Crucifixion at the Close of the Age
In the scholarly volume, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, intended for use by the general body of Christians, is the following remark under Strong's Number 449:
(TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Moody Press, 1980. Now available on line from multiple sources, such as BIBLESOFT, 22014 7th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98198.)
In this paper I shall show that the authors of TWOT were badly mistaken, and that Christianity has followed a false assessment begun by the Apostle John. Furthermore, I shall show how Jewish understanding of the Zechariah prophecy has been equally mistaken.
In John 19 the Apostle states:
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he
was dead already, they broke not his legs:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bore record, and his record is true: and he knows that what he says is true, that you might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, "A bone of him shall not be broken."
37 And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they pierced."
The statement by the Apostle in 19:37 quotes Zech 12:10 verbatim. We have no doubt of the source of John's remark. Unfortunately, his understanding influenced two thousand years of Christian error, for the prediction did not pertain to Jesus, but to another person to appear at the close of the age. That difference is the subject of this paper.
Three Old Testament passages exist that refer to broken bones. The first two are descriptions of the Passover meal, not about human sacrifice. The third is about God preserving his people in times of affliction, so that no harm comes to them.
In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth any of the flesh
outside the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof.
47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
Numbers 9:11 The fourteenth day of the second
month in the evening they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and
12 They shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.
Psalms 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but Yahweh delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken.
We would not apply the first two passages to the event of a Crucifixion. They are strictly about the bones left over from the Passover meal, and have no logical connection to Crucifixion. Only an extended stretch of the imagination would place them in the context of a Crucifixion.
The last is probably the passage John had in mind when he referred to broken bones. In this case John may have understood the reference to affliction as the specific event of the Crucifixion of Jesus. On the other hand the passage more likely referred to the general affliction of God's people and that He would keep His people from harm. Broken bones are merely the way the author of the Psalm illustrated harm without intending a literal application. While we may accuse John of misapplying the meaning of the passage we can see how he would have understood it.
The difficulty for us is the meaning of the passage in Zechariah 12. Do we truly understand what the prophet was saying?
The nub of the question by the author's of TWOT centers on the statement about the nation of Israel turning to Christ,
Those authors may have understood the nation of Israel as the political entity recognized today as that nation. Or they may have understood the nation of Israel as the general body of Jews scattered world wide when Jesus returns. The important element in their understanding is that they regarded the passages as referring to Jews, the abstract entity composed of Jews, and that they did not see Israel as referring to the larger body of both Jews and Christians. See the many passages in Old Testament prophecy that include both Jews and Christians as Israel: Isaiah 9, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 37, virtually all of Hosea, as well as the passages in Zechariah. Consider also Paul's discussion in Romans 11:25-27.
Another important element of their understanding is the events surrounding the Return of Jesus. They appear to believe a framework in which all Jews will somehow finally turn to "Christ." But such view is sadly amiss of the reality told us in prophecy. They apparently do not understand important passages which state that only a remnant of all of the house of Israel, including the Jews, will turn to Jesus.
Isaiah 10:20 In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord, Yahweh of hosts, will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.
Paul quotes this passage in Romans 9:27, in the midst of a discussion on events at the end of the age. He also expected only a remnant to be physically saved at that time. We can see that Isaiah spoke of the "house of Jacob," which must mean both Jews and Gentiles descended from Israelite forefathers. The dramatic nature of events can be seen in Isaiah's expression: For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. The vast body of Israel, both Jews and Christians, will be destroyed.
On the other hand, passages exist which can be applied only to Jews:
Joel 2:30 "And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, when the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of Yahweh shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom Yahweh calls.
Clearly there are survivors of the modern state of Israel, and they escape from that location before its destruction. The nature of events is easily understood in the blood that is given, and the great fire and columns of smoke, meaning nuclear fire and columns of smoke that will fill the atmosphere. The enormous devastations will cause the sunlight to significantly diminish, and will cause the moon to turn a deep red color. The entire world atmosphere will be dramatically affected. Such magnitude of events can only be reached through nuclear destructions.
God will make a full end to our civilization. Vast numbers of Jews and Christians will be lost.
The Zechariah Oracle
This "Oracle" (Word) runs from Chapter 12 to the end of Zechariah in Chapter 14. Literally the passage begins: The Burden of the Word of Yahweh for Israel.
(The word "burden" is understood to mean figuratively an utterance, chiefly of doom.)
I shall treat Chapter 14 first to understand the cosmic significance of the "Oracle." I shall then return to Chapters 12 and 13.
If the authors of TWOT were confused about the cosmic events surrounding the prophecy then they did not truly understand God's Word. They were perpetrating the errors of the generations. What exactly did it have to say?
We can understand the context of the prophecy by examining the illuminating key found in Zechariah.
14:4 On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward.
This is a vivid graphic description of a great geophysical event. The surface of the planet must twist to produce such a major episode. The entire region of modern Israel will be torn apart in this great God-made disaster. It will be split in two at the site of Jerusalem by a very wide valley. No longer will there be a Mount of Olives. One side of it will slide toward the north; the other side will slide toward the south. We are not told by the Oracle how wide the valley may become nor how far these two sides will move. They could slide for many miles.
This gigantic event is possible due to the fact that the modern state of Israel sits on a giant rift zone in the earth's crust. The Great Rift Valley is a geographical and geological feature running north to south for around 4,000 miles from northern Syria to central Mozambique in East Africa. Astronauts say it is the most significant physical detail on the planet that is visible from space. A series of some thirty lakes lies along its length; the three largest in Africa are known as the Great Lakes and include Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in the world, and Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world.
The Great Rift Valley varies in width from twenty to sixty miles and in depth from a few hundred to several thousand meters. The northernmost part of the Rift forms the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. To the south, in Israel, it is known as the Jordan Rift Valley. A portion is the Hula Valley separating the Galilee mountains and the Golan Heights. Farther south, the valley is the home of the Jordan River, which flows southward through Lake Hula into the Sea of Galilee in Israel and then continues south through the Jordan Valley into the Dead Sea. From the Dead Sea southward, the Rift is occupied by the Wadi Arabah and then the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.
This giant geophysical event will take place simultaneously all over the globe. Huge planetary tectonic sheets will shift relative to one another as the world twists. Large sections of North America will sink beneath the sea. See Revelations 18:21-24.
Literally thousands of commentators have written about the geophysical event of the Mount of Olives without penetrating to the basics of the earth physical gyration that will take place when we enter a new earth age.
The difficulty with the Zechariah material is that it contains mythical elements and confusion of detail, yet gives us a sharp understanding of end-of-age events.
14:5 And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then Yahweh your God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
Starting in World War II we began to notice strange visitations in the sky. Our godless world, not accustomed to holy visitations, dubbed this phenomenon as UFO.
The activity of these Holy Ones has increased over the intervening decades until today massive numbers of (angels) have been reported. This means that the Holy Ones are already present. As I have shown, we await the coming of Yahweh (Michael), our Great Prince. His appearance is imminent. The suggested sequence is not accurate to the coming of the Holy Ones, and the Return of Michael. The great geophysical events must come after the nuclear holocaust, and it must come after the Great Tribulation. Michael will appear before any of those.
We know that God's people must flee to safety before the outbreak of the nuclear devastations, as shown in Joel 2. Then, after the nuclear devastations, when the geophysical events take place, God's people will be already departed from Jerusalem and Judea. The "stopping up" of the mountains is part of the great geophysical events. The sequence is in reverse order in this verse.
A time jump now takes place in the text. We go from events of this age into events in the new earth age.
14:6 On that day there shall be neither cold nor frost; 14:8b it shall continue in summer as in winter.
A new environment shall envelope the world; the seasons will
become one as the planet enters into a new rotational mode. 14:7 And
there shall be continuous day (it is known to the Lord ), not day and not
night, for at evening time there shall be light.
14:7 And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the Lord ), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.
The world will experience a new rotational mode but with
modification of the atmosphere as it enters into a new regime of Light and
Life. See the discussion in the Urantia Papers, Paper 55, and numerous
references. 14:8a On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem,
half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea.
14:8a On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea.
This passages shows the great geophysical changes that will take place on the surface of the planet. See also the discussion of the huge river in Ezekiel 47.
14:9 And Yahweh will become king over all the earth; on that day Yahweh will be one and his name one.
14:10 The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses.
14:11 And it shall be inhabited, for there shall be no more curse; Jerusalem shall dwell in security.
From these discussions we can grasp how the world will be changed physically and well as spiritually. Unfortunately, the modern city of Jerusalem will be totally destroyed; only a new Jerusalem will take its place. The descriptions given in these three verses are not literally accurate, and suggest an insertion into the holy words by some human editor.
We can now return to Chapters 12 and 13 to learn more about the revelations given to us.
This chapter opens with a promise for the House of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem - meaning a new house and a new city. The old House and the old city were swept away in the great earth devastations. The old sin and uncleanness were also swept away. On that great day Yahweh will remove all the idols of the land; the idols of foolish and erroneous dreams of the old earth age will be remembered no more. He will remove the old prophets because they will be needed no more. The new-born generations will have a totally new understanding of God's rule.
The Devil was permitted to rule in the hearts and the minds of men - to those who would not be righteous. Caligastia and his evil schemes will be gone forever when the unclean spirits are removed from the old world.
In the devastating events of the great transition two-thirds of the world population will be lost. Since this is in symbolic language perhaps even more will be lost. God will turn His hand against the little ones. Those who remain will be refined in fire. See also Rev 9.
We come now to one of the more difficult of prophecies because of the contrasting language that is used, and what appears as a distortion of the text from some ancient editor. I shall give the text directly (from RSV) for the first nine verses, and then comment about it.
Personally I cannot see this piece as anything but a confused description of what will happen to Jerusalem and Judea at the last days. We know that they will be destroyed in the coming nuclear disaster. See Jeremiah 25, where destruction of the nations of the earth, Judea and Great Babylon are designated. Jerusalem and Judea are not exempted. See many other passages: Isa 10, Isa 28, Jer 50 and 51, Lamentations, and Joel, as examples.
Indeed, Jerusalem will become a cup of reeling to all the Arab and Muslim people round about it. It will become a heavy stone; all the nations, such as the United States, that try to save it shall grievously hurt themselves. We do not know from these abstruse remarks if Israel shall use nuclear weapons against its neighbors. Such act is strongly suggested by On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they shall devour to the right and to the left all the peoples round about, while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem. The timing of such event is shown in that it will take place while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem, before itself is destroyed. But God definitely shall not save Israel from destruction.
In an earlier dissertation I stated that Great Babylon would destroy Israel. See my discussions at
http://www.world-destiny.com/greatbab.html or http://www.world-destiny.org/babel.htm.
Unfortunately, our understanding of this phase of prophecy is uncertain and we cannot be sure which step in the destruction of the nations comes first. As we approach this horrendous event we attempt to perceive the unfolding of planetary destiny in the context of current political and social events. The sudden rise of the Muslim nations has added impetus to our speculations. Will Iran destroy Israel with nuclear weapons? Will the state of Israel preempt Iran? We have extreme difficulty reconciling prophecy with world reality.
How much of this prophecy was corrupted by an early editor who did not grasp the cosmic nature of events?
Then a totally different subject in the Zechariah prophecy suddenly appears. We go from a discussion of the destruction of the nations to a depiction of a Crucifixion.
We can readily see that the Apostle John accepted this passage as a description of the crucifixion of Jesus. He quotes it verbatim. For two thousand years Christianity has accepted that ascription. The difficulty is this: if accepted as the crucifixion of Jesus it is totally out of context. All the events of this oracle are about the destruction of the nations at the end of the age. Then stuck into that context is this unique and incompatible event.
Some recent authors have analyzed these verses to show that they do not apply to Jesus. Much of that discussion centers around one phrase, the meaning translated by RSV as "look on him" while most other translations, including the NIV, give it as "look on Me." The Me is sometimes capitalized to emphasize the application to Jesus.
As quoted above we see that the Apostle John understood the pronoun as "him" and not as "me."
Grammatically, the statement makes no sense if "me" is used while consistent if "him" is used.
Consider how these phrases appear in RSV and in a Jewish translation:
Revised Standard Version Translation
Jewish Translation from the Hebrew
so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced,
and they shall look toward me because of him who they pierced
they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child,
and they shall mourn over him as one mourns over an only son,
and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.
and be embittered over him as one is embittered over a firstborn son.
|**See note below.|
We quickly see that the pronouns are differentiated with one small Hebrew "vav" sign. The translations use "me" where the "vav" is missing. Other translations, such as RSV, assume that the missing "vav" is an error in transcription. See
which shows the legitimate and consistent use of both in the same sentence.
In forcing "me" in the sentence we see that God takes on an action that is applied to Him, while if we translate "him" we have a consistent statement about a third person, the subject of the revelation. Hence, God is speaking to Zechariah about a person different from Himself, the true subject of the remark. Now the context is no longer the crucifixion of Jesus, but a different crucifixion. And we have put the passage back into the context of the end of the age, where it belongs.
And all because of one small mark in the script of Zechariah.
Just prior to the end events we will witness a crucifixion.
Elsewhere on this site I have offered papers that show the Return of Jesus. Among those is Revelation about the crucifixion of Two Witnesses just prior to the Great Holocaust. See:
We know that the Two Witnesses will then be resurrected and lifted into heaven, Rev 11.
When the Two Witnesses are resurrected and lifted away the whole world will know how much they erred. Then they will truly weep in great bitterness over their failure to credit those Two. All the tribes shall mourn, both Jew and Gentile, in that great regret. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be great. The entire world shall mourn: the house of David, the house of Nathan, the house of Levi, the house of the Shimeites, and all the families of the earth.
Of course we no longer can distinguish among the tribes of Israel. The list is gleaned from Num 3:17-26, 2 Sam 5:13-16, and many other Old Testament accounts. It is intended to show the sons of the Israel tribes, not merely the Jews. Jews and Christians both will awake to their great horrific mistake.
Hanover, PA August, 2011.
**The table above is borrowed from http://www.virtualyeshiva.com/counter/zec1210.swf. It was created by Uri Yosef, who was born, raised, and educated in Israel, and completed his higher education (Ph.D. and M.B.A.) in the US.