The Land as Covenant Backdrop, Part 5

January 26, 2011

The Land as Covenant Backdrop to Revelation 1:7b

In our continuing exploration of Revelation 11, it also should not be overlooked that it appears to be the most likely point in the book for the fulfillment of the echo of Zechariah 12:10 in Revelation 1:7b: “… [E]very eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him.  And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him” (HCSB).

In my opinion, this brief citation in Revelation 1:7b, along with how it relates to the original wording in Zechariah 12:10 are among the most often misunderstood aspects of the interpretation of the Apocalypse.  Too often, it is (wrongly) assumed that the mourning referred to in Revelation 1:7 is a “too little, too late” part of the judgment related to Jesus’ return.[1]  However, that perspective completely ignores how the wording is used in Zechariah 12.  There, the fact that God pours out His “spirit of grace” (Heb. ruach hen; LXX pneuma charitos) upon those looking at the One “whom they pierced” makes it clear that He is directly involved with this mourning (i.e., that it is true repentance of a saving nature, e.g., 2 Pet. 3:9).

However, there is more to see here than just that the mourning of Revelation 1:7b is salvific.  It must also be taken into account that Zechariah 12:10 describes the mourners as “the house of David” (i.e., the Jews), but also as “the residents of Jerusalem” (HCSB).  Either phrase would have been sufficient to make the point that the repentant group here is Jewish.  However, “the residents of Jerusalem” focuses on the precise physical location of where Zechariah 12:10 will be fulfilled: in Jerusalem, precisely where it was seen in the last section that the great promise of Romans 11:25-26 will be fulfilled, in Revelation 11:13.

The wording “the residents of Jerusalem” also allows for the way John words Revelation 1:7b: “And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him” (HCSB).  “Residents” is a word general enough to apply to those living—or possibly even visiting—in Jerusalem at that time who aren’t Jews.  Also, “families” (Gk. phulai) is found in 11:9, as part of the description of those present to celebrate the deaths of the two witnesses.  Further, 11:2 refers to “the nations” (Gk. tois ethnesin, “the Gentiles”) as in control of “the holy city” (i.e., Jerusalem) at that point.  Thus, the understanding that the revival in Jerusalem in 11:13 includes both Jews and Gentiles argued above is seen to fit nicely with a careful consideration of the immediate context in Zechariah 12:10 of the citation in Revelation 1:7b.


[1] E.G., Alan F. Johnson, “Revelation,” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary gen. ed. F.E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: 1981), 12:422-23.

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