Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah, and more specifically, begins with the first verse of the twelfth chapter and continues through to the ninth verse of the thirteenth chapter. When this passage opens it opens with something that is quite familiar and not at all uncommon within the prophetic literature found within the Old Testament. As the twelfth chapter of the prophetic book of Zechariah begins, it does with the prophet describing “the burden of the word of the Lord for Israel”—a statement that is actually quite powerful when you take the time to consider it. With these few words the prophet emphatically speaks of the word of the Lord, the implications of the word of the Lord, and the audience of the word of the Lord. Within the first verse alone we encounter the presence of the word of the Lord, we encounter the concept that the word of the Lord carried with it a tremendous burden, as well as the audience of the word of the Lord, which was Israel. The word of the Lord which was revealed unto Zechariah was for a specific and targeted audience—namely, the nation of Israel, which had since been restored from their captivity and exile in the land of the Chaldeans. When the prophet begins speaking to his audience, and when he recorded those words in what would become the sacred Scripture, the prophet received and experienced the direct manifestation of the word of the Lord once more—a reality that would carry with it tremendous implications for the prophet, for attached and associated with the word of the Lord was a burden that would come along with it. CAN YOU HANDLE THE BURDEN OF THE WORD OF THE LORD? The more I read and consider this singular verse, the more I can’t help but be directly confronted with the incredible reality of the implications and ramifications the word of the Lord has within a person’s life, and upon an individual’s heart and soul. Essentially what I am speaking of, is that there are those who may desire the direct manifestation of the word of the Lord within their hearts and lives, yet they are unaware of the implications that are directly connected to it. I am reminded of the words which an earlier Hebrew prophet wrote and spoke when the word of the Lord manifested itself within his own life. The ancient Hebrew prophet I speak of is Jeremiah, and I am speaking of an encounter the prophet had—not only with the word of the Lord within his life, but also with the Lord of hosts Himself. Consider if you will what the prophet records which for us is found beginning with the seventh verse of the twentieth chapter: “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His anme. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him. But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous and seest the reigns and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause” (Jeremiah 20:7-12). This particular encounter Jeremiah had with the word of the Lord, as well as with the Lord of the word is found in a similar manner earlier on in the prophetic book in the sixth chapter, specifically beginning with the tenth verse. “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, sying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken” (Jeremiah 6:10-17).
I included in an earlier paragraph the question “Can you handle the burden of the word of the Lord,” and while that question is utterly and completely important, I would also add to that question a second question: “Can you handle the weight of the word of the Lord?” I am convinced there are a number of men and women who may actively desire the manifestation of the word of the Lord within their hearts and lives, yet they are neither prepared, nor equipped to handle the weight and burden that is associated with the release of the word of the Lord. One thing we must recognize and understand when considering the manifestation of the word of the Lord is that there are times when the word of the Lord carries with it such a tremendous weight upon our souls that we would actually seek to release and relieve ourselves from it if we could. I would dare say there are those among us who perhaps earnestly and eagerly desired the manifestation of the word of the Lord within their hearts and lives, yet they weren’t at all prepared for the incredible weight and burden that is connected and associated with it. I would also add that not everyone among us can truly handle the manifestation of the word of the Lord within their hearts and lives, for the release of the word of the Lord within their lives thrusts them into a place they weren’t ready for. Eventually they find themselves dealing with the ramifications and implications of the word of the Lord, for the word carries with it tremendous and intense realities for those to whom it is directed. What’s more, is that I am convinced that there are times when the manifestation of the word of the Lord may very well thrust us into a place of solitude and seclusion, as we are forced to deal with what the word of the Lord means—not only for us personally, but also for those for whom it is directed. There are times when the release and manifestation of the word of the Lord has direct implications for us within our lives, while there are other times when the word of the Lord has direct implications for those around us. The word of the Lord for Jeremiah was a burden he was weary of carrying and bearing, for he saw nothing but judgment, devastation, destruction, sorrow, anguish, affliction, and the like. What’s more, is for Jeremiah, the word of the Lord was a burden, for he saw the advancing and invasion of the enemy and adversary, and knew that there was absolutely nothing he could do to avert it. The word of the Lord for him was a burden, for the only thing he was able to do was warn and proclaim words of caution to those whom he was called to speak unto. Consider the fact that Jeremiah began prophesying during the days and reign of Josiah—Josiah who was the last and final righteous king to sit upon and reign from the throne of David—as well as during the days and reigns of his sons. Jeremiah would prophesy the word of the Lord during days of national reformation and cleansing, but he also prophesied the word of the Lord days of national apostasy, rebellion, idolatry and immorality before the Lord.
The question I am finding myself asking is whether or not I am capable of handling, and perhaps even bearing the word of the Lord. There are times when the word of the Lord is manifested within our hearts and lives, and yet it comes with such tremendous weight and force that it actually thrusts us into a place of intense sorrow and anguish, for the weight and magnitude is just too much to handle. There are times when the word of the Lord is directly manifested within our hearts and lives, and it carries with it such a tremendous amount of caution and warning as the Lord is speaking to us about what lies ahead—whether it be for an individual, a city, a nation, or an entire group of people. Within the twelfth chapter of the prophetic book of Zechariah we find the prophet speaking of the burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, and we then find the prophet beginning to speak to Israel concerning Jerusalem. This is actually quite astounding when you take the time to consider it, for the Lord had faithfully watched over and preserved Jerusalem throughout the seventy years the Jewish people lived as captives and exiles within the land of the Chaldeans. The burden of the word of the Lord which Zechariah saw concerned the city of Jerusalem, and what Jerusalem would mean for the nations of the earth. It’s actually quite astounding when you read this passage of Scripture, for the prophet saw the city of Jerusalem as becoming a tremendous source of conflict and strife within the earth—a reality which has been seen throughout history, and continues to be seen even in this generation. In fact, if you study the Old Testament specifically, you will discover just how much strife, contention, and tension surrounded the city of Jerusalem—especially from kings and rulers of foreign nations, kingdoms and empires. From the moment of its conquering during the days and reign of David king of Israel all the way through its capture and devastation by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the city of Jerusalem has indeed and has in fact become a tremendous source of contention, desire, ambition, strife and tension within the earth. Jerusalem—this ancient city that was once inhabited by the Jebusites whom the children of Israel did not and could not immediately drive out from within the land—was for the children of Israel a tremendous sense of pride and joy, yet for the nations and peoples round about it a stumbling block they could not get over.
Perhaps one of the greatest instances of Jerusalem being a stumbling block of desire and covetousness is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, and specifically the thirty-sixth chapter. It is within this chapter we encounter Sennacherib king of Assyria invading the southern kingdom of Judah, and not only invading the southern kingdom of Judah, but also coming up the defenced cities of Judah, and taking them for himself. Upon the successful capturing of the defenced cities of Judah, Sennecharib immediately set his sights and his intentions on the city of Jerusalem. In fact, the prophet Isaiah speaks of one whom Sennacherib sent unto the city of Jerusalem, and to Hezekiah and all those present within the city. “Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field. Then came forth unto him Eliakim, HIlkiah’s son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and JOah, Asaph’s son, the recorder. And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustiest? I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thourebellest against me? Lo, thou trustiest in the staff of this broken reed, ON Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him…And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it…Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me” (Isaiah 36:1-16).
If you journey back to the Old Testament book of Second Kings, you will find Jerusalem transitioning from being a stumbling block to Sennacherib king of Assyria and the Assyrians, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians. Beginning with the tenth verse in the twenty-fourth chapter we find these words written by the author of the book of Second Kings: “At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon cam against the city, and his servants did besiege it. And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah” (2 Kings 24:10-18).
When you come to the twenty-fifth chapter of the same Old Testament book you will again find Nebuchadnezzar coming unto Jerusalem in order to bring devastation and destruction upon it, and to take captive men and women from within the city. “And it came to pass in the night year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about) and the king went the way toward the plain” (2 Kings 25:1-4). When you come to the eighth verse of the same chapter you will find a third engagement against the city of Jerusalem as Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard and servant of the king of Babylon came against the city: “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: and he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away. But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen…And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the kign’s presence, which were found in the city, and the principle scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land that were found in the city: and Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah: and the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land” (2 Kings 25:8-21).
If you continue to study the history of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people, you will discover that Assyria and Babylon weren’t the only empires to march against the city of Jerusalem. In the year 70 A.D., the Roman Empire marched against the city of Jerusalem, and even destroyed the Temple with fire, and caused the people of God to be scattered throughout the nations of the earth. At one point Jesus even spoke of and prophesied concerning the destruction of Jerusalem—especially when He referenced not one stone remaining upon another. Thirty-seven years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ the Roman army invaded the land of Judaea and would ultimately burn the house of the Lord to the ground. From the year 70 A.D. until the year 1948 the Jewish people would be scattered among the nations of the earth. It was in the year 1948 A.D. the state and nation of Israel would once more be present within the earth, and the Jews were finally permitted to return to their own land. Nineteen years later the Jewish people would engage in the Six Day War and would regain control of the city of Jerusalem, thus uniting west Jerusalem with east Jerusalem, and making it the capital city of the nation. In fact, next year marks exactly fifty years since Jerusalem was captured and taken control of by the Jewish people, while this year marked seventy years since the state of Israel was reborn, and the Jews were permitted to return to their own land. What we must recognize about all of this, however, is that ever since the state of Israel was reborn, and ever since the Jews began returning to their own land, they have faced constant threats and attacks from the nations and enemies round about them. For more than seventy years the Jewish people, and the state of Israel have faced continual threats from their enemies and adversaries round about, for Jerusalem and Israel itself is surrounded by enemies on all sides. Bordered on the south of Israel is not only Gaza, but also Egypt, while bordered on the east is Jordan and Syria. Also east of Israel and east of Jerusalem is Iraq, as well as Iran—Iran who had continually breathed our murderous threats toward and against the Jewish state. Bordered to the north is Lebanon—and while it has yet to be seen, there are those who believe that Turkey and/or Russia could rise up as an unexpected adversary, enemy and foe. One thing that is absolutely certain is that for nearly fifty years we have watched as the city of Jerusalem has fulfilled the very words which the prophet Zechariah spoke about concerning it. For nearly fifty years the city of Jerusalem has faced continual threats from enemies and adversaries round about Israel as nations, rulers, kings, princes, and the like have sought to divide the land of Israel, and even seize control of the capital city itself.
Consider very carefully the words which Zechariah spoke concerning the city of Jerusalem within this particular passage of Scripture: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I 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. In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an 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. The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the 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, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. IN that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart” (Zechariah 12:2-14).
What’s actually quite interesting when you read this particular passage of Scripture is not only what you read concerning the city of Jerusalem, but also what you read concerning the Messiah. There are within this passage of Scripture specific references to the Messiah who was to come unto the Jewish people, and not only regarding His first coming and appearance, but also the second coming of the Messiah. In the tenth verse of this chapter we find the prophet Zechariah speaking of pouring out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplications, and immediately following that we read “and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son” (Zechariah 12:10). Consider this in light of what is recorded and found in the first chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—“Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). This particular reality was directly fulfilled upon the Messiah’s first coming, for the apostle John writes of an event that took place while Jesus hung upon the cross of Calvary: “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that HE was dead already, they brake not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And He saw that it bare recorded, and his record is true: and he knowth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken. And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (John 19:34-37). In the thirteenth chapter of the same prophetic book we find another reference that is directly connected to the words which David wrote and are recorded for us in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. In the sixth verse of the thirteenth chapter we read: “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6). This particular reference is directly connected to what David wrote in the twenty-second chapter of the book of the Psalms: “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly o f the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16).
THE WOUNDING OF THE MESSIAH AND THE DEFENDING OF JERUSALEM! The more I read these two chapters, the more I am gripped by the fact that within them we not only witness enemies and adversaries surrounding the city of Jerusalem to overtake it, but we also find the Lord rising to defend the ancient and sacred city. Within this passage of Scripture we find nations, kingdoms, peoples, kings, rulers, and the like coming against Jerusalem, yet the Lord will rise up and defend the city. I can recall three specific instances when the Lord of hosts did in fact rise up to defend the ancient city of Jerusalem—the first of which is when the angel of the Lord slaughtered one-hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians in a single night. The second instance is when Gog of Magog came against the beautiful land with his entire horde, and the Lord of heaven and hearth destroyed all but a sixth of his horde—an event that will occur in the latter days. The third and final instance is in the final book of Scripture—the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—when Satan, along with Gog and Magog, and all the nations of the earth with attempt to come against the saints and the Messiah within the city of Jerusalem, and the Lord will rain down fire from heaven upon all of Satan’s forces, and will capture Satan himself and cast him alive into the lake burning with fire and brimstone. There is within this passage of Scripture a powerful prophetic warning to any who would seek to rise up against the city of Jerusalem, as well as those who would seek to rise up against the Messiah. How absolutely powerful it is that all men will look upon those whom they have pierced, yet instead of looking upon Him as dead and crucified Savior, but as the eternal and powerful King of Kings and Lord of Lords.