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. (Zechariah 12:10)
My blog is titled “Ernie’s Musings” because I write about things that cross my mind – when I can remember them. So it was this last week as I was in the shower in an effort to wake up and start the day. These days I think a lot about the Lord’s return with great anticipation as well as some dread for loved ones that are not prepared for the event. As I thought about that great event, I recalled the Scripture passage above and imagined the scene described in Revelation 19:11-16:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
God long ago selected Israel among all the other nations for a particular purpose:
For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8, emphasis mine)
God chose Israel for the purpose of bringing Messiah into the world and identifying Him with an undeniable lineage so that He wouldn’t be missed (see Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38). God also promised the land of Israel to Abraham as an eternal possession (see Genesis 13:14-15). “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9, emphasis mine).
The history of Israel, from the time of the Exodus to the Babylonian captivity and beyond has been one of rebellion against God. Even now the majority of Israelis practice Judaism more out of tradition than out of a sincere devotion to God. Indeed, Israel is primarily a secular nation. Salvation for Israel has never been a “done deal.” God’s salvation is for individuals, not nations. John the Baptist made this point when a group of Pharisees and Sadducees came to him to be baptized: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). Salvation is not a national right for Israel. Israel exists as a sign to the world and to give testimony of God’s faithfulness. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) God, because of His mercy and faithfulness, will give Israel one final chance to repent, and when they see the Lord returning in the clouds, “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” (Zechariah 12:10), but each individually, not as a nation.
As I mused on this, I recalled John’s account of Thomas, the apostle, following the resurrection of Christ. Jesus was crucified during Passover and placed in a tomb where He laid for three nights and three days (John 19:38-42). Then early on the first day of the week (Sunday), He reclaimed His life and rose from the grave (John 20:1). There He was seen by Mary Magdalene who clung to Him when she saw Him. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). Apparently, His absence was brief. Mary Magdalene gave Jesus’ message to the disciples who were holed up in the upper room “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). It was the same day in the evening (prior to 6 PM), when “came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (v. 19). Thomas was not in the group. When the others gave Thomas the news, “he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). The following Sunday, Jesus once again appeared to His disciples, and this time Thomas was with the group.
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:27-29, emphasis mine)
I see a parallel here between this account of Jesus’ resurrection and His return at the last days. The day of Jesus’ resurrection is the presentation of the Gospel which the Apostles received upon seeing Him. Thomas was not there to witness the risen Christ, but the message was presented to him, and he rejected it. The period between the Sunday of Christ’s resurrection and the following Sunday can be compared to the “Church Age” where the Gospel – the good news – is proclaimed but the only evidence is the testimony of the messengers. Those who believe must do so by faith and the credibility of the message. The following week, Christ returns and this time Thomas sees Him in the flesh. This can be compared to the end of this age when the Lord returns to set up His millennial kingdom (Revelation 20). At that time many of the Jews who rejected Him by faith shall look upon Him “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” (Zechariah 12:10). And Jesus will say, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emphasis mine). Jesus will return very soon. Don’t wait to see Him in order to believe. It may be too late then.