Zechariah 12:1-14Theme: End times.This week’s lessons remind us that today is the day of salvation.
LessonThe last three chapters of Zechariah contain a second “oracle” or “burden” of the prophet, corresponding to the burden in chapters 9-11. This second oracle concerns “the judgment through which Israel itself is sifted and purged in the final conflict with the nations and transformed into the holy nation of Jehovah.”1
The events of these last chapters belong to the same time period, as a careful reading shows. Characteristic of these chapters is a reiteration of the phrase “on that day.”
But to what period do they belong? And to what people? They obviously follow the first coming of Jesus Christ, for 12:10-14 describes a universal repentance in which people mourn for “the one they have pierced” (v. 10). But does that concern events shortly after Jesus’ death, perhaps events accompanying the first preaching of the gospel at Pentecost or soon thereafter? Does it refer to the expansion of Christian preaching and church growth throughout all subsequent ages? Or does it relate to something special to happen at the end of this age? Quite a few scholars pick the second possibility and see the blessing of these chapters as belonging to the Church, not to Israel nationally. This is probably the majority view in Reformed circles, due to the more basic conviction that the people of God are one, the Church being an extension of Israel, and that reversion to a day of national Jewish blessing would be a step backward from the fulfillment of all prophecy in Christ.
But the chapter does not speak in general terms about the people of God or even merely about Israel. It repeatedly stresses the names of Jerusalem and Judah. And when it talks about Israel’s repentance, it does so by reference to the specific Jewish clans or tribes (Zech. 12:12-14).
If these chapters refer to the Jews specifically, and not to the Church as the New Testament Israel, then the events to which they refer must be future. For it is certain that there has not yet been a national repentance by Israel nor an enjoyment by them of the blessings here enumerated. And if this is the case, then the battle referred to in Zechariah 12:1-9 must be the last great battle, Armageddon, and the repentance of verses 10-14 a time of national salvation prior to the Second Coming of the Lord. Indeed, when the chapters are viewed in this light, the repeated “on that day” is seen quite naturally to refer to that last great day of the Lord’s return in judgment. These chapters must be a prophecy of the events of those end times.
Charles Feinberg says,
The actual events, world-embracing in character, that are presented include the world confederacy against Jerusalem; the victory of God’s people, empowered of the Lord; the conviction of Israel nationally by the Spirit of God; the presentation of Christ as their rejected Messiah; the national Day of Atonement; the cleansing of the hearts of the nation; the purging of the land from idolatry and false prophets; parenthetically, the crucifixion of the Messiah; the time of Jacob’s trouble; the partial success of the nations invading Palestine and besieging Jerusalem; the appearance of the Messiah for his people; the rescue and his coming with his saints; the changed and renovated Holy Land; the establishment of the Messianic kingdom; the punishment of the nations for futile assault on Israel; the celebration of the kingdom feast, and Feast of Tabernacles; and the complete restoration of the people of God to a holy nation.2
It would be hard to find a more complete treatment of the events of the end times in all of Scripture.
1 David Baron, The Visions & Prophecies of Zechariah (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1918), p. 285.2 Charles L. Feinberg, God Remembers: A Study of Zechariah (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1965), pp. 169-70.
What is contained in the oracle found in the last three chapters of Zechariah?
In spite of speculation regarding the time of fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10-14, what specific event is alluded to that helps with dating this prophecy?
Why does Dr. Boice believe that Zechariah’s prophecy in chapter 12 pertains to the end times?