AN EXPOSITION OF Zechariah 12:10
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
There are two simple guiding principles of biblical interpretation. First, let the New Testament interpret the Old. And second, when the New Testament does interpret the Old, believe what is said. For example. In Malachi 4:5 God promised to send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Christ Himself teaches us that this prophecy is fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:14. “And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come.”
Another example of the New Testament interpreting the Old is found in Acts 2:16-21. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up to preach, and to declare that scripture was being fulfilled. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Peter was referring to the words of Joel 2:28-32. We must be careful to accept the New Testament interpretation of the Old. Even when we are surprised by the explanation of the Old Testament passages, it is enough that God has explained His own Word.
With this concept in mind, we want to examine another Old Testament prophecy from the Book of Zechariah and look to the New Testament for understanding, for there we discover much that is helpful. For example, we learn from Galatians 4:25, 26 that the Apostle Paul makes a distinction between a national Jerusalem of Israel, and a spiritual Jerusalem of heaven. It was the citizens of the national Jerusalem of earth that rejected Christ. In contrast, the Jerusalem that is from above consists of citizens that receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Therefore, the spiritual Jerusalem, embodied in the Church, is the true City of Peace that God is most pleased with.
This spiritual understanding of Scripture is important, for in Zechariah 12 we have many precious promises made to the spiritual Jerusalem by Him who declares He is able to fulfill all that is promised (Zech. 12:1). Consider the promises of this prophetic passage.
First, in Zechariah 12:2-4,6, the promise is made that the enemies of the church of Christ shall ultimately fall into their own ruin if they attempt to hurt the Lord’s people. Though we as saints will suffer persecution in this life, the ultimate victory will be ours.
Second, the promise is made that the true Shepherds of the church shall be holy, faithful, and successful in their spiritual work (Zech. 12:5). The Church of Christ deserves leaders who are committed to walking with the Lord.
Third, the promise is made that the Lord will protect, and strengthen the most humble, and the weakest that belong to His church (Zech. 12:7, 8).
Fourth, in preparation for many acts of Divine mercy, and as a guarantee of it, God promises that He will pour upon His people a Spirit of prayer, and repentance, which shall be both universal, and particular (12:9-14).
These are great and precious promises, and the people of God want to know, “Lord, when will you destroy our enemies? When will you give us faithful Shepherds? When will you move to protect the weak? When will you pour out your Spirit of grace and supplication upon all flesh?”
Certainly, the people of Zechariah’s day wanted these blessings, for they had many physical and spiritual enemies, not the least of which was Antiochus Epiphanes, the mad ruler of Syria (175-164 B.C.) who persecuted Israel. Powerful gospel promises were needed to encourage the hearts of devout Hebrews during this time period. It may be that the prophecy of Zechariah was for the Israel of old.
However, it may be that the greater fulfillment of this Messianic passage is to be found in the days of our Lord, beginning at Calvary, and extending through the early years of the preaching of the gospel. There is evidence for this understanding from the teaching of the New Testament.
In John 19:36, we read of a prophecy being fulfilled the day Christ died. “And again another Scripture saith, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.'” The question arises as to which Scripture John had in mind when he spoke of people looking “on Him whom they pierced.”
It is most probable that John had the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 in mind, for in this passage the crucifixion, and the stares of sinners are united in one verse. The day spoken of in Zechariah 12:9 was the glorious day that Christ became victorious over the powers of darkness, and achieved the great salvation He purchased for His people. In anticipation of that day, Zechariah predicted two remarkable works were to be accomplished.
First, God was to manifest His omnipotent power. “I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem,” says the Lord (Zech. 12:9). For those who love the Jewish people as a race, this passage holds much hope for their survival in a hostile world. God has always moved to protect the racial Jew against physical annihilation. Divine protection is needed, because the people of Israel have many enemies.
During the dark days of World War II, a concerted effort was made to annihilate the race. This was to be The Final Solution. The attempt to exterminate Israel has not ceased since the end of World War II. In May, 1948, when Israel became a modern nation, having been recognized by the United Nations, she was immediately at war with surrounding Arab countries, who sought her destruction. The assault upon the national life of Israel was renewed over a period of six days in 1967, and again in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. However, each time men have moved against national Israel, God has moved to destroy the armies of all the nations that come against Jerusalem. God has promised to preserve the Jewish people. In their preservation, the Lord can teach that there is a spiritual Israel. There are racial Jews, but there are also regenerate Jews, who have the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
These children of faith have welcomed us, the Gentiles of the world, so that jointly we form a new entity called the church (Eph. 3:4-6). Together, we face physical and spiritual enemies who would destroy us. We wrestle against principalities and powers, and rulers in high places. We too are in need of Divine protection, and God has promised that He will move to destroy all those who would hurt us, His spiritual sons of Abraham, embodied in the Church.
The greatest visible judgment against the enemies of the Church will take place at the Lord’s Second Coming. In that day, Christ will completely punish all those who have persecuted the saints. The Lord shall put down all opposing rulers, principalities, and powers.
As the people of Christ, we can have confidence that the Lord will return, and achieve His great and final victory over all His enemies, for this glorious work of Divine destruction has already begun. It began at Calvary, when Jesus moved to disable Diabolos, the one that had the power of death.
And Jesus did destroy the Devil. Jesus did bruise the Serpent’s head. He broke the powers of darkness, so that souls can walk in crystal light. The Lord spoiled the demons, and made a show of them openly. Calvary is the most magnificent manifestation of omnipotent power. The glorious work of power for His people is continued, by a gracious work of God in His people as He pours out the Spirit of supplication, which is prayer.
Normally, when God is about to move, and show His strength, He stirs up His people in a mighty way to pray. People want to pray because they become concerned, and are filled with a godly fear. There is a holy alarm that souls are dropping into hell daily, without salvation. There is renewed concern that the church has lost its spiritual, power and ICHABOD might yet be stamped over the doors.
When God is about to destroy sin, there is a great awakening as the Spirit of grace and supplication is pour out. People begin to pray. If any church wants to know if God is pouring out His Spirit, look to the prayer meeting, and see if people want to pray.
We say all these things by way of application, for by way of interpretation our passage declares that the day was to come when the Lord would pour out His blessing on the House of David. The House of David is summed up in the person of Jesus Christ. Upon Him the Spirit was poured without measure. The Bible tells us that Jesus was full of grace and truth. He was also a man of prayer, so that from His fullness we all receive.
As the Spirit was to be poured out upon the house of David, it was also to be poured out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Church is this spiritual Jerusalem. It is not a physical city of bricks and stones that God will honor, but the spiritual building consisting of all true believers who have the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (1 Pet. 2:5).
Has this ever happened? Has God ever poured out His Spirit of grace and supplication? Has this prophecy ever been fulfilled according to promise? The answer is, “Yes!” God has pour out His Spirit in a mighty way, and it happened on a day called Pentecost. One hundred twenty men and women, including Mary the mother of Christ, once met in an Upper Room to pray.
Suddenly, the Spirit of God was poured out, and the gospel was preached in foreign languages to a great multitude, and wonderful things began to happen. Hearts were turned towards Calvary as a murderous mob was commanded to look afresh upon Christ. It would not be hard to do this because the memory of that awful event was seared forever in the minds of the multitude which was still in Jerusalem. The heart does not soon forget the sad spectacle of a Man who has been brutally scourged without mercy, mocked without compassion, and crucified without concern by men void of a conscience. As people turned to Christ in the memory of their minds, they looked upon Him whom they had pierced and were cut in their hearts. The Holy Spirit convicted individuals of what they had done until first one, and then another person began to weep and mourn. Finally, a voice was heard crying out, “Men, brethren, what shall we do?” “What shall we do?” “Someone, tell us, what shall we do?”
What does a soul do when it realizes that it has had a part in killing the Lord of Glory? What does a person say to a wounded Christ? What can one do who has taken a part in the death of the Son of God? The Divine answer is summarized one word, Repent.
To repent, means to emotionally abhor what has been done to Christ in unbelief. To repent, means to intellectually receive the gospel of redeeming love. To repent, means to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Those who truly repent of sin look upon Christ as the One whom they have pierced, and as the One who was pierced for their sins. Those who truly repent of sin are also pierced in their hearts, as they look upon the Christ of Calvary.
In the absence of godly sorrow for sin, there can be no true salvation. The Scriptures teach that those who have crucified Christ will mourn for Him. And this mourning is a great mourning. It is like the grief of a parent for the death of a beloved child. When David heard of the murder of Absalom, he cried out in soul agony, “Absalom my son! my son! Absalom my son! Would to God I had died instead of you!”
When God pours out His Spirit of grace and supplication, the heart will mourn for sin as one mourns for his only son in whose grave the hope and dreams of the future are buried. There will be inward bitterness, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born illustrated by the Egyptians. There was a cry throughout all the land for the fate of their first-born. The Angel Of Death had visited in the night, and in the morning there were great tears of sorrow.
Genuine repentance is like that. It is natural, sincere, unforced, unaffected, and lasting. It is like the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the Valley of Megiddon, where the good king Josiah was slain. The people wept because Josiah was one of those rare political figures that was greatly beloved. And the weeping was intensified when the people were told that it was for their sins that God removed from them a person who was such a great blessing. Then all of Israel cried out, “The Crown has fallen from our head, Woe unto us, for we have sinned!” Lamentations 5:16.
In like manner, the true Church understands. Christ is our King. Our sins were His death, and for that reason we ought to mourn when we think of Calvary (Matthew Henry). Isaac Watts wrote,
“When I survey the wondrous Cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My riches gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.”
We look again at our passage and see that the prophet Zechariah predicted there would be a universal mourning, for we read “the land shall mourn” (Zech. 12:12). At the death of Christ this happened, for there was darkness over all the land, and the earth trembled. For three hours God hid His face from His Son, and He drew a black blanket to veil the hideous sight of a sinless, suffering, Saviour. Out of that darkness the voice of Jesus could be heard screaming, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”
We know why. God forsook His Son, that He might never have to forsake you or me. God forsook His Son, in order to secure the salvation of all those whom the Father has given Him. The death of death, in the death of Christ, accomplished a redemption for a vast host of souls that is larger in number than the stars in the sky, and rightly so, for the Lord is worthy of such a large reward for His great sufferings.
From every tribe and nation under heaven hearts have been drawn to the Saviour. As there was, and is, a general, universal mourning for Christ, the prophet foresaw a private mourning as well. Every family shall mourn (Zech. 12:12); all the families that remain (12:14). All shall share in the grief.
Four specific families are mentioned as an example to others. Two of them are royal families, reflected in the House of David, and in the House of Nathan, a son of David. The other two specific families are religious families, reflected in the family of Levi, and the family of Shimei, which was a branch of the tribe of Levi (1 Chron. 6:17).
Together, another spiritual truth is taught. Both the secular, and the sacred, must unite together to look upon Christ, and mourn for sin. Both the religious and the profane, the princes of this world, and the priests of the church, must learn to weep between the porch and the altar (Joel 2:17).
There are those who believe that this whole prophetic passage of Zechariah 12 will find an ultimate fulfillment just prior to, or at,the Second Advent of Christ in relation to national Israel. Perhaps such thinking is correct. However, we still prefer to let the New Testament interpret the Old so that we can believe in a prophecy that began to be fulfilled the day Christ died as taught according to Luke 23:48 “…all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts…”
Prophecy fulfilled, continues to be fulfilled as God comes to us with the Spirit of grace and supplication. As the Lord moves over the land, let us cry out that He might show us the crucified Christ, and cause us to mourn. We need to mourn as individuals, as families, and as a nation. But before this will ever happen, God must pour out His Spirit of grace and supplication. Only then will we be able to enjoy the glorious and gracious gospel.