Zechariah: A Prophecy About Idolatry and Unclean Spirits

On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Zechariah 13:1

Chapter 13 of Zechariah continues the prophecy of the time of the Messiah recorded in chapter 12.  The “fountain” which would “cleanse…from sin and uncleanness” points to the blood of Christ (cf. John 7:37; 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5; Matt. 26:28) which continually cleanses the penitent of “the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,” a reference to the church which the New Testament calls Israel in a spiritual sense (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:26-29; 6:16; Heb. 12:22-23; James 1:1).

The prophet’s message from God about the age of Christ continues:  “And on that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more…” (13:2a).  Within the church of our Lord, there is no room for idolatry (1 John 5:21; 1 Cor. 10:14).  Modern Christians must understand that idolatry is far more than bowing down to Baal or any other false god.  The apostle’s classification of a sinful mindset – greed – as idolatry (Col. 3:5) shows that even such things as attitudes and priorities can be considered idolatrous if they do the same as the stone idols of old: take the place of God in our minds and hearts.  God must come first, which is easy to say but oftentimes harder to actually prove to be true in practice and within our hearts (Matt. 22:37; 6:33).  Brethren, let us examine ourselves.  Is there anything in our daily lives which our actions show to have a higher place in our hearts than the place occupied by God and our Christian walk?  Are we guilty of idolatry without realizing it?

The prophecy continues:  “…And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness.  And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord.’  And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.  On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies.  He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.’  And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends’” (13:2b-6).  At the very beginning of the church, miraculous prophecies were listed among the spiritual gifts which the apostles gave to some within the early church through the laying on of their hands (1 Cor. 12:1-11ff; 14:1ff; Acts 6:6, 8; 8:5-24; 19:6; Rom. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:6; cf. Eph. 2:20; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).  So were the working of miracles such as casting out unclean spirits or demons (1 Cor. 12:8-11; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 19:11-12; cf. Mk. 16:17).  These miracles were done to confirm the Word of God which the apostles were preaching and writing (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4).  This was possibly the reason Jehovah allowed demonic possession during this time.  However, by the end of the first century A.D. the New Testament was completed (telios, “that which is perfect” – 1 Cor. 13:10; cf. Rom. 12:2; James 1:25) and thus, per Paul’s prophecy, miraculous spiritual gifts would cease (1 Cor. 13:8-10).  Around this same time, those with miraculous ability passed on as the apostles and those upon whom they laid their hands to impart spiritual gifts left this life.  Thus, it would not be many years after the church’s beginning that no one would be able to legitimately claim to be a prophet or cast out unclean spirits (which would likewise be the reason the Lord would cease to allow them to enter people).  Any so-called prophet who, for example, claimed to be like Elijah (the reference to the “hairy cloak”), would lack credibility within the Lord’s church and would be put to shame among his brethren (13:4-6; cf. Prov. 27:6a; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Pet. 2:1ff).

— Jon

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