The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 04

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(Chapter II. 1–13 Hebrew Chapter II. 5–17)

And I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, by reason of the multitude of men and cattle therein. For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her. Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north, saith Jehovah; for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, saith Jehovah. Ho Zion, escape, thou that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: After glory hath He sent Me unto the nations which plundered you; for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye. For, behold, I will shake My hand over them, and they shall be a spoil to those that served them; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent Me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah. And many nations shall join themselves to Jehovah in that day, and shall be My people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent Me unto thee. And Jehovah shall inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land, and shall yet choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before Jehovah; for He is waked up out of His holy habitation.


THE second and third visions stand in closest possible connection with the first. " The good words and comfortable words" (i. I 3), which were God's answer to the intercession of the Angel of Jehovah on behalf of " Jerusalem and the cities of Judah," contained a twofold message: First, that Jehovah is jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy, and is sore displeased (or " very angry ") with the nations who are at ease, who helped forward the affliction of Israel (i. 14, 15). Secondly, that He would " return to Jerusalem with mercies," the outward proofs of which would be (a) that His house would again be built in it, as the visible sign and pledge of the restored communion between Him and His people. (b} And " a line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem," i.e., as already explained in my notes on that vision, " to mark the space it is to occupy in its restored condition, and the plan on which it is to be arranged."

And not only should Jerusalem itself be rebuilt, but the whole land should feel the blessed effects of Jehovah's return to His people with mercies; and its cities, which He calls " My cities," should " through prosperity yet be spread abroad," or " yet overflow with prosperity " (i. 1 6, 17).

Now, just as the second vision of the " horns," and " carpenters," or " workmen," is a continuation and sequel to the first part of the consoling message for it shows how the Gentile nations, who " have helped forward the affliction " by scattering Israel and treading down Jerusalem, shall themselves be broken up and finally overthrown so the third vision of the man with the measuring line is an amplification and realistic unfolding of the other " comfortable words " in the second part of the consoling message in reference to the future of the city, and the land, and the people, when Jehovah, in the Person of Messiah, shall " return to Jerusalem with mercies."

The Vision

Lifting up his eyes, the prophet sees a man with a measuring line in his hand, and on asking, " Whither goest thou? " the answer is, " To measure Jerusalem, to see what (or how great ) is the breadth thereof and what (or how great) is the length thereof." While " the man " is thus actually engaged, the interpreting angel " goes out," or forward, from the prophet by whose side he had been standing, evidently in the direction of the measuring which was going on, to inquire the meaning of the symbolism, so as to communicate it to the prophet; but is met on the way by " another angel," evidently sent forth by " the man " with the measuring line, who commands him to run and tell " this young man " from whose side he had just come, saying, " Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns (or villages ) without walls, by reason of the multitude of men and cattle therein. For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire, and will be the glory in the midst of her."

The Interpretation

In the above summary we have already indicated the character of the dramatis personce in this prophetic vision, but it is necessary also to explain it in detail. First, who is " the man " with the measuring line?

Some interpreters have confused him with the inter preting angel, though in the text itself this angel is clearly distinguished from " the man," since he does not " go out " till the latter had already gone to measure Jerusalem. Others, again, have regarded this " man " as " a mere figure in the vision "; while still others have confused him with the " young man " in ver. 4. Thus Dr. Wright says, rather dogmatically, " The man with the measuring line is not to be regarded as an angel; he was sent forth on no mission from above. He appears as a mere figure in the vision, and one represented as acting unwisely. He may have been, as Neumann imagines, termed this young man by the angel, in allusion to his simplicity."

But the suggestion of a " mere figure " in the vision is altogether out of keeping with the character of the whole series of these prophetic dramas in which every actor is of significance, and there is nothing whatever in the text of the vision to justify the above statement that this " man " was sent " on no mission from above," and is represented as acting " unwisely " or in " his simplicity."

In opposition to the above, it seems to me very clear that " the man " is none other than the One whom the prophet beheld in the first vision riding upon the red horse, and standing among the myrtles " in the bottom " or "by the deep" (chap. i. 8), who in the iith verse of that same chapter is identified with the MalakJi Yehovah the Angel of Jehovah who, as we have seen, is the same as " the Angel of His Face," the Divine " Messenger of the Covenant," the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity.

Nor are these the only places where the Angel of Jehovah is called " the man " in these series of visions, for in the symbolical transaction which follows the visions in chap, vi., which is an indisputably Messianic passage, we read:

"Behold the Man, whose name is the Branch, and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of Jehovah." Now, He who in that scripture is represented as the builder of the true Temple of Jehovah, as the ultimate fulfilment of the " comfortable words " of promise in the first vision, " My house shall be built in it," is " the man " who in this third vision is represented as the Author of that future restoration and enlargement of the city expressed in the words which immediately follow in that first comprehensive message of consolation: " And a line shall be stretched over Jerusalem" (i. 16). [1]

Some (as Neumann, Lange, and others) identity the " other angel," in ver. 3, with the Angel of Jehovah; but in that case it is difficult to see why he should not have been called simply by the title Malakh Yehovah, if he were that Divine Being, instead of by an indefinite designation which suggests in itself the idea that he was an angel of inferior dignity. Besides, the expression, "went out," in ver. 3, which is the same as " went forth," as used of the inter preting angel, seems to me to indicate that just as the latter " went out " from the side of the prophet by whom he was standing, so this " other angel " was by the side and in attendance on the man with the measuring line, by whom he was sent to meet the interpreting angel with the message with which the latter, in his turn, was to run to the prophet.

The " young man," therefore, is neither " the man " with the measuring line, nor any other angelic being, as some have supposed; for, apart from the fact that such an interpretation confuses the whole vision, the term naar, as Pusey well observes, " Common as our English term youth/ in regard to man, is inapplicable and unapplied to angels, who have not our human variations of age, but exist as they were created."[2] The probable reason why the prophet is thus styled, and the practical lessons which we may learn from this fact, I have already pointed out in my introductory remarks on the personality of Zechariah, at the commencement of these expositions.

The Message

The joyful tidings in explanation of the symbolical act of the measuring of the city, with which the interpreting angel is to "run," that he may quickly communicate them to the prophet, that he also in his turn may communicate them to the people, contain a twofold message.

I. Jerusalem shall not only be restored but greatly enlarged, extending much beyond the boundaries of its ancient walls, "by reason of the multitude of men and cattle therein," it will "dwell" or "be inhabited" as perazoth, rendered in the A.V. "towns without walls," and in the R.V. "villages." But the word strictly describes "plains," or an open country in which there is nothing to circumscribe the inhabitants, or to prevent them from spreading as themselves abroad: thus in Ezek. xxxviii. 11 it is used of the land where people dwell in peace and prosperity, "without walls, bolts, and gates," in contrast to those in walled cities; and in Esth. ix. 19 the inhabitants of the perazoth (the unprotected towns and villages) are distinguished from those living in the fortified capital, Susa. It denotes also a condition of confidence and safety, since in danger men resort to strong cities and fortified towns.

This again is in accord with the words of the former prophets in reference to the marvellous increase of the people, and the extended boundaries of the city and the land after the restoration: thus, for instance, we read in Isa. xlix. 19, 20, "For as for thy waste places and thy desolate places, and thy land that hath been destroyed, surely now shalt thou be too strait for the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children of thy bereavement" ("the children that thou shalt have instead of those of which thou hast been bereaved "—it is addressed ssed to Jerusalem) " shall yet say in thine ears, The place is too strait for me; give place to me " (" make room ") " that I may dwell," so that the limits of the city and the land shall be ever wider extended, and Jerusalem shall resemble a succession of " villages " on the open plains.

II. But a promise much greater than mere outward enlargement and material prosperity follows in the 5th verse: " For /, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory (or for glory ) in the midst of her." This is one of the most beautiful and com prehensive promises in the Old Testament. It contains an assurance of protection though inhabited as " villages " in an open plain, without visible walls or fortifications, it shall be " a strong city " and perfectly safe from all attacks and danger; for not only will Jehovah in that day " appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks" (Isa. xxvi. i), but He; Himself (the " I " in ver. 5 being very emphatic) will be a wall of fire " as an inner circle " of perfect defence to those within, but for sure destruction to enemies who shall dare to approach from without.

And as He shall be her protection from without, so shall He be her glory from within, for " Jehovah shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory"

(Isa. Ix. 19); and what is said of the heavenly Jerusalem shall, in a degree, be true also in that day of the restored earthly city, " The glory of the Lord shall lighten it, and the Lamb shall be the lamp thereof" (Rev. xxi. 23).

But it might be as well, before proceeding further, to pause and inquire if there is any truth in the assertion that this promise has already been fulfilled, and to make quite sure that it is of the literal Jerusalem that these beautiful words are primarily spoken; for there are some interpreters who even deny this. Thus Pusey (whose otherwise devout and scholarly work on the Minor Prophets is vitiated by the so-called spiritualising method which seeks persistently to explain away even the plainest prophecies about Jerusalem, and applies every promise to " the Church/ while it carefully leaves the curses to the Jews), after explaining the words, " Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls," exclaims: " Clearly, then, it is no earthly city. To be inhabited as villages would be weak ness, not strength; a peril, not a blessing. The earthly Jerusalem, as long as she remained unwalled, was in continual fear and weakness. God put it into the heart of His servant (Nehemiah) to desire to restore her; her wall was built, and she prospered. . . . This prophecy, then, looks on directly to the time of Christ. Wonderfully does it picture the gradual expansion of the Kingdom of Christ without bound or limit. ... It should dwell as villages, peacefully and gently expanding itself to the right and to the left, through its own inherent power of multiplying itself, as a city to which no bounds were assigned, but which was to fill the earth." And another,[3] who, in an able and elaborate work, which, however, is chiefly a summary of the explanations and speculations of German commentators who, with very rare exceptions, have no place at all in their theological and exegetical schemes for any future for Israel admitting that it is of the earthly Jerusalem that the words were spoken tells us coolly that:

"There is no need to suppose that the prophecy refers to a still future period, as Von Hoffmann imagines. The prophecy was fulfilled by the restoration of the city of Jerusalem under the protection of God even in troublous days.

" Though surrounded indeed by walls, Jerusalem grew so fast that a considerable number dwelt in villages outside the walls. Its population continually increased the city was noted for its splendid appearance in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus. ... In the troublous times which intervened between the days of Zechariah and those of our Lord, notwithstanding the disasters which occasionally fell upon the holy city, abundant proof was given that the Lord was not forgetful of His promises, specially to shield and to protect it. The promises," he proceeds, " would have been fully accomplished if the people had kept the covenant committed to them, and they were accomplished in a great measure, notwithstanding their many sins."

A good deal is made of a letter of Aristeas, an Egyptian Jew, to Philocrates, which is referred to by Josephus in the I2th book of his Jewish Antiquities, in which a description of Jerusalem after the restoration is given; also of a fragment of Hecataeus, who lived in the time of Alexander the Great, and who describes the Jews at the time as possessing " many fortresses and towns, moreover one fortified city, by name Jerusalem, fifty stadia in circumference and inhabited by 120,000 men"; and of Josephus statement (sec his Jewish Wars, v. 4. 2) that at the time of Herod Agrippa, " as the city grew more populous it gradually crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northwards of the temple and joined that hill to the city made it considerably larger, and occasioned that hill, which is in number the fourth, and is called Bezetha, to be inhabited also." All of which, according to these interpreters, show that the glorious prophecy in Zech. ii. has been fulfilled, and has no more reference to a future period.

But first, in reference to those who explain away the application to the literal Jerusalem altogether, we would say that this method of interpretation does not " spiritualise " but pJiantomise Scripture, for it does not really bring out the meaning and true application of the Spirit, which alone makes the Word of God " spiritual " and profitable to the reader, but substitutes an unnatural and shadowy meaning for what is plain and obvious, and thereby throws a vague ness and uncertainty over all the prophetic oracles. Surely the fact that the Jerusalem whose greatly extended future site is here measured is to overflow not only with men, but with " cattle," who are to dwell therein, ought to be sufficient proof that it is an earthly and not a heavenly city that is spoken about. Was the " Jerusalem," against which Jehovah had indignation " these threescore years and ten " of the captivity, for which the Angel of Jehovah intercedes in the first vision " the Kingdom of Christ "? And is not the third vision, as already shown, the ex pansion and sequel of the good and comfortable words which are God's answer to that intercession?

It is beside the mark to argue that it can be no earthly city, because " to be inhabited as villages would be weakness, not strength a peril, not a blessing." So it would in ordinary circumstances, but surely the words which immediately follow make all the difference: " For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round about "; and this is more than all visible walls and literal bulwarks.

It is true that at the time this prophecy was uttered, and all along till now, " so long as Jerusalem remained unwalled it was in continual fear and weakness," because it was encompassed by enemies on every side, and its inhabitants had not yet learned that it was Jehovah who was in truth their refuge and strength, and that " Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman watcheth but in vain "; but prophecy points to a time when, after " Jehovah will have mercy on Jacob and choose Israel again, and set them in their own land," their enemies shall no more be permitted to afflict or molest them, and they shall have rest from their sorrow and their fear, and from the hard bondage wherein they were made to serve (Isa. xiv. 13). Then also Jehovah, in the Person of their Messiah Jesus, shall, from Jerusalem as the centre, "judge among the nations, and rebuke many peoples: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more "; and it will be quite safe for even the earthly Jerusalem, with " the King,"

"the Lord of hosts," in its midst, to be inhabited as villages in an open plain, without visible walls or forti fications.

Then, secondly, in reference to those who tell us that there is no need to suppose that there is any reference in this prophecy to a future period, I would repeat my remarks at the close of the exposition of the first chapter, that though there was doubtless a message in this vision to the generation to which the prophet was first commissioned to relate it, and there was a very partial and shadowy fulfilment of the promise of the rebuilding of the house and the city in the work accomplished by Zerubbabel and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, and by Ezra and Nehemiah, yet to limit this glorious prophecy to any period of Jerusalem's history while it is still being " trodden down of the Gentiles," which has never ceased to be the case from the time of the Babylonian Captivity to this day, is to misapprehend and misinterpret the scope of this as well as of all prophecy.

But, in truth, these beautiful words, " For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and the glory in the midst of her," are really an announce ment of the return of the Glory of the Personal Presence of Jehovah to Jerusalem, and an amplification of the words in the first vision, " I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies." I have elsewhere tried to show the full signifi cance of Ezekiel's vision of the departure of the Glory of Jehovah from Jerusalem, which synchronised with the removal of governmental power from Judah,[4] and the special characteristics of the present " Ichabod " period of Israel's history.

It was the withdrawal of Himself from their midst which has been the cause of all the helplessness and the sorrow and the darkness of the Jewish nation since the commencement of " the times of the Gentiles "; and that this period did not terminate with the first advent of our Lord is clear from Christ's own prophetic forecast of future events, in which He says: " And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." It is true that if Israel's eyes had been opened to see the true character and divine majesty of that royal Babe born in Bethlehem and of the " mysterious man of Nazareth " (as a Jewish Rabb has recently styled Him), they would have seen in Him a glory greater than that which dwelt in the symbolic cloud which led our fathers in the wilderness and which dwelt between the cherubim, and the promises of the return of the Personal Presence of Jehovah, no more to depart from their midst, might have been fulfilled; but Israel's eyes were holden then, and only a few Jewish disciples there were who saw the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and could joyfully exclaim:

"We beheld His Glory, the Glory of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The nation as a whole saw " no form nor comeliness " to desire Him, so they " despised and esteemed Him not." In the end, after He had for three and a half years with outstretched arms continued to call Israel to Himself, but without response that which was symbolised by the departure of the Glory from the Mount of Olives, depicted by Ezekiel, received a second personal and more striking fulfilment, when Jesus also, slowly and reluctantly, after shedding tears of sorrow for Jerusalem, and from the same spot whence the prophet saw the Glory depart, finally ("after His atoning death and glorious resurrection) ascended out of sight.

But has the purpose of God been frustrated by Israel's unbelief, and will the exceeding great and precious promises in reference to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom on this earth, with Jerusalem as its centre, fail for evermore because (as the writer quoted above asserts) the Jewish people has not " kept the covenant committed to them "? Oh no; man's unbelief and disobedience may, in accord with the foreknowledge and infinite wisdom of God, cause the delay and postponement of God's predetermined counsel, which in this particular instance has been the occasion of salvation and blessing to untold millions of Gentiles (Rom. xi. 11 15), but it can never frustrate it.

Jesus Christ came as a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God (not to annul or transfer), but to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Rom. xv. 8); and since their ratification in His own precious blood, all the promises of God in relation to the people and the land of Israel, as well as in relation to the " mercy " which He purposed from the beginning to show unto the Gentiles, have been made doubly sure.

Both the New Testament as well as the Old teach us to expect and look for the revelation of the Glory of Jehovah, when " all flesh shall see it together "; and then, when the Malakh Ye/iovak, with whom the symbolic cloud of glory was associated from the very first mention of it in the Scriptures (comp. Ex. xiii. 21, 22 with xiv. 12, 20), shall appear in His glory, not only in the form of man, but as " the same Jesus," visibly to establish God's rule over this earth, and to sit upon the throne of His father David these visions and prophecies of the return of the Glory of Jehovah shall be fulfilled: <l And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for over all the Glory shall be as a {marriage} canopy. And there shall be a pavilion for a shadow in the daytime from tJie heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain."[5]

But though not in the form of visibility, as shall be the case in restored Jerusalem by and by, the precious promise of outward protection and inward illumination, contained in the words, " For I, saith the Lord, will be a wall of fire round about, and the glory in the midst of her," is true to every one of you also, dear readers, who know experimentally the truth of the Apostle's words, " Whom, having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." The Angel of Jehovah even now " encampeth " (with an invisible host) round about them that fear Him and delivereth them (Ps. xxxiv. 7); and because He Himself is a wall of fire round about us, and our life is hid with Christ in God, therefore " when the wicked, even mine enemies and foes"

(whether visible or invisible, whether evil men or " wicked spirits "), " come upon me " (full of determination and fury)

"to eat up my flesh, it is they " (the " they " is very emphatic) " who stumble and fall," and we can confidently say:

" Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, even then will I be confident"

Ps. xxvii. 2, 3.

And as He is our protection from without, so He is our light and our salvation within; for even now the word is true to those who walk with Him, "Jehovah shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory."

But to return to the exposition. Because Jehovah hath spoken well concerning Zion, and hath such purposes of grace concerning Jerusalem, while the nations which were then " at ease," and in apparently undisturbed peace, were about to be visited with judgment, those still in the lands of the exile are exhorted to hasten back to their home.

" Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north, saith Jehovah; for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven, saith Jehovah, Ho Zion, escape, thou that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon"

The Hebrew Mn, ho or hoi, which has not always the same meaning, is here used simply as a particle of exhortation, and for calling attention.

" The land of the north " is the same as Babylon in the next verse, which, though really more an eastern, or south eastern, power in relation to Palestine, is so called because, like Assyria before, it always invaded the Holy Land from the north, and the great caravan route entered the country from the same quarter. The whole passage seems to be made up of inspired echoes of similar utterances in the "former prophets"; as, for instance, Isa. xlviii. 20: " Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans; with a voice of singing declare ye, tell ye this, utter it even to the end of the earth: say ye, Jehovah Iiath redeemed His servant Jacob."

And again in chap. Hi. 1 1 of the same prophet: " Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of Jehovah" It is almost an exact reiteration also of the solemn words of Jeremiah: " Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save every man his life: be not cut off in her iniquity. . . . My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and save yourselves every man from the fierce anger of Jehovah"

(Jer. H. 6, 45).

This also had a primary, though only a partial, reference to the time in which the prophet wrote his visions. Though a remnant had returned, by far the greater number were still in the land to which they had been exiled. Some of them had grown rich and prosperous in the strange land. Their love for Jerusalem and all that it stood for had cooled down, and they were content to become dwellers " with the daughter of Babylon." They were reluctant to leave their comfortable homes and vineyards (which they had indeed been encouraged to build and to plant, but only as temporary possessions during the seventy years of the Captivity, Jer. xxix.) for the rough journey and hard life in the desolated land.

And so they are exhorted to flee out of Babylon, not only because of the goodness of the Lord which is to be shown to His people in their own land, but because of the evil which was about to overtake the country of their sojourn, and the calamities which would come on its people, occasioned probably by the two great rebellions in Baby lonia, and the t\vo captures of the city of Babylon one by Darius in person, and the other by one of his generals which had just taken place when the prophet wrote his visions.[6]

At the same time, this call to come out of the Babylon of that time, which met with only a very partial response, was also a foreshadowing of the future, when Jehovah shall lift up His hand again a second time to recover the remnant of His people which shall be left from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros and from Cush, and from Elam and from Shinar, and from Hamath and from the islands of the sea: " And when they shall no more say, Jehovah liveth which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but Jehovah liveth which brought up and which led the seed of the House of Israel from the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land."

This is evident from the fact that this passage in Zechariah is based on those prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah which are quoted above, and which link the last great judgment of Babylon with the final deliverance and salvation of Israel, as may be seen from a study of the context, and also from the expression: " For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven "; which in the passage we are considering immediately follows a call to come out of Babylon, and which, therefore, as it seems to me, looks on to a return subsequent to the time when the scattering shall have been universal, which was not the case till the second stage in the dispersion was inaugurated with the destruction of the second temple.[7]

The verses which follow are among the most important in the Old Testament in reference to Messiah's character, and they sum up that part of His mission, in relation to Israel and the nations, which in the prophetic scriptures is always connected with His yet future glorious appearing.

" For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: After glory hath He sent Me unto the nations which spoiled you; for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.

" For, behold, I will shake Mine hand over them, and they shall be a spoil to those that served them; and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent Me.

" Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.

" And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be My people, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent Me unto thee.

" And the Lord shall inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land, and shall yet choose Jerusalem."

First, about His character.

The One who speaks is a Divine being, for it is He who lifts up His hand in judgment over the nations and makes them a spoil to those who formerly served them; it is He who, as " Jehovah," comes to dwell in the midst of His people, in fulfilment of the many promises of the reign of God on Mount Zion, and before His ancients gloriously, and who shall receive the many nations in that day as " His people "; and yet He, who in the whole series of promises in this chapter affirms of Himself what belongs to Almighty God only, shall in that day be known as the One whom Jehovah of hosts hath sent unto them.

Mystery of mysteries here is Jehovah, yet sent by Jehovah! but it is the mystery of light and not of darkness to those who have learned to know the blessed Triune God of Israel as He is self-revealed in the Scriptures, and whose eyes have been opened to see in Him Who, in that synagogue of Nazareth, applied to Himself the words from the ancient Hebrew scroll: " The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because Jehovah hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted," etc. none other than " Jehovah Tzidkenu " the " Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace," whose goings forth are from of old, even " from the days of eternity " who as the Malakh Yehovah, the Divine Messenger of the Covenant, appeared of old to patriarchs and prophets, and in the fulness of time became incarnate, and was " sent " of God with the message of peace and salvation to man, and to be the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.

But it is no wonder that to modern Jews, who have lost the knowledge of the living, personal God of their fathers, and substituted for the scriptural faith of the unity of God the dogma of an abstract unicity, such a scripture is an enigma and insoluble mystery.

Secondly, the mission which He is to accomplish is described in the words, Achar kabhod shelahani, " After glory hatk He sent Me " a sentence which has been very variously interpreted by different writers, but which most probably means to vindicate and to display the glory of God, first in the judgments which He is to inflict on the nations who have oppressed Israel, and then in the exhibition of His grace in the deliverance and salvation of His own people, and also in the blessing which is to come to the Gentile nations after Israel is restored, and Mount Zion becomes not only the seat of Messiah's governmental rule over the nations, but the centre of the true worship of God on the earth. This is further explained by the words which follow: " For, behold, I will shake Mine hand over them " even as in Isa. xi. i 5 and xix. 1 6, where the same Hebrew word is used, God promised of old to do against Israel's enemies.[8] " And they shall become a spoil to those that served them" which is also an inspired echo of Isa. xiv., where we read that, after Jehovah shall have had compassion on Jacob, and have chosen Israel again, and set them in their own land, that " the stranger shall join himself with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob; . . . and the house of Jacob shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and for handmaidens, and they shall take them captive whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors."

And the reason "the subjective motive" of His lifting up His hand in judgment over the nations is expressed in a phrase which gives us a glimpse of God's tender love for His people: " For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye" the word literally is "the gate," the opening in which the eye is placed, but it is generally, and most probably correctly, understood to mean the pupil of the eye:

"The aperture through which rays pass to the retina is the tenderest part of the eye the member which we so care fully guard as the most precious of our members, the one which feels acutely the slightest injury, and the loss of which is irreparable." This is how God felt about Israel at the beginning; for already, in Deut. xxxii., Moses, in summing up their high privileges and God's great lovingkindness to them as a nation, says: " He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, howling wilderness. He compassed him about, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye Many and terrible have been Israel's sins and apostasies since, but He has never ceased to care and yearn for them.

Zion in her desolation may indeed sometimes say to herself, " Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me "; but God's answer comes: " Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have com passion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me." And even while " the dearly beloved of His soul " is in the hand of her enemies, He jealously watches the conduct of the nations toward her, and wishes it to be proclaimed that he that toucheth her toucheth the apple of His eye, and is accounted as His enemy.

And in this tender love and faithfulness of Jehovah to His unworthy Israel, you may see a picture of His un changeable love and faithfulness to you also, dear reader; for if you have learned to put your trust under the shadow of His wings, and in Christ have been brought into covenant relationship with Him, then you are loved of Him with the same love with which He loves His only-begotten Son, and are as dear and indispensable to Him as the dearest member of your body can be to you. You may therefore apply this figure also to yourself individually, and pray with David

Keep me as the apple of Thine eye; Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings."

But the greatest promise in this vision and prophecy is that expressed in the words, " Lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord" (ver. 10); which not only formed the ground and object of the expectations of the godly remnant of Israel in ancient times, but is still " the Blessed Hope " in the New Testament

The speaker is still the Malakh Yehovah, the blessed, Divine Angel, in and through whom is fully manifested God's name (Ex. xxiii. 21), "the Angel of His Face," because he that seeth Him hath seen the Father. It is the same who speaks in the 4Oth Psalm: " Lo, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of Me," on which Luther well observes: " There is but one Person, and that is the Messiah; and there is but one Book, and that is the Bible in the whole of which it is written of Him."

And it is no wonder that in the glorious anticipation of His Advent, and the blessed consequences which are to follow, " the daughter of Zion " is called upon to " sing (or shout for joy ) and rejoice "; which again (as is characteristic of the whole of Zechariah) is a terse summary of the joyful exclamations of the former prophets, whose hearts also glowed with joy and yearning whenever (though as yet from afar) they caught a glimpse of the King in His beauty, and their mouths were opened to announce His near approach. Thus Isaiah, at the close of the Book of Immanuel,[9] after describing the Glorious Person, and blessed reign of Him whose Name is " Wonderful," calls out, " Cry aloud and shout, thou inJiabitress of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee" (Isa. xii. 6); which again is repeated by Zephaniah, who exclaims: Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem / . . . the King, even Jehovah, is in the midst of thee; thou shalt not fear evil any more" (Zeph. iii. 14, 15).

But there is a necessity, perhaps, once again to point out that the " Lo, I come," of these passages in Isaiah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah, are not the same as the " Lo, I come," of the 4Oth Psalm; for though in Old Testament prophecy the principle of perspective is not observed, and events of the most distant future are sometimes linked on to those which are near, or nearer, the prophet's own time, yet the great fact of the two separate advents of the Messiah once in humiliation to suffer and die; and a second time in glory to dwell in the midst of Zion and to rule over the nations stand out clear and distinct enough on the pro phetic page, and to confound them is to throw the whole plan of God as revealed in the Scriptures into confusion.

The ancient Rabbis, puzzled by the two apparently contradictory series of prophecies in reference to Messiah's Person and mission those which described Him as a Babe born in Bethlehem, and as a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, who is stricken for the transgressions of His people, and in the end pours out His soul unto death; and those which depict Him descending as a full-grown " Son of Man " in the clouds of heaven, in great power and glory, to build again the tabernacle of David, and to establish His kingdom have formulated the belief in two Messiahs: a Messiah ben Joseph, who should suffer and die; and a Messiah ben David, who should come to conquer and reign. But we know that there are not two persons, but only two advents, and that it is " this same Jesus " who was born of a Jewish virgin, and who minutely fulfilled the things written in the scroll of the book, in reference to Messiah's sufferings and atoning death, who shall " so and in like manner " come again that is, literally, visibly, bodily to the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and in the clouds of heaven, even as the disciples saw Him go up into heaven.

And this is the hope, not only of the Church, which is His body, consisting of the whole blessed company of the redeemed, whether those who through the ages have fallen asleep in Him, or those who shall be alive and remain till the day of His appearing, who shall only be perfected together " in that day," but of Israel and the nations; for then Israel's long night of weeping shall end the true " King," even Jehovah Jesus, shall be " in the midst of them," and the many great and precious promises in refer ence to Messiah's reign, and the time of peace and blessed ness for this earth, shall be fulfilled.

One great and blessed consequence of His judgments which shall then be abroad in the earth, and of His coming to dwell in the midst of Zion, is that the original purpose of God in the call and election of Abraham and his seed namely, that in them all the families of the earth shall be blessed shall be fulfilled: "And many nations shall join themselves unto Jehovah in that day, and shall be My people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee; and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent Me unto thee." Yes, when the Lord in His mercy shall rebuild Zion, and appear in His glory, " then the nations shall fear the name of Jehovah, and all the kings of the earth His glory" (Ps. cii. 13-22). And not only shall they fear Him, but they shall willingly "join themselves unto Him" the word being the same as that used of the " son of the stranger" who shall "join him self" to the Lord " to serve Him, and to love the name of Jehovah " (Isa. Ivi. 3-6); and of Israel themselves, who in that day " shall join themselves to Jehovah in a perpetual covenant which shall not be forgotten" (Jer. 1. 4, 5).

During the present Dispensation, through Israel's tempor ary " fall," salvation has come to the Gentiles, and the " dimin ishing of them" has been overruled of God to " the riches of the Gentiles." But this " salvation " and " riches " extend only to individuals. God hath visited the " Gentiles " to " take out of them a people for His Name." It is only ignorance of God's plan, and self-delusion, which can boast of the gradual conversion of the world and of " Christian nations " in this present age. And even the partial blessing now experienced by the Gentiles has been brought to them, not only indirectly and passively (through Israel's unbelief), but directly and actively through those " who were, of faith " in the chosen nation.

Through individual Jews whose hearts were set on fire with love and devotion to Jesus of Nazareth whom their nation despised and rejected, who went forth into the world, taking their lives in their hands, to preach Him among the Gentiles; and through the inspired writings of Jewish apostles and evangelists individuals from all nations a multitude which no man can number have been, and are being, brought into the knowledge and fellowship of their Messiah. What migJit Jiave been if the nation, as a nation, instead of rejecting, had accepted Christ, we can only guess and speculate about.

"Judging from the work accomplished by one Jew, Paul," says a Hebrew Christian brother in a recent ablywritten work, " we can imagine what might have been achieved if the intellectual acumen and great learning of the scribes and Pharisees, together with the enthusiasm of the young patriotic zealots, had been enlisted in the cause of spreading Messiah's Kingdom in the world. If, instead of one Paul, there were thousands of Pauls. If the great learning, industry, and spiritual zeal which for centuries has been employed in rearing that great monu ment of wasted human industry, the immense literature of the Talmud, were used rather in the living work of propagating the gospel of Christ! If Jerusalem, instead of Rome, had remained the capital of Christendom, and the Jew, instead of the Greek and Roman, the guiding spirit in the councils of the Church! "[10]

But our human " if" does not reach deep enough to fathom God's inscrutable purposes, nor is it high and broad enough to unravel all the thoughts and hidden counsels of the Infinite and Eternal One. This, however, we do know, that while Israel is held responsible for its rejection and present attitude to Christ and the gospel, that unto God all things were known from the beginning of the world, and that it was clearly forecast on the prophetic page that so it would be; it is only " after these things" when Messiah returns to build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen, and builds again the ruins thereof, and sets it up, that the residue of men shall seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom His name shall then be called"

(Acts xv. 13-18).

Then, when "all Israel shall be saved"; when the miracle of a whole nation being born in a day shall first be witnessed on the earth in the case of the Jews; when the full significance of the precious Name " Immanuel " shall be realised in Jesus "dwelling in the midst" of His own people, so that the name of Jerusalem from that day shall be "Jehovah Shammah " (Ezek. xlviii. 35); when there shall at last be not only " thousands of Pauls," but a whole nation who shall burn with the same love and zeal for the glorious Person of their Messiah, and for the ex tension of His Kingdom, which characterised the blessed apostle to the Gentiles, who in so many respects is the type of His nation, then nations, as nations, " shall join themselves unto Jehovah," and the day of which prophets and psalmists sang, and for which they yearned, the day of universal peace and righteousness, when God's way shall be known in all the world, and His saving health among all nations, shall at last break on this earth.

But even when all nations of the earth shall walk in the light of Jehovah, the special position of Israel, as God's peculiar people on the earth, shall still be made manifest.

" And Jehovah shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again ": which reminds us of Isa. xix. 25, where we read that even after the blessing comes to the saved of the nations whom Jehovah of hosts shall bless, saying: " Blessed be Egypt, My people, and Assyria, the work of My hands," He will still say of Israel, " Mine inheritance," for the Lord's inalienable " portion " from among all the other nations of the earth " is His people, Jacob is the lot of His inheritance " (Deut. xxxii. 9); in which respect, again, Israel nationally is the type and counterpart of the Church, which, made up of saved individuals from among all men, is " the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints " (Eph. i. 1 8),

The expression l al admath haqodesh " in the holy land " is very beautiful, and reminds us of the fact that the land also which has been defiled and polluted, perhaps, above all others, shall then be cleansed of its defilement, and hallowed and sanctified by the presence of Immanuel, to correspond with the people who are to inhabit it; who throughout their future existence on the earth shall be known and called by all other nations as " the holy people"

(Isa. Ixii. 12), on whose persons and homes and possessions, down to the very " bells of the horses," shall be written qodesh layehovah " Holiness (or holy ) to the Lord."

The words, " and shall yet choose Jerusalem again," so to say, " round off" the glorious promises in this chapter, and are the second of a threefold reiteration by Zechariah of Isa. xiv. I. The meaning, as already explained in my notes on the First Vision, is, that Jehovah shall then, by the various acts of lovingkindness to His people and to the land, which are enumerated in this prophecy, demonstrate in the sight of the whole world the fact and the immutability of His original choice of them.

The first cycle of these wonderful " visions " ends with the most solemn announcement of the great fact which forms the climax of all prophecy, namely, the visible appearing of Almighty God in the person of the Messiah as the Judge and Redeemer of men: "Be silent, all flesh, before Jehovah; for He is waked up out of His holy Jiabitationl

The word on, Jias, is almost equivalent to the English " hush," only that there is more of solemnity and power expressed in the Hebrew. "Kal basar " " all flesh " is not only a universal term for all mankind, but is meant to express the weakness and impotence of man in presence of Almighty God. Neor> which is the Niphal of ur, is " to wake up," " to rise up," from rest or sleep, and is, so to say, a response to the many cries of His waiting, oppressed people. " Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord? Arise, cast us not off for ever! " (Ps. xliv. 23).

Mimmeon qadsho " His holy habitation," or, literally, " the habitation of His holiness," an expression found also in Ps. Ixviii. 6; Jer. xxv. 30; and Deut. xxvi. 15 is " heaven," the special and permanent dwelling-place of His glory. There are two somewhat parallel passages in the prophetic Scriptures one in Hab. ii. 20, " But Jehovah is in His holy temple; be silent before Him, all the earth "; and the other in Zeph. i. 7, " Hold thy peace " (has, the same word as " be silent " in the other passages) " at the presence of the Lord God."

The present Dispensation is the period of God's longcontinued silence. How wonderful, how long, how deep, how mysterious, is this silence of God ever since the sound of the last words of Christ, " Surely I come quickly," and the inspired echo and response, " Even so, come, Lord Jesus," died away on the barren rock of Patmos nineteen centuries ago! How often have the hearts of God's people grown impatient under the strain! How often has not the Church cried, " How long, O Lord, how long? " But there has been neither audible voice, nor sound, nor any visible interposition on the part of God. Moreover, while God has remained " silent," man has taken the opportunity of " speaking," and his words are becoming ever more foolish, arrogant, and blasphemous against the Most High; but " our God cometh and shall not keep silent" and then it will not only be the turn of " all flesh " to keep silent, but to stand in solemn awe while " out of his own mouth " man shall be judged, and all his thoughts and words which spell out his own condemnation are set in order before him.[11]

But not only the ungodly and the sinners who have spoken " hard things " against God and His Anointed, but men in general, are called in a spirit of reverence and godly fear to await the solemn event announced; for the coming and visible interposition of God on this earth, while it will mean judgment to some, will mean the consummation of grace and fulness of blessedness to others; and when prophecy and vision is at last fulfilled, and " our God shall arise and His enemies are scattered, and they also that hate Him shall flee before His face " then, also, " the righteous shah" be glad, they shall exult before the face of God, yea, they shall rejoice exceedingly."[12] The last practical word on this Scripture to you, dear Christian reader, is, " Abide in Him," that when He shall appear (when He shall be manifested) we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

  1. The word translated a " line," in chap. i. 16, is not the same as the one rendered " a measuring line " in chap, ii., but there can be no doubt in our judg ment that the idea expressed in that part of the consoling message of the first vision is taken up in this third vision, and the fulfilment realistically set forth by the symbolical act of the actual measuring. It is, moreover, very probable that there is a reference in this second chapter of Zechariah to Ezekiel's vision in chaps, xl., xliii., where " the man whose appearance was like the "appearance of brass," who was going forth "with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed " on the same errand, namely, to measure the site of the Jerusalem that is to be restored, is also the Angel of Jehovah. In Rev. xxi. 15-27 the same symbolism is used in reference to the Jerusalem which is above the city which hath foundations, "whose builder and maker," in a very special sense, is God in Christ.
  2. The term in Hebrew denotes a male from infancy, as Moses was in the ark of bulrushes, to the prime of life; and is occasionally used for " minister " or " servant," without reference to age.
  3. Dr. C. H. II. Wright, "Zechariah and his Prophecies," Bampton Lectures for 1878.
  4. See the chapter, "The Ichabod Period and the Return of the Glory of Jehovah," in The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew,
  5. Isa. iv. 5, 6.
  6. An account of these events is given in the great inscription of Darius cut into the rock at Behistun, which was discovered by Sir H. Rawlinson, and supposed by him to have been made in the fifth year of the reign of Darius, i.e., about three years before Zechariah's visions. The first of these rebellions was that of Nadinta-belus, or Nidantabel, as it is in the Median text. He pretended to be Nebuchadnezzar, raised a powerful army and fought a pitched battle, in which he was utterly routed and slain after the capture of Babylon. The second rebellion was that of Aracus (Arakua), who also became King of Babylon on the same pretence (of being Nebuchadnezzar); but who was afterwards defeated by Nitaphernes and crucified. Sir H. Rawlinson's translations of the Behistun inscription will be found in Records of the Past, vol. i.; and the translation of the Median text by Dr. Oppert, in Records of the Past, vol. ii.
  7. Keil, Hitzig, Kliefoth, Lange, etc., and among English interpreters, Dr. Wright, W. H. Lowe, and others, in order to get over the apparent difficulty why the exiles should be especially exhorted to return from the north if they had been "scattered to all the four winds of heaven " (as Hitzig expresses it), treat the word perasti as a prophetic perfect, and translate it in a good sense of the future, that is, "I shall spread you abroad," or "greatly multiply you as the four winds of heaven "; but the verb is nowhere used of multiplying or diffusing, but generally "of spreading out what remained coherent as hands, wings, a garment, tent, veil, cloud, letter, and light." In Ezek. xvii. 21 we have the same word and almost exactly the same phrase, and there it means certainly not to multiply or spread out, but to scatter towards every wind. It is probable that this expression in Ezekiel was in Zechariah's mind when he wrote this vision. Besides, this is not the only place where the north country in relation to Israel's scattering and gathering stands connected with the other lands of their dispersion it is so in the passage quoted from Jeremiah.
  8. The figure also includes the almighty power of this Divine champion of His people's cause. lie has only to shake (literally "wave") His hand, and the enemies of God and of His people, however formidable they may seem, become as women (Isa. xix. 16).
  9. Consisting of Isa. vii. to xii.
  10. The Jewish Question and the Key to its Solution, by Dr. Max Green,
  11. See the chapter, " The Silence of God: how it shall be Broken," in The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew.
  12. See the Hebrew of Ps. xviii. 1-3.