Let’s open the Word of God to Zechariah chapter 12. While you’re turning to Zechariah – he’s quite a remarkable prophet, Zechariah – prophesies in about 520 to 518, prophecies after the Babylonian captivity is over and the people of Israel have been released from Babylon by Cyrus; they’ve come back to the land. He’s what we call a post-exilic prophet. He’s prophesying to the people in the newly constituted nation of Israel. They’ve gotten their life back; they’re in their country, and he encourages them to restore their love for God, their worship of God, and to build the temple. And he encourages them in that by prophesying the word of the Lord to them that the Messiah will come – the Messiah will come.
The theme of the coming Messiah runs all the way through Zechariah. The opening nine chapters or so focus a lot on the first coming of Messiah – features of the first coming of Messiah – but chapters 12 to 14 focus on the second coming of Messiah. So, he gives them this amazing vision of the wonderful future that Israel has in the plan of God, a future of national salvation when the Messiah comes to establish His kingdom and fulfill all the promises given to the Patriarchs and to David and all the prophets in the past.
Sadly, like so many prophets, Zechariah lost his life. Zechariah was murdered. He was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary in the temple. And we learn that from our Lord Jesus’ lips in Matthew chapter 23, when He indicts the nation Israel and calls them the nation that kills the prophets. This is one that they killed.
So, instead of hearing the word of the Lord that came through Zechariah, they eventually murdered Zechariah and continued, even after the restoration, on their apostate journey - all the way to the arrival of Messiah whom they rejected, and beyond that, through human history until now, and until the future when they will be saved. That is yet to come.
Just a broader view, this particular – 12, 13, and 14 – probably has no equal in the Old Testament for its scope. It is one of those prophetic passages that you just find rising above all others in terms of the breadth of what it covers. The actual events are world embracing in these three chapters. It includes the world confederacy that forms against Israel and Jerusalem. It includes a prophecy of the victory of God’s people empowered by the Lord and then the conviction of Israel as a nation by the Spirit of God; the restoration of the gospel as they look on Christ, and the One they rejected becomes the One they now acknowledge as their Lord and Savior; the cleansing of the hearts of the nation; the purging of the land from idolatry; the elimination of false prophets; and the time of tribulation is here, the time of Jacob’s trouble; the partial success of the nations invading Israel and besieging Jerusalem; the second coming itself, the appearance of Messiah as He comes for His people, rescues them, saves them, establishes the messianic kingdom, punishes the ungodly nations and all the ungodly in the world, establishes His throne and has a feast to celebrate that. It is just a massive amount of eschatological information that is touched on by this prophet Zechariah in this section.
Perhaps a simple little phrase is the key to it, and it’s the phrase “in that day” – in that day. It appears 16 times in 12, 13, and 14, and refers to the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord. The prophets talked about the Day of the Lord, the day when the Lord establishes His reign, the day when the Lord judges. The Day of the Lord is an eschatological term that has to do with judgment. There is the day when God allows man to have his time on Earth. There is a day when God allows Satan to be the prince of the power of the air, the God of this world, but there is coming the Day of the Lord when He intervenes with worldwide judgment, and that is the day that is referred to 16 times as in that day, the day when Christ returns as Judge and Savior to destroy the ungodly and to establish His glorious kingdom for those that belong to Him.
Now, as we look at verses 1 through 13:9, that whole section that I read earlier to you, I just want to focus on four aspects. We’ll break this outline into four parts: the siege of Israel, the shielding of Israel, the sorrow of Israel, and the salvation of Israel. That will help us to be able to put some things together categorically so we can follow the flow. Very, very amazing material is given here in this section of Zechariah’s prophecy.
Let’s start with the siege of Israel. Now, if you’re asking the question what does the future of the world look like; what is the future of Israel; where is the world going; what does the Arab spring mean; what is happening in the Middle East with escalating hostility toward Israel with a rise in anti-Zionism - anti-Semitism is not politically correct, hating Jews is not politically correct, but hating Israel is an escalating and acceptable attitude, and while people across the world don’t want to say they’re anti-Semitic, that they hate Jews, there is a massive escalation in anti-Zionism; they hate the Jewish state; they hate that it exists in that part of the world - where is this all going, what is going to happen to this small, little, beleaguered nation that is really sitting in a very vulnerable position with the eyes of the world powers on it as a target, well, this passage of Scripture will tell us where there is going. You’re going to be reading the history before it happens.
The Holy Spirit, starting in chapter 12, calls our attention to the final attack by the world’s nations on Israel. The invasion of Israel by the world, that’s what we have here. It is introduced as the burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Zechariah begins here with this term “the burden,” and it’s a burden from the Lord, a message from the Lord about Israel. You use the same term in chapter 9, verse 1, “the burden” concerning God’s plans for the nations of the world. And in chapter 9, verse 1, the burden was about coming judgment on the nations of the world. Here it is about Israel. In both cases it is a burden, and the term “burden” means it is a weighty revelation. It is a revelation that is in the category of a woe, a category of a judgment because it is a judgment on Israel as well as an indication of their salvation. The term “burden” simply is designed to carry the weight of this awesome judgment. God is unloading this heavy prophesy to Zechariah, and through him to us.
Now, this comes from God – the prophecy – and the activity that it describes will come from God. This is God in action. Okay? God is going to be orchestrating this. People will be players in it; rulers will be players in it. Satan will be a prime player in this, but God is the main actor here. God is the one doing this. That is why, from verses 2 to 9, you read these kinds of statements from the mouth of God, “I will make...” verse 2; “I will make...” verse 3; “I will strike...” verse 4; “I will open...” verse 4; verse 6, “I will make...”; verse 9, “I will set...”; verse 10, “I will pour...” All first person, all spoken by God. God is sovereign; God is in control of the future of the world, the destiny of nations, and the destiny of Israel. This is to remove all possibility of wondering how human history ends. There is no mystery. This civilization that we’re a part of globally, this planet on which we live will not come to an end by some collision, I guess you could say, some collision of environment catastrophes; it will not come to an end by something that goes wrong on the planet or something that goes wrong on the planet, or something goes wrong in space, we aren’t going to be blasted into bits by some body flying through the heavens that crashes into us. Our ending is clearly defined in Scripture. God is the one who will bring it to its conclusion. And that is an emphasis that is very clear here in the opening verse.
There are four elements that lend itself to this conviction. One, the burden. This is a divine message loaded with woe and judgment. The world is going to end under divine judgment. Secondly, it’s the word of the Lord so that the details are actually from Him as He describes it before it happens – long before. Thirdly, thus declares the Lord. So, it is a divine burden of judgment that is the word of the Lord, and the Lord specifically speaks this revelation to the prophet through inspiration.
And then most notably, the Lord is introduced as the One who stretches out the heavens and lays the foundation of the Earth and forms the spirit of man within him. Those are all descriptives pointing at one great event: creation. The One who is the Creator will be the consummator. It is the Lord who creates, and it is the Lord who brings His creation to its end. And that is the message that Zechariah receives from the Lord, “I will act. I will act in the end. I created everything that exists out of nothing, and I will decide when everything that exists goes back to nothing. This is prewritten history by the sovereign Creator.
And then in verse 2, the prophet begins to unfold these descriptions and describes for us the battle of the centuries, the battle of the ages, the final battle - the great battle that at its heart is called, in the book of Revelation, the battle of Armageddon. Verses 2 and 3, “Behold, I’m 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. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples” – or all the nations – “all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the Earth will be gathered against it.”
Now, let’s start at the bottom of that, “All the nations of the Earth will be gathered against Jerusalem and against Judah, against the people of Israel.” This is a global force that comes against that little, beleaguered nation Israel. However, the prophecy is that God is going to make Jerusalem, which will become the point of attack, “a cup that causes reeling and a heavy stone for all the nations.” Very graphic language. The word “cup” – saph – is not the usual word for cup. The usual word Hebrew word for cup is koc. This is not a cup like you think of a little coffee cup. This is saph, which means a flat basin. A cup is something that one person drinks from. This is something that many people could drink from. This is a wide-vase basin, a large vessel. And all the nations are seen coming to this large basin and drinking. It will turn out to cause them to reel. In other words, “I will make Jerusalem a basin that intoxicates the nations.” The nations attacking Jerusalem in this global force will be like men greedily draining alcohol who will find themselves reeling, staggering around like helpless drunks, unable to defend themselves, unable to understand what is going on around them and an easy prey for divine judgment. Jerusalem, then, becomes a basin of drunkenness for nations that come to destroy her and wind up staggering in confusion and bewilderment.
The second image, as I noted, is that Jerusalem will be a heavy stone for all the peoples and all who life it will be severely injured. Again, this is very graphic terminology. A heavy stone was something that in ancient times men would use to lift, like, weights to make themselves strong. They had actually weightlifting contests, in ancient times, using stones. This is that kind of imagery. This is a stone you don’t want to lift, because if you lift this stone, you’re going to hurt yourself. In the Hebrew, grievously injure yourself, dislocate, rupture, tear your body by trying to lift this. When you try to pick up Jerusalem in this sense of destruction, all you’re going to do is injure yourself.
So, here is the picture, then, end of verse 3, “All the nations of the Earth are coming against Jerusalem and Judah” – Judah meaning the outlying area, Jerusalem the capital city at the highest point up on the plateau. And these enemies come, collectively a world force coming against them. We’ll find that what looks to be an easy task – imagine the globe attacking Jerusalem. They would think that that would be over in hours, and instead they are the ones who are destroyed.
“‘In that day’” – verse 4 – “declares the Lord” – there’s that phrase “in that day” – “‘I’ll 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 people with blindness.’”
The world is forming an increasing animosity and hatred against Israel; it’s not going to go away. Even in our own country, people are, for the first time in American history, asking the question, “Has America’s attitude toward Israel changed?” And the answer? Of course it has. There are people in power who don’t feel about Israel the way we once felt; people who want to distance ourselves from being any protector of Israel. We are, as a nation, happy to aide revolutions in the Arab world which strengthen the hand of the most radical people and the most venomous toward the nation Israel. The world is falling into this kind of picture.
Joel chapter 3, the prophet Joel also describes this with these words, “Proclaim this among the nations: prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I’m a mighty man.’
“Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, gather yourselves there. Bring down, O Lord, Your mighty ones. Let the nations be aroused, come to the valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle; the harvest is ripe. Come, tread; the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” And the one making the decision is God. “The sun and moon grow dark, the stars lose their brightness, and the Lord roars.” That’s the same event when the nations gather for what they think is the destruction of Israel, only themselves to be destroyed by the Lord Himself.
If you look a little more broadly at this picture – and we won’t take a lot of time with it, just a couple of things to think about when you consider the writings of the prophets – the Old Testament prophets – they show us the global nature of this force that comes against Israel.
For example, there will be the revived Roman Empire in the West. Daniel talks about that in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, and we find that even in Revelation chapter 17, that this – what was once a part of the Roman Empire in ancient times, that geographical area will be collected together, and under the power of Antichrist will lead a force from the West against Israel.
You also have a reference in Ezekiel 38 to Tarshish coming against Israel in the end day, and Tarshish is part of Spain. The ancient Tarshish is part of Spain. So, again, it refers to the west. They will be involved. That would engulf Europe as an attacker on Israel. In Ezekiel 38, clearly there is a great, massive force that comes from the north, and they’re identified clearly as that northern power. Bible scholars have felt this well would be Russia and other allies and powers aligned with Russia against Israel. There will be action coming from the south. Daniel chapter 11 talks about the south as well as the east. Ezekiel 38 talks about the south – Arab nations to the south. And then you have nations – Arab nations to the east, Egypt and the Arab states.
In Revelation 9 and also in Revelation 16, you have the kings to the East and a number of the army is in multiple hundreds of millions coming against Israel. This is the globe: west, north, south, east, and the battle rages. And it rages on the Plain of Megiddo, starting in the north part of Israel in the Galilee area –the Plain of Megiddo – and it rages from there to the very south – the farthest north and the farthest south, spreads over a 200-mile area, and the blood is as high as the horses’ bridles. It is a massacre of monstrous proportions, a bloodbath in which water will flow into streams that’ll be as deep as the horses’ bridles.
The attack, the siege on Israel – go over to chapter 14 for a moment and you get more detail. “Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations” – let me stop right there. God says, “I will gather; I will gather.” Understand this, if you’re asking the question, “How is it that all these nations of the world can be all brought together to attack Israel? What do they have in common?” Answer: they have the same commander. They have the same commander – Satan. The god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of spiritual wickedness in high places – all these nations have the same commander, the same supernatural commander, and the same demonic force that he uses. That’s how they all come together. Whatever may be their differences, there will be a collective and common hatred of Israel generated by Satan, who would want to destroy Israel, because if he destroys Israel, then God cannot accomplish His purposes. And it’s an attack on the purposes of God. And this is a satanically inspired movement. Satan has his man the Antichrist, the associate the false prophet. But according to Revelation, they are inspired by Satan. It’s global demonism and forcing the world against this nation Israel.
Having said that, please note what I just read in verse 2, “I will gather all the nations.” That’s God speaking. Satan is the instrument, but God is the One who designed the plan. The Devil is God’s Devil. The Devil only operates within God’s parameters. And there are occasions when the Devil does exactly what God wills him to do. The gathering of the nations against Israel, by Satan, for the destruction of Israel, is God gathering the nations against Israel for the destruction of the nations. Satan has a completely opposite purpose: to destroy Israel. But God’s purpose is to destroy the nations who try to destroy Israel.
First of all, as God gathers them, there will be some success when they come to Jerusalem to battle. The city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, half the city exiled, the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. There will be a victory there. There will be people killed and people fleeing.
“What is that?” you say.
Go back to the two verses before that, back to verse 8 of 13. “‘It’ll come about in the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘two parts will be cut off and perish; the third will be left in it. I’ll bring the third part through the fire and refine them as silver and test them as gold.’” And God is going to destroy two-thirds - they are the unbelievers; they are the ungodly among the Jews - and a third He is going to save.
So, the great world coalition will have its impact. They will create death on a massive scale, but not all the people will be cut off; a third will be protected. Verse 3, “The Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.” After the Lord has used them to judge the ungodly among the Jews, the Lord will then take over the battle. That’s a picture that Zechariah gives us of the future siege against Israel. Satan has his purpose, the destruction of Israel; God has His purpose, the purging of the unbelieving rebels, and His purpose, then, to save the remnant and to save the nation and the city of Jerusalem.
That leads us to the second point. We’ll call it the shielding of Israel. The siege of Israel, the shielding of Israel. Let’s pick it up at verse 4. “‘In that day’” – there’s that phrase – “declares the Lord, ‘I’ll strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. I will watch over the house of Judah while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.’” “Horse” is a picture of power, force. Whatever instruments, whatever weapons, whatever resources, whatever resources of death this force uses, whatever is their formidable strength, whatever that might be, the Lord will strike it. And it’s interesting; He will strike with bewilderment and madness. He will strike against the weapons and those who operate the weapons. The horse meaning the weapon, the rider the one who operates it – every horse, every rider. Total destruction. God will smite every horse with bewilderment, every rider with madness. There’s going to be chaos and confusion everywhere. Helpless, uncontrolled blindness as well. That very same verse ends with, “I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.” The weapons won’t function; the leaders can’t function; everything is complete panic – wild, helpless panic. For a little microcosm of that, you have to remember last Sunday night, the story of Gideon who attacks the tens of thousands of Midianites in the valley with 300 men. He breaks the pitchers, blows the trumpets, lights the torch, and they all massacre each other in crazy confusion in the middle of the darkness. That’s the kind of thing that’s going to happen when the Lord strikes this force at its power point, and its point of leadership with a kind of mindless madness in which they destroy one another, and God destroys those who don’t destroy each other. Terror, confusion seizes the ranks of the world’s force, the world’s army.
“‘But’” – and this is such a wonderful statement – “God says, ‘I will watch’” – verse 4 - “‘over the house of Judah’” – I will watch; I will keep My eyes upon the house of Judah literally. The look of love, the look of care, the look of protection, the covenant look of promise. “I will look upon them; I’ll watch over them.” In the midst of this massive force, this war, this amazing event, the Lord will watch over the house of Judah.
And then verse 5, very, very important, “‘Then the clans of Judah will’” – meaning the towns and villages and groups of people living all over the place in the land of Israel - “‘will say in their hearts, “A strong support for us are the inhabitants of Jerusalem through the Lord of hosts, their God.”‘” That is a fascinating statement to me. What is this about? What are they saying? They will remember that God has chosen Jerusalem. They will remember that Jerusalem is under divine protection, that God has said that Jerusalem will be preserved forever. They will remember that. They will go back to the Old Testament, back to Scripture, back to His election of Jerusalem and His affection for Jerusalem. And they will find hope again through the Lord of hosts, the God of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
So, here, folks, is the first step toward the salvation of Israel. In the midst of this horrendous attack and assault and massacre and bloodbath that slaughters people everywhere, half of the population of Jerusalem is affected, and a total of two-thirds, when you consider all of Judah. In the midst of this bloodbath, they turn and remember the promise of God for His chosen people and the people of that city.
The first step toward the conversion of Israel is a return to the Word of God, a return to the promises of God, and a return to the Lord of hosts, their God. This is step one. They’re going to realize that they have no defense but God, but that they can trust God because He is strong support for Jerusalem by His own declaration. That’s so very important, because that is the first step toward their conversion: their faith in God is reborn; their faith in the Word of God, in the Old Testament is restored. God will work in their hearts. The leaders will realize that those who are preserved and those who remain in the midst of this do so because God has fulfilled His promise.
Verse 6, “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘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 people while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem.’”
Let me describe this. Jerusalem is the capital city. The attack doesn’t start there; it has to get there. In order to get to Jerusalem, it has to go through Judah. It has to come through all these clans and people – meaning small towns, villages, all the people living all over the place as this grace force comes. And as it comes, the clans of Judah are going to be like firepots among pieces of wood – twigs – or flaming torch among sheaves. Very simple language. A firepot was literally a vessel – a bucket – carried around with hot coals for the purpose of building a fire. A torch of fire the same thing. A flaming torch to start a fire. What’s going to happen is these clans are going to be to these invaders like fire coals and like a torch. They’re going to burn them. They’re going to be like twigs in a fire pot; they’re going to be like grain – dried grain torched. Just as the fire pot torches the twigs, and the torch sets fire to the dry grain – Judah’s clans, villages, towns will be empowered by God in some miraculous way to destroy the invading armies as they come. It is a bloodbath, in some ways, on some of the Jews, but an even more devastating and comprehensive destruction of these invaders. The will be shielded by God at this point.
At the end of verse 6 it says, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem.” Jerusalem will not finally be conquered. Literally it says, “Jerusalem shall sit; Jerusalem shall remain.” They’ll never overrun Jerusalem. Judah will be able to survive, a great portion of them, and Jerusalem will survive as well.
Verse 7, “The Lord also will save the tents of Judah first” – of course, because that’s how the enemy comes; they come through the land, all through all those towns and villages in the land of Judah, which is the land of Israel – “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 other words, nobody’s going to say, “Well, the victory was won in Jerusalem by the power of Jerusalem, by the force of Jerusalem, that great fortified city, way up on a hill.” If there’s any victory there, the people might say, “Well, we won the victory.” But they can’t say that when they realize that all the way through the nation, in all the little towns and villages, God gave victory as well. So, Jerusalem cannot be lifted up with pride. Everybody will know it is the Lord. It is the Lord.
Verse 8 says it, “In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” And somehow He’s going to strengthen them. I mean it’s going to be hand-to-hand combat. Somehow they’re going to be strengthened. It’s quite amazing. “The one who is feeble among them, in that day, will be like David” – a whole nation of Davids: courageous, killers of Goliath. A whole nation of Davids. “And the house of David” – I think that’s a reference to Messiah who comes in the line of David – “will be like God, like the angel of the Lord bf them” – because He is God, and He is the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament.”
So, the people will be empowered to defend themselves, empowered by God both in the countryside and in the city of Jerusalem. And the Messiah himself, the one who is God, who is the angel of the Lord, will also appear. And you see that in 14:4, “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a large valley. So that half of the mountains will move to the north, the other half south.” A massive valley, sweeping to the east. “You will flee by the valley of my mountains.
“In that day there will be no light” – luminaries will dwindle; the book of Revelation says that, right? Joel says the sun goes out, the moon goes dark. Revelation says all the heavenly bodies fall, pitch blackness. And the sign of the Son of Man, Matthew 24 and 25, shining glory as He comes to conquer.
Revelation 19 describes that as He comes out of heaven, riding on a white horse with His heavenly forces with Him, a blood-splattered garment. He comes as King of kings and Lord of Lords. All that the Scripture says is so consistent about this astonishing event.
In that day, the One who is the House of David, the Messiah from David’s line, will come to seal the final victory. Verse 9, “‘And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.’” Wow. That’s the future of the world, folks. That’s the future of the world. The cup of iniquity is full and judgment falls.
Read Revelation 16:13 to 21. We don’t have time to do that. Read Revelation 19. What do we have in these opening nine verses of the twelfth chapter? Israel’s great deliverance, Israel’s destruction of the armies of the world gathered against her by the power of God and by the arrival of the Messiah Himself. This is the conquest of the enemies of Israel in the second coming of Christ. But He who comes to conquer Israel’s foes also comes to conquer their hearts.
And that takes us, thirdly, to the sorrow of Israel. From the siege, to the shielding, to the sorrow of Israel, the Savior is revealed. And at that time, in that day – at some point in all of these events, they will finally go back to the God of the Old Testament, the Lord of hosts, back to His word, back to His promise. They will know that He is defending them. There can be no other explanation for their victory against the world. They know that He is the power that destroys all their enemies. And beyond that, He will reveal Himself to them as not only their Conqueror, but their Savior.
In verse 10, “‘I’ll pour out on the house of David, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me whom they’ve pierced, and they’ll mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son; we’ll weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like that of at Hadad Rimmon in the Plain of Megiddo. And then the land will mourn, every family’” – and it goes on to describe that.
Let me tell you what’s going on here. You would think that in the victory, in the triumph – that massive triumph when all the enemies of the Jews across the face of the Earth have been destroyed in a divine judgment – you would think there would be a celebration. You would think this would be the biggest celebration held by anybody, anytime in the history of the world. But the elation of victory is completely overwhelmed by sorrow because it is at that moment that God pours out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, royalty and the common folks – on everybody – the spirit of grace and supplication; this is regeneration.
“So they will look on Me” – who’s talking here? God. God was crucified. Notice the pronouns. “They will look on Me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him” – God died, and Christ died, and they are one and the same.” That is a Trinitarian comment. And they will mourn – oh will they mourn. They will mourn as if they’d lost an only son. They’ll mourn with bitter weeping, as over a firstborn. They will mourn like they mourned at Hadad Rimmon. That was over the death of good King Josiah, and the people were just heartsick - 2 Chronicles 35 - when Pharaoh murdered good King Josiah, and they mourned.
But please notice the individuality of this mourning. The land will mourn. But this is not some kind of a national event orchestrated. Every family by itself will mourn. The family of the house of David by itself, their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, their wives by themselves; the family by the house of Levi by itself, their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. The ones that haven’t been judged by this force will all mourn.
Please notice this: this is not collective; this isn’t a national event; this isn’t orchestrated like some National Prayer Day. This is individual people mourning over their own sin. And the reason it points out the wives is simply to make the clear point: wives submit to husbands as a standard behavior. Wives follow their husbands, but here it will be the wife repenting of her own sin, mourning over her own sin and looking at the cross and saying, “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. This is when they all individually confessed, because salvation doesn’t happen to nations; it only happens to individuals. And if the whole nation of individuals is saved, then the nation is saved.
Because this lays out the way it does, starting in verse 12 down to verse 14, it’s just repeated. You can start at the top with the house of David, the royal family. You can come down to the house of Nathan, a prophet; come down to the house of Levi, a priest; come down to the house of Shimei, another priest. Priests, kings, everybody individually, independently, personally penitent, mourning over sin. Everybody individually, personally looking at the cross and realizing that they pierced God; they pierced the Messiah. This is that great repentance; this is that salvation.
So, what has brought the salvation to Israel? One, they went back to the Word of God and affirmed His promise. They went back to the God of the Word as their only hope in the midst of the crisis. The more severe the crisis, the more motivation there is to turn to God. Right? This is what you would call the most massive foxhole conversion ever. This is faith in the face of death, and they will mourn.
The Hebrew word for “mourn” means to strike the chest in deep grief. And they will mourn with bitterness because they will look back and realize that generation after generation after generation for millennia have rejected the Messiah and are suffering forever in hell.
That leads, then, finally, to their salvation – to their salvation. Chapter 13, verse 1, “In that day” – there’s that phrase again – “a fountain will be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” – from the top, from the royal to the common folks – “for sin and for impurity.” The Lord’s going to wash their sin away. How? He’s going to wash their sin away because they have repented and put their trust in the crucified One. Salvation comes to those who repent and see the reality of the death of Christ for what it really is. They focus on the Savior. “They look on Me whom they’ve pierced, and they mourn for Him” – referring to Christ, one and the same. Christ is God. When they crucified Christ, they crucified God. They will see the truth, scales taken from their eyes. The Spirit of grace and supplication open their understanding. They are in the midst of a horrendous disaster. They have no defense but God. They turn to God; they turn to His promises to protect Jerusalem. They turn to Him, the Lord of hosts. They look at their sins that have brought this about. They mourn. They have seen the hand of their Protector protect them and they mourn. And then they turn and they look at the cross, and they say with Thomas, “My Lord and My God.”
The storm that broke upon Israel for the crime of Calvary has raged with unmitigated fury ever since. And it will continue to rage until the dark clouds part and the light of the Sun shines through and they see Him for who He is. This is their salvation, and this is the promise of God. Immediately, verse 2 says, the salvation of Israel will lead to the elimination of all idols, and it will also lead to the elimination of all false prophets. False prophets will stop prophesying, if they’re still alive, and they will deny that they are prophets. They don’t want to be prophets. They don’t want to put on their robe, the robe of a prophet. They’ll be ashamed of their visions which they prophesied. They’ll blame somebody else who sold them into prophetic slavery. They don’t want to be prophets. And if they try to prophesy, they’ll be killed even if it means father and mother who gave birth to them would pierce them through. They will be so changed that they will destroy. They will be the instrument of divine judgment to destroy false prophets and to get rid of idols. This is a real salvation. A real salvation.
And then God speaks. We only have time to just look at it briefly. And He starts to speak in verse 7, and what He says is so very interesting. He says this can’t happen. This can’t happen, this wonderful salvation, unless something else happens. And so, God says this, “‘Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate!’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd’” – wow. God says, “The salvation of Israel or, for that matter, the salvation of anybody can’t happen unless I awaken My sword and strike the Shepherd; it can’t happen apart from that.”
So, He did. It pleased the Lord to crush Him – right? Isaiah 53 again. The Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He did that. And Israel will see that. They will see it not only from their viewpoint, they pierced Him, but they will see it from God’s viewpoint. God struck the blow to make Him a guilt offering. They get the gospel right, and at that point – the middle of verse 9 – “They’ll call on My name; I’ll answer them.” And finally, and at last and forever, “‘I will say, “They are My people,” and they will say, “The Lord is my God.”‘” “My” singular. Every Jew surviving will turn to Christ. “The Lord is my God.”
And then, in chapter 14, the kingdom comes – long promised. Out of the fire come the faithful, and they say, “The Lord is my God.” And the Lord says, “You are My people.” Until then, any Jew, any Gentile can come to Christ. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Because we have mourned our sin, and we have seen the cross and understood it and embraced it by faith.
And that would be my prayer for you. There is coming the salvation of Israel in the future, but your salvation can take place now, whether you’re a Jew or a Gentile. Whoever you are, whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved - anytime, anyplace, even now, even today. Repent and embrace Christ. Let’s pray.
Again, we acknowledge, Lord, that Your Word is supernatural, divine, heavenly, transcendent; that it tells us things written 2,500 years ago that are accurate and we can see on the horizon even now. Truly this is Your Word, and the God who has declared the future is the God who can save us from the future judgment.
We know that You save us only when we mourn over our sin and embrace Christ as Savior. May that happen today. May there be some Jews here who individually repent and embrace Christ, and some Gentiles.
Lord, may no person leave this place who has not repented and put trust in Your Son and our Savior. Work that mighty work in hearts. May the spirit of grace and supplication come upon them, and may this be the day of their regeneration and eternal salvation.
Father, we ask that You would powerfully work, even in this day, as You will one day in the future for that nation. Would You do that for people today, not just here but everywhere that Your gospel is preached? And we give You praise and thanks, in the name of Christ, amen.
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