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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 12

 

 


Verses 1-14

The Deliverance of Judah and Jerusalem

(vv. 1-9)

In this chapter Judah is mentioned five times, Jerusalem ten times. All in this chapter (as well as chapters 13 and 14) is prophetic of the future, except for the reference in Zechariah 13:7 to the smiting of God's Shepherd, the death of Christ, which is plainly connected with the entire prophecy.

This is "the burden of the word of the Lord for Israel," for the whole nation will be involved, though Judah is seen to be the center of the nation: her eventual blessing will mean the blessing of all Israel. The Lord introduces Himself as the One who "stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him." These verbs, "stretches out," "lays" and "forms" have a continuing force. We are dealing with a God who has not only brought everything into being, but who continues His work of maintaining creation according to His own sovereign will. There are some who think that after God's initial work of creation, He retired from the scene and allowed everything to evolve by itself, but this is totally false! His power is engaged continually in upholding the heavens and the earth, and also in forming man's spirit within him. We know that our thoughts, feelings and attitudes change as we grow older. This is because God continues to deal with us all our lives through. Israel, in their state of indifference to God's claims, needed to be reminded of God's continuing dealings with them.

"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of bewilderment unto all the peoples round about, and also against Judah shall it be in the siege against Jerusalem" (v. 2-JND) This word bewilderment has in it the thought of causing people to reel or stagger like a drunken person. When either enemies or friends meddle with Jerusalem, God will make them act as if they drank a potion that reduces them to a state of inability to act sensibly. The siege against Jerusalem and Judah is the attack of the King of the North and his various satellite armies during the time of the Great Tribulation.

"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 the nations of the earth are gathered against it" (v. 3). The expression "in that day" corresponds to the many references to "the day of the Lord" in Scripture. This day begins when the Lord Himself intervenes in active judgment because of man's evil having risen to the height of publicly challenging God's authority by the erection of the image to the beast in the temple area of Jerusalem (Revelation 13:14-17). All those nations who think they can handle Jerusalem, whether from a viewpoint of hostility or of apparent desire to help them, will suffer far worse consequences than they had imagined. This will be true, not only for the King of the North and his allies, who come with the object of annihilating Israel, but also for the beast and his Western European armies, who come to defend Israel against the King of the North. This reminds us of God's words to Laban, "Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad" (Genesis 31:24). God was dealing with Jacob: Laban must not excuse Jacob or defend him in wrong doing, nor must he accuse or condemn him. Nations too must learn that others must be left to God to deal with, rather than take it on themselves to interfere one way or the other.

In verse 4 the Lord's smiting the horse and rider with astonishment and madness refers to the King of the North and his allies gathered against Judah. God opens His eyes upon Judah, that is, He takes an active role in watching over them for good. Therefore He confuses their enemies and the horses on which they depend. The horses may stand for the policies and principles of warfare on which their enemies depend to carry them to victory, but these will be rendered useless and confused by the intervening power of God, and those who trust in them will become as ineffective as an insane man. Also every horse of the peoples will be blinded, left with no discernment of things as they actually are.

At that time the governors or leaders of the surrounding area of Judah will recognize the value of Jerusalem being the center of their nation, and will appreciate the faith of the inhabitants of the city in weathering such storms. Their faith becomes a strength for the leaders of Judah "in the Lord of hosts, their God." Nehemiah 11:2 provides a comment worth considering here: "And the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem." The strength of Jerusalem will be a strength to all of Judah, "in the Lord of hosts, their God."

Verse 7 also is most interesting: 'The Lord also will save the tents of Judah first in order that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be magnified above Judah." The expression, 'the tents of Judah' emphasizes their weak position, exposed outside the city walls to the fury of the enemy, for the whole length of the land will have been flooded with blood, figuratively "unto the horse bridles" (Revelation 14:20), and two thirds of the inhabitants will "be cut off and die" during the tribulation (Zechariah 13:8). The tender mercy of the Lord will be shown to the weak first, in His rescuing Judah from the enemy who will then concentrate on besieging Jerusalem (Psalms 59:4-8). The Lord waits before delivering Jerusalem, however, for it is necessary to accomplish a complete work in those in the city, so they will be humbled rather than magnify themselves over Judah.

JUDAH LOOKS ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED

(vv. 10-14)

After reading of the tents of Judah being saved first, now we are told of the defense of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. This last part of Zechariah 12:1-14 beautifully displays the grace and power of the Lord Jesus in dealing with His own people who have for centuries rejected Him, a reminder of the way Joseph dealt with his brethren when their circumstances virtually forced them into his presence (Genesis 42:1-38; Genesis 43:1-34; Genesis 44:1-34; Genesis 45:1-28). But what is seen in verse 8 actually follows what is declared in verses 10-14, for verse 8 indicates the new-found strength and courage which will animate the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The following verses show the reason for this. He who is feeble among the people will be as David, having found strength such as David displayed in defeating Goliath.

"And the house of David will be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them." The change will be so tremendous that the decisions and capability of the house of David will be like the sovereign, active power of God. This will be because "the Prince of the house of David," the Lord Jesus, will take His place of supreme authority, and the people will learn in experience, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Also it is said they will be "as the angel of the Lord before them." In the Old Testament the angel of the Lord often intervened in awesome power on behalf of Israel. This angel is the Lord Jesus Himself, though at that time He had not been manifested in flesh as He is now and as He will present Himself to Israel at the end of their Great Tribulation. In many victories of the Old Testament He went before them, though invisibly, but He will do so visibly in that day of which verse 8 speaks. The power of the house of David, therefore, will be as that of the angel of the Lord. Wonderful experience indeed! But such power is given to believers today in a true spiritual way to enable a living, moral triumph over every spiritual enemy. May we have grace to use it rightly!

That day is God's appointed time to destroy all those nations that come against Jerusalem (v. 9). These attacking armies will be headed by the King of the North, the Assyrian. They will first conquer Jerusalem and then continue southward to bring Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia into subjection (Daniel 11:42-43), but will return in great fury when hearing news out of the east and the north. Eastern nations will be aroused to come also to Jerusalem, while the beast and his western armies will arrive at Armageddon which is north of Jerusalem, where the King of the North has returned to besiege the city with the intention of utterly destroying the Jews (Daniel 11:44-45).

Before the Lord goes against those armies, however, He has serious work to do with His own people, the Jews. He will stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) from where He had ascended after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-12). What a sight for Israel at a time when they find themselves in the deepest despair they have ever known! The Lord will work marvelously in their hearts, pouring upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplications at this marvelous time when "they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced." It is Jehovah who is speaking, for the Lord Jesus is Jehovah, God over all, blessed forever (Romans 9:5). The sight of this blessed Messiah of Israel whom they had crucified will produce the most profound, repentant mourning in the hearts of these once rebellious people. From the depths of their hearts will come those expressions of Isaiah 53:1-12, "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" (vv. 4-5).

Their sorrow will be that of one mourning for his only son, for they will realize that God has in matchless grace given His only Son to the awful sorrow of suffering for their sins. As the only (or unique) Son He is equal with God, for He is the eternal Son, therefore God Himself! He is indeed the firstborn also as to the truth of His Manhood - not firstborn in point of time, but having the rights of the firstborn because of who He is (Colossians 1:15-16). The firstborn was always given the place of dignity in Israel, though sometimes God intervened by giving the rights of the firstborn to one who was born later, as in the case of Jacob over Esau and of Ephraim over Manasseh (Genesis 25:23; Genesis 48:14-19). Thus Adam must give up his place of firstborn to the Lord Jesus.

The great mourning in Jerusalem is likened to the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon (v. 11). Hadadrimmon means "sound of the pomegranate." The pomegranate (full of seeds) is often connected with the fruitful blessing of the Millennium, and the mourning of the Jews will be as the sound of promised blessing in store for them, for true repentance is the sure sign of blessing to come. The mourning in the plain of Megiddo may refer to Israel's mourning for Josiah at his death in the valley of Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:22-25). So Judah will be similarly affected in thinking of the death of the Lord of glory for their sakes.

This description of the repentance of Judah and Jerusalem is the prophetic fulfillment of the truth of the great day of atonement of which Leviticus 23:26-32 speaks. On that day every year, the children of Israel were commanded, "You shall afflict their souls and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord." If one did not afflict his soul or if he did any work on that day, he was cut off in death. This looked forward, therefore, to the day of Christ's manifestation to Israel, when the sight of the One whom they had pierced will draw forth their profound repentance. They will "cease from their own works" in appreciation of His own great work of atonement at Calvary. If one refused this, he would have a hard heart indeed and would righteously be cut off in judgment.

The mourning for Christ will be so intensely deep and personal that every family will mourn alone, and even husbands and wives will mourn apart from each other before God. When an orthodox Jew is converted to Christ, he is often utterly broken down at the thought that it was his own nation Israel that had despised and rejected the Messiah. This same sorrow will burden all the Jewish people at this future day of national repentance.

The family of the house of David is first specifically mentioned. David was the king who sinned grievously against God. The family of the house of Nathan is added. He was the prophet who exposed and reproved David (2 Samuel 12:7). His family too will mourn in repentance. Then the family of the house of Levi indicates that the priests also will be included in this repentance. It was their work to restore one who had sinned, but they are reduced to the same need of restoration. Finally, the family of the house of Shimei. Shimei was the subject who cursed David (2 Samuel 16:5-8). Thus, the whole range of the population of Judah and Benjamin is represented, as is seen too in the expression, "all the families that remain" after the land has been terribly diminished during the Great Tribulation. How marvelous will be the sight of this formerly rebellious nation bowed in genuine repentance at the feet of the Lord Jesus! We, the Church, will observe this from the height of the glory of God. If there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents, how great will be the joy at the sight of the tremendous multitude turning to the blessed Lord of glory in repentance and faith! This will be a truly national repentance, but wonderfully individual at the same time.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Zechariah 12:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/zechariah-12.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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