes we would like to receive God’s goodness but not His truth, but John says that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, became flesh and when He came to us, He was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Well, the scriptures also use the analogy of a sword to describe the power and function of the Word of God, and state that “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The cut from the Word is painful but it is a clean cut! It saves us from that which is within us, yet works against us; our own pride, the blindness it brings and the destruction it leads us into. The sword is used by God as a scalpel and the Holy Spirit, as skilled surgeon, cuts away the disease of sin, to save us from it.
This is the preparation, that makes the way for God’s act in Zechariah 12:10, the pouring out of His spirit of grace and supplication, which enables the humility that allows us to see past our own self. It allows us to look at the bigger picture, and therefore see the truth that comes from the accuracy of taking in all of facts of a situation.
The most important fact of all, is that Jesus is Lord, that He took our place and suffered in His absolute innocence for our absolute depravity: “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son”. (Verse 10)
We have to grieve for sin, we have to understand that is caused the horrific suffering of our Lord and that had it not, we would have had to keep the burden upon our own shoulders. A burden too great for us to lift to remove or to transfer.
In chapter 13 of Zechariah, we see what the grieving for sin looks like; it is a recognition, and active rejection, of specific sins that God reveals when we humble ourselves before Him. His spirit of grace causes are hearts to soften, to feel remorse before a holy and loving, tender God. That softening is what causes us to be aware of our attitudes and behaviours. To recognise that which does not align with the heart of God. This is the fountain of cleansing! (Verse 1)
With this cleansing, this surgical procedure, there is pain and there is a recovery process. Sometimes a change of lifestyle is needed because we cannot go back to the way things were. This is what we see in verses 4 to 6 of Zechariah, chapter 13; the one deceived by his idolatrous desires to think he is speaking from God as a prophet, has to change his lifestyle completely once convicted.
But he does not view the confrontation that caused him to repent with bitterness, because he accepts that it was his sin that had caused it. Not only this, but he now carries the peace of repentance and reconciliation within his heart. That peace surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), because it is founded upon the intimacy and fulfilment that arises from walking in fellowship and love with God.
To come out from the Refiner’s fire, knowing the passionate heat and glowing glory of His love, whilst he handles us with meticulous care within his flame, is what builds the trust within us to know that when He tells us He is our God, we can say we are His People (Zechariah 13:9).