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God, the Creator and Former
The “burden” concerns “Israel”, although its content is about Judah and Jerusalem. All of God’s actions ultimately have the blessing of all Israel, the ten and the two tribes as their goal. What He speaks, He makes true. His Word is as much as His deed.
The LORD presents Himself here in His omnipotence. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things and holds all things in His hands, including the spirit of man (cf. Isa 42:5; Amos 4:13). That He presents Himself as such here is to indicate that events will develop in the way He has determined. It is meant to remove all doubt about the realization of the wonderful things that are foretold in the following verses.
This is not just about one-time creation activities, but about God’s continuous action with His creation and with man’s spirit. In the same way, He is always busy shaping the spirit of man (cf. Psa 51:12b; 1Cor 2:11). As we get older, our thoughts, feelings, institutions change as a result of God’s meddling with us. God is the Father of spirits (Heb 12:9; Num 16:22).
Prophets more often first point to God in His omnipotence, before they make prophetic statements about things that are completely out of man’s reach. They do that to stimulate faith in their words. What, according to our opinion, is hopeless and exceeds all reason and credibility, does not pose any problem to Almighty God. We have to learn to look at Him and not at the circumstances.
Jerusalem, a Cup That Causes Reeling
God is going to speak up for Jerusalem and Judah. He will make Jerusalem the center of the political world. Judah is the area where in the future the fleeing believers of the remnant will find themselves. God makes Jerusalem “a cup that causes reeling”, which is a cup of judgment, from which He makes “all the peoples around” drink so that they are reeling. As a result, they are unable to stand, but will fall to the ground and perish (cf. Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15-28).
The peoples want to subjugate Jerusalem and feast upon them, but the effect is that they themselves are ruined by Jerusalem. God makes all peoples who want to interfere with the ungodly Israel, whether they are enemies or friends, as people who can no longer judge soberly. They will behave like reeling people who can no longer go straight and are no longer able to act wisely. This applies to the hostile king of the north and his companions, but equally to the befriended beast out of the sea with his Western European armies who want to defend Israel against the armies of the king of the north. God is the only One Who has the right to deal with His people.
Jerusalem, a Stone That Is Difficult to Lift
The expression “in that day” often occurs in Zechariah 12-14. It is the characteristic expression that places the described events in the future. There are essentially two events: the victory of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah to defeat Israel’s enemies and establish His kingdom.
All the nations of the world will participate in the invasion of Jerusalem (Psa 83:4-8; Joel 3:9-16; Rev 16:12-16). The whole world will be involved, including the European allies of Israel. Both the enemy attackers and the friendly defenders will lift over Jerusalem. It is assumed that lifting the stone is a term from the sport of weightlifting. Those who offend Jerusalem will be exterminated by the faithful remnant in Jerusalem. Those who want to defend Jerusalem will be killed with the ungodly mass.
All those who want to lift Jerusalem to throw it on the ground and trample it will be severely injured. All attempts to disrupt and destroy the city will come like a boomerang over all the gathered peoples. Jerusalem will push them down and destroy them. It will severely injure those peoples, like human hands are cut and torn as they lift rough and heavy stones.
The people have thought they can take Jerusalem like a stone and do what they want with it. They have also thought the same of the stone that “was cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan 2:45). That stone is the Lord Jesus (cf. Isa 28:16; Lk 20:17). They also lifted Him and killed Him. But He will come back and then fall on them and scatter them like dust (Lk 20:18; Mt 21:44).
The LORD Strikes the Enemies
Cavalry forms a large part of the army in the east. God will make that part harmless. The weapon of strength will turn against themselves. Instead of the horses leading their riders to victory, they will carry them into ruin (cf. Exo 15:1; 21). The riders themselves will become mad. The curse that has been imposed on Israel and has also come upon them (Deu 28:28), will now strike their enemies.
God chooses for His people. Over them He keeps His eyes open to protect them (1Kgs 8:29; Neh 1:6; Psa 32:8; Psa 33:18; cf. Amos 9:4). This promise is strengthened by the repetition of the punishment that God will bring upon the enemies. He will strike the peoples with blindness, so that they can no longer perceive the situation in which they find themselves (cf. 2Kgs 6:18).
God Gives Strength to His People
The believing remnant for which God stands up against their enemies, has two groups. There is a group in Jerusalem and a group outside Jerusalem. Just before the coming of the Lord Jesus, the believing remnant in Judah, who fled to the mountains, will be encouraged by the faithfulness and perseverance of the remnant in Jerusalem. In Micah 5 we also see that the LORD will use people to gain victory over the enemy (Mic 5:4-8). They will drive out of the land the siege force left behind by the Assyrians there – while the main force has gone further to Egypt (Dan 11:40-43).
Along with destroying the strength of the opponents as described in the previous verses, God will forcefully gird His people to resist and defeat the enemy (Zec 12:5). Before the Lord Jesus personally appears, He will support the remnant. That is the situation here. The appointed leaders of the fleeing remnant (Mic 5:4) will be strengthened by the remnant in Jerusalem, which in turn will be strengthened by the LORD.
They act together, while each express their personal conviction, “my strength is for us”, as it says literally, in the encouragement of their brothers in Jerusalem. They express their personal conviction that the LORD their God is the source of their strength. The LORD is “the LORD of hosts”. This means that He controls all hosts, including those of the enemy.
The remnant has two enemies. There is an enemy outside the land, the king of the north with his allies, who invades the land. There is also an enemy inside the land, the antichrist with his followers, the wicked peers.
What happens in these verses not only takes place at the coming of the Lord, but continues after His coming on earth. Before Jerusalem is liberated, the remnant of Judah will drive out the enemy, the Assyrians, with the help of the LORD (Zec 12:6). God turns the remnant into a company that judges anything that is contrary to His holiness (Isa 11:14). After that, Jerusalem will be liberated. Jerusalem will then be given rest in the place where it is located.
The LORD Saves, Defends and Destroys
The LORD saves (Zec 12:7), defends (Zec 12:8) and destroys (Zec 12:9). First He saves “the tents of Judah” (Zec 12:7). “Tents” contrast with the fortified city of Jerusalem. This emphasizes the defenselessness of Judah, that it is exposed to the anger of the enemy outside the protective walls of Jerusalem. God, in the salvation of His people, gives priority to what is without protection and weak, so that there is no reason for man to boast of himself.
Judah is liberated first and then Jerusalem. So there is equality there as well. It prevents Jerusalem from boasting of its privileged position. It is about exalting only in the Lord (Jer 9:24; 1Cor 1:31; 2Cor 10:17). In both cases the liberation has been worked by the LORD.
Also Jerusalem has in itself no power to chase away the enemy. God makes the weak inhabitants of Jerusalem as David, the war hero and invincible king (2Sam 17:8; 2Sam 18:3). It is like Paul boasting about his weaknesses so that the power of Christ dwells in him (2Cor 12:9). The people will experience that they can do everything only in Him Who strengthens him (Phil 4:13).
The house of David ultimately refers to the Messiah, or to the prince who will reign on earth as a substitute for the Messiah. In the realm of peace the Lord Jesus will not continually be seen on earth. It will be a situation similar to the situation after His resurrection. Then He appeared here and there and was no longer bound to a certain place.
In the conflict with the heathen peoples, the LORD will provide the inhabitants of Jerusalem with great strength with which they will overcome all their enemies. The people of Jerusalem are weak in themselves. There are among them who are staggering, inhabitants who do not stand firm on their feet, but stumble. They will become like David, the brave hero of Israel (cf. 1Sam 2:4; 2Sam 17:8).
Also David has no strength in himself. His power is a superhuman force. He owes it to God. Therefore he is “like God, like the angel of the LORD”. The point of comparison lies in power and strength, not in moral similarity with God. “The angel of the LORD before them” refers to Christ, Who is at the head of his people before them, as their Commander (Mic 2:13), from Whom they derive their power.
The Lord Jesus Himself will make the final judgment on all heathen peoples (Zec 12:9). The coming heathen peoples are those who advance against Jerusalem under the leadership of the king of the north, the leader of the Assyrian armies. They will first besiege Jerusalem, capture it, and then move on to the south, Egypt, to submit to it (Dan 11:42-43). But when they hear rumors from the north and east, they return to Jerusalem. Then the Western European armies have also arrived in Har-magedon (Rev 16:16). There the LORD will destroy them (Dan 11:44-45).
Look on Him and Mourn for Him
After destroying the enemy, something must still happen to Israel. After the physical salvation of “the house of David” and “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” the spiritual salvation must now follow. They must repent and convert. The true great Day of Atonement must come. This will happen in the hearts of the believing remnant through “the Spirit of grace and of supplication” Who will be poured out on them by God Himself. There is grace from God and supplication with people. Both come as the working of God’s Spirit. It is the Spirit who grants grace and works penance.
Here we see a remarkable representation of facts. Who speaks here? The LORD speaks, the same of Zec 12:1, the Creator of heaven and earth. Who will they look on? “They will look on Me”, that is the Speaker, the LORD. But how will they look on Him? As the One, “whom they have pierced”, that is none other than the Lord Jesus.
They will look on Him Whom they have pierced, a Man, as Thomas saw Him (Jn 20:27-28). They will then see that the Messiah is the LORD Himself, that the despised Jesus of Nazareth is the LORD Himself. Not a Roman soldier, but Israel pierced Him (Jn 19:34; 37). We must realize that each one of us personally did the same, through the Roman soldier.
“Look on” is watching with great attention. When they see Him like this, they will pronounce the mourning of Isaiah 53 (Isa 53:1-12). It is the mourning of the loss of an only son (Amos 8:10). Christ is the Firstborn Who is being reintroduced into the world (Heb 1:6).
The Great Mourning
Zechariah compares the mourning at the sight of Him Whom they pierced with the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddo. This is most likely the mourning because Josiah was killed in battle in Megiddo (2Chr 35:22-25). Josiah was killed by his own fault, but is still a son of David and very beloved. That is why it is “a great mourning” and can be referred to as a comparison with the one about the Messiah here. He, the Innocent, Who was rejected by them, an act of which they are guilty. The valley of Megiddo (Jdg 5:19) is similar to “Har-Magedon”, where in the future the enemy nations will be gathered and judged by the Lord Jesus (Rev 16:16).
Collective and Personal Mourning
It is clear that these are not hired complainants (cf. Mk 5:38-40). Collective confession of guilt must be made if something has been done wrong collectively. But national mourning only has value if everyone has his or her personal share in it. There is a collective guilt, but everyone personally must suffer for it. In this way, every family in Israel will share in this grief.
There is also another division. There is talk of “the family of the house of David” (Zec 12:12), which means the royal family, and of “the family of the house of Levi” (Zec 12:13), which means the priestly family. Within these families another refinement is made. “The family of the house of Nathan,” the son of David (2Sam 5:14; 1Chr 3:5; Lk 3:31), is within the house of David, again separately involved as a family in that mourning. The same goes for “the family of the house of the Shimeites” within the house of Levi. Thus, the mourning will continue in “all the families that remain”.
The fact that with “each family by itself” always is talk of “their wives by themselves”, indicates that repentance exceeds the unity that exists in the innermost bond on earth. Each stands personally before God (cf. Joel 2:16). Husband and wife form a unity, but a husband cannot take the place of his wife in mourning over a sin. The wife has her own responsibility.
No one comes to repentance for what someone else does, not even in the most intimate bond. Everyone must humble himself over his own sins and see that the Lord Jesus had to be pierced for that. Then a fountain of cleansing opens, as we see in the next chapter (Zec 13:1).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Zechariah 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14