The book of Zechariah contains some of the most vivid and complex prophecies in all of Scripture. Zechariah ministered to those who had returned from exile in Babylon and were struggling to rebuild the temple and resettle the land. His prophecies both encouraged the people in his day and pointed ahead to future events surrounding the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom.
Chapter 12 marks a transition in the book from oracles concerning past history and the immediate future to revelations about the end times. This chapter gives a breathtaking overview of God’s plans for the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem in the final conflict before the establishment of His millennial kingdom.
Key Takeaways from Zechariah Chapter 12
- God promises to make Jerusalem an immovable rock and a cup of trembling for the nations that come against her
- He will strike any who attack Jerusalem with confusion, madness, and blindness
- The leaders of Judah will be strengthened like a firepot and torch among sheaves
- God will destroy the armies of all nations gathered against Jerusalem
- He will pour out His Spirit on the inhabitants of Jerusalem so they see Christ as the One they pierced
- Great mourning will accompany national repentance when the Jews look upon the crucified Messiah
- Idolatry will be cleansed from the land following this outpouring of the Spirit
Commentary on Zechariah Chapter 12
Jerusalem as an Immovable Rock and Cup of Trembling (12:1-3)
The chapter opens with a declaration from God that He is the one who created and controls all things, including forming the human spirit within each person. As Creator, He has the power to carry out His plans and purposes, including both judgment and salvation. This reminder of God’s sovereignty provides context for the revelations to follow about His intentions toward Israel, Jerusalem, and the nations.
Zechariah 12:1-3 (NKJV)
The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”
God declares that He will make Jerusalem a “cup of drunkenness” and a “very heavy stone” for the surrounding nations that come to attack her. The cup of drunkenness metaphor implies that attacking Jerusalem will have a confusing, maddening effect on Israel’s enemies, like drinking too much alcohol. Attempting to heave away or remove the immovable stone of Jerusalem will only result in these nations being shattered in the effort.
Though “all nations of the earth” gather together in the final battle against the city of God, they will be destroyed when they collide with the immovable rock of divine protection and favor upon Jerusalem. God makes Israel’s capital immune to any human force that attempts to interfere with His plans for her.
Judah Strengthened and Enemies Struck with Blindness (12:4-9)
After promising to make Jerusalem an immovable obstacle to invading armies, the Lord next assures Judah that He will strengthen them to withstand attack.
Zechariah 12:4-5 (NKJV)
In that day,” says the Lord, “I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God.’
The mounted soldiers of Judah’s enemies will be struck with confusion and madness. In contrast, God’s eyes are open to strengthen and protect His people. The military strength of Judah will come from trusting God rather than mere human resources.
Not only will the Lord disable the cavalry of these invaders but even their leaders will be struck with confusion and blindness:
Zechariah 12:6-9 (NKJV)
In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem.
“The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them.
“It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
The governors of Judah will be strengthened and enabled to destroy the armies on every side. Once again, Jerusalem will be safely inhabited under divine protection. Any nation that attempts to come against Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Lord’s supernatural intervention.
Mourning and Repentance in Jerusalem (12:10-14)
Beginning in verse 10, the focus shifts from God’s destruction of the nations to His restoration of Israel. In the aftermath of this conflict, He promises to pour out His Spirit on the people of Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:10 (NKJV)
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
The poured-out Spirit will lead to grace, supplication, and repentance. God’s people will grieve and weep bitterly when they see the One they pierced through crucifixion – the Messiah, Jesus Christ. National repentance follows this spiritual awakening to their rejection of Christ at His first coming.
Physical deliverance leads to spiritual revival as the nation turns to acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord:
Zechariah 12:11-14 (NKJV)
In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
The scope of this mourning and repentance will encompass all families and social classes throughout the land. Just as God pours His Spirit on all flesh, so will all the nation participate in grieving over their sin and turning back to the Lord.
Cleansing from Sin and Idolatry (12:13-14)
As a result of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Christ’s return, the land will be cleansed from idolatry and false religion:
Zechariah 12:13-14 (NKJV)
“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
“It shall be in that day,” says the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.”
Just as Jesus provided the fountain of living water to the Samaritan woman at the well, here He opens a fountain to cleanse Israel from sin. All idolatry and false prophecy will be washed from the land at the national restoration of God’s chosen people.
Zechariah’s prophecy reveals the climactic struggle over control of Jerusalem that will occur in the end times. Though all nations gather against her, God makes the city an immovable rock. He strengthens His people to defeat the invading armies and pours out His Spirit on the inhabitants to bring cleansing, repentance, and revival. This chapter highlights God’s unshakable purpose to redeem Israel and establish His millennial kingdom from Jerusalem. As we study these profound revelations, may we trust the Word of the Lord that will surely come to pass. God keeps all His promises, and we can stand confidently on His declarations regarding the future destiny of His chosen nation Israel.