We have been studying the rather obscure book of Zechariah during our midweek Bible Studies. Today our pastor Ian Goodman led us through Chapter 13. The first verse hit me with its glorious words: “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.”
On that day . . . On what day? The previous chapter tells us enough about that day, leaving us with no doubt as to its identity.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10).
This very scripture is quoted by John when he described the crucifixion in his gospel.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. The one who saw it has testified to this, and his testimony is true. He knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.
Now these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of His bones will be broken.” And, as another Scripture says: “They will look on the One they have pierced.” (John 19:33-37)
“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.” This was our text in Zechariah. On that day, the day of the crucifixion of Jesus, there shall be a fountain opened . . .
My husband Philip interjected that the word “fountain” reminded him of two hymns.
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
(By William Cowper)
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
(By Augustus Toplady)
When Philip mentioned Rock of Ages, I immediately remembered the cryptic line Be of sin the double cure: Save from wrath and make me pure. I can still remember where I was when I gave this line a lot of thought and gave up, back in the mid 1980s. I felt as if this mystery was finally about to be made clear, and it was so.
The fountain of Zechariah’s prophecy was meant to deal with the two issues of sin and uncleanness. It was to be the double cure! Cleanse us from sin (to save us from wrath) and to cleanse us from uncleanness (and make us pure). When we read through the book of Leviticus, we see how most of the Old-Testament sacrifices were meant to prepare people to enter sacred space, dealing with uncleanness over which they had little control, bodily emissions, coming across a dead body, and so on. But precious little could be done for anyone committing the big sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder, although for some sins like theft, options were available.
Hymn writers like Toplady were deep thinkers. The ‘double cure’ nature of this fountain is such an apt observation. Firstly, it is the fountain of blood that cleanses from sin and guilt, saving us from God’s wrath. Secondly, it is the fountain of water that cleanses from uncleanness and makes us pure, allowing us access to God.
Hallelujah, What a Saviour!