“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. “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, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the Lord ’s name.’ Then their own parents will stab the one who prophesies. “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. Each will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth. ’ If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body ?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ “Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the Lord Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land,” declares the Lord , “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. 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.’ ” – Zechariah 13:1-9
The subject of today’s passage is “a fountain”. This fountain will be opened to the people of “inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity”. In modern usage the word fountain can mean several things. It can be a display of water that is purely for artistic or aesthetic purposes. I recently saw a news story about a sky scraper in China that actually created a 350-foot waterfall out of the side of the building. Pretty impressive feat of engineering but I wonder about the long-term practicality and energy cost of constantly lifting all that water to keep it running. I do not think this is the type of fountain God is referring to here.
Fountains were also common throughout the Roman empire as a means to distribute water to the people in a town or village. The water source for these fountains was commonly a mountain stream which could be some distance from the town and required complicated aqueducts to convey the water by gravity into the town from the mountains. In Haiti where I do a lot of work with groundwater it is common practice to capture the flow of a natural spring and convey it to a town or village via pipes then distribute it using fountains or spigots. These types of fountains are closer to the meaning here, but again not quite right.
I think the “fountain” God is speaking about here is clearly something different than a physical appliance used to convey water to people. He is describing “a Fountain” that can actually cleanse the people from their sin and impurity. The only “Fountain” I know about that has made this claim is Jesus. Interestingly, God says when he provides this fountain He will also “remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land”. So there is a sense that the long parade of prophets will come to an end and something more permanent will replace them.
The passage then takes a turn into some confusing metaphorical language about wounds and friends, “What are these wounds on your body ?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.” It is not at all clear what this would have meant to the people reading this passage. It makes me wonder about a certain young man from Galilee who was given wounds by people who should have been His friends, the Jewish people.
My confusion continues as God says “Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!”. Again this could easily describe Jesus who was referred to as a shepherd and was indeed very close to the Father, God. I am perplexed by this passage and how the people of Israel would have read and interpreted it. Perhaps after I have passed “the confluence”, as I float through the New Testament in the coming weeks and months, it will become more clear
The “reflections of Him” continue as God says ‘Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered”. This is certainly what happened to the disciples of Jesus after He was crucified at the hands of His “friends”. From my understanding of God’s plan the scattering was a feature not a flaw of His plan for spreading the Good News far and wide beyond the bounds of Israel and Galilee. The people that survived this scattering and remained faithful had God at their backs, “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.’ ”. This is reassuring as one who is a product of this scattering process myself.
The mystery of Christ, His sacrifice, and resurrection is something that I am not sure we will fully understand within the context of our earthly bodies. I have decided that although it is hard to understand why this sacrifice was required I am willing to accept the hand of grace God extends without complete understanding.
Prayer: Thank You God for coming to cleanse us for our sin and impurities. It is hard to understand why this required such a costly sacrifice on Your part, but I am willing to accept Your Grace without complete understanding.