The Mark of Genuine Repentance – Zechariah 12

Without doubt, this “Uncharted” series has taken us through some very deep waters of Scripture – of passages inter-related with complications of needing to know a lot of Old Testament history, as well as variant views on the subject called “eschatology” = the doctrine of last times biblical interpretations. And Zechariah is particularly difficult to understand and describe briefly.

Not all conservative Bible scholars take the same literal approach as Chris and I have written about in these devotionals – wherein we talk about a literal future of a seven-year Tribulation followed by a literal 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom which is the fulfillment of promises God made to the nation of Israel. Some believe these sorts of prophecies are to rather be understood in more broad and general terms of God’s dealings with His people over the generations (be they Israel or the church, or whomever).

But I believe this passage we read today is one that looks forward to a future period of time at the end of the Tribulation, where Israel/Jerusalem is attacked by an array of forces, and in a campaign of battles called “Armageddon” Christ victoriously returns and conquers all.

Chapters 12-14 of Zechariah are one prophecy about Israel in the end times.

Jerusalem’s Enemies to Be Destroyed

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: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. 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. 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. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’

“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.

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

The remaining verses speak of a national day of repentance and salvation for the nation of Israel, as they come to a true understanding of the Messiah Christ.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

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 mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.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, 13 the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, 14 and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

The reference in the verses above about “Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” relates to the historical event of the death of the good King Josiah. There was great mourning at that time, as well as at other times commemorating this event. It was a part of Israel’s history, where, if you wanted to pick out something about which there was a palpable national sadness, it was this event – described in this short passage from 2 Chronicles…

2 Chronicles 35:20 – After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21 But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”

22 Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

23 Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” 24 So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.

25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.

This was no mere show of sadness – in Josiah’s day, or as it illustrates how Israel will be when Christ returns. It was not like paid mourners that were a part of Jewish funerals. It was a deep and genuine sadness of repentance.

How far does sadness go relative to repentance?  I had a college professor who was known and lampooned often for a collection of statements he would often make. One of them was this … “Nobody was ever saved by feeling sorry for their sins!”  Well, that is true. Judas was sorry, for example. The issue is not the emotion, but rather the trust of the sinner in a substitutionary sacrificial payment for sin. We are saved because we believe that Christ took our place, not because we are so deeply grieved about what awful sinners we have been. Yet at the same time, genuine sadness should accompany true repentance, and that is what is seen throughout the whole of the nation of Israel at this future time.