Zechariah 12 Commentary
It has been a while since I have posted anything on here. The virus has kept me extremely busy and I’ve spent my time focusing on being the hands and feet rather than studying the Word of God. But I’ve been granted some brief downtime and that is giving me the opportunity to exegete Zechariah 12, which is a very timely chapter based on this week being Easter.
If you are looking for a church service this weekend, our church would be more than happy to have you “join” in livestream. Go to fcbc.church to watch. We are available for watching on the following:
Good Friday at 7 PM, 4/10
Sunday Sunrise at 6:30 AM, 4/12
Sunday at 10:30 PM, 4/12
As we finish out the book of Zechariah, the final 3 chapters deal with the final oracle, or burden, that Zechariah presents. This book ends in hope as we see, over these last 3 chapters, the restoration of God’s people.
Zechariah 12:1 – The oracle of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him:
This chapter begins with an explanation that God created the heavens, the earth and man. This is being explained to show that “He who has started a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
Some versions call this a burden, not an oracle. This burden shows that there will be some significantly bad happening before the restoration of God’s people.
Zechariah 12:2 – “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah.
Whenever God says he is about to make a “cup” of something, you know God is about to bring wrath (Isaiah and Jeremiah specifically show this). The cup of staggering, or trembling as other translations have, shows that God is going to make Jerusalem something that they will covet and, yet, it will be as they are intoxicated with it.
The Muslim world desires Jerusalem. It is the third holiest of cities in the Muslim world. It is where the Dome of the Rock is. But Jerusalem will remain protected by God.
Zechariah 12:3 – On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.
I can’t help but think about the first question I was asked when I started seminary about 10 years ago: If God is all powerful, can He create a rock that He cannot lift. While that question is circular in nature and meant to trick you into saying something you may not believe, God is pretty clear on the stone that Jerusalem will become.
This stone will be heavy. Not only can we not lift it, but anyone that tries will hurt themselves. Some translations say “all who try to lift it will be cut to pieces.” This shows that God’s hand is on Jerusalem and that anyone that comes against them will be injured.
And who wants to come against Jerusalem? The next sentence tells us that all the nations of the earth seek to destroy it.
Zechariah 12:4 – On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.
Horses are symbols of strength and power. In Deuteronomy 28 we find that the curses that were for Israel are now curses that will be put on Israel’s enemies.
God is telling us that He is looking out for His people.
Zechariah 12:5 – Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.’
This is the moment that God’s people realize that He has always been for them. They see that their power comes from their God, not themselves.
Zechariah 12:6 – “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves. And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.
God is showing us the power that He will give to His people. This power comes through God’s glory as we will see in the next verse.
Zechariah 12:7 – “And the Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah.
It is interesting that God is saving the “tents of Judah first.” This means that God is not starting with the fortified city. He is starting with the countryside. This is being done to show God’s glory.
Zechariah 12:8 – On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them.
1 Samuel 18 tells us that David was the greatest soldier in Israel’s history. The weakest person in Jerusalem will become like David.
And then the entire house of David will find that they have been given a supernatural, superhuman strength.
This verse makes me think of 1 Corinthians 1:25. Especially as I write this under a stay-at-home order from the government because of the virus that is plaguing the world. As a full-time ministry worker who is seen as non-essential by our government, I find that I have had to defy the orders on occasion in order to see people fed, to get groceries for people who have lost their income, or to simply take time praying with people, placing my arms around them or hands on them. In worldly terms, this is all foolish. But God’s foolishness is wiser than men.
Zechariah 12:9 – And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
This could be the battle of Armageddon. You see throughout the Bible a lot of “seek to” phrases. In human terms, this is something that is attempted to be done but is always bent under the will of God. With God, when He seeks to do something, all His promises are “yes and amen.”
Zechariah 12:10 – “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
I love this verse! This verse is the story of anyone’s life who has converted to Christ. When Christ came the first time, His people didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah and they pierced Him. This time, they see the hurt they have caused Him and mourn and weep for Him.
Think of Saul on the Damascus road. This is the same effect that realization has on a person.
Zechariah 12:11 – On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
King Josiah was killed in Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. It was the death of Josiah that was the last straw before Judah had lost hope.
Zechariah 12:12 – The land shall mourn, each 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;
Verses 12 through 14 show the impact on both the royal (house of David & Nathan) and priestly (house of Levi and Shimei). In verse 12 we see the entire land mourning. Not just the seats of power, but all of God’s people.
Men and women will mourn separately as is the tradition of the Jews in public worship.
Zechariah 12:13 – 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;
Both the royal and priestly lines are the ones leading the mourning. In the past, both lines were corrupted and led Israel in evil deeds. They will be leading the nation in repentance.
Zechariah 12:14 – and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.
The entire nation will be reborn in a single moment. Think of Isaiah 66:8. They will all be mourning separately, overcome by the grief of killing of the Messiah the first time.
While Jews are predominantly discussed here, the Gentile can also take heed. We all share the guilt of the crucifixion. We also shall share in the salvation that comes in repentance.