Chapter 13 begins with a statement that describes the contrast of the Jewish people in the millennium to the Jews of the last centuries.
• They will never again be tempted to worship idols.
• They will never again be deceived by false prophets with unclean spirits.
Zechariah 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.
Verses 8-9 indicate that 1/3 of the Jewish people will survive the tribulation period and emerge as the believing remnant that God has promised to preserve throughout the ages.
Zechariah 13:8-9 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.
The Lord compares the refining process to that of refining silver. During my study of Isaiah I found a wonderful illustration of the significance of that comparison. It’s found in many places on the internet.
Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. "This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."
So I decided to do a search to determine how gold was tested and found the following at www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/roadshow/tips/gold_diamonds/index.html
"You've heard the expression, 'Give it the acid test,'" Barry says. "Well this is literally giving gold the acid test." The process begins by rubbing some of the metal from the jewelry against a slate (or sometimes a special piece of glass). "It scrapes off the gold like chalk on a board," Barry says, yet so little gold rubs off that it doesn't damage the jewelry. Then, acid is poured on the metal residue that was rubbed onto the slate…. "It's dangerous," Barry says. "The acid can damage your clothing and your skin."….If the metal rubbed onto the slate completely disappears under the acid, the piece is not gold.
I would assume that the acid could be compared to the trials of faith that these Jewish believers will endure through the terrible tribulation of that 70th week. It they emerge with their faith intact, they will have been tested as gold. I couldn’t help but think of these verses in 1John in connection with this thought.
1John 2:17-19 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
The last part of verse 9 is a glorious promise. In contrast to so much of their existence, the people of Israel will call on YHWH as their LORD God. They will love Him and obey Him. He will delight to hear them, in direct contrast to their time of rebellion and rejection when He refused to hear them. He will delight in responding to their call.