AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
November 7, 2004
WAR, WONDER AND WORK
The Spiritual Culmination in the Cross
Zechariah 12:1- 13:6
I TWO WARS Zech. 12:1-9
The Speaker in 12:1 is the LORD “who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.” It is not with myths, principles or nature that we deal, but with the Creator and sustainer of truth, life and spirit in man.
In Zechariah 12 we see war at once, following our introduction at the end of Ch. 11 to the evil shepherd, shall we say This World's Coadjutor Bishop, the officer for revolving and revolting religion, like revolving doors, who just happens to be as near infinitely evil as possible. He, you recall, was introduced at the end of Zech. 11, following the revelation and rejection of the Good Shepherd. Where Christ is not received, the door swings so often to admit him!
From one height to one depth the transfer proceeds, from the rejected the True Shepherd to the era of the fraud. How amazingly indoctrinated are some, as shown by a lady who, asked in a political setting whether you wanted a new Prime Minister declared that she did, because change is always progress... Like death ? Like lung cancer ?
Change there assuredly was foretold, and it came; but if that is progress, then ruin is delight!
Just how vast is the virtue of the Messiah is seen in the fact that He is referred to in terms of being God in Psalm 45 as in Hebrews 1 which cites this.
It is here in Zechariah 12 that this identity is revealed for the Messiah again; but it is brought to our attention differently, as is so customary in the word of God who, being the perfect teacher, knows the way to bring now this facet, now that of the diamond of truth to our eyes, so that we miss nothing of his theme, of his impartation and of the point. It is, for that matter, the same in Isaiah 44-45, where ONLY God is Saviour and Creator, yet in Isaiah 53, the Messiah is the very acme and performance of salvation in His own self, bearing sin, and thus is the Redeemer. In Isaiah 45:18,22ff., you see the Creator is indeed the Redeemer as in Colossians 1:15.
With SUCH a Messiah missing by national default, sold off, how horrendous has been Israel’s experience of Rome's imperial devastation, cunning ways and the moral depravity of its loved Herods, which that Empire inserted like potassium cyanide into their land. In Zech. 12 accordingly, we start with war. Peace's prince being gone, war festers like a burning boil. Yet it is soon apparent that we have moved to the next vast Messianic movement towards them, set near the end of the Age, which is NOW!
It is WAR then for Israel, but let us revert for one moment to the Roman Empire, that Foolish Shepherd to which Israel lost its independence and temple, even its site so that Jews were reportedly excluded for centuries! Yet now in Zech. 12, we move to the time when their repentance draws near. They are back, so that their long ‘wandering Jew’ life is over, the judgments of exile as in Leviticus 26, are finished, their return as in Ezekiel 36-37, is accomplished. It is HALF done; for in Ezekiel 37, in the vision of the dry bones, representing Israel drying out in the heat of foreign lands: they are FIRST brought back physically, and only then by separate divine command, spiritually. It is to this second part that we look in Zechariah 12, as wars rage on the returned nation.
They suffer, still as we shall shortly see, disbelieving in the Lord Jesus Christ, their Messiah, yet those who would like to heave them out like an unwanted rock, predicted here, are to have trouble for the stone is so “VERY HEAVY”!
It was heavy in 1948, when Israel was re-established in the midst of an international crusade against her, including negative UN rulings; heavy in 1967, when Israel made brilliant military history against her invaders; heavy in 1973 when it surged back and surrounded an Egyptian army BEYOND the Suez Canal. Its presence has been heavy for Iraq, who as Hussein announced not so long ago, was still at war with it, in the Gulf War of 1991; and it is heavy for Iraq still with its militant Islamic thrusts.
It is very heavy for the UN, always alien to it, heavy for the Madrid Quartet of Russia, the UN, the USA and the UK, whose road map erodes some of what little is left of Israel, after all the international breaches of the British promises of 1917, ratified later by international accord of the victors in World War I. “Gathered against it” indeed are many nations, as the predictions of divine prophecy are fulfilled.
The weak in this war of many nations against Israel, who are in Israel, will be like David, so that mighty will be their military triumphs, as Zech. 12:6 declares for this time. In that day, it says, the Lord will make Israel’s rulers “like a firepan in the woodpile”; and how many have been burnt! So “in that day, the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (12:8), and so He has done; and “Jerusalem will be inhabited again in her own place – Jerusalem”. This too is so, Jerusalem in its very own place, yes in Jerusalem, not in Athens, Rome or Madrid! As such, it still stands, and is certainly Jewish; and indeed the fact that it is in Jewish hands fulfils the word of Christ of Luke 21:24. This is to the effect that during the Age of the Gentiles, these peoples would continue trampling on Jerusalem, UNTIL its completion. It is therefore now the case that this Age comes to its end, and the terminal events loom.
This is now. The signal is set: the Jews are BACK! In this phase, Jerusalem is to be a ‘cup of drunkenness’ to those who ‘lay siege’ to her, which is virtually what the Islamic hosts are doing, using the Palestinians whom they do not wish to take into their own massively endowed, Islamic midst in all the vast lands they possess, control or use, from Morocco to Syria.
There will be more: “In that day, I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9). That is the FIRST WAR from the Book, which is here in view.
II REPENTANCE NOT TO BE REPENTED OF
It is about this time that the SECOND WAR comes to its crisis point, and in one major way, its conclusion, its end for the ages! Having shown them His goodness in restoring them to their land as in Ezekiel 36-37, which was not least that they might serve idols no more (37:23), and having defended them, the Lord now pours out the “Spirit of grace and supplication”. it is then that they “will look on Me whom they pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son” (12:10).
How this reminds one of Isaiah 45:22-23, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.” It is in these terms, as we see in Philippians 2, that Christ is to be served, for every knee, the ONLY GOD said, would bow to Him; and it is Christ they are to bow! In the Lord will all the seed of Israel be justified: for there is no other (45:25).
These, they are one God! Similarly in John 6:40, Christ says this: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” What more beautiful than that! So they “look on Me whom they have pierced!” in Zech. 12:10.
How Isaiah foresaw the wonder of that day, soon to come, a relief not merely in the return to their land, but in the restoration to their Messiah! As in Isaiah 40:1: “ ‘Comfort you, yes comfort My people!’ ” says your God. ‘Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received double for all her sins…’ ” THAT, it is the SPIRITUAL WAR of withholding faith; but now, by repentance in the Redeemer, whom they pierced, they come to and find comfort.
Deep is this repentance (Zechariah 12:11-14), individual and vast is their grief, profound their sorrow; for to hurt a fellow being is bad, but to sacrifice the loving God …
III THE FOUNTAIN AND THE FOLLY
How deep is the mourning depicted in Zech. 12:10-14, the solitude of solicitation for the divine mercy, the horror in realising the pre-holocaust folly of the nation, the violence generated then by unbelief in such a Saviour, and His murderous despatch!
How deep and in parallel is the pardon depicted in Zechariah 13:1.
A fountain of blood ? It is not so stated, but appears clearly implied. Now we must remember that the sacrificial system involved MUCH blood. There were goats, sheep and bulls, even birds, in sacrificial roles in the Mosaic covenant.
Without the shedding of blood there was no atonement, at-one-ment with God (cf. Hebrews 9:22), "for it is the blood which makes atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11). Thus it is as if out of the very ground (of their faith, in their city), a fountain proceeds. It is not of water, coming from subterranean sources, but of blood coming from celestial origin; not according to nature, from veins where blood is found, but like a fountain coming from the very ground of the city. On this it is founded, not confounded, and without this blood of the slain Messiah whom they pierced, there is no end to their sorrow, mockery and grief, no conclusion to the interference of other nations, as to the exterminatory obsession of mankind towards them, in such numbers.
NOW they come to this fountain for sin and for uncleanness in great numbers, rejoicing that it is ample cover, neither rationed nor restrictive; for if we confess in faith and repentance our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from ALL iniquity (I John 1:7ff.). Yes the sacrifice is broad enough for all the world (I John 2:1-2), if only it would use it! Now all the fraudulent philosophies and sects, traditions and ideas of religion which men make will vanish away like smog swept clear by ocean winds (Zechariah 13:2-6); and people will try NOT to be taken for a prophet, for all the word of God is OUT and ABOUT in the Bible, and adding to these things is merely to invite destruction (Revelation 22:18ff.).
It is in this cleansing and purging, this purification that we find this amazing reference to a question addressed to the Stone, or Rock on which the sins were inscribed (Zech. 3:9), to the Good Shepherd who was sold, to the One betrayed. It is this:
¨ “What are these wounds between your hands ?”
Keil in his Commentary indicates that this seems assuredly to refer to wounds or scars in the palms of His hands and extending up His arms. They attract attention. The Cross conferred them as in Psalm 22.
It appears that in ancient custom, some would mutilate themselves in religious exercises, but these “wounds”, they were by no means self-inflicted. Oh no! they were “those with which I was wounded in the house of My lovers” or friends. Those who loved Him, ironic indeed the word: it was these servants of the God whose human body they wounded, it was they who inflicted these wounds! The almost casual seeming way in which the topic is dismissed hides its profundity, for its clinical brevity is eloquent: wounds from lovers! What IS this … but treachery and folly, hypocrisy and evil!
There are the various false prophets, all ashamed, we see in that culminating day, in Zech. 13:4; but some will say to Him to whom the scars belong, to One whose ‘shame’ is very different, indeed to One who instead of shame shows wounds, to one among the prophets, WHAT ARE THESE! How did you get them ?
Unique is His position, amazing His condition, and it is met by this demanding question. His answer shows the controlling power of sanctity in the dismissal of polluted waters, where love has not shown its reality but rather hideous betrayal, not truth but treachery the abode of the assailants. These ? It is as if He replied in this way: Oh I got them when I was betrayed, they are the gift of spurious love!
How wonderful is OUR opportunity, who are His, saved by these wounds, by this death (Colossians 1:22), having been “reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,” to marvel at the wise love of God who could turn such hatred into holiness, using the emblems of evil to become the messengers of good, even the Cross! Here you see what in Zech. 14:5 is the RETURNING LORD, His love and power alike triumphant, resurrected, restored; and as His heart speaks to the enquirer in Zech. 13:6, so His word speaks to the world to which He personally returns in His own body (Acts 1:7-11, 3:19ff., Zech. 14:5), for the “earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14) and a new heavens and earth will arise like the sun in its dawning, one in which “righteousness dwells” (cf. II Peter 3).
For a more extensive treatment of Zechariah 12-13, see Bright Light... Ch. 5.