“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man Who is My Companion,” says the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land,” says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Zechariah 13:7-9
Zechariah, speaking of Messiah, the great Shepherd of Israel, reminds us of Messiah’s primary role in His first coming: Atonement for sin. He does not come first as the great King, whom so many people among the Jewish community are awaiting today. While He will return as the triumphant King in His second coming (Revelation 19:11-16), Messiah first comes to atone for the sin of the flesh with His own flesh, offering atonement, even to the rebels who opposed Him.
“Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.” Isaiah 53:12
Of course, we know Messiah has been revealed in the person of Jesus. A portion of our evidence (that Jesus is Messiah) comes from His fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (and Micah’s (Micah 5:2), David’s (Psalm 22), and Isaiah’s (Isaiah 53), to name a few. He was struck down, and His crucifixion resulted in the scattering of His “sheep,” aka, His disciples.
“Then Jesus to them, all of you shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Matthew 26:31 (see also: Mark 14:27; John 10:12)
But more than fulfilling prophecy, the scattering of Jesus’ “sheep” also had a therapeutic result. It separated His disciples from the vicious “wolves” posing as shepherds in Jerusalem, separated “wheat-from-tare” among those who called themselves His disciples, and it helped spread the gospel by 1) Scattering the evangelists around the world and 2) Ensuring that the gospel preached was pure. Job spoke of the purifying nature of his own hardships.
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
A great thing about God’s chastening & refining His people is that the season of chastening & refinement does not last forever. Hence, He fulfills Hosea’s words.
"Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ and to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.” Hosea 2:1
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