All too often the prophets had to speak about coming judgements from God. These predictions were sure and certain. What a ‘burden’ this must have been for the prophet. Yet Zechariah’s prophecy has many parts, but who can say with any certainty how all these parts fit together? Part of chapter 11 dealt with events to be fulfilled at the first coming of Christ when “thirty pieces of silver” (verse 12) were thrown “to the potter” (verse 13); they were a clear prediction which was fulfilled when the temple priests “bought with them the potter’s field” (Matthew 27:5-8) after Judas, in remorse, threw down the money in the Temple. Chapter 12 starts, “The burden of the word of the LORD” but it is a ‘burden’ against the enemies of Israel! It seems to have a latter day application. We note the ‘burden’ of the prophet’s message is that God will “make Jerusalem a cup of staggering” firstly “to all the surrounding peoples” (verse 2).

It is the only place where ‘staggering’ (‘reeling’ or ‘trembling’ in other versions) occurs in the Hebrew scriptures. It fits rather well the frustrations and weakness of the nations around Israel during my lifetime. Verse 3 is thought-provoking. “On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples”. What peoples? The prophet continues, “All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it”. Does “all the nations of the earth” refer to a United Nations sponsored force? It could, as they are unable to ‘lift’ the problem of Jerusalem from their agenda.

Much of the world is “staggering” today with the pandemic. If this distraction continues is it possible that the Islamic nations, supported by such as Russia, will sponsor a UN force aiming to ‘gather’ armies against Jerusalem?

The word ‘Jew’ originates from Judahite, and God will act “for the sake of the house of Judah … then the clans of Judah shall say … ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts their God’” (verses 4,5). “And I”, says God, “will pour out … a spirit of grace … so that when they look on me, on him whom their pierced, they shall mourn” (verse 10). John 19:34 tells us that the final act against Christ was the piercing of his side. When the Jews eventually recognise their Messiah, what remorse will follow!

But the rest of Zechariah’s prophecy still has many challenges to our understanding – and we hope to comment further tomorrow. May it not be a ‘burden’ to us to read and meditate on God’s word every day, making sure our meditation includes a personal application.