Zechariah 12 Verses 10-12
Zechariah 12, verses 10-12, is key to understanding Revelation 1:7, particularly “every eye shall see him. Misunderstanding occurs in studying the Book of Revelation when it’s Old Testament background is ignored.
In other studies we have shown the connection of Revelation 1:7 with Daniel 7:13. This study addresses the other text cited by Christ in Matthew 24:30.
In Zechariah we have the following:
“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.
In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like 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. Zechariah 12 verses 10-12 provides an interpretive key to unlock the apocalyptic meaning of Revelation 1:7.
Mourning for an Only Son
The language of mourning over the death of an only son, connects the text in Revelation 1:7, particularly, in the phrases, then all of the tribes shall mourn, with Zechariah 12.
The nature of this mourning is not in the tragic but normal grief experienced in the loss of a loved one. Rather, this is pointing to loss on a national scale. It recalls the account of Pharaoh’s Egypt.
On the night of the Passover, the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. (Exodus 12:29)
The net result of this calamitous destruction affected the entire land of Egypt from the throne to the dungeon and even the livestock.
So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.(Exodus 12;30)
The mourning is universal in that it covers the entire land of Egypt, but it is also localized in that it does not affect other nations, except in the influence of Israel’s fame and terror. From this event, we must draw a parallel in the text before us cited by Christ in Matthew 24:30, and John in Revelation 1:7. It is also interesting that a correlation with Egypt, alluded ot in Zechariah 12, is made concerning Jerusalem in Revelation 11:8
Mourning in the Land of Judah
The second example of mourning focuses on the city of Jerusalem in the eschatological day of the Lord. Thus we read:
In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…
The particularly nature of this mourning is like that at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. This was the place where King Josiah of Judah, was killed by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. (2 Chronicles 35:24) Upon the death of Josiah it is said that, And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
So again we observe that the focus of the text is mourning in Judah and Jerusalem over their traggic death and loss. The women turned the mourning over Josiah’s death into a custom in Israel recording it in the book of Lamentations.
In this event and in the death of the firstborn of Egypt, Jerusalem would suffer a similar but greater mourning in their last days.
Mourning in the families of Judah
Zechariah 12 continues this theme of mourning but narrows it down very specifically to the southern kingdom of Judah. This is all that remained of Israel after the 10 northern tribes were “cut off” from the nation during the reign of Jeroboam (2 Kings 17).
Now the emphasis focuses on the “land.” By the way, this is the same term (Gk. ge) used in Revelation 1:7, sometimes translated earth. Particularly, it means the land of Palestine. That was holy ground to the Jews whereas all other lands were common.
The land by metonomy is put for the people as expressed in the text. Some have said the mourning and grief was so great that each family separated themselves.
What is significant here is that the families mentioned all belong to the southern kingdom of Judah. David, Nathan are all Judahites. Part of the tribe of Levi was incorporated in Judah while the other half followed the northern kingdom. Shemei is of the Levites and hence likewise belongs to the Southern kingdom of Judah. The word “families” in Zechariah 12 verses 12-14, is properly tribes from the Greek, phulas. That Jesus, in the Olivet discourse is focused on these tribes of the southern kingdom cannot be denied. Jerusalem, the center of their government and worship and its destruction is the cause of their grief.
Therefore, when Jesus, (Matthew 24:30, and John (Revelation 1:7) cite the tribes of the land will mourn, they speak particularly of the Judean invasion by the Romans in A.D. 70.
This is both the Old Testament Covenantal background for the phrase “every eye shall see him.” Such statement is properly interpreted in the context of Israel’s first century history. It cannot therefore be a 21st century universal event.
See additional evidence for the fulfillment of Zechariah 12 verses 10-12.