For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough 

13:1.  “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.”


“... that day” continues to be the time at the end of the Great Tribulation when the Lord will have returned in power and glory; and having delivered Israel out of the hand of her foes, He will then proceed to cleanse Israel from sin, i.e., everything that is comprehended in the word sin; while “uncleanness” is related more specifically to sexual impurity, which in Scripture is used frequently as a figure of idolatry, i.e., giving to idols the worship and love that belong to God alone.


The “fountain” is understood by many to be that of Christ’s blood, and no doubt it may be so applied, but many competent scholars understand the reference to be to the water of the Word, Eph 5:26, which cleanses sinners by first making them aware of their sinful state, and then showing them the means of cleansing: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the One Whose vicarious death has made atonement for the sins of every one who trusts in Him as Savior.


The fountain of Christ’s blood was opened at Calvary, but the fountain of the written Word that will reveal her need of that blood won’t be opened for Israel until the Tribulation begins, as it is written, “... blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” Ro 11:25-26.


“That day” will be Israel’s great day of atonement, when her sin will be put away not just for a year, as in the type, but for ever.


13:2.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.”


Idolatry will be banished, for while Israel has not been guilty of that particular sin since the return from Babylon, Scripture makes it clear that in the Tribulation era she, with the exception of the small believing remnant, will worship the image of the Beast; but following the Lord’s return, every idol will be banished.


False prophets will also be banished, for during the reign of the Beast, the false prophet, see Re 16:13; 19:20, will doubtless have many underlings to assist him in leading the people away from God, and into the worship of the Beast.


13:3.  “And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.”


Such will then be the people’s aversion to idolatry and its attendant evil, that the utterance of lies by one pretending to be God’s spokesmen, will result in that man’s own parents slaying him.  Such execution was commanded in Dt 13:6-10, but the command was rarely obeyed.  There will, however, be no disobedience on that day when the Lord returns in power and glory as the mighty Lion of Judah to reign, and not as the Lamb to die.


13:4.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:”


When the pretended visions of the false prophets will have been exposed as lies, they themselves  will become the objects of the scorn of their former dupes, so that they will cease to wear the hairy garments by which they had formerly induced the victims of their chicanery to believe that they were God’s spokesmen.


13:5.  “But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.”


The former false prophets, shamed by the exposure of their deception, and fearful for their lives, will go to great pains to disassociate themselves from their past evil activity, and will protest that they have never been anything but farmers all their lives.


13:6.  “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands?  Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”


This translation is the unfortunate result of an earnest but mistaken desire to apply the words to the Lord Jesus Christ, for “hands” is correctly “the forearms,” or “between thine hands,” or “on your chest and back,” and “wounds” is literally “scars.”  It was a common practice of the cultish prophets to wound themselves or to have themselves thus wounded, and thereby scarred, as evidence of their piety, and devotion to the idol god they worshiped, see 1 Ki 18:28.  “... in the house of my friends” is related to the fact that they sometimes had their friends inflict the wounds.  A present day example of this practice may be observed every Easter in many South American Catholic countries where individuals parade through the streets while submitting to flagellation, and a few to crucifixion, all in an effort to show their “devotion to Christ!”


To make these the words of Christ is to wrest the plain meaning of what is recorded.  The speaker is a false or former false prophet explaining how he came by his scars.


13:7.  “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”


These are the words of God the Father explaining that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ was necessary to make atonement for man’s sin, and redeem the souls of all those who would trust Him as Savior.  He used men to be His instrument, His sword, to slay His Son Who was the good Shepherd laying down His life for the sheep, that Shepherd being the One Who had always been the Father’s closest associate, companion, comrade.  If men’s souls were to be redeemed, God’s sword must slay that Son Who had been, and still is, the true Shepherd of the sheep.  There could be no clearer testimony to the deity of Christ than this announcement of the Father that the good Shepherd, the man Christ Jesus, was His “fellow,” or as it is stated in 1 Tim 3:16, in Christ, “God was manifest (revealed) in flesh,” i.e., He was coequal and coeternal with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit.


And with the Shepherd dead it follows that the sheep would be scattered, as they were on that night of His betrayal when the disciples all forsook Him and fled.  Some feel that the scattered sheep include the whole nation of Israel scattered in AD 70.


“... and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” means that God would also cause or rather permit “the little ones,” i.e., believers to suffer, not vicariously as did Christ, but rather because of their association with Him.  As to why He should permit this suffering, the obvious answer is that it tests the reality of their professed faith, and is the process by which He refines their faith.


13:8.  “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.”


The whole Church age comes in as an unmentioned parenthesis between this verse and the two preceding, for this refers to what will be towards the end of the Great Tribulation, and continues to enlarge on the subject of testing.  Two-thirds of the people will die, many of them under Divine judgment, but a small faithful minority will demonstrate their loyalty to Christ by being willing to die rather than worship the Beast.


13:9.  “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.”


Testing continues to be the subject here.  The surviving one third will be tested relative to their faith, portrayed here, as always, by silver, the biblical emblem of redemption.  But the reference to gold, the biblical symbol of Divine glory, points to the ultimate reward of their faithfulness.  As they will have been willing to glorify God by their obedience even in the face of death, so will He also glorify them, first in the Millennium, and then eternally, as Paul has declared relative, not only to us, but also to believers of the OT age, and of the coming Tribulation era, “... if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Ro 8:17-18.


Their calling upon God’s name indicates their faith, and God’s hearing them portrays His willingness to respond to their faith, for as they will confess Him as their God, so will He respond by  acknowledging them as His people.

[Zechariah 14]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough