|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 36||Part 1|
Zechariah 12:10, "And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications, and they shall look up to me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as in the mourning for an only son, and be in bitterness for him, as is the bitterness for the first born."
The Christians site this verse as a testimony of the regret which Israel will feel at a future time for having pierced and slain Jesus, who combined human and Divine nature; therefore the Israelites will mourn for him, as one mourns for an only son.
Refutation.—On an unprejudiced perusal of the whole prophecy, of which the above forms part, our Christian brethren would have perceived that the contents are solely referable to the confusion of empires during the latter days, or, as we are accustomed to call that era, the appearance and fall of Gog and Magog. We will elucidate this by taking an attentive view of the entire chapter. It commences with the warning, [Zechariah 12:2] "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about." "The cup of trembling" means the confusion and terror which will seize all nations at that period, "and also Judah who shall be engaged in the siege against Jerusalem." For the foreign nations invading the Holy Land, in order to conquer its capital, will coerce and compel the children of Judah to assistant and the siege of Jerusalem. In that time, says Zechariah 12:3, "I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." The ill fate formally attending the warfare of the Jews now befall the Gentiles; for the prophet continues, [Zechariah 12:4] "In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with terror, and his rider with madness, and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and I will smite every horse of the nations with blindness." This supernatural intervention of the Almighty will bring the Jewish leaders to reason, on seeing the extraordinary power displayed on behalf of Jerusalem. [Zechariah 12:5] "And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are too strong for me, through the Lord their God." The leaders of Judah will then no longer side with the devourers of their people, but will pour out their wrath on the enemies of the Jews, for the Almighty has declared, ibid. verse 6, "In that day will I make the governors of Judah like a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left, and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem." For during the troubles of our captivity, the ancient city of the Lord has become like an exile from her own soil; in the future, however, she will be restored to herself again, in her pristine glory. The Lord will then show mercy even to those, who, in their forgetfulness of duty and national affection, have risen against the metropolis of that people and their faith; and he will spare the Jews who first assisted in the siege, as he will spare the inhabitants of Jerusalem who suffered from the siege. The prophet therefore says, [Zechariah 12:7] "The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not magnify themselves against Judah." The success attending the cause of the Jews will be granted in such a manner as not to disturb the unanimity and brotherly feeling so indispensably requisite for the restoration of our people. The Jews will, at that time, be invested with new vigor: [Zechariah 12:8] "And he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David;" that is to say, the weakest among the Jews shall be distinguished as a hero, and be equal in courage to David. "And the house of David shall be godly as a messenger of the Lord before them." The Messiah himself will act as a messenger of the Lord, and in his own person will lead his subjects to battle against the hostile nations. Now the prophet proceeds by saying, Ibid. chapter 12:9-10, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced," etc.
The prophet having, in this manner, alluded to the great superiority of the Jews in the latter days, says now, that they will look to him in humility and contrition, on account of those who have been pierced and killed in war. The Jews will be so assured of the divine assistance in their restoration, that they will feel afflicted on account of those who shall become the first victims of their warfare with the Gentiles. Thus Joshua and the Israelites were afflicted with first beaten by the inhabitants of Ai. That leader of the Israelites then exclaimed, (Joshua 7:7), "Wherefore hast thou caused this people to pass over the Jordan," etc. And again (verse 8), "O Lord, what shall I say, after Israel have turned their backs before their enemies?" In the same manner, the people shall, in the days of the Messiah, look up in contrition to God, and import pardon on account of their having pierced (i.e. destroyed) the innocent. The term אֵת אֲשֶׁר is equal to the term בַּעֲבוּר on account of, or because, and does not mean "whom," as it has been generally rendered. In Ezekiel 36:27, we have אֵת אֲשֶׁר in the same sense, "And I shall do it on account of your walking (or because ye shall walk) in my statutes." The interest in the life of a fellow-man will be deeply felt during the latter 30 days that the Jews shall mourn for any man slain in the battle, as one is who mourns for the loss of an only son, and they shall be in bitter grief for him, as if it were for a first-born child. The comparison, with the loss of a first-born son, gives, in a few words, a picture of the intensity of grief. The subsequent comparison with the mourning of Hadadrimmon, we cannot further explain, there being no mention on record of the cause and circumstances of that mourning. The prophet then shows how each family in Israel will partake in the affliction caused by the report of the fallen in war; and as it is a well-known fact, that the mournful tidings vibrate more keenly in the hearts of feeling women, than in the hearts of interested men, the prophet draws a distinguishing line between the mourning of the two sexes; and, speaking of the high families of Israel, he says, "And the land shall mourn, each family separately, the family of the house of David separately, their wives separately," etc. The description given here of the belligerent parties, and of the result of their actions near and at Jerusalem, evidently relates to a time not yet recorded in the pages of history. The Christians have therefore no basis, on which to rest their religious theory of the death of Jesus. Were there only a shadow of truth in their pretension, that the grief predicted by the prophet was to emanate from the mode in which Jesus met with his end on the cross, the prophecy ought to be worded, "And they will mourn for me, and be in bitterness for me." The fallacy of the assertions of the Christians, with regard to this prophecy, is not only to be proved from this detached part, but is also to be considered from what we demonstrated in the preceding parts. See, for example, chapter 10, where we have treated on the inconsistency of considering Jesus as the Messiah, and of the absolute impossibility of acknowledging him as the Godhead.