MESSIAH’S REIGN Zechariah 10–14
“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” (Zech. 12:10).There is no passage in the Old Testament that explores more thoroughly the relationship of the Messiah to God’s plan for His Old Testament people. Nestled here we find vivid pictures of Christ in both His first and second comings.
The Old Testament gives many dramatic visions of events to take place at history’s end. The focus of these visions is invariably on this earth, and on the Holy Land. These passages universally portray a special role for the people of Israel, and repeat God’s consistent commitment to restore Israel to a place of blessing. Students of prophecy who treat these passages in a literal way seek to put the different passages together, to gain as accurate a picture of God’s end-time plan as possible. Other Christians tend to treat such passages in an allegorical or spiritual way, and thus study them for personal application today. Both schools see the prophets’ messages as affirmations of God’s sovereign control of history, of His total commitment to His people, and of the ultimate triumph of righteousness. When coming to an extended passage like this one, we might take either approach. Or we might take a third. One of the most exciting aspects of these Zechariah chapters is that they focus on the person and role of the Messiah. Here we have intimations of what Jesus would do in His first coming, and of what He will do at His return. So for devotional reading of these chapters, it may be most meaningful to look at specific messianic images—and see what these images have to say to us about who our Saviour is, and what He will do. For a more traditional treatment of the picture of the future provided in Zechariah 10–14, see Victor Book’s Bible Knowledge Commentary or Teacher’s Commentary.
Zechariah portrayed God’s future care of Judah (10:1–12), despite rejection of their Shepherd-King (11:1–17). When Jerusalem is besieged and then saved (12:1–9), Israel will first recognize and then mourn for “the One they have pierced” (vv. 10–14). Judah will be cleansed from sin by the stricken Shepherd (13:1–9), who will return to reign forever (14:1–21).
Understanding the Text
“From Judah will come the cornerstone” Zech. 10:4. The Jewish Targum viewed the Person identified in this verse as the Messiah, who was destined to come from Judah (cf. Gen. 49:10; Jer. 30:21). Here Messiah is pictured as the cornerstone, or foundation of the future. He is also the “tent peg,” the chief support of the future state, and the “battle bow,” or its war leader. In essence Zechariah said that the future for Israel hinges on this one Person. How true this is for us. He is the foundation, the chief support, the only hope we have as well. “I will not be your Shepherd” Zech. 11:4–14. In the Old and New Testaments the “Good Shepherd” stands for a godly ruler. Christ specifically took this title for Himself (cf. John 10). Here Zechariah portrayed not only rejection of the Messiah, but His betrayal for the sum of 30 pieces of silver. The first overwhelming impression is simply this: Rejection of the Messiah brings diaster. The “dying die, and the perishing perish” (v. 9). It’s the same today. Our destiny depends on whether we accept or reject Christ, the Good Shepherd whom God has chosen to care for His flock. The 30 pieces of silver mentioned here are prophetic. This was the price that Judas received for betraying Jesus the night before He was crucified. In ancient Israel, 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave (cf. Ex. 21:32). In later times it was used much like our “two cents.” Why do people reject Christ today? Essentially because they see Him as insignificant to them personally. They feel no need for personal salvation or for deliverance, and thus set no value on the Saviour’s cross (see DEVOTIONAL). Reference to the potter’s field is also prophetic. After Christ was taken, Judas found no pleasure in the money and tried to return it. The priests refused to take it, and so Judas threw the coins on the floor. Since it was the “price of blood,” the priests were unwilling to put it back in the temple treasury, and used it to buy a plot of land from a potter to be used for the burial of indigents, thus literally fulfilling the prediction of Zechariah. How strange that the priests tried to distance themselves from the money—when they themselves paid the money in the first place. There is no way that we can ever separate ourselves from responsibility for our response to Jesus—no matter how hard we may try. “They will look on Me, the One they have pierced” Zech. 12:10. This is an obvious reference to Christ, pierced by the nails on Calvary’s cross. The Hebrew preposition is perhaps better taken as “look to” rather than “look on.” The thought here is that at Christ’s second coming, after God has “set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem” (v. 9), Israel will look to Jesus in faith (as Num. 21:9; Isa. 45:22). “Strike the Shepherd” Zech. 13:7. This is another passage that the New Testament applies to Jesus (cf. Matt. 26:31–32). The Hebrew term “strike” clearly indicated the death of the Shepherd. The Babylonian Talmud, an ancient Jewish commentary, deals with the divergent images of the Messiah in His suffering and triumph by suggesting there are to be two Messiahs: a suffering Messiah, and a triumphant Messiah. Not until Christ’s resurrection was it clear how one Person could die for the sins of the people, and later appear in power to rescue them. “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” Zech. 14:1–21. After the Shepherd is stricken, he returns as “the Lord” to fight against Israel’s enemies and stand physically on the earth. Again only New Testament events enable us to understand how this is possible. The Messiah is both man and God, both stricken and triumphant. When He returns He will stand on the mountains of Israel, and by His presence change their topography—and at the same time transform the whole land, until it at last is holy to the Lord.
The Cost of Salvation(Zech. 11)
The 30 pieces of silver that Judas accepted to betray Jesus reflected the value placed on His life by that disciple. That price, predicted here in Zechariah, was the amount paid for a slave in Moses’ day (cf. Ex. 21:32). In the first century, though it represented some 30 days of labor for a hired man, 30 pieces of silver was viewed by the well-to-do as an insignificant sum. The price tells us that, in the eyes of Christ’s enemies, His life and death were totally unimportant. What a contrast with the value implied in a story Jesus once told. Jesus told of a servant who owed his king “ten thousand talents.” Translated, the sum represents millions of dollars. No person, by working, could earn such a sum in a thousand lifetimes. And yet, in the story, Jesus portrayed the king—who stands for God—forgiving the debt completely. What’s significant, of course, is that God forgives sinners solely on the basis of the death of His Son. The value that God places on Jesus’ life and death is vastly greater than 30 pieces of silver. It is more than any human being could hope to earn, and yet it was not too great a price to pay for our salvation. How important is Jesus to you and me? That depends on how aware we are of our sins. And of the greatness of the forgiveness that Jesus won for us at the cost of His own life. When we understand this, nothing else in the universe has any value at all compared to Him.
Value nothing more than Jesus. Make Him your all in all.