Zechariah 12: 1 – 14
The focus of this charter is the promises the Lord made to Israel. The burden of the word of the Lord is a prediction. It is as if a weight were pressed upon the people, and will be very pressing to all the enemies of Israel, like the talent of lead in chapter five verses seven and eight. For Israel, it is for their comfort and benefit.
The purpose of this chapter is to assure the people the Lord has both the authority to make these promises and the ability to fulfill them. He is the Creator of the world and the Creator of humanity. Therefore, He has an incontestable irresistible dominion. He stretches out the heavens like a curtain, keeps them in their place. He will do so until the end of time when He will roll the heavens together like a scroll. He lays the foundation of the earth and keeps it firm and fixed on its own basis, or rather on its own axis, though it is founded on the seas (Psalm 24:1-2), though it is hung upon nothing (Job 26:7). He is the ruler and the judge of earth and its inhabitants. Those who say “The Lord has forsaken the earth deceive themselves. If He forsakes the earth, it would sink into outer space. He forms the spirit of man within him. We derive our body from our parents but the “Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9) infuses the soul. He fashions the hearts of humanity and they are in His hand. He casts them into what mold He pleases so He can serve His own purposes with them.
From the time of her creation, the enemies of God and His kingdom bear a great deal of malice and ill will to Jerusalem, and are determined to destroy her. However, they are preparing ruin for themselves.
The Lord declares, “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.” The enemies of the Lord and His people believe the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah will be like a cup of wine which they can easily and with great pleasure drink. However, Jerusalem will be like a cup of poison.
Throughout the ages, there has been a succession of enemies making war upon Israel and the Church. Those that are for keeping up and advancing the kingdom of sin in the world look upon Jerusalem and the Church as the great obstacle to their designs, and their goal is the destruction of both, but they will find it harder to do than they think. God will have a church in this world in spite of them. The church will outlast her enemies because the Lord builds her upon a rock. The stone, cut out of the mountain without hands will not only keep it, but it will fill the earth (Daniel 2:35). It will break into pieces all who oppose it as the stone smote the image (Daniel 2:35). Those that make a jest of religion, and sacred things, will find them a burdensome stone. They will bring upon themselves an insupportable sinking load of guilt. Our Savior seems to allude to these words when he speaks of Himself as a burdensome stone to those that will not have Him for their foundation stone, which shall “fall upon them and grind them to power” (Matthew 21:44).
The Lord promised “In that day,” when the people of the earth are gathered together against Jerusalem He will make the horses of the enemy unsuitable for service. The horses and their riders shall both forget the military exercises taught them and trained and instead of keeping ranks, they shall both grow mad, and destroy themselves. Israel’s army will overcome the enemy’s cavalry; and those who put their trust in their military power shall be frustrated. Jerusalem re-peopled and replenished (verse 6). The natives of Jerusalem will not incorporate in a colony in some other country, and build a city there and call it Jerusalem and see the promises the Lord has made to them fulfilled there. They shall have a New Jerusalem upon the same foundation, the same spot of ground, with the old one. They will be able to defend themselves, and yet shall be under divine protection. The Lord Himself will defend, not only Jerusalem but every inhabitant of it. He will not only be a wall of fire about the city to fortify it but He will encompass particular persons with His favor as with a shield so that no part of the besiegers shall touch them. He does this by giving them strength and courage to help themselves.
The Lord will give His people the strength and power they need to do what they must do and He will not be lacking in doing His part. God strengthens those that need His help, knows, and admit they need it and will be the most thankful for it.
In that day the feeblest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will be as David, as will be as men of war, as bold and brave, as skilful and strong, as David himself. They will attempt and accomplish great things, as David did, and become as serviceable to Jerusalem in guarding it as David himself was in founding it, and as formidable as he was to the enemies of it. Divine grace makes children not only men, but champions, makes weak saints to be not only good soldiers, but great soldiers, like David. The Lord often does His own work as easily and effectually, and more to His own glory, by weak and obscure instruments.
The Lord will increase the gifts and abilities both of the people and their rulers in proportion to the respective services. The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be as strong and fit for action as nature made David, and their rulers as wise and fit for counsel as grace made David. This will have its full accomplishment in Christ. In the present situation the house of David looked little and weak. However, in Christ the house of David will shine more brightly than ever, and its countenance will be as that of an angel. In Him Israel will become more blessed, and more a blessing than it ever had been. There will be no envies or jealousies between the people and their governors. There will be an agreement between the city and the country, the head and the body. This is necessary to the health, welfare, and safety of any nation.
The governors of Judah and the judges will treat the people fairly and the citizens, merchants and tradesmen will not speak ill of them and contrive how to keep them under their control. They will respect Jerusalem, as the mother-city, the ruling-city. In times of public danger and distress, they will come to its defense. Not so much because it will be a rich city, nor because it is a populous city, nor its inhabitants are generally the most ingenious active men, the best soldiers and have the best commanders but because it is a holy city. The city where the Lord’s house is located and where the people worship Him and His feasts observed and it is now more than ever a praying city. The governors of Judah shall say, “These are my strength.” These are the strengths of the governors because of their relation to and their communion with the Lord of hosts.
Verse eight and nine – “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 it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
The day here spoken of is the day of Jerusalem’s defense and deliverance, that glorious day when the Lord will appear for the salvation of His people. In these verses, we have an account of two remarkable works the Lord will do “in that day.”
Many and mighty nations will come against Jerusalem but they shall all be destroyed, their power broken, and their attempts baffled. The harm they intend shall return upon their own head. The Lord will destroy them. In the Lord’s first coming, His enemies tried to destroy Him. Instead, He bruised the serpent’s head, and broke all the powers of darkness that fought against God’s kingdom among men and against the faithful subjects of that kingdom. In his second coming, He will complete their destruction. He will put down all opposing rule, principality, and power and death swallowed up in victory.
When the Lord destroys the enemies of His people, He will pour upon His people the Spirit of grace and supplication (verse 10). When the Lord intends great mercy for His people, the first thing He creates in them is a strong desire to seek Him and ask Him to do for them what He has promised He would do. What He does for His people He does it for His own glory. The Lord puts this honor on prayer and upon praying people. It is a happy occasion to the distressed to know their deliverance is approaching, and is, as it were, the dawning of a new day.
This promise has reference to the giving of the Spirit of grace and supplication to all believers (Isaiah 44:3). It is a promise of the Spirit, and with Him all the spiritual blessings in heavenly things.
We might think the effect of the pouring out of the Spirit of grace there would be rejoicing, and it is true that this is one of the fruits of the pouring out of the Spirit, but the Lord says they will mourn, a mourning that will end in rejoicing and has a blessing in it. It is a mourning grounded upon a sight of Christ. Predicted in this verse is the piercing of Christ, it is quoted in John 19:37 and fulfilled when Christ’s side was pierced upon the cross. The piercing in this verse is primarily a reference to the Jews in their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. However, it is also true of Christians and all non-Christians. We have pierced Christ, inasmuch, as our sins were the cause of His death. Those that truly repent of sin look upon Christ as one whom they have pierced and they mourn. This is the effect of their looking to Christ.
When Peter preached, Christ crucified those who had a hand in piercing Him cried out, “What shall we do? All who are sorrow for the sins they have committed; they look to Christ, and mourn for Him, not so much for His sufferings as for their own sins. The genuine sorrows of a penitent soul flow from the believing sight of a pierced Savior.
It is a great mourning. It is like the mourning of a parent for the death of a child. As the Egyptians when there was a cry throughout all their land for the death of their first-born. Sometimes the sorrow of children when their parents die is a false sorrow, soon wears off, and forgotten, but the sorrow of parents for a child, for a son, for an only son, for a first-born, is natural, sincere, unforced, and unaffected, it is secret and lasting. Such are the sorrows of a true penitent, flowing purely from love to Christ above any other.
The mourning Zechariah refers to shall be like the mourning when the good king Josiah was slain, for whom there was a general lamentation (verse 11), and perhaps the greater because they were told that it was their sin that provoked God to deprive them of so great a blessing. It is a universal mourning every family by itself, the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves. The family 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 Shimeties by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.
The land mourned at the death of Christ, for there was darkness over all the land and the earth trembled. However, this is a promise that in consideration of the death of Christ, multitudes will be brought to sorrow for their sin and turn to God. It shall be such a universal gracious mourning as it was when “all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord” (1 Samuel 7:2). Some think this is yet to have its complete accomplishment in the general conversion of the Jewish nation.
It is also a private mourning. Every family shall mourn. All have contributed to the guilt, and therefore all shall share in the grief. National fasts observed, not only in the synagogues, but also in the home. In the mourning, the wives mourn apart by themselves, in their own apartment, as Esther and her maids.
Four families are specified as examples to others in this mourning. Two of them are royal families, another son of David, brother to Solomon, from whom Zerubbabel descended, as appears by Christ’s genealogy (Luke 3:27-31), the house of David particularly that of Nathan, which is now the chief branch of that house, shall go before in this good work. The greatest princes must not think themselves exempted from the law of repentance, but rather obliged most solemnly to express it, for the exciting of others, as Hezekiah humbled himself (2nd Chronicles 32:26), the princes and the king (2nd Chronicles 12:6), and the king of Nineveh (Jonah 3:6). Two of them are sacred families (verse 13), the house of Levi, which was God’s tribe, and in particularly the family of Shimei, which was a branch of the tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:17) and probably some of the descendants of that family were now of note for preachers to the people or ministers to the altar.
As the princes must mourn for the sins, so must the priests for the iniquity of the holy things. In times of general tribulation and humiliation the Lord’s ministers are instructed “to weep between the porch and the altar (Joel 2:17) and not only there, but in their houses apart; for in what families should godliness, both in the form and in the power of it, be found, if not in the minister’s families?