Second burden oracle: The LORD rescues Jerusalem
Theme of chapter 12
Yahweh God, Creator and Lord of all will smash the enemies of Israel when they attack Jerusalem, and the remnant of Jerusalem will recognize Messiah and mourn because they had killed him when he came the first time.
Summary of chapter 12
The LORD rescues Jerusalem. The prophet now concentrates on the coming of Messiah to rescue Jerusalem, Judah, and Israel. The LORD, creator of heavens, earth, and mankind now miraculously intervenes in world history (Zechariah 12.1). The LORD will use Jerusalem—throughout history the object of scorn, jealousy, terrorist attacks, and wars—to destroy the anti-Israel armies which have set themselves against the ancient city of God’s people. It will all happen “in that day” בַיּוֹם־הַ֠הוּא, a phrase used seven times in chapter 12 (Zechariah 12.3,4,6,8,9,11) and 19 times in Zechariah. In this chapter it predicts a future time of Divine judgment on those attacking Jerusalem at the Battle of Armageddon. Jerusalem will be a cup that causes reeling, and a heavy stone that crushes (Zechariah 12.2-3). The Lord will fight for Judah and Jerusalem and destroy the nations besieging Jerusalem. Jerusalem and Judah will know the Lord is fighting for them (Zechariah 12.4-9). Messiah will return to earth as warrior and ruler. Judah and Jerusalem will, at that time, recognize their Messiah and mourn because they realize they had rejected Him and crucified Him when He came the first time (Zechariah 12.10). The people will mourn individually and in groups, and also separated by gender as was the custom in the ancient world. This will be genuine mourning, not a media event (Zechariah 12.11-14).
Zechariah 12 outline
- Zechariah 12.1-3. The LORD reveals his announcement of judgment against Israel’s enemies.
- Zechariah 12.4-9. The Lord will fight for Judah and Jerusalem and destroy the nations besieging Jerusalem. Jerusalem and Judah will know the Lord is fighting for them.
- Zechariah 12.10-14. Messiah will return to earth and Judah and Jerusalem will recognize their Messiah and mourn because they realize they had rejected Him and crucified Him.
Zechariah Summary explanation of each section
- Zechariah 12.1-3. The LORD reveals his announcement of Judgment that has to do with Israel and her enemies.
- Zechariah 12.1. Three participles state the LORD’S qualifications to judge and protect. This is significant for what is coming. He created the heavens and spread them out like a tent; 2. He put down the foundations of the earth—he created it and set it in space along with all the physical and chemical properties; 3. he created human life—the immaterial part of man which includes the self-conscience, thinking, volition, conscience, and emotion. The LORD’S omnipotence, omniscience, and sovereignty are especially in view here. He is the owner and boss of all creation. Isaiah 42.5 says the same.
- Zechariah 12.2-3. These verses use two metaphors to predict God’s judgment on Israel and her aggressors—a cup of reeling and a heavy stone. In that day (Zechariah 2.11; 3.10; 9.16; 12.3,4,6,8,9,11; 13.1,2,4; 14.4,6,8,9,13,20,21), also known as the Day of the LORD refers to the momentous day of God’s wrath and judgment that will turn Israel to the LORD and judge her enemies; this is the Tribulation period and the Battle of Armageddon. God will make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling. Think of a cup that contains a strong beverage that disorients or poisons the one who drinks the contents (see Psalm 75.8; Isaiah 51.22–23). Furthermore, when one attempts to lift an enormous stone that person can severely injure himself. All the nations who are attacking Jerusalem and Judah will drink the cup and be crushed by the stone. Revelation 16.14-16 adds another detail to this great battle, the Battle of Har-Magedon (see Zechariah 14.2; Joel 3.1-2).
- Zechariah 12.4-9. The Lord will fight for Judah and Jerusalem and destroy the nations besieging them. Jerusalem and Judah will know the Lord is fighting for them.
- Zechariah 12.4-5. The LORD will strike the horses with confusion and panic and every rider with blindness. Imagine the terror and chaos that now happens. Frenzied horses and blind riders are uncontrollable. Zechariah writes in the understanding of his own day when he writes “horses.” Deuteronomy 28.28 predicts this as a judgment against Israel when they disobey the LORD. Through all of this the LORD watches over Judah, the outlying areas around Jerusalem. The people will recognize that the LORD stands with them through Jerusalem’s resistance.
- Zechariah 12.6-7. The LORD will make Judah like a firepot and a torch. Both of these are used to start fires. Wood and sheaves (stalks of grain tied together) burn readily. The Judeans will fight back, while Jerusalem is still safe. The LORD will step in and save the towns first. This prevents pride and rivalry by the royalty and Jerusalem citizens since God delivered the villagers first. He is preserving the unity of the Judeans.
- Zechariah 12.8-9. In that day the LORD will defend Jerusalem from the onslaught of the attacking armies. He will give them courage and strength—the will and ability to rout the enemies. The comparison is to David and God fighting through him and for him (1 Samuel 17.47). Actually, the LORD gives the miraculous victory. He will destroy all the invading nations.
- Zechariah 12.10-14. At that time Judah and Jerusalem will recognize their Messiah and mourn because they realize they had rejected Him and crucified Him when He came the first time. The people will mourn individually and in groups. The LORD is king. Jerusalem stands. God’s purpose and plan continues.
- Zechariah 12.10. This amazing scene is comparable to the deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14). Yahweh, at this crisis in history, pours out the Spirit of grace (probably the Holy Spirit) and supplication upon the house of David (the leadership) and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Spirit of grace means that the Holy Spirit so graciously moves among the Judeans, that they pay attention to what the LORD is doing. Supplication means to pray for his forgiveness and help. Israel had pierced (crucified) her Messiah. Now they realize it. For “pierce” (דּקר daqar to pierce, pierce through) Judges 9.54, Isaiah 13.15, Jeremiah 51.4, Lamentations 4.9, and Zechariah 13.3 use the same word. For the same idea but different words See Isaiah 53.5, Psalm 22.16, and John 19.34-37. This grace and supplication results in the realization that Israel had crucified the Messiah. They, of course, mourn.
- Zechariah 12.11-14. The mourning is most likely compared to that of the nation when Josiah was killed in battle by the Egyptians in 609 BC, which was such a great loss (2 Chronicles 35.20-27). All people, individually and in their groups mourn. The grief will be overwhelming. Messiah returns. They change their long-held unbelief to belief. Imagine their shame, their realization of what the nation has suffered over the centuries because of unbelief (John 1.11; Romans 11.23-29).
So what? Application
- Israel has a future. The sequence is unbelief, severe divine discipline and scattering, unbelief, whistle to return to their land, great Satanic and human military attacks, Messiah returns in the clouds, Israel recognizes him and repents, the people of Judea and Jerusalem mourn, and Messiah delivers Israel through a great military campaign.
- The LORD will use the clans of Judah as part of His military in the battle of “in that day.”
- “In that day” in Zechariah 12 predicts a future time of Divine judgment on those attacking Jerusalem at the Battle of Armageddon in the Tribulation. In the entire book of Zechariah it refers to the future gathering, blessing, and spiritual rebirth of Israel after the Lord defeats the armies attacking Israel at his second coming at the end of the Tribulation. “In that day” is found in Zechariah 2.11; 3.10; 9.16; 12.3,4,6,8,9,11; 13.1,2,4; 14.4,6,8,9,13,20,21.
- The LORD is at work in history. He is in control even though we, at times wonder about what is going on.
- Know the Bible, trust the LORD, and live the Christian life.