The Deity of the Messiah in Zechariah
An amazing fact about the book of Zechariah is that it is the most quoted section of the prophets in the passion narratives of the Gospels. The book is full of Messianic prophecies, along with many other prophecies.
One thing that has amazed me as have I have been studying this book was the number of Messianic passages that seem to be saying that the Messiah would be Yaweh or the LORD. We have an abundance of evidence in both testaments for the Deity of the Messiah. The passages in Zechariah are a powerful addition to that evidence that are not often used when we giving scriptural evidence to those who deny the Deity of Christ.
The verse that got me thinking along these lines was Zech 12:10.
Zech12:10 "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. (NKJV)
The "Me" in this verse is the same speaker that is speaking all throughout this passage in Zechariah 12. The Me is the same as the One who is speaking in Zech 12:1:
Zech12:1 The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: (NKJV)
The same One who stretched out the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth would one day be pierced! Israel will one day recognize their mistake the Spirit will be poured out on them. That will be an incredible day. (See Rom 11:26-29).
Zech 12:10 is not without interpretive difficulties. The major reason is due to the change in pronouns from "Me" to "Him". However, who else but Jesus/Yeshua could be both God and be literally "pierced" as with a spear?
Dr. Michael L. Brown in his book Answering Jewish objections to Jesus Vol. 3 (Link), said the following concerning this passage:
....leading us instead to two larger questions: (1) Are looking to God or to the one pierced, or is God the one pierced, to whom they are looking? (2) What does the larger context say? Does it justify the Messianic interpretation?... It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the in this verse is the Lord himself—as rendered in the Jewish translations cited above—suggesting the real possibility that the Hebrew text states that it is the Lord himself who was pierced.
In "The Preacher's Commentary (Link), Dr. Walter Kaiser says concerning this verse:
In the debate over verse Zec 12:10, interpreters argue that it is impossible to pierce God, since He is spirit and not flesh and blood (Isa 31:3; Joh 4:24). But that is the point; it was Christ's flesh that was pierced, and the One who was pierced is at the same time One in essence and being with the God who speaks in this text. Note also that whenever the first person pronoun appears elsewhere in this chapter (Zec 12:2, Zec 12:3, Zec 12:4, Zec 12:6, Zec 12:9, Zec 12:10) it refers to the Messiah. Zechariah had just referred in chapter 11 to the Good Shepherd who had been rejected by Israel, and whose rejection was followed by a terrible punishment. Only the Messiah fits all the details here. His piercing must have come in an earlier advent, for certainly when He comes again it will be with the victory promised in this section.
In his book "The Case for Jesus the Messiah" (Link) John Ankerberg said the following concerning this passage:
But let us ask, Who else but Jesus Christ could the Prophet Zechariah be speaking about? Who else could possibly be Jehovah, and also claim to be thrust through and killed by the inhabitants of Jerusalem? Remember, the word is a word which means pierce as with a spear. This is exactly what happened to Jesus on the cross. A spear was thrust through His side (Joh 19:32; Joh 19:35).
The second passage I want to look at is Zech 14:4-5.
Zech14:4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. Zech14:5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with You.
This passage is speaking of the Second coming of the Messiah. See Acts 1:9-11, Jude 1:14, and Rev 19:11-14. The Messiah is again called "Yaweh my God" or "LORD my God".
Dr. Walter Kaiser in his book on the "Last Things" (Link) said this about this passage:
Who will appear and with whom will he come? The Lord God will come in his great appearance (Zec 14:5). He is the One who is the hope of Israel and the hope of the church. He will appear in his parousia along with his ones(5). These holy ones who accompany him are his angels, for the term onesis used of angels elsewhere (Deu 33:3; Job 15:15; Psa 89:5-7), yet the same term is also used for individuals (Lev 11:44-45; 2Ch 35:3; Psa 16:3; Psa 34:9; Dan 8:24). Likewise, the New Testament reveals that the Lord will be accompanied in his second advent with both his angels and his glorified saints (1Th 3:13; Jud 1:14).
Now lets move on to a few more. Some of these are a little less clear or or a bit obscure, but they add to the overall case being made.
Zech 11:13 says:
Zech11:13 The LORD then said to me, “Throw to the potter that exorbitant sum at which they valued me!” So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the temple of the LORD. (NET)
Zech11:13 Then the Lord told me, “Throw the money into the treasury—that magnificent value they placed on me!” So I took the 30 shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury of the Temple of the Lord. (ISV)
I have had great difficulty finding commentators who see this verse as Messiah being referred to as Yaweh. I have been searching over the past two weeks and have not really found what I have been looking for. Interestingly, I was listening to a teaching by Dr. Henebury where he stated clearly this same thing (Link).
I used the ISV and NET translation above because of where they placed the quotation marks.
The K&D commentary says concerning this verse:
They rather pay him thirty shekels, with an allusion to the fact that this sum was the compensation for a slave that had been killed (Exo 21:32), so that it was the price at which a bond-slave could be purchased (see at Hos 3:2). By paying thirty shekels, they therefore give him to understand that they did not estimate his service higher than the labour of a purchased slave. To offer such wages was in fact “more offensive than a direct refusal” (Hengstenberg). Jehovah therefore describes the wages ironically as “a splendid value that has been set upon me.”
This passage is alluded to by Matthew in Mat 27:3-10. Here in Zechariah, Yaweh speaks prophetically of the betrayal price of the Messiah as if the value had been set upon Him.
As MacArthur says in his study Bible notes, This ultimate sarcasm from God greeted the ultimate insult from humanity.
I believe that there is Second coming language in this passage again. Yaweh is said to save them in that day (verse 16). Israel will become "jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over his land". The context here is the Messianic kingdom (Zech 9:10 and Zech 10:1)
This passage is a bit more obscure, but again I believe the works of the Messiah are being to referred to as if they are being done by Yaweh. Dr. Walter Kaiser referred to Zech 9:14-15 as the "Theophany of the Divine Warrior" in the Preacher's commentary.
Zech 8:3 says:
Zech8:3 "Thus says the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.'
Here, Yaweh is the one who well dwell in the midst of Jerusalem when Jerusalem is the called the "City of Truth". This is again a reference to the Messianic Kingdom following the 2nd coming (See Eze 43:7; Luk 1:32-33). This is a reference I believe to the Messiah sitting on the throne of David and dwelling in the midst of the people in Jerusalem.
The Zechariah Messianic passages teach us that the Messiah will be Yaweh. He will be God. Yaweh is the one who will be pierced. He is the one who they betrayed. He is coming again to judge the nations and set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem.
There are many other passages concerning the Deity of Christ in the OT. Some of the more well known ones are Isa 9:6-7; Psa 45:6-7; Psa 110:1.
So what is going on here. Are their two Yaweh's? Well, the scriptures are clear that there is only one God (Deu 6:4).
However, there are strange passages like Gen 18 - Gen 19. In the first part of Gen 18, The LORD appeared to Abraham. Presumably, he was one of the three men that Abraham saw in Gen 18:2. When we get to Gen 19 in Sodom, there are only 2 men there with lot. In the 2nd part of Gen 18, Abraham is having a discussion with Yaweh who appeared to him earlier in the passage along with two other men. Yaweh had stayed behind and talked to Abraham. Without rahashing the whole story, lets look at a strange verse:
Gen19:24 Yahweh rained down from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh. (LEB)
This strange verse seems to be saying that the Yaweh who was on earth, rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Yaweh that was in heaven!
Phillip Schaff summarized the answers that the early church Fathers gave to Jewish objections to Jesus being the Messiah in his "History of the Christian Church". Part of that summary was this:
To the objection, that the divinity of Jesus contradicts the unity of God and is blasphemy, it was replied, that the Christians believe likewise in only one God; that the Old Testament itself makes a distinction in the divine nature; that the plural expression: Let us make man, Gen 1:26; Comp. Gen_3:21 the appearance of the three men at Mamre Gen 18:1 sqq. of whom one was confessedly God, yet distinct from the Creator Gen 19:24
Perhaps this story is what Jesus had in mind when He was speaking to the Pharisess and the Jews thought he was claiming to have seen Abraham in Joh 8:54-58.
Jesus is claiming to be the "I AM".
Jesus also said to them in Joh 8:24
John8:24 That is why I told you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”
If we do not believe that Jesus is the "I AM" we will die in our sins.
God did not create an angel to die for our sins. The eternal Son of God who was with God and was God became a man and died for our sins. He came as God's servant (Isa 42:1-6; Isa 49:6; Isa 50:10; Isa 52:13-15; Isa 53) to "serve and to give His life a ransom for many people"(Mat 20:28).
We all, like Thomsas need to fall down before Jesus and say "My Lord and My God"!
In the Old Testament, no one could see God. However, people (like Abraham), did see Yaweh in the form of pre incarnate appearance of Jesus (Christophany). Even in the OT, we see that God exists as a complex unity. When we get to the NT, we see more clearly, that the Godhead is a Trinity (2Co 13:14). Jesus is the "image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15) and the "express image of God" (Heb 1:3). He who has seen Him as seen the Father (Joh 14:9).
One of my favorite verses concerning the Trinity is this:
Heb9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Eternality of Christ
In the beginning of the gospel of John, the apostle wanted to establish the both the Deity and the eternality of Christ. This quote is from the March 29th entry from the Approaching God Devotional by Paul Enns:
John was quick to remind readers that Christ created all things: "All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3). Speaking to fallen humanity, John saw the need to remind us twice that Christ created "all things" and that "nothing" has come into being apart from Him. The conclusion is clear. If Christ created all things and nothing exists apart from His creation, then Christ Himself must be uncreated. Christ is eternal.
Colossians 1:15-17 states:
Col1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Col1:16 For by him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether they are kings, lords, rulers, or powers. All things have been created through him and for him. Col1:17 He himself existed before anything else did, and he holds all things together.