ELDER H.C. KER – DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: - Will you please give your views through the SIGNS on the text recorded in Zechariah xiii. 7-9? “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. 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. 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.” Do you understand this to mean God's protecting care over the little ones, as it is the will of the Father that not one of these little one who believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shall perish?
Yours in hope,
Wm. F. Sloan
In the first verse of this thirteenth chapter of Zechariah the declaration, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and uncleanness,” is found. The expression, “In that day,” is often used in the Old Testament Scriptures, and no doubt had reference to the gospel day. For instance the word says, “It shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which are ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts of the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Here it seems evident that the trumpet signified the gospel, or glad news to those ready to perish and to the outcasts of Israel. In the days of old at a certain season there was a silver trumpet blown in the camps of Israel. It never gave an uncertain sound, but always the same sound, which was known and understood by the Israelites. It declared liberty to the captives, freedom to those who were bound, and that the debts of those who were in debt were canceled. A beautiful figure of the gospel of the grace of God: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.” This is the sound of the gospel trumpet, declaring liberty tot he captives, freedom to them bound by the fetters of sin, and that the debt they owed both law and justice is forever canceled. In Malachi iii. 17, we have the following language: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” By referring to the first two or three verses of this chapter of Malachi it will be readily seen that the seventeenth verse, just referred to, declared the work of Christ during his ministry in the flesh and in the Spirit, rather than the end of all things, when the redeemed of the Lord shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. His work in the flesh was to redeem and justify his bride, and beginning with the calling of the apostles, the making up of the jewels began, and has continued until the present hour, and will continue until the last jewel is gathered from among men. Even to-day the church is a royal diadem in the hand of her God. We have called attention to these two places in the Scriptures where the words, “In that day,” are used, to show that the same truth is presented in the first verse of the chapter before us. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had promised to visit their seed with redemption and salvation, and that in his own way and time. Here in this chapter he renews his promise by saying, In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and uncleanness. It might be asked, If the fountain was opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, how can Gentiles be benefited by it? It seems to us this way: that inasmuch as Christ was the house of David, and the Gentiles are children of God by adoption in him and have their life standing in him, that they are the children of God, both Jews and Gentiles, are of the house of David and therefore the inhabitants of Jerusalem. All the works of the Lord are known unto him from the beginning, and as sin entered the world there must be an end of sin, a cleansing, a washing, a purifying of his chosen people, and this could be done only in the fountain opened for that special purpose. There seems to be presented a distinction in this first verse between sin and uncleanness, and the fountain was opened for both. Sin must be forever washed away by the one offering, and, as it seems to us, uncleanness, embracing all vile and evil speeches, all ungodly acts, must be purged away in the one fountain while the church sojourns here in the wilderness of sin. This fountain is nothing less than the shed blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, which “blood can cleanse the foulest stain and can avail for me.” The faith of the church has ever been the same in all ages of the world. Abel saw this fountain in his day. The harlot Rahab saw it in her say when she bound the scarlet line in the window, knowing that it meant salvation to her and her house. The dying thief rejoiced to see it as he was paying the just penalty for his crimes, and the poet saw it when he said, May I there, though vile as he, was all my sins away. When the Lord's appointed time came for the fountain to be opened he called upon the sword to awake and smite his Shepherd. This reminds us of the words of Jesus to Pilate: Thou couldest have no power against me at all except it were given thee from above. How wonderful that the Lord endured sin to reign just so long, then called upon the sword, or offended law, to awake and smite the Shepherd. The sword had slumbered, as it were, from the day of Adam's transgression, a period of thousands of years, but was in no sense dead, and its demands must be met before the guilty could be justified with God. The law did awake with all its fury, demanding the death of the transgressor, and as the sinner could not undo what he had done, the Shepherd took his sins upon himself and was smitten by the sword, or law, thereby fulfilling its demands in every jot and tittle.
We should all remember that the shepherd here spoken of was God's fellow as well as his Shepherd. The term “fellow” means equal. Yes, the Son was equal with the Father, and thought it not robbery, yet made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and became obedient even unto death. Well can it be said of Jesus that he was God manifest in the flesh, and well could Jesus say, I and my Father are one. The term “my Shepherd,” signifies that the flock belonged to the Father, and that he appointed the Son overseer or Shepherd. This is in harmony with what Jesus said to the Father: Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, hence he could by right redeem them.
Brother Sloan wants to know if the hand over the little ones means God's protecting care over all his people? To this we answer yes, but in a secondary sense. He will remember that Jesus said, This night all of you shall be offended because of me, and shall forsake me. Peter replied, Though all men forsake thee, yet will I not. But the words of the Lord are ever true, and there must not be one exception when he said, All shall forsake me. Peter was sincere, and verily thought he could do what he had promised, but like all of us failed and denied the Lord of mercy and salvation. When Jesus was betrayed into the hands of wicked men, according to the determinate counsel of God, all the disciples forsook him and fled, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled which said, Smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. This, then, is of course the first application of the text. The Lord had called and ordained the apostles to the work of the gospel ministry, and their mission must be accomplished, hence he turned his hand over them, protecting them from death, but delivered Jesus unto death because of his purpose and plan. Nothing could take his life until the appointed time, neither could any take the life of the apostles, witnesses of the Lamb, until their words were heard in all the world by all nations. It is verily true that the hand of the Lord is over all his sheep, and that nothing shall separate them from him, and that no cross, no loss, no burden shall ever overtake them that strength is not given to bear. Faithful is our God to all eternity; bless his holy name.
“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.” It seems to us that the “land” spoken of here was that portion given to Abraham and his seed for a possession. If so, those therein were Jews, hence the cutting off of the two parts signifies the cutting off of the “natural branches of the tame olive tree,” or in other words the rejection and overthrow of the Jewish nation as a body, the Lord taking the kingdom from them. As branches separated from a vine or tree wither and die, so the Jews became dead to the “true Vine,” and remain spiritually dead to this day, with an exception now and then, in fulfillment of the word of God as embraced in the text. “The third part.” This signifies a smaller part, or “remnant according to the election of grace.” The church, spiritually, was composed at first of thirteen, the Head and the twelve apostles, but on the day of Pentecost the Lord added three thousand souls, and, as we understand, all Jews. These practically composed the “third part” left in the land, and they were brought through the fire, persecutions, severe trials, losses and crosses for their faith in Jesus and his blood. In such fire they were refined as silver is refined and tried as gold is tried. As the refiner's fire is very hot in order to consume all dross, so the persecutions of the early church were severe to prove and try the faith of “the third part,” but the Lord brought them off more than conquerors through Him that loved them and give himself for them. The expression, They shall call on my name and I will hear them, is very significant, and Peter expressed the feeling of all saints when he asked Jesus, saying, Lord, unto whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. Such faith and confession the Lord always hears and blesses in saying, “It is my people,” and in return they say, “The Lord is my God.” All this is true now of the Lord's people experimentally, and will continue the same while time lasts, and they are just as sure to brought through, not left in, the fire as were the Jews and early church.
We now leave the subject for the consideration of brother Sloan and others who may read our views. - K.
Elder H.C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Vol. 84, No. 5 – March 1, 1916