John Murray wrote in his commentary on the book of Romans, “There awaits the Gentiles, in their distinctive identity as such, gospel blessing far surpassing anything experienced during the period of Israel’s apostasy, and this unprecedented enrichment will be occasioned by the conversion of Israel on a scale commensurate with that of their earlier disobedience.” (Quoted in The Puritan Hope, p. 58) The Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly in its exposition of the Lord’s Prayer makes this comment concerning the second petition of that prayer – Thy Kingdom Come – “We pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in…that Christ rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming.” (Quoted in The Puritan Hope, p. 44) Zechariah 12 and 13:1-6 seem to point to a time when Israel or the Jewish people will be converted as a whole people to Christ. In other words, they will become a Christian people. These two sections of Zechariah correspond to sections of Ezekiel which also seem to point toward a great revival among the Jewish people as a whole, an event that we have not as yet seen in history. For example, Ezekiel 39:21-22; 25, 28-29 says, “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God….Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name…Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
Paul also pointed to a revival among the Jews in Romans 11. He pointed out that their unbelief was not permanent, but that a time in the future would come when the Jewish people as a whole would believe on Christ. In Romans 11:25-26, he writes, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Paul seems to indicate that Israel’s unbelief at the time of his writing was not to be forever. There would come a time when the Jews as a whole people would embrace Christ. This goes along with what Ezekiel and Zechariah prophesied concerning Israel. One day a great revival would come to the Jews.
Both Ezekiel and Zechariah speak of Israel being invaded by another nation or nations and that the great revival among the Jews takes place in relation to that invasion. Of course, Jerusalem was invaded in 70 AD but there was no deliverance of the nation nor a great revival among the Jews at that time. So, what happened in 70 AD doesn’t seem to fit in with the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 or Zechariah 12. In both prophecies, the people of Israel are delivered from their enemies. Ezekiel 38:22-23 says, “I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulphur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” A group of nations will come up against Israel and they will not succeed for the Lord will deliver the Jewish nation. Zechariah seems to describe a very similar situation taking place where Israel is attacked by a group of nations but in the end is delivered by God. Zechariah 12:3, 8-9 describes this invasion and deliverance, “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves…..On that day, the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.” So, we have both Ezekiel and Zechariah describing a situation where Israel or the Jewish nation is attacked but is delivered by God Himself.
This deliverance by God of the Jewish nation is accompanied by a spiritual revival among the Jewish people. Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1 describe nothing less than a great revival among the Jewish nation – “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son…On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” Ezekiel 39:29 describes this same revival when it says, “I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
Zechariah describes the totality of this revival among the Jews. It will not be a partial revival but will effect the Jewish people as a whole, all the tribes. Verses 11-14 give this description, “On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.” This is no partial revival effecting only a remnant of the people but a total revival of all the Jewish people. This has to be something future since such a total revival among the Jews has never taken place. It is true that in the early church many Jews were converted and many came under conviction of sin and turned to Christ on the day of Pentecost but still they were only a remnant of the total nation.
David Brown in his exposition of Zechariah 12 and 13 describes this great revival among the Jews, “The first step in the wondrous process here described is the descent of the Spirit upon them nationally, and in his proper relation to Jesus, whom it is his office and delight to ‘glorify’ in the souls of men. And first he comes upon them as a ‘spirit of grace,’ to which they are ‘twice dead’ – devoid of it, as all are by nature, but over and above this judicially graceless, if we may so express it. This will bring them into a convinced, humbled, anxious state – a state of gracious broken-heartedness, prompting them to ‘confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, and that they have walked contrary to them, and hath brought them into the land of their enemies. Their uncircumcised hearts shall thus be humbled, and they shall accept the punishment of their iniquity.’ But along with this he shall come as a ‘spirit of supplications,’ leading them ‘out of the depths to cry unto God’ for mercy and light. In this frame, ‘their heart now turned to the Lord, the vail drops from their eyes’ (2 Corinthians 3 14-18), and an object of surpassing glory, yet to them of startling and heart-breaking aspect, stands confessed before their view. It is Jesus. ‘They look’ (by faith) on Him whom they had pierced – pierced as no others had ever pierced him; and discerning now in that bleeding Savior, under the overpowering teaching and grace of the Spirit, their own very Messiah, their hearts melt within them, their repentings are kindled together, and they mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and are in bitterness as for a first-born.” (p. 435-435 Christ’s Second Coming – Will It Be Premillennial?) Brown goes on to describe their mourning – “O what an unexampled mourning will that be! For its intensity - ‘as the mourning of Hadadrimmon;’ for its universality - ‘the land shall mourn;’ for its individuality – ‘all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.’ But the most glorious feature of it will be its evangelical character. It will be the pure fruit of a believing ‘look upon Him whom they have pierced.’ As when the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, he went out and wept bitterly; so that look on a bleeding Savior – pierced by their own hands – wounded thus in the house of his friends – will open the sluices of their heart’s deepest and purest emotions.” (p. 436)
What we have here in Zechariah 12 and 13 is a description of an attack upon Israel that is associated with the national conversion of Israel. The same could be said for Ezekiel 38 and 39. Both passages talk about an attack upon Israel and also about a national conversion or revival among the Jewish people.
In our next article, we will look a Zechariah 14 and what it seems to teach concerning the Jewish people and the furtherance of the gospel to all the nations.
Brown, David. Christ’s Second Coming – Will It Be Premillenial?. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983. (From the 1876 edition of Robert Carter and Brothers)
Murray, Iain. The Puritan Hope. The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971.
For further information on the conversion of the Jews, read more of Alex’s Blogs