Zechariah: The Plain of Megiddo

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 

Zechariah 12:11

Almost 90 years before the prophet Zechariah started prophesying the message of Jehovah, the reign of Josiah, the last godly king of Judah before their Babylonian exile (cf. 2 Chr. 34), ended in violence.  Scripture describes it in this way:

“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him.  But he sent envoys to him, saying, ‘What have we to do with each other, king of Judah?  I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war.  And God has commanded me to hurry.  Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.’  Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him.  He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo.  And the archers shot King Josiah.  And the king said to his servants, ‘Take me away, for I am badly wounded.’  So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem.  And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers.  All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.  Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day.  They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments” (2 Chr. 35:20-25).

“The mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” which Zechariah compares to “the mourning in Jerusalem” and “the land” (Zech. 12:11a, 12a) possibly alludes to King Josiah’s end at that same location, an event which would have still been fresh in the minds of the Jews to whom he gave this prophecy.  Their fathers and grandfathers would have remembered how their king had fallen on the plain of Megiddo, and they would have remembered the great mourning that had subsequently occurred.  Therefore, it is possible that the prophet alluded to the death and lamentation over good King Josiah to illustrate the kind of mourning the Messiah’s disciples would have over His death (Zech. 12:10).  This mourning would include those of noble birth (“the family of the house of David” and “the family of the house of Nathan,” David’s son through whom came Zerubbabel and Jesus – 1 Chr. 3:5; Lk. 3:27, 31); priests (“the family of the house of Levi” and “the family of the Shimeites,” i.e., the descendants of Shimei, Levi’s grandson – Num. 3:17-18); and “all the families that are left” (vs. 12-14); it would happen all throughout “the land” (v. 12a) of Israel and “in Jerusalem” (v. 11a).

I take all of this to be a symbolic reference to the godly sorrow and penitent hearts God expects of all within spiritual Israel and the spiritual Jerusalem, i.e., the church (2 Cor. 7:10; Heb. 12:22-23; cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 6:16; James 1:1).  Jesus came from the line of David, and Christians are said to be his “brothers” (Heb. 2:11-12); Christians are also called priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9).  The very first Christians experienced this mourning over Jesus’ death on Pentecost when they first head the gospel and “were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:36-37).  The prophet also mentions that “each family” in “the land” will “mourn,” and he stresses repeatedly that they will do so “by itself,” even going so far as to repeatedly show that the husbands and their wives would mourn “by themselves” (vs. 12-14).  This might allude to how each of us must individually repent due to standing by ourselves in judgment before God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10; Ps. 62:12).

Christians, we should examine ourselves concerning how we feel over the sin in our lives and remember that it sent Jesus to the cross.  Does our sin prompt godly sorrow within us?  When was the last time we truly “mourned” over our sins?  Let us reflect over this as we partake of communion on this Lord’s Day.

— Jon

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