There is a Fountain (Zechariah 13)
"There is a fountain filled with blood..."
Have you ever heard this hymn and while you were singing along thought to yourself, what exactly am I singing about???
In the book of Jeremiah, the LORD refers to Himself as "the fountain of living water in Jeremiah 2:13. The prophet Jeremiah later refers to the LORD as "the fountain of living water" in Jeremiah 17:13. In Explore the Bible this week, the lesson refers to "Israelites living in the semiarid environment of the Middle East cherished a dependable fountain of fresh water as a treasure. However, the fountain that Zechariah described did more than simply quench a person's physical thirst. This fountain cleansed the people from their sin and impurity....Zechariah prophesied of a fountain that forever cleanses the stains of sin and guilt from the souls of God's repentant people,"
In Matthew 26:28, Jesus affirmed, "For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins."
The author of Hebrews wrote in 9:11-15, "But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once and for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant."
Reflecting on Zechariah 13:1 for Explore the Bible this week reminds me of the song "There is a Fountain" by William Cowper. Those of you that remember me as a Music Pastor remember our version of this one.
In case you ever wondered how the song came to be written, here you go!
“There is a Fountain” written by William Cowper.
Cowper was born in 1731 to an English clergyman and a woman from a prominent family of English royalty. He was educated in private schools and earned a degree in law. He later passed the bar exam and was licensed to practice as a solicitor in the lower courts of the English justice system.
Though Cowper appeared quite successful from an intellectual and future career standpoint, he was quite frail physically and suffered from emotional instability. This emotional instability prevented him from actually practicing law as he had a mental breakdown while studying for his bar exam and never fully recovered. In addition to that anxiety, the emotional turmoil of losing his mother when he was six years old, and stress related to a love affair, he attempted suicide unsuccessfully and was placed in an insane asylum for eighteen months.
It was in the asylum that Cowper spent a significant amount of time studying the Scriptures. He committed his life to Christ and his melancholy lifted somewhat. Upon leaving the asylum, he began staying with a retired evangelical minister and his wife. As a lover of poetry and music, he would pen many hymns throughout his lifetime. Interestingly enough, throughout his Christian journey, Cowper would at times question his security as a believer and God’s love for him.
Near the end of his life (d. April 25, 1800), while sitting alone at his desk, with the words of Zechariah (13:1) on his mind, he wrote “There is a Fountain.” Through the writing of this hymn, he became aware of the Christ’s complete atonement for sin. A few years later, Lowell Mason would set music to the words of Cowper establishing a hymn that has taught theology, and brought comfort to the Church for over 200 years.
Despite Cowper’s weaknesses in mental and emotional depression and having spiritual doubt, God was able to use Cowper’s spiritual gifting and skillset to provide inspiration to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. May we rejoice today in these words:
“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day
And there may I, though vile as he
Wash all my sins away
Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Are saved, to sin no more
For since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die
When this poor lisping,
Lies silent in the grave
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I'll sing thy power to save"
Baptism as a public profession of faith that we go into the water as sinful man, go into the water to be cleansed from sin, and emerge as a new creation!