[June 18]—Mourning and Rejoicing

Zechariah 12

            I’m really glad that chapter 12 follows chapter 11, aren’t you? It’s a lot more positive. The first part of the chapter (vss. 1-9) we’ll pass over very quickly. It tells of how the nations surround God’s people, and at the last moment he'll swoop in and destroy those would attack them. Jerusalem looks like it’s on the ropes: Surrounded by enemies which vastly outnumber her, and all seems lost. But like the Arameans who dared to attack Elisha, the nations will discover the hard way that it only looks like God’s people are outnumbered and under siege. It will again be demonstrated before the world that “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
            But let’s take a closer look at the rest of the chapter, vss. 10-14. When will this take place? Well, John in the description of the Crucifixion in his Gospel quotes verse 10: “They will look on me, the one whom they have pierced.” So apparently it was at least partially fulfilled at that time. But the rest of the passage doesn’t seem to fit the First Advent. The passage in 10-14 seems to best fit a nationwide revival and turning to the Lord, which didn’t happen in the 1st century. Once again, I know that there are scholars who don't agree with me, but there are others who do. My conclusion is that once again we have a “Partial then/Complete In The Future” situation. It was partially fulfilled back then, and will be completely fulfilled when he returns.
            What’s going on here? Apparently in the Last Days the Lord will pour his Holy Spirit on Israel, and there will be national mourning. The Spirit will complete his function by being the Spirit of grace and supplication. His grace will bring them back to himself, and they will cry out for mercy and salvation. Their mourning will be like the “weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo,” which is where King Josiah died in battle, a national calamity. There will national mourning led by “David” and his son “Nathan” and by “Levi” and “Shimei” (Shimei was the grandson of Levi); therefore both the political and religious leadership are represented. From the top down to the bottom, with all the elites represented, there will be mourning.
Why will there be mourning? It looks like there’s a national deliverance from her enemies in vss. 1-9. That would lead to a celebration, right? You’d think. But this is mourning like what James is talking about: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” It’s mourning for one’s sins.
Specifically this is mourning as Israel realizes that all this time, she’s been rejecting her Messiah, and she’s been wasting her time for all these thousands of years. She’s offended her Lord, the One who’s been taking care of her and provided for her and held out his hand to a stubborn and rebellious people for so long.
This is a great picture of us, especially those of us who’ve received Jesus as Savior later in life. We certainly rejoice because of his incredible deliverance. We celebrate his salvation and all that entails. But there’s an element of mourning as well. So many years wasted in sin and rebellion, kicking against the goads.
But there’s good news on top of good news here. The type of God with whom we’re dealing—He not only forgives the sin, he “pays you back” for “what the locusts have eaten.” Yes, we start out by mourning our sin, but the last word for us is not “mourning,” but “dancing.” He can’t bear to see his children mourn for long before he turns their “wailing into dancing,” and “[removes our] sackcloth and [clothes us] with joy.” What good Father enjoys seeing his children cry?

Father God, even though you claimed me pretty early on, I regret every moment I haven’t spent serving you. I thank you that you do “pay me back” for the years that the “locusts have eaten.” Certainly I can join with the Psalmist that you’ve turned my mourning into dancing, that you’ve removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Wow. 

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