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Zechariah 12:1 . The burden of the word of the Lord. It was indeed a burden to pass the sentence of heaven against the infidels of Asia, under the names of Gog, Magog, and Meshech; the infidels of Africa, under the names of Ham and of Tarshish, or Carthage. Against the infidels of Europe, under the name of the isles of the gentiles, or the Greeks, and also the Goths. Herodotus notes, that our forefathers had no walled towns, but lived in light habitations. So the Medes found them, when they had built a bridge across the Danube. The critics who place all the slaughter here foretold, in Syria, before the destruction of Jerusalem, forget to read the names of places given by Ezekiel: chap. 38, 39.
Zechariah 12:2 . I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all the people round about, to all the unbelieving world. When the physicians brought Socrates the bowl of hemlock, he asked whether he might not make a libation of part? They answered in the negative. No doubt, men trembled on drinking this cup, their last and final draught. This is the cup of trembling, the cup of intoxication, of stupefaction, and madness, which the Lord forces his enemies to drink. The rabbins apply this passage to the destruction which fell on Antiochus, and other Asiatic tyrants; but in Zechariah the reference is to Him whom they crucified. The christian fathers however apply the passage to the church, whose enemies, the Jews as well as the Romans, were punished with the destruction of empire, and the passing away of all their glory. The true application will be found in the thirty ninth of Ezekiel, as above.
Zechariah 12:10 . I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace and of supplication. This promise was in part fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when so many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem cried for mercy under Peter’s sermon; and will be more abundantly fulfilled in the latter day, when the residue of the Spirit shall be poured out from on high.
They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, transfixed on the cross, as quoted in John 19:37. The LXX read the words figuratively, “whom they have insulted,” or long provoked by revolt and crimes. But that is not the sense of Zechariah, for he says in a following chapter, “the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” Such also is the import of Psalms 50:3. Revelation 1:7. The millennarian fathers understand the text of Christ’s second appearance, to take vengeance on all the obdurate enemies of the church, and of the commencement of his personal reign on earth for a thousand years, to renew the evidences of revelation, and to fill the earth with all temporal and spiritual blessings, as described by the holy prophets. Acts 3:21. For myself, I never could believe that Christ will personally dwell in temples made with hands; but the glory of his presence is promised, and what can the church ask more? Ezekiel 43:1.
Zechariah 12:11 . A great mourning as the mourning of Hadadrimmon. Rimmon was the idol of Damascus, which in some idolatrous times had been set up there. 2 Kings 5:18. The jews mourned for their good king Josiah when he fell in the valley of Megiddo, fighting with Pharaoh-necho. But the prophet had in view another and a still greater mourning, of which this was but a figure; a mourning for sin, especially for the unparalleled sin of having crucified the Lord of glory.
Zechariah 12:12 . Every family apart and their wives apart. Nothing is more expressive of the nature of genuine repentance than its seeking the shade, and retiring from public view, to weep and to mourn alone. The presence of dearest friends would be found an impediment to that communion with heaven which the penitent seeks, and to those contrite and broken-hearted confessions of sin and unworthiness in which he is constrained to indulge; and when this spirit of godly sorrow shall pervade whole families, towns and districts, as it will do in the latter day, the mourning will be like that which was heard in Egypt, when in every house there was some dead. Religion is moreover a personal concern; every family and each individual have their own sins to confess and to mourn over, for each must give account of himself to God. The great sin of the house of David, and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, would lie heavy upon their hearts. Scarcely a family would be found in Judea, but on entering it they would be seen weeping over their former obstinacy and unbelief. They will not only weep together when they meet, but retire to mourn in secret over their own iniquity. Scarcely a closet or place of retirement shall be found, but some one will be seen watering it with his tears. Such is the picture which the prophet gives of this national repentance in the latter day.
It would seem by this chapter that the jews will be restored to their own land prior to their conversion, and that Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ancient scite, “in her own place,” and be inhabited as in the days of old: Zechariah 12:6. Providence may possibly accomplish this event by some military adventurer, who shall conceive it his interest to favour such a design, as Cyrus did in a former instance.
A conspiracy will be formed among the neighbouring states to hinder the rebuilding of the city, and dispossess them of their inheritance; but it will be defeated by the united efforts of the people, and by the special interposition of providence. The Lord himself will destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem, which shall be to them as a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch in the sheaf. That hand which gathered them out of all nations shall now protect and enable them to encounter every difficulty.
After all these temporal interpositions, there will be a special manifestation of the power of God in their conversion. A great change is to take place on both princes and people, on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. On the first preaching of the gospel many of the people believed, but scarcely any of the rulers: now all descriptions of men are to bow to the Redeemer’s sceptre.
The cause to which this change is ascribed is, “the pouring upon them a spirit of grace and of supplication.” The spirit of true religion is an emanation of the grace of God, which necessarily leads to importunate prayer. The present state of the unbelieving jews would seem to render their conversion hopeless; but when the influences of the Holy Spirit shall descend upon them, the heart of stone shall become a heart of flesh.
The great medium of effecting this will be, the remembrance of Him whom their fathers crucified, and whom they themselves have pierced by persecuting his followers, and continuing so long in enmity and unbelief. A realising view of Jesus on the cross, as slain for us, will dissolve the most obdurate spirit into contrition and godly sorrow.
The only remedy for a contrite and broken heart is, the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. By looking to Jesus they were wounded, and by looking to Jesus they are healed. The firstfruits of this great work appeared on the day of pentecost, when thousands were pricked to the heart and brought to true repentance; the harvest is still to come, when the children of Israel and of Judah shall go together weeping, and seek the Lord their God. Jeremiah 50:4.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 12". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25