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Looking On the One They Have Pierced

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 13 December 2023

Layers in prophecy

Prophecy in the Bible is like a stone thrown in a pond. The little waves caused by the stone draw ever-widening circles. Therefore,  prophecy in God’s Word can be read and will be meaningful in all times and in all places worldwide. The ripples of the impact of prophecy are immediately meaningful for the time and the situation in which it was proclaimed. A first fulfilment. But, continually more fulfilments will follow. Until ultimately the final fulfilment and the final ripples hit the shores of eternity. As an example, let’s take a look at the threefold fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10-14.

“Prophecy in God’s Word can be read and will be meaningful in all times and in all places worldwide”

The prophet Zechariah speaks about the seeing, the looking upon “…Me, the one they have pierced…”. He is speaking of the Jewish people looking at the “piercing”. In verse 10  he says that one day they will really see what happened there. By a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Zechariah prophecies: ““And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and supplication. They will look upon Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son…”, says Zechariah 12:10.

The death of Jesus
Who killed Jesus? The Church says that “the Jews” killed Jesus. Historically that is not correct. The very facts are that the Gentiles, the Romans, killed Jesus. Yes, the Jews convicted Him to the death penalty before their Sanhedrin. But the Jews weren’t in charge in their own country. The Romans were in charge. So, the Jews had no say in their own country Israel to execute any death penalty. If a Jewish court of Law sentenced the death penalty, they had to ask the Roman procurator – in this case Pontius Pilate – for permission to actually perform the execution. If he granted permission, the execution was carried out by Roman soldiers. So it was the case with Jesus. The Jews convicted Him to death and the non-Jews, the Romans, crucified Him. They executed the execution order granted and signed by Pontius Pilate. So ultimately he was responsible for the killing of Jesus.

Was Pontius Pilate put under great pressure by the Jews to do what they wanted? Certainly. Although Pilate was not the kind of man to be pressured by any one, and certainly not by Jews. Especially not after his own wife had warned him. On other occasions he wouldn’t hesitate to send his troops to the Jews to crush their riots and protests in a very bloody crackdown. Just to show them who is really in charge in Israel. According to Luke 13:1 Pontius Pilate mixed the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices! He wasn’t a man easily to be intimidated.

But in this case, he gave the crowd what they asked for. And doing so he took the responsibility for the execution of Jesus. One can solemnly wash one’s hands in innocence in water (Matthew 27:24), but all this washing of hands doesn’t remove the responsibility one has being the highest Public Authority. Therefore, in the Apostles’ Creed, one of the oldest Creeds of the early Church – besides the names of Jesus and Mary – only one other name is mentioned explicitly: Pontius Pilate’s name. It says: “…He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried…”. The early Church did know in those days who was responsible for Jesus’ death. So, historically it is not correct to say that the Jews killed Jesus. This is what the Romans did.

“Who is really responsible for Jesus’ death? We all are! Jews, Romans, the entire world population”

But who is really responsible for Jesus’ death? We all are! Jews, Romans, the entire world population. Mankind as a whole. As if we all personally took part in the execution of the death penalty. We all brought Jesus to the cross. “…But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed..,” says Isaiah 53:5. Our sins brought Him on the cross. If you and I weren’t sinners, then Jesus wouldn’t have to die. We are all personally responsible, as if we ourselves, applied the hammer, the nails and the spear. Your and my sins brought Him to the cross.

The Calvinist poet Jacobus Revius (1568-1658) expresses this beautifully in his poem: “He Bore Our Griefs”.

No, it was not the Jews who crucified,
Nor who, Lord Jesus, spat into your face,
Nor who betrayed you in the judgment place,
Nor who with buffets struck you as you died.

No, it was not the soldiers fisted bold
Who lifted up the hammer and the nail,
Or raised the cross on Calvary’s cursed hill,
Or cast the dice to win your seamless robe.

I am the one, O Lord, who brought you there,
I am the heavy cross you had to bear,
I am the rope that bound you to the tree,

The whip, the nail, the hammer, and the spear,
The bloody, thorny crown you had to wear:
It was my sin, O Lord, it was for me.

By Jacobus Revius (Translated by Henrietta ten Harmsel).

First layer
The first layer of fulfilment of this prophecy in the Book of Zechariah “…They will look on Me, the One they have pierced…”  can be found in John 19:31-37. There we find John together with some of the weeping women witnessing the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. A sensation-hungry small mob of Jews, incited by some of fanatical Jewish leaders, are shouting and mocking and enjoying the spectacle. No talk of mourning for Him, let alone repentance and conversion. Only a few women who loved Jesus shed their tears. And then John describes exactly what happened at the execution. All His other friends had fled out of fear what could be their fate being followers of Him. Maybe John Mark may have looked from a distance for some time, Mark 14:51-52, but was soon fleeing as well, naked to save his skin. John describes the piercing of Jesus by Roman soldiers.

“…Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow [trickle] of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe…” John 19:31-35. The Apostle John never describes himself as ‘I’ or ‘me’. He talks about himself in the third person.

Three times John underlines his being witness. And he concludes:  “These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of His bones will be broken,” [Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalm 34:21] and, as another Scripture says, “They will look upon the One they have pierced.”

“These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled”

This is the first fulfilment of this prophecy.

The Apostle John, who stood at the cross and saw how the Romans pierced Jesus’ hands and feet with nails and ultimately pierced His side with a spear, says: “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe…” “They will look upon the One they have pierced…”. The nails pierced His hands and feet. And the spear pierced His side and penetrated deep into the heart and lungs. To check if He was really dead. If He was merely unconscious, then this thrust deep into His body would have ended His life for sure. But He had already died. Only a bit of blood drippled from  the wound and some wound fluid mixed with a bit of blood. No gusts of blood by a pumping heart. The heart had already stopped. And the lungs didn’t function anymore. He died by a combination of heart failure and suffocation, doctors would say. So, who “pierced”? The Romans did. Who was looking? The Jews were.

On the cross Jesus even prayed for all those who were directly involved with the crucifixion. For the yelling Jewish mob present at the crucifixion. For the Roman soldiers who performed the execution. For the Sanhedrin who gave Him the death penalty for His blasphemy claiming to be equal to God. For Pontius Pilate and for king Herod who agreed and took the responsibility. For all those who were personally present or responsible for His execution. As if He knew that there was a danger that mankind somehow in the future would shove the blame for the death of Jesus  exclusively into the shoes of the Jews, as a Dutch expression says. And despite His prayer, that just happened. Antisemitism spread like wildfire and rivers of Jewish blood fled. Especially in the lands of Christendom. Yet at the cross He prays: “…“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…”, Luke 23:24. His blood cleanses us from all our sins. He is the Lamb of God to be slain for the sins of the world. And at this moment He takes upon Himself all the sins of this world. Your sins and mine. The sins of Jews and non-Jews. He as the ultimate sacrifice for sin provides reconciliation before God. In order that death will be conquered and everlasting life will be the fruit – even ultimately for Creation itself. And at this moment He utters this special prayer for this crime of the crucifixion as such. And it is beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the Father has answered this final prayer of His dying Son at the cross. He will forgive every prayer for forgiveness and He always will answer every plea for forgiveness.

By the way: Jesus says that no one murders Him. He says that He gave His life out of His own free will. John 10:17-18 says: “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Later, the apostle Peter will say to the Jews in Jerusalem that they were guilty of handing over Jesus to be killed, but that they acted out of ignorance and that God thus fulfilled what had already been foretold by the prophets. Acts 3:13-18 says: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus. You handed Him over to be killed [n the hands of the Romans], and you disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer [Barabbas = “son of the father(!) Matthew 27:15-18], be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. (…) “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Messiah would suffer…”.

And before the Sanhedrin Peter testifies: “…whom you killed by hanging Him on a cross…” Acts 5:30: “…The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging Him on a cross…” Peter does not diminish any part of the responsibility in His death by crucifixion. They and everybody else in this world is responsible. For our sins. And the Romans executed Him on the basis of the death penalty for which Pontius Pilate took full responsibility. The sins of Jews, Romans, and the rest of the world population brought Him on the cross.

“What a love for lost sinners, for a hardened mankind, Jews, Romans, Greeks, Gentiles, sinners of what ever race, religion or creed!”

He was and is the Lamb of God, says John 1:19, 36. What a love for lost sinners, for a hardened mankind, Jews, Romans, Greeks, Gentiles, sinners of what ever race, religion or creed! Hymn 49 from the Dutch Reformed Songbook 1938, called “Christ, the Life of all the living”, says:

“Christ, the life of all the living,
Christ, the death of death, our foe;
who Thyself for me once giving
to the darkest depths of woe,
patiently didst yield Thy breath
but to save my soul from death;
praise and glory ever be,
blessed Jesus, unto Thee.” 

From: hymnary.org
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth


Second layer
The second layer of fulfilment is found in Revelation 1:7 “… “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.”

This is what the angels said at His ascension: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.” Acts 1:11b. How had they seen Him go into Heaven? He was taken up while they were watching and a cloud hid Him from their sight, Acts 1:9-11. These clouds were no ordinary rain clouds or scattered cumulus clouds, or cumulus clouds, or whatever we call them.

These “clouds” are the encapsulation of God’s glory. At the Transfiguration on the mountain a bright cloud covered Him, and a voice from the cloud said: “This is My Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matthew 17:5b. When the people of Israel were wandering through the Sinai desert, from the slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel, there was a pilar of cloud during the day and a pilar of fire during the night, through which the Lord led His people, Exodus 40:34-38. The prophet Ezekiel sees the Glory of God surrounded by clouds. When the Tabernacle is completed, it is covered and filled by the cloud. And also later when Solomon built the Temple, completed and dedicated it, the cloud covering the Glory of God fills the Temple.

In that way, by these clouds covering the Glory of God, Jesus’ Coming in Glory will take place. The clouds, covering the Heavenly Glory of God, will open and will slide aside like a curtain and every eye will see Him. Him who now sits on the throne as the Son of Man with the ‘Ancient of Days’, the ‘Ancient One’, the ‘Eternal One’ and who accepted His eternal reign [Daniel 7:13-14, Luke 21:27, Matthew 24:30, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17] returns to planet earth. Everyone will see Him. The whole world will witness this. Everybody who were responsible for His piercing. The whole world. All the nations. Mankind itself. How will the world population react to this? With remorse and repentance and a sense of guilt? No, terrified. People will faint from terror and bewilderment. Now He will take revenge and retaliate and judge in righteousness for all sins and crimes and injustices world, they fear.

Even those “…who pierced Him…” Who are they? Often it is said: the Jews! But – as we said before – literally those who pierced Him, were the non-Jews, the Romans. The Jews convicted Him for blasphemy because He said that He was the Son of God, Matthew 26:63-64. But executing Him, they were not allowed. Only the Romans could. That is why He was taken to Pontius Pilate. Also the semi-Jewish Roman figurehead, Herod becomes involved, Luke 23:8-12. And thus whole mankind became guilty for His murder. Jews and non-Jews. The spear of the Roman soldier is clasped by the entire world. It had to happen. Because He had to die for the sins of the world. Peter, who contradicts that, is rebuked by Jesus, says Matthew 16:21-23, 17:22-23 and 20:17-19. The Lamb had to be slaughtered, John 1:29.

Whoever doesn’t take this offer of mercy from God seriously and ignores it, has God’s wrath to fear. Those who don’t want to listen, will have to see. And then fear and cry out. Not because of remorse for their sins, but because of fear for God’s judgement.

Every eye, every nation (clan) of the earth (Greek: “gè”) will lament and mourn. Behold, He comes! That is the theme of the last book of the Bible. Then the time of grace and mercy is over. Then their will be no more time, no more delay, no more stay of execution. Then many will say: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” says Revelation 6:15-17 and Hebrews 10:31. The wrath of God and of the Lamb. All clans/nations of the world will be terrified. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, say Luke 21:26 and 23:27-31. For  the “world” the Greek word “oikoumenē” is used: the whole inhabited world, the human world.

The time of the great reckoning has then come. The Jews have been persecuted through the ages in a horrible way. Culminating in the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, including 1,5 million children. Just because they were Jews. What the world did to the Jews during the past centuries is indescribable. Like in the Holocaust. After the selection on the platforms: concentration camp, gas chamber, burnt in the fire of the crematoria. End. The culmination of 2000 years of antisemitism. But it didn’t stop there.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas raided Israel and wrought a horrible carnage. On that pitch black Saturday they killed, mutilated and tortured 1,400 Israeli citizens, under whom children and babies, and they dragged 200-250 of them to the underground dens and tunnels. An underground city of Hamas, under Gaza City.

“One day the great reckoning will come”

But one day the great reckoning will come. And while the atrocities of the Nazis and other Jews haters finally ended with the dying of the victims, Jesus’ verdict against the haters of His people will last forever.

Jesus speaks about this in Matthew 25:31-46. Then He will select the nations. Left and right. Sheep will be separated from the goats. Based on what they did to His least brother, the Jews. In verse 41 Jesus says: “Then he will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’”.

And in verse 46 He says:  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”. This is one of the few places where Lord Jesus speaks about eternal hellfire. Because He doesn’t want people to perish but will have eternal, everlasting life.

In Luke 12:4-5 He says: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him”.

In Revelation 6:15-17 we read: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” The loving Lord Jesus Who is now still standing with outstretched arms ready to save and redeem lost sinners, is then the One Who will judge righteous. The Father gave everything to Him, also judgment, says John 5:19-29. The loving Lord Jesus Whom we still may know today in His love and mercy for lost sinners will one day be the Judge.

That judgment is not for us. Paul writes in Romans 12:19:  “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord”. One day it will be terrible to fall  into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31 says: “For we know him who said, “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. The Father has given everything to Him, also the judgment. One day the wrath will come: the wrath of God and of the Lamb.

The demons know that and are afraid of the eternal agony in the pool that burns with fire and brimstone. See for example Matthew 8:29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” “Weeping and gnashing of teeth”, it says in verse 12. The pool of fire and brimstone prepared for the devil and his angels, say Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 19 and 20. Demons know that the ‘Son of God’ Who is also the ‘Son of man’ will one-day be the One who will cast them into this lake of fire.

That is why Jesus says that we must pray for our enemies. Because if they don’t repent, they will face an eternal, terrible fate. Read for example Revelation 20:7-10 and 11-15. And Revelation 21:8.


Third layer
So, there is a deep difference between the meaning of this verse from Zechariah 12:10 for the nations and the meaning for Israel of this verse. For Israel the third layer of fulfilment means: remorse,  repentance, conversion and redemption!

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and supplication [the Holy Spirit]. They will look upon Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

God’s firstborn son, Israel [Exodus 4:22-23], will grieve bitterly for their firstborn Son, Jesus. The entire country, the whole nation, all clans, men and women separately, will mourn. Every single one of  them, one by one, man and woman, young and old, servant and handmaiden, employer and employee. Each and every one personally. “The land will mourn, every clan separately; the clan of David [king, political government] separately and their women separately, the clan of the house of Nathan [prophet] separately and their women separately, the clan of the house of Levi [priest, spiritual leader] separately and their women separately, the clan of Shimei [who cursed the king and cursed God, the secularized and ‘atheistic’ Jew] separately and their women separately…”. Zechariah 12:11-13.

What a moment of recognition that will be! Tears will be shed. Just like his brothers must have felt and done when Joseph revealed himself to his Jewish brothers in Exodus 45:1-3. This is what the apostle Paul means when he writes in Romans 11:25-29 that then ‘all Israel’ shall be saved. This is between the Heavenly Joseph and His Jewish brothers, and it is none of our business. Just like he asked the Egyptians to leave the room for a minute in Exodus 45:1. The final outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the clans of Israel.

“The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all clans in Israel separately, on men and women separately will happen in the future in Jerusalem and in the entire Land of Israel”

This is about the future conversion of Israel. About their repentance. About the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all clans in Israel separately, on men and women separately. That will happen in the future apparently not on the Jews in the USA, in Russia, Europe, or where ever in the dispersion, the diaspora, but in Jerusalem and in the entire Land of Israel. The text says: ”…the inhabitants of Jerusalem the land will mourn…” Before Israel is allowed to see its Messiah with literal eyes in His Coming in Glory brought in by the Cloud covering the Shechinah Glory of God, she will be allowed to see their firstborn Son Jesus with spiritual eyes. Not just a few, like today – the Christian Jews – or the baptized Jews, or the Messianic Jews or whatever they are called, who are less than 1 % of the Jewish people – but then “the whole house of Israel”.

The Lord Jesus brings His Jewish people to Israel in our days, because He wants to meet them there. Israel is on its way to its rest, Jeremiah 31:1-2. On its way to be grafted forever on the trunk of their own New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Luke 22:19-20, Romans 11:25-29. To be a blessing for the world again under His leadership. From Jerusalem.

We are approaching the final days of this part of world history. Not the end of the world. But the period that precedes the next phase of world history. The birth pains of  the new era of which Lord Jesus is speaking in Matthew 24:8 and Mark 13:8 have begun. And the more painful they become, the faster they will succeed each other as the great day of the Coming of the Kingdom and the Coming of the King of the Kingdom approaches, the closer we get to His arrival in Glory. Jesus comes in Glory, and His Shalom will cover the whole world!

In the midst of all apocalyptic signs of the times, Israel is the sign of hope and is nearing the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Because only when things are right between Israel and its Messiah the very moment arrives when He will sit on the throne of His father David to rule in the midst of Jacob ( i.e. the 12 tribes of Israel), Luke 1:30-33.

So that the peace from Jerusalem will cover the entire earth and the nations will learn war no more, says Isaiah 2:2-4.

Come, Creator Spirit, descend on us – and on Israel as well, o Lord.

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