The second half of the book of Zechariah – the ‘song of the shepherd’ in chapter 7 onwards – is coming to a climax. The king has come into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey (chapter 9), and is pierced in chapter 12. Now the incredible results of that are on show.
Read Zechariah 13, verse 1 and think about the following questions.
In chapter 12:10-14, we saw people mourning bitterly for rejecting God and his king. Why, then, is this verse the best possible news for them? How might it leave them feeling?
The word for ‘opened’ means thrown wide open. What exactly is on offer here? What are the signs that this washing is complete, permanent, and freely available?
Go back to Zechariah 3:1-10 (one of the central visions of the first half of the book). How are we seeing the completion of that promise, here in chapter 13?
How serious do you think your sin is? So how desperate will you be to see your sins washed away? What effect will that have on the way you see Christian service, and generosity, and speaking to your saviour in prayer? If you don’t see your sin as much of a problem, how will that make you see these things as joyless and an inconvenience?
Pray: That the washing available in this fountain will be a precious thing to you and to other Christians that you know.
Chapter 12 has painted an incredible picture of the day to come, when many will mourn over the piercing of God himself. But chapter 13 continues to describe the incredible effect that this day will have.
Read Zechariah 13:1-9, and think about the following questions as we prepare to look at it together on Sunday at church.
Who is the shepherd in verse 7 and what have we already learned about him? What exactly is happening to him here?
Verses 1-6 and 8-9 detail the incredible effects of the death of this shepherd. Write a list of all that his death achieves. How are we seeing the promise in Zechariah 3:9 fulfilled?
Verse 7 is quoted in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. Why did these gospel writers find this verse so appropriate to refer to in describing the events surrounding the death of Jesus?
Please pray for all of us to reassess the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ the shepherd as we learn about him on Sunday afternoon, and for some to respond to it for the first time.
Read: Zechariah 13:1
How does this verse help to explain why God’s people are spared the curses for disobedience to God which falls on the surrounding nations (see Zechariah 12:4)?
The New Testament writers draw clear lines between “the one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10) and the death of Jesus (e.g. John 19:37) – how does this help us to understand the fountain that has been opened for cleansing?
How does this help to reinforce what we saw earlier in Zechariah chapter 12 – that God’s victory for his people is secure?
Pray: praise God for the precious blood of Jesus, the fountain which cleanses us from sin and impurity. Pray that we would know that Jesus’ death secures victory for God’s people.
Read: Zechariah 12:10-14
Who is “the one they have pierced”? Why is this so shocking?
What effect does the outpouring of the Spirit have upon the nation?
Read: 2 Chronicles 35:16-27
Why is the mourning for the one they have pierced (see John 19:31-37) compared with the death of King Josiah in the plain of Megiddo?
The people of Judah and Jerusalem mourn for their actions as if mourning for an only child. Do we weep over our sin in the same way?
How might our prayers change if we felt this way about our sin?
Pray: Praise God for the gift of his Spirit who marks us as favoured and enables us to beg for mercy. Ask that we would see just how terrible our sin is. Spend some time confessing some of the ways in which you have rejected God’s rule in your life.
Read: Zechariah 12:7-9
Why does the Lord save the dwellings of Judah first? What does this mean for God’s people?
How does this challenge us as we look around at other Christians who we might feel intimidated by or who we think are less important than ourselves?
The House of David represent the kingly line of Israel, while the Angel of the Lord is a reminder of God’s judgement. Why should this give us confidence to live as God’s people in a world that is hostile to the gospel?
Pray: praise God that it is His work to save His people. As we acknowledge this, pray that we would be both humble and confident in God’s victory.
At the time that Zechariah is prophesying to Israel, the nation looks weak. The people of Israel have returned from exile, but numbers are small and the temple has been rebuilt, but it’s glory does not compare with the temple under king Solomon’s rule, let alone the glory that the Lord has promised it will one day have. To make matters worse, the enemies of God’s people are opposing the rebuilding project in Jerusalem.
Read: Zechariah 12:2-6
In this section, what is the problem facing God’s people in Judah and Jerusalem?
What does the Lord say he will do to Jerusalem? Why is that good news for his people?
In verse 4 we read that God strikes the horses of the nations with panic, madness and blindness – these three conditions are all part of God’s curses for disobeying Him (Deuteronomy 28:28) – given what we have seen so far in Zechariah, why is it surprising that these curses do not seem to fall on God’s people?
Read: Galatians 3:10-14
What has happened to the curses which should have fallen on God’s people?
In Zechariah, how does this secure victory for God’s people?
How does this passage encourage us when we face opposition for being Christians?
Pray: Thank God that he strengthens his people, securing victory for them. Pray that we would have confidence that the Lord’s promises are true, no matter what opposition we might face as Christians.
Read: Zechariah 12:1
How does Zechariah describe God in these verses?
Why do you think God’s people need to remember these particular aspects of God at this time?
How does remembering God as creator of the world and of mankind help us to have confidence in what he says today?
Pray: Praise God that he is able to do what he says because of who he is – that his word is unshakeable. Ask that he would help us to trust what he says.