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Zechariah Chapter Twelve, The Strength Contest

In our study of Zechariah chapter twelve we will look at God's promise to make Jerusalem an immovable stone. When the nations oppose Israel and try to take control of His city, God defends them.

Zechariah 12:1

A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares:

Zechariah begins this prophecy with the fact that, since God is the Creator, He has the right and ability to do as He wishes. When he speaks of Israel, he is talking about all of His chosen people and land and not just the northern kingdom.

Zechariah 12:2

'I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.'

A cup is a vessel that can contain either good or bad. For some it contains a blessing while for others it has a curse. In this case, the nations will attack Jerusalem and Judah which will provoke God's wrath on them. In chapter 11, we saw the rise of the bad shepherd and he is like a cheerleader telling the people of the world that they can do anything if they just band together. In Hebrew, the cup is Kos Ha-Tar' elah' and it means cup of the poison. Satan's purpose in attacking Judah and Jerusalem is to wipe out the potential return of the Messiah. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all agree that the Messiah is going to return to Jerusalem. Satan has convinced the nations that they can band together and establish their own government to rule the entire world. The people have become sorta drunk with the notion that they could actually achieve this and so they descend on Judah and Jerusalem.

Zechariah 12:3

'On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.'

Now, the prophet uses the picture of a weightlifting contest that was common among young people of that day. The picture is of a young man who confidently steps up to the bar to do a big powerlift. The man finds that he cannot even get it off the ground and, in fact, tries so hard that he rips his muscles in the attempt. The people have been "psyched up" by the devil and whipped into a frenzy only to find that they really do not have the power to remove Jerusalem from the hands of God.

Zechariah 12:4

'On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,' declares the Lord. 'I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.'

In Deuteronomy 28:28, God told Israel that panic, madness, and blindness would be upon those who disobeyed His commands. We see the same things happen to those who have come against God's people and city.

Zechariah 12:5

'Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, "The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God."'

Why does God allow the nations to attack His people and city? We see the answer here as it is so that all of the Jews would see that it is only the power of God that will deliver them. The nation of Israel has clung to their own efforts and alliances to defend themselves. On the final day, it will be obvious that their only defense (strength) is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 12:6

'On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.'

Just as fire consumes wood, God's people which is a minority will overtake the nations. The result of this great strength test is that the unified world fails to stand up against the people of God and the efforts to seize control of His creation fail.

Zechariah 12:7

'The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem's inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah.'

God will intervene to save the land outside of Jerusalem before turning to the city. We are told that the reason is so that it is perfectly clear that man's efforts had nothing to do with the victory. Those that were least able to defend themselves (those in the surrounding countryside) are saved before those that are protected by the city's walls. It is also a reminder to us that God places the same value on the poor and defenseless as He does on the rich and powerful.

Zechariah 12:8

'On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them.'

God will defend Jerusalem and its people so that the weakest of God's people will be the mightiest of warriors. King David was the warrior that God used to defeat Israel's enemies and bring peace to the nation. The nation of Israel will have the very power of God Almighty.

Zechariah 12:9

'On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.'

Not only will God defend the Jews but He will also go on the offensive against their enemies. This corresponds to Revelation 20 where all rebellion is put down and the final judgment begins.

Zechariah 12:10

'And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one who mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.'

For those who only have one child, that child has a special meaning to them and the thought of losing them is almost unbearable. When the Jewish people realize that the One who saved them from the nations is the same One that they crucified, they will have the same deep sadness. This reminds us of the fact that the Great Tribulation is all about God demonstrating His love and power to the Jewish people. This demonstration of grace will bring them to repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 12:11

'On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.'

This verse speaks of the idolatry that occurred and the fact that human sacrifices were offered there. This was continual and there was mourning for the victims as well as for the mothers who lost their children. The mourning over the fact that they crucified Jesus will be much greater than the mourning of those people.

Zechariah 12:12

'The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives,'

The display of God's power and mercy will bring nationwide repentance to Israel but it will be a personal thing. Each family and each member of that family will have a personal conviction of their sin. The repentance will begin with the civil leadership (King David and his son Nathan).

Zechariah 12:13

'the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives,'

Those of the religious establishment will mourn at the fact that they rejected the Messiah at His first coming. They will turn their hearts to the Lord and acknowledge Him. This is in fulfillment of the words of the Lord found in Isaiah 45:23 & 24.

Zechariah 12:14

'and all the rest of the clans and their wives.'

Once again, we see that it will be nationwide mourning but on an individual basis. From the least to the greatest, all will acknowledge Jesus as their King.

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