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God is always actively pursuing an intimate love relationship with His people. The Holy Spirit is the author and giver of all grace. It is through His agency alone that we are able to turn from our selfish ways to the living God. It is not until the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin that we can know our spiritual state and the terrible consequences of it.
The Holy Spirit turns the eyes of our heart to the crucified and now living Savior. We are humbled by our sense of spiritual poverty and overwhelmed by the love of an infinite holy God who cared enough about our sinful state to die for us.
The prophet Zechariah tells us Yahweh will pour out His Spirit of grace upon the house of David (12:8-10). In the Old Testament economy the kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oil symbolizing the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Anointed of Yahweh, the Messiah, came ministering with the anointing of the Spirit of Yahweh without measure. Jesus spoke Himself into office quoting the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners. . .” (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18). Moreover, under the new covenant all believers in the Messiah have the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He gives, not unsparingly, but in full measure as is needed.
In this great passage the prophet makes a remarkable statement about those in the future who will pierce the Branch and then look upon Him and go into deep mourning as if they had lost their only child.
“In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (vv. 8-10).
Outpouring of the Spirit
This outpouring of the Holy Spirit points us back to Joel’s great prophecy. Keil says, “The spirit of grace is the spirit which produces in the mind of man the experience of the grace of God. But this experience begets in the soul of sinful man the knowledge of sin and guilt, and prayer for the forgiveness of sin . . . and this awakens sorrow and repentance.”
He will minister graciously to Israel in her sinful condition and will lead her to call upon Him in repentance. The work of the Spirit is to produce repentance in the hearts of the rebellious and to turn spiritual eyes to the crucified Savior. The apostle Peter said, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:30-32).
Piercing the Servant
"They will look on Me whom they have pierced" (v. 10).
The idea is to pierce, thrust through and to slay by any kind of death. The context signifies it means to put to death.
Yahweh, I AM THAT I AM (Exo. 3:14), pierced by an instrument of death wielded by depraved sinners! Yahweh says, “They will look on Me whom they have pierced.” Jesus the Messiah said, “I and the Father” (distinguishing two persons) “are One” (Jn. 10:30). Jesus also said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . . I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me . . . the Father abiding in Me does His works . . . I am in the Father, and the Father in Me . . .” (14:9-11). The LORD God speaks of the Messiah as of a different person who nevertheless is One with Him in the undivided and indivisible essence of Jehovah. I am He=Yahweh, the First and the Last (Isaiah 48:12). Yet He calls Himself the Messenger of the Lord God and His Spirit (v. 16).
This Spirit through His apostle reveals to us the actual fulfillment of this stunning prophecy. More than 500 years later the Lord used a Roman soldier as the unsuspecting agent to fulfill this prophecy (John 19:34, 37). Man did not plan this out, God did it. And the water and the blood which flowed from the side of Him who was already dead proved beyond doubt that this Pierced One was the Prince of Life, Jehovah Our Righteousness (John 19:33; Jeremiah 23:6; Acts 3:15; 1 John 5:5-12, 20).
It is a picture of the slaying of the Maleach Yahweh, who is the same essence with Yahweh, became man in the person of Jesus Christ. Keil and Delitzsch bring out the meaning, “As Zechariah repeatedly represents the coming of the Messiah as a coming of Jehovah in His Maleach to His people, he could . . . also describe the slaying of the Maleach as the slaying of Jehovah. And Israel having come to the knowledge of its sin, will bitterly bewail this deed. . . . The person slain, although essentially one with Jehovah, is personally distinct from the Supreme God.”
The historical fulfillment of this prophecy is found in John 19:37 when the Son of God was crucified on Calvary. “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” A soldier pierced His side with a lance as He hung on the cross. Yahweh was one who was pierced or better stabbed to death. This piercing with the spear brought to a climax the death of Christ. The Messiah was put to death as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. No doubt comparing it to the Passover lamb, John quotes the Law saying, “not a bone of Him shall be broken” (v. 36).
The prophet proceeds to show another amazing thing that takes place at the crucifixion. Those who had despised and rejected the Branch and killed the Prince of Life and brought about His piercing now “look attentively, hopefully, trustingly” upon Him whom they have pierced. They suddenly realize the enormity of their sin and cry out to God. The bitterest and deepest death-wail of the nation is brought out as the anguish of mourning for the first-born.
As the crowd of onlookers walked away that eventful afternoon Luke tells us, “And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts” (23:48).
Hengstenberg says, “The crowds, who had just before been crying out, Crucify Him, here smite upon their breasts, being overpowered with the proofs of the superhuman exaltation of Jesus, and lament over the crucified one, and over their own guilt.”
The Holy Spirit gives divine enablement to the people to “look on Me, the One they have pierced.” They have pierced Him unto death. It was Jesus Christ whom they crucified.
The full commencement of the fulfillment of this passage in Zechariah is found on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:37-41 and in the preaching of the apostles in Acts chapters 3-5.
The fulfillment says Keil will “not terminate till the remnant of Israel shall turn as a people to Jesus the Messiah, whom its fathers crucified. On the other hand, those who continue obstinately in unbelief will see Him at last when He returns in the clouds of heaven, and shriek with despair (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:30).” It is with a deep penetrating conviction and mourning that will take place. But for so many it will be too late to be saved.
According to Romans 11:25-29 there is a day coming when many in Israel will recognize her Messiah and turn to Him. The change in person from “mourn for Him” to “mourn for Me” is common in prophetic literature. The outpouring of the Spirit prompts the people to mourn for sin in private (v. 10) and public (v. 11).
This profound sense of spiritual poverty and mourning leads to a cleansing from all sin because the precious fountain has been opened.
If you need help in knowing Him in an intimate personal relationship here is A Free Gift for You.
Title: Zechariah 12:8-10 Mourning for the One Who was Pierced
Series: Christ in the Old Testament
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2008. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.
Unless otherwise noted “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.
Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.
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