Zechariah 12 begins with the words, “Massa d’var Adonai al Yisrael,”. “Massa”, so frequently translated “burden”, can also mean something along the order of debt. It refers to the absolute passion of the Lord for the people and land of Israel. As is so apparent from Zechariah and all the prophets, indeed, all the scriptures, He cannot let Himself drop the subject. There is a heavy, Divine heart motivation behind every word He speaks. Isaiah shares this in his 62nd chapter, verse 1: “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness shines forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. 2 And, the nations will see her righteousness, and all kings her glory; and; she shall be called by a new name which the Mouth of Adonai shall choose.”
That stated heart for Israel couches the content of Zechariah 12 in hope, though parts of the message seem frightening.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the surrounding peoples when they besiege Jerusalem as well as Judah. Moreover, in that day I will make Jerusalem a massive stone for all the people. All who try to lift it will be cut to pieces. Nevertheless, all the nations of the earth will be gathered together against her.” (Zechariah 12: 2, 3)
Every leader of every major power, certainly inclusive of the United States, has been desirous of having as part of his legacy the status of having resolved the Middle East situation. Whether “the roadmap to peace”, the nuclear deal with Iran, wooing terrorist groups and trying to bribe with the offers of “new toys”, or bullying Israel, world leaders cannot resist the temptation to succeed where everyone else has failed. Of course, the problem is the failure to grasp that the issues are not political, military, economic, or cultural- they are spiritual. In the world’s blindness to this reality, the nations, tired of dealing with the ongoing crisis, will decide on a military option, invading Israel, besieging Jerusalem.
Just as Adonai has frustrated arrogant human attempts to that point to refuse to submit the matters to Him, refusing to acknowledge His ultimate authority and wisdom, God acts here.
“In that day…, I will strike every horse with confusion and its rider with madness. I will keep My eyes on the house of Judah but will blind every horse of the peoples. Then the leaders of Judah will say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength through Adonai-Tzva’ot their God.” (Zechariah 12: 4, 5) Outnumbered and outgunned, the intervention of God on behalf of Jerusalem will keep the defenders from being overwhelmed, an event only explicable by the actions of God.
The prophecy goes on to describe the honor and esteem coming to the Jewish leaders. “In that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a burning torch among sheaves. They will devour on the right and the left all the surrounding peoples, yet Jerusalem will remain in her place…” (12:6) The leaders and the people of Jerusalem and Judah will appear unstoppable, impelled on by the power of God on their behalf.
This amazing prophecy then goes on to tell of a dramatic spiritual awakening. People shocked and traumatized by millennia of persecutions, pogroms, Holocausts, will awake to the realization that God has been on their side all along. “Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” (12:10)
In Biblical culture, the firstborn son was vested with everything of the father, understanding that the firstborn will then go on to take care of the rest of the family after the passing of the father. Here, the people will realize that God has been with them and, in response to a sovereign move of the Spirit of Adonai, will recognize the suffering Messiah, already come and now longed for.
Oh, hasten the Day!
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.