Zechariah 12 – Mourning for the Pierced One
A. God defends Israel against her enemies.
1. (1-4) God supernaturally defends Israel against attack.
The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. In that day,” says the LORD, “I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.”
a. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens: The section begins with praise for God’s creative power, reminding us that He is in control and completely able to accomplish what He predicts.
b. I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples: God says that in a coming day Jerusalem will intoxicate and stupefy the surrounding peoples. The Arab peoples surrounding Jerusalem have a passion for possessing the city that is not justified by history.
i. Muslims claim Jerusalem as their third-holiest city, but Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. In addition, “During the centuries when Jerusalem was under complete Arab control, no Arab ruler or Islamic leader ever made it the object of a religious pilgrimage – again a strange indifference toward a city which is now considered to be the third holiest religious site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.” (Hunt)
ii. Jerusalem’s importance to Muslims comes from the belief that in the Dome of the Rock shrine there is a rock where two significant things happened – where Abraham intended to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, and where Mohammed allegedly ascended into heaven. Though this tradition is firmly in the Muslim mind, it is of recent origin. It was invented by Yasser Arafat’s uncle – Haj Amin el-Husseini, who was the past Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He promoted this myth in the 1920’s and 1930’s to arouse Arab passions against the growing Jewish presence in Jerusalem.
iii. The verse in the Koran that describes Mohammed’s trip to heaven is Surah 17:1: Glorified be He who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far Distant Place [al-Aqsa] of Worship the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! The Islamic interpretation says that the Inviolable Place of Worship is Mecca, and this is accepted by all. It then says that the Far Distant Place of Worship is Jerusalem – but this has no substantiation because Jerusalem had never been a place of Islamic worship up to that time, nor would it be for centuries afterward. Jerusalem isn’t even mentioned by name in the Koran, so how could it be a place of worship according to the Koran? Most significantly, inside the Dome of the Rock hundreds of verses from the Koran are inscribed – and Surah 17:1 is not among them! The very passage that later supposedly justified the building of the Dome of the Rock is not even included among the hundreds of passages of the Koran inscribed in it!
iv. The Dome of the Rock was built not because of the Koran, but because the Muslim ruler Abdal-Malik wanted to gain revenue from pilgrims and worshippers, and because he wanted to prevent the rebuilding of a Jewish temple. Islamic passion for Jerusalem is indeed like drunkenness.
v. This is exactly fulfilled in modern Jerusalem. In recent peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israel was willing to concede almost everything to the Palestinians in an amazing willingness to make peace. The only thing Israel would not concede was sovereignty over Jerusalem, and the entire deal was ruined over that one point. The problem between Jews and the Arab world has boiled down to one point: Jerusalem.
vi. If Muslim passion for Jerusalem is a mystery, the Jewish claim to the city is entirely scriptural. “The very fact that Jerusalem is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible makes it worthy of special attention. This unique city is the only one upon which God has bestowed His distinctive blessing and protection (Psalm 132:13-14), and the only city for whose peace we are commanded to pray (Psalm 122:6). God says He has chosen Jerusalem as the place where He has put His name forever (2 Chronicles 6:6; 33:7; Psalm 46:4; 48:1-8; 87:3). The new heavens and new earth will contain ‘the city of my God…new Jerusalem’ (Revelation 3:12; 21:2). That there will be a ‘heavenly Jerusalem’ (Hebrews 12:22) but no ‘heavenly’ New York, Paris, London, Damascus, Cairo, etc. speaks volumes.” (Hunt)
c. I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples: If Jerusalem will be a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, it will be a heavy stone – a burden – for all peoples, presenting a problem that cannot be solved (all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces).
i. “Consider how remarkable even this one prophecy is. Who could have imagined when the Old Testament was written that all the nations of the world would be involved in deciding the fate of Israel? And this involvement of all nations in dividing Israel has occurred exactly as prophesied and is still in the process of being implemented.” (Hunt)
d. I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness: Though the nations come against Jerusalem with fury, God will protect her. This will find its ultimate fulfillment in the battle of Armageddon, but we may see an earlier fulfillment any day now.
2. (5-9) God supernaturally empowers His people.
“And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.’ In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem. The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
a. I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile: In that day God will deliver Israel not only through His direct work, but also through blessing and empowering both the governors and inhabitants of Jerusalem. They will be supernaturally empowered by God to defend the city.
b. In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David: King David was renowned for his fighting ability, courage, and success. God promised a day when the weakest in Jerusalem will be as mighty as David – and the leaders could only be compared in might to God!
B. God gives Israel a spirit of humble repentance.
1. (10) Mourning for the pierced One.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
a. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication: Part of this great outpouring of strength and might to defend Jerusalem will be an outpouring of the Spirit – but of grace and supplication. God will move among Israel and bring saving grace and repentant prayer.
b. Then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son: As Jerusalem is supernaturally defended and the Spirit is poured out on the nation, they will turn to Jesus, the pierced One. His head was pierced with thorns, His hands and feet were pierced with nails, and a spear pierced His side.
i. They will look: They will turn away from their trust in the foolish, worthless shepherd and turn their focus on the good shepherd. When we see Jesus crucified – understanding why He went to the cross and what He accomplished there – we are drawn to Him in humble repentance (John 12:32).
ii. They will look on Him whom they pierced. They will realize that they did it and that they bear responsibility – not sole responsibility, but responsibility nonetheless – for the crucifixion of their Savior.
iii. They will mourn: The Jewish people will turn to Jesus in repentance, mourning their past rejection of Him. The mourning will be deep, as if for an only son, the firstborn. Firstborn was synonymous with the most beloved.
iv. This will fulfill the amazing promise of Romans 11:26 (And so all Israel will be saved) and many other passages that tell us that before the physical return of Jesus to this earth, the Jewish people – as a whole – will welcome Him as their Lord and Savior. The whole context of Zechariah 12 puts this radical conversion in the setting of miraculous deliverance from an attack from the nations.
c. They will look.… they will mourn: Here we see the pattern for coming to Jesus and true repentance. First, we look to Jesus, then we mourn for our sins. Looking to Jesus must come first.
i. “A great mistake is very common among all classes of men – it is currently believed that we are first of all to mourn for our sins, and then to look by faith to our Lord Jesus Christ. Most persons who have any concern about their souls, but are not as yet enlightened by the Spirit of God, think that there is a degree of tenderness of conscience, and of hatred of sin, which they are to obtain somehow or other, and then they will be permitted and authorised to look to Jesus Christ. Now you will perceive that this is not according to the Scripture, for, according to the text before us men first look upon him whom they have pierced, and then, but not till then, they mourn for their sin.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “It is a beautiful remark of an old divine, that eyes are made for two things at least; first, to look with, and next, to weep with. The eye which looks to the pierced One is the eye which weeps for him.” (Spurgeon)
d. They will look on Me: Comparing Zechariah 12:10 with Zechariah 12:1 and 12:4 (Thus says the LORD.… says the LORD) makes it clear that the Me they look upon is the LORD God – Yahweh – Himself. This is astounding and wonderful evidence that Jesus the pierced One is God, and that Yahweh is the triune God.
i. Simply said, the Father sends the Spirit so that men will look upon the Son.
2. (11-14) The great mourning of repentance.
“In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.”
a. A great mourning in Jerusalem: The repentance that comes to Israel in that day will be like a great mourning, the ultimate fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the day of national mourning over their greatest sin – rejecting Jesus.
b. Like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon: This refers to the mourning over King Josiah’s death (2 Kings 23:29 and 2 Chronicles 35:20-25). He was such a godly king that the whole nation wept bitterly at his death.
c. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: This indicates there will be both great individual repentance and great corporate repentance. It seems fantastic to us that Israel as a whole would turn to Jesus and repent of their sin of rejecting their Savior – it is so amazing that we would not believe it unless the Bible so clearly taught it.
i. “We know of a surety, because God has said it, that the Jews will be restored to their own land, and that they shall inherit the goodly country which the LORD has given unto their fathers by a covenant of salt for ever; but, better still, they shall be converted to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall see in him the house of David restored to the throne of Israel.” (Spurgeon)