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 they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. Zechariah 12.10.
What remarkable prophetic insight Zechariah had. Here, he speaks the words of the crucified but risen and ascended Messiah who will come again and who, at his second coming, will turn Israel to himself. He will do that by pouring out upon Israel “a spirit of grace and supplication”.
That phrase is better translated as “the Spirit of grace and supplication” for it is the Holy Spirit himself who is being referred to here. Jesus promised to send the Spirit of truth to his followers after he had ascended to the Father (John 15.26) and it is that same Spirit who, at the last day, will come upon the Jewish nation. And he will come in “grace” — chen. But what is grace? It is usually described as God’s undeserved favour but that is really a description of mercy. Much to be preferred is the Greek Orthodox view that grace is really “the empowering presence of God”. The idea of favour should certainly not be excluded but neither should the idea of power, for both are there; and John Ortberg is surely right when he defines grace as “God doing in and for us what we cannot do for ourselves”.
So, at the last day, the Spirit of God, poured out upon the Jewish nation, will do in and for them what they cannot do for themselves. He will turn them to Christ. And he will turn them to Christ in “supplication”. They will see him, Jesus Christ crucified, the one they have rejected, and they will recognise him at last as the Messiah and turn to him in prayer, seeking forgiveness and salvation.
Paul was quite clear what the outcome of that will be. “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved …” (Romans 11.25-26). Does “all Israel” mean every single Jew? Probably not. In 1 Samuel 12.1 we read “Samuel said to all Israel …” but he didn’t speak to every individual. In Daniel 9.11, Daniel tells God that “all Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you” but he, Daniel, and his companions haven’t! So “all Israel” most probably means Israel as a whole, while leaving room for individual exceptions.
What will be true of the Jewish people at the end is, of course, already true of many individual Jews now, and of tens of thousands of gentiles like myself. The spirit of grace and supplication has already been outpoured upon us. We have already looked on Jesus, the one whom we pierced; and we have already turned to him in sorrow and repentance.
His hands were pierced, the hands that made
the mountain range and everglade;
that washed the stains of sin away
and changed earth’s darkness into day.
His feet were pierced, the feet that trod
the furthest shining star of God;
and left their imprint deep and clear
on every winding pathway here.
His heart was pierced, the heart that burned
to comfort every heart that yearned;
and from it came a cleansing flood,
the river of redeeming blood.
His hands and feet and heart, all three
were pierced for me on Calvary;
and here and now, to Him I bring
my hands, feet, heart, an offering.