Who is Pierced?
One of the greatest puzzles in the Scripture can be found in Zechariah 12:8-10. In this passage of Scripture the LORD is speaking and it appears that the LORD says that He will be the one pierced. Many Christians quote Psalms 22 to describe the piercing of Messiah only to be told by their Jewish friends that Psalms 22 was mistranslated by Christians to convert Jews. They then state that the Messiah not suffer but will be a reigning king.
However, 16th century Rabbi Moses Alshech said:
“The shall look unto me,” for they shall lift up their eyes unto me in perfect repentence, when they see Him whom they have pierced, that is Messiah, the son of Joseph; for our Rabbis, of blessed memory have said that He will take upon himself all the guilt of Israel, and shall then be slain in the war to make atonement in such manner that it shall be accounted as if Israel pierced Him, for on account of their sin He has died; and therefore, in order that it may be reckoned to them as a perfect atonement, they will repent and look to the blessed One, saying that there is none beside Him to forgive those that mourn on account of Him who died for their sin: this is the meaning of ‘They shall look upon Me.”
In Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a we find
“And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart [Zech. 12:12]….What is the cause of the mourning? — R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One explained. The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination.
It is well with him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son; but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Evil Inclination, is this an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep?”
Rashi in his commentary to Sukkah 52a (11th c.) also noted that the Rabbis interpret the text as referring to slain Messiah ben Joseph.
The words, “The land shall mourn,” are found in the prophecy of Zechariah, and he prophesies of the future, that they shall mourn on account of Messiah, the son of Joseph, who shall be slain in the war of Gog and Magog.
Ibn Ezra in the 12th century commented
All the heathen shall look to me to see what I shall do to those who pierced Messiah, the son of Joseph.
The prophet Zechariah tells us that the LORD will pour out His Spirit of grace upon the house of David (12:8-10). In the Old Testament economy the kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oil symbolizing the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Anointed of the LORD, the Messiah, came ministering with the anointing of the Spirit without measure. Jesus spoke Himself into office quoting the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18). In this great passage the prophet makes a remarkable statement about those in the future who will pierce the Branch and then look upon Him and go into deep mourning as if they had lost their only child. Zech 12:9-14 Under the new covenant all believers in the Messiah have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Abrabanel of the 15th century claimed:
It is more correct to interpret this passage of Messiah, the son of Joseph, as our rabbis of blessed memory have interpreted in the treatise Succah, for he shall be a mighty man of valour, of the tribe of Joseph, and shall, at first, be captain of the Lord’s host in that war, but in that war shall die.
While the Rabbis were correct that the Messiah will be pierced. They simply misunderstood the method of piercing. Messiah ben Joseph will no die in a future battle; instead, He died on a cross over 2,000 years ago!
It is true of us all as sinners, we have pierced Christ, inasmuch as our sins were the cause of his death, for he was wounded for our transgressions, and they are the grief of his soul; he is broken with the whorish heart of sinners, who therefore are said to crucify him afresh and put him to open shame. Those that truly repent of sin look upon Christ as one whom they have pierced, who was pierced for their sins and is pierced by them; and this engages them to look unto him, as those that are deeply concerned for him. This is the effect of their looking to Christ; it makes them mourn. This was particularly fulfilled in those to whom Peter preached Christ crucified; when they heard it those who had had a hand in piercing him were pricked to the heart, and cried out, What shall we do? It is fulfilled in all those who sorrow for sin after a godly sort; they look to Christ, and mourn for him, not so much for his sufferings as for their own sins that procured them. Note, The genuine sorrows of a penitent soul flow from the believing sight of a pierced Saviour. Looking by faith upon the cross of Christ will set us a mourning for sin after a godly sort.
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