“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13.7b-9)
Zechariah is giving God’s prophecy about Israel. Jesus explicitly informs His disciples that He is this Shepherd, and they are the “little ones”. (Matthew 26.31, Mark 14.27) The immediate context there is about them deserting Him as He is betrayed into murderous hands. The next point Zechariah makes is about Israel at large.
Jesus is the prophesied Messiah that is to come through Israel’s blood because of God’s promise to Abraham that “in [Abraham’s] offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22.18). But, as Jesus was rejected during His earthly ministry, so to will His kinsman reject the good news of salvation available because of Him. The greatest blessing ever known- the one promised to Abraham for the whole world- is that Jesus can save souls from sin. Zechariah’s prophecy uses the same kind of symbolism that we see in Revelation; two-thirds does one thing, and one-third does the opposite. This number is a symbol; meaning the majority will reject salvation and “be cut off and perish”. But a lesser portion will gain life!
This portion that finds life will undergo trials and problems. God Himself will be administering the trials. Life is rough sometimes. Perhaps God is refining you; showing you exactly the weak things that should be removed from your daily walk. Knowing God is administering the trial may not lessen the problem, but it should help our attitudes to be steadfast and patient. Notice what He calls those who are being refined: “silver” and “gold”- precious metals. And you, dear brother/sister, are precious in the sight of our God. May He find you as such!