Book of Zechariah Chapter 12 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Salvation For His People
The Hebrew word for "burden" was discussed in Chapter 9. It is "massa," which means "to lift up or bear something heavy." A similar expression in American English for the past few decades is, "That's heavy," denoting a serious and deep subject that requires thought to understand it. Verse 1 put it this way: "The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him." The Lord wanted Israel to understand who they were dealing with, and He wants us to understand also. Look up and know that it was God who created the interstellar vastness of outer space, including the star we call our "sun." He formed the earth we live on by merely speaking it into being. And have you noticed that many of us, perhaps including you, can think, speak, pray, move around to some extent, and can be in contact with His Holy Spirit through the "spirit of man within" us. He is the Lord God, maker of heaven, earth, you and me, and He has much to say that we need to hear.
He has our attention now and He'll reveal more, beginning in Verse 2—"Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah." Have you noticed that, in the years that led up to 1948 and the re-creation of the nation Israel, they were often badly outnumbered, fought against the latest weaponry with outmoded rifles—and won! The situation has somewhat been reversed, for it is now Israel who often has the best weapons, but their enemies are like the sand of the sea compared to the Jews, and Israel is tiny next to the comparatively vast holdings of their "neighbors"—but they keep on winning. As the thought continues into Verse 3—"It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it." There will come a time when ALL nations will turn against tiny Israel, and yet the little nation will be "heavy" for them, like the "burden" of these verses.
It is useless to come against God's people. Such attempts may seem to succeed for a while, but in a time and place of God's choosing, all of those apparent gains will be taken away. He will use turn them against themselves, as seen in Verse 4, and in other places like Jeremiah 25:15-17, 27-29. Military equipment will malfunction, electronics are useless and generals make bad decisions. "They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them" (Jeremiah 25:16). Verse 4 in Zechariah 12 is similar: "'In that day,' declares the Lord, 'I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.'" The Lord mentioned horses and riders here, but He can and will do the same with tanks, airplanes and their operators—strike them with blindness and madness.
Verse 5—"Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, 'A strong support for us are the inhabitants of Jerusalem through the Lord of hosts, their God.'" Take note of Verse 10, which we will reach in a few moments. This was a people who had lost everything, wished they had not been taken into captivity, felt utterly helpless, and then were unexpectedly rescued by Almighty God. Here they were, back in the land, just as they are also back in the land today, and the purpose of all this is very interesting. Are you proud of your accomplishments? God may take them away until you reach the point of recognizing that it is the Lord who gave you everything you have and are. If you are rich, He did it. He gives talent to the talented, good-looks to the beautiful and a quick mind to the intelligent. He reluctantly takes it all away for a greater purpose than we have understood—so that we will at last place our trust in Him, who gave us everything including our capacity for faith in the Lord (Hebrews 12:2—"Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith").
It's surprising and it's meant to be an encouragement to the downtrodden everywhere—After all that the Jews have suffered through the millennia, they have now struck fear in the hearts of angry neighbors for well more than half a century. Verse 6 has become a reality in our generation: "In that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem." The word "Jew" is taken from "Judah," the tribe that produced David (1 Samuel 17:12), and centuries later, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Revelation 5:5). Judah the man was the fourth son of Jacob (Genesis 29:32-35), but is the first tribe from the perspective of eternity—(Revelation 7:5, and as also seen in Verse 7 of this chapter)—"The Lord also will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not be magnified above Judah."
In the year 2000, the Palestinians were offered East Jerusalem for its capital, along with other concessions, but Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, refused the offer. "Jerusalem" the city, remains a key part of God's plan for this world, and His intention is that Jerusalem will belong to Israel. As it says in Verses 8-9, "In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." We've seen in our lifetimes that God fights on behalf of His people, and as a lot of Jews did 2000 years ago, many will turn to the Lord Jesus, as glimpsed in the next verse.
The Lord reveals through Zechariah in Verse 10, "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn." The Jews killed Jesus, but so did the Romans, and it was your sins and mine that nailed Him to the cross. We killed Him, we're all guilty, but we also can be forgiven because of what He, our Substitute, Savior and King, did for you and for me. Weep because you have rejected Him—then trust in Him and be saved. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). He was the One who was "pierced" for us. As witnessed by John the Apostle in John 19:34—"One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear..." His heart was pierced out of love for you and me.
It's often true that comprehending the gift of Jesus Christ comes as a surprise, a shock to those who finally entrust themselves to Him. It was that way for me, it was true for many in Israel, 2000 years ago...and it will be so for the nation in the time immediately before the Lord's return. "In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo" (Verse 11). "Hadad" and "Rimmon" were the names of two Syrian "gods" combined here into one word. The reference is to the death of King Josiah, after a wound received in the Valley of "Megiddo," in a battle with Pharaoh Necho of Egypt's forces in 609 BC. Mourning his death became an annual event, which will merge into Jewish recognition of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What we are reading is a prophesy, a future-history of the time when Israel will truly and dramatically discover their Savior and King, Jesus Christ. "The land will 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 the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves" (Verses 12-14). People in mourning often need to be alone for awhile to ponder and digest what has happened. The real question for each of us is: Have YOU discovered God's gift of Israel's Messiah to this world? Have you placed your trust in the One named Yeshua HaMashiach, the Son of God, who is mentioned by hundreds of names in Scripture, and is perhaps best known as "Jesus the Christ" (the Anointed One). Let's trust in Him now:
Lord, I confess that I am one of those who have sinned, and know I need redemption. Forgive me, save me, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I trust in You and I am Yours, Lord. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.