The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 11
CHAPTER X THE CLIMAX OF THE VISIONS
THE CROWNING OF JOSHUA (CHAPTER vi. 9-15)
The word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah ; .and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, whither they are come from Babylon ; yea, take of them silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest ; and speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, 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 ; even He shall build the Temple of Jehovah ; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne ; and He shall be a priest upon His throne ; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the Temple of Jehovah. And they that are far off shall come and build in the Temple of Jehovah ; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent Me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Jehovah your God.
THE series of eight visions is followed by a very significant symbolical transaction, which must be regarded as the crowning act the headstone of the rich symbolico-prophetical teaching which was unfolded to the prophet on that memorable night.
It shows us what will follow the banishment of evil from the land, and the overthrow of world-power in the earth, as set forth particularly in the last three visions namely, the crowning of the true King, the Mediator of Salvation, who shall be " a Priest upon His throne," and build the true temple of Jehovah, into which not only Israel, but " they that are far off" the Gentiles shall have access.
To indicate that the visions are now ended, the pro phet adopts the usual formula by which the prophets always authenticated that they spake, not of themselves, but as they were moved by the Holy Spirit: "And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying" The whole section divides itself into two parts the first (vers. 9-11) gives the ac count of the symbolical transaction ; and the second (vers. 13 15) records the verbal prophecy.
The symbolical act was occasioned by the following circumstance : There arrived in Jerusalem, probably on the very morning after the vision, three prominent men as a deputation from the Haggolah, " the Captivity " that is, from those who were still settled in Babylon, whither they were originally carried " captive " bringing with them an offering of silver and gold for the Temple, which was then still in building. The sight of these men from " far-off"
Babylon, bearing their offering for the Lord s House, was
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the occasion of the opening of the prophet s eyes by the Spirit of God to behold the future glorious Temple, which in Messiah s time shall be established in Jerusalem as an House of Prayer for all nations, and to which even the Gentile peoples which are " far off" shall flock, bringing their worship and their offerings.
The incident recorded in John xii. 20-33 ma y m a sense be regarded as parallel to this. There the coming of Andrew and Philip to our Lord with the touching request made in the first instance to the latter of these two disciples by the Greeks who came up to Jerusalem among those who came up to worship at the feast : " Sir, we would see Jesus," took our Saviour s mind to the time when " all men," without distinction of race or nationality, shall be " drawn " unto Him, and to the only possible way by which this could be brought about. In the temple of His pre- resurrection body, as the Son of David, there was no room for these poor Gentiles. The Son of Man must be lifted up : except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone ; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. So here the appearance in Jerusalem of these strangers takes the prophet s mind from the Temple they were then building, over the second outer court of which when com pleted there was the inscription put up in Greek and Latin : " No stranger may enter here on pain of death" l to the
1 The interesting discovery in 1871 by Clermont-Ganneau, the learned Oriental archaeologist (the same who discovered and translated the inscription of the Moabite Stone), of the block of stone with the Greek version of this inscription, which was actually built into the wall or enclosure of the Second Temple, separating the "Court of the Gentiles" from the "Court of the Women," is now well known. I have myself more than once seen and examined the block with the inscription on it, which, with many other precious archaeological treasures, is now in the Constantinople Museum. The actual words of the Greek inscription upon which our Lord Jesus and Paul most probably looked more than once, read, translated, thus .\ " No stranger born may enter within the circuit of the barrier (rpv<t>6.KTov) and enclosure (7repi/3o\oC) that is around the sacred court (rd lepbv). And whoever shall L-e caught there, upon himself be the blame of the death which will consequently follow." Josephus (Antiq. xv. n. 5), speaking of the enclosures, or Courts of the Temple, which he describes as very spacious and surrounded by cloisters of much grandeur, says: "Thus was the first enclosure. In the midst of which, and not far from it, was the second, to be gone up by a
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future Temple, which Messiah, the true Prince and Priest, of whom Zerubbabel and Joshua the son of Josedech, were types, would build ; which, as already said, shall be an House of Prayer for all nations, and in which those that are " far off" by which we must understand not only the Jews who were still in the far lands of their " captivity," but the Gentiles, " from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same," as the last post-exilic prophet Malachi predicts " shall come and build."
The symbolical act itself which the prophet is com manded to perform was as follows :
He was to go to the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, " whither they (i.e., these distinguished strangers) are come from Babylon," as the original words in the i8th verse are properly rendered in the Revised Version the 1 4th verse indicating, as we shall see, that this Josiah, like a true son of Abraham, was a man " given to hospitality," and lodged these strangers in his house as an act of " kind ness." Having gone that " same day " to that hospitable house, he was to take some of the silver and gold which they had brought as an offering from those still in Babylon, and make ataroth. The word is in the plural, and is rendered in the Authorised Version and in the text of the Revised Version " crowns," l some commentators sup posing that there were at least two crowns one made of silver and the other of gold : the first for the high priest, or at any rate as an emblem of the priestly dignity ; and the other of royalty. But what follows does not at all agree with this supposition, for the prophet is commanded to put the ataroth upon the head of Joshua ; and, as Keil and Lange well observe, " You do not put two or more crowns upon the head of one man." Ewald, Hitzig, and others, to
few steps ; this was encompassed by a stone wall for a partition, with an inscrip tion which forbade any foreigner to go in under pain of death."
How significant, in the light of this fact, are the words of the apostle : " But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace who hath made both (i.e., Jew and Gentile) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition " (Eph. ii. 13, 14).
1 In the margin of the R.V. it is rendered in the singular, "a crown."
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meet the supposed difficulty, would interpolate the words " and upon the head of Zerubabbel " in the I ith verse, as if one crown was to be put upon the head of Zerubbabel and the other upon Joshua ; but there is no justification what ever for such a free-and-easy method of handling the sacred text, and the interpretation based upon their " reconstruc tion " only obscures the rich significance and spiritual beauty of the truth set forth in this symbolical transaction.
There is no mention whatever of Zerubbabel in this passage, neither was a silver crown, or indeed any crown, ever worn by the high priest the priestly mitre being never so designated. 1 In fact, the whole significance of the incident lies in the fact that these crowns, or crown, was placed upon the head of Joshua. The plural " ataroth" is used in Job xxi. 36 for one crown, and what most probably is meant is a single " splendid royal crown," consisting of a number of gold and silver twists or circlets woven together.
The Verbal Prophecy
Having placed this crown upon the head of Joshua, the prophet was, by the Lord s command, to deliver to him the following message : " Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold the Man whose name is the Branch, and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the Temple of the Lord : even He shall build the Temple of the Lord : and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne ; and He shall be a priest upon His throne ; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both"
This is one of the most remarkable and precious Messianic prophecies, and there is no plainer prophetic utterance in the whole Old Testament as to the Person of the promised Redeemer, the offices He was to fill, and the
1 " The silver might have formed a circlet in the crown of gold, as in modern times the iron crown of Lombardy was called iron because it had a plate of iron in its summit, being else of gold and most precious." Pusey.
In Rev. xix. our Lord Jesus is spoken of as wearing many crowns (dtaS^^ara TroXXd) ; but what is probably meant is a diadem composed of, or encircled with, manv crowns.
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mission He was to accomplish. Let us examine the sentence in detail.
wx nan j$ 6 o avOpwiros Ecce Homo ! " Behold the Man ! " an expression which has become famous and of profound significance, since some five centuries later, in the overruling providence of God, it was used by Pilate on the day when He Who came to bring life into the world was Himself led forth to a death of shame.
Here, however, it is not to the Son of Man in His humiliation, to the " Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief," that our attention is directed by God Himself, but to the only true Man after God s own heart the Man par excellence the Ideal and Representative of the race, Who, after having for our salvation worn the crown of thorns, shall, as the reward of His sufferings, be " crowned with glory and honour," and have all things put in subjection under His feet.
" Behold the Man ! " " Behold My Servant ! " (Isa. xlii. I, lii. 1 3), " Behold thy King ! " (Zech. ix. 9), " Behold your God ! " (Isa. xl. 9) : thus variously, as calling attention to the different aspects of the character of the same blessed Person, is this word " Behold " used by God Himself.
" Behold the Man ! " the words are indeed addressed to Joshua, but by no possibility can they be made to apply to him as the subject, as modern Jews and some rational istic Christian interpreters seek to do. 1
1 Rashi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi assert that " the Man, the Branch." is Zerub- babel ; but, for obvious controversial reasons, they have departed from the older received interpretation, as is seen from Targum of Jonathan, where the passage (ver. 12) is paraphrased thus: "Behold the Man ; Messiah is His Name. He will be revealed, and He will become great and build the Temple of God."
The Messianic interpretation is also defended with great force by Abarbanel, who thus decisively refutes the interpretation adopted by the great trio of Jewish commentators, Rashi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi. He says, " Rashi has written that the words, Behold the Man Whose Name is the Branch, have by some been interpreted of the Messiah." He here means Jonathan, whose inter pretation he did not receive, for he adds that the building here spoken of refers altogether to the Second Temple ; but I wish that I could ask them, if this pro phecy refers to the Second Temple and Zerubabbel, why it said, "The Man Whose Name is the Branch," "and He shall grow up from beneath Him." Surely we know that every man grows up to manhood, and even to old age and
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Joshua himself knew of a certainty that that which was set forth by the symbolical act of his being crowned, and the great prophecy contained in the words which followed, could not refer to himself.
Perhaps if it had been Zerubbabel who was a prince of the House of David who had been so crowned, and to whom the words had been addressed, there might have been some shadow of ground for such a mistake ; but Joshua, as priest, never could wear a crown, nor sit and rule upon a throne, since as long as the old Dispensation lasted the priesthood and royalty were, by God s appointment, apportioned to different tribes, and no true prophet would ever think or speak of any one but a son of David as having a right to sit and rule on a throne in Jerusalem. This, in all probability, was the reason why the crown was placed on the head, not of Zerubbabel, but of Joshua. But Zechariah, who was a priest-prophet, and Joshua, to whom the words are addressed, knew well that there were pre-
hoary hairs. Rashi, perceiving this objection, has interpreted this to mean that He shall be of the royal seed ; but this is not correct, for the word vmnp ("from beneath Him ") teaches nothing about the royal family. . . . But, at all events, I should like to ask them, if these words be spoken of Zerubbabel, why does the prophet add that " He shall build the Temple of the Lord : even He shall build the Temple of the Lord." Why this repetition to express one single event ? The commentators have got no answer but this, " It is to confirm the matter." But, if this be the case, it would be better to repeat the words three or four times, for then the confirmation would have been greater still. I should further ask them how they can interpret of Zerubbabel those words, " He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne" ; " for he (Zerubbabel) never ruled in Jerusalem, and never sat upon the throne of the kingdom, but only occupied himself in building the Temple, and afterwards returned to Babylon " (Abarbanel, Comment, in loc.).
Dr. Alexander McCaul says on this passage, "The prophecy promises these particulars : first, He shall be a priest upon His throne ; secondly, He shall build the Temple of the Lord ; thirdly, He shall bear the glory (Tin, the "majesty"), and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and they that are far oft shall come and build the Temple of the Lord. " It is not necessary to point out the well-known passages which prove that these four particulars are all features of Messiah s character, and in that of no one else. It is also easy to identify these features in the character of Jesus of Nazareth. He is represented in the New Testament as a High Priest, as a King ; and it is certain that the Gentiles, who were then afar off, have acknowledged His dignity ; and, as for building a Temple, He did this also. (See John ii. 29 ; Eph. ii. 22.)
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dictions in the former prophets that in a time to come the Redeemer, whom God promised to raise up in Israel out of the House of David, would combine in His own Person the two great mediatorial offices of Priest and King, and be at the same time the last and greatest Prophet, through Whom God would reveal Himself more fully and perfectly to man. Thus, for instance, in the I loth Psalm it is predicted of the theocratic King, Who " shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath," and "judge among nations"
" The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent. Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek"
Now, of this royal Priest, whose priesthood was to be " for ever," Joshua was already told in the 3rd chapter that both he and his " fellows of the Aaronic family were anshei mopheth literally, " men that are a sign," i.e., types so that there could be no shadow of a possibility of his understanding this new and fuller message about the Priest-King in the 6th chapter as referring to himself, beyond the fact that in his official capacity as high priest he (like all the other priests of the House of Aaron) fore shadowed the Person and office of the One who should be the true and only Mediator between God and man.
To return for a moment to the symbolical action which preceded the delivery of the verbal message, there is truth in Pusey s observation, that the act of placing the crown on the head of Joshua, the high priest, pictured not only the union of the offices of Priest and King in the person of the Messiah, but that He should be King, being first our High Priest. " Joshua was already high priest ; being such, the kingly crown was added to him. It says in act what the Apostle says in plain words, that Christ Jesus, being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him."
But to remove any possibility of mistake or doubt, " the Man " to whom the attention of Joshua is directed away from himself is introduced by the well-known 3
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Messianic title, which in the Book of Zechariah is used as a proper name of the promised Deliverer.
" Behold the man Tsemach The Branch is His Name"
We have fully entered into this point in the exposition of the 8th verse of chap, iii., and have there shown also how, under this title, the Messiah is brought before us in the Old Testament prophecy in the four different aspects of His character to which reference has already been made above namely, as the King (Jer. xxiii. 5, 6), the Servant (Zech. iii. 8), the Man (Zech. vi. 1 2), and as " the Branch of Jehovah " (Isa. iv. 2) : which answer so beautifully to the fourfold portraiture of the Christ of history which the Spirit of God has, through the Evangelists, given us in the four different Gospels. We therefore pass on to the next clause.
" And He shall grow up out of His place " umitachtav itsmach 1 literally, " He shall branch up from under Him " from His own root or stock.
First, as to the race or nation, He shall be of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David ; and, secondly, as to the soil or country, it shall be " Immanuel s Land," and out of Bethlehem Ephratha, that this glorious Branch shall spring up, as foretold by the former prophets.
At the same time it is true, as Hengstenberg observes, that the expression presupposes the lowliness from which He will first rise by degrees to glory. " Thus," to quote another writer, " in this one significant sentence the lowly origin of the Messiah on the one hand, and His royal dignity on the other, are both not obscurely referred to." z
From His glorious Person and family, or place of His origin, as " the Man," or " Son of David," our thoughts are next directed to the great work He is to accomplish :
" And He shall build the Temple of Jehovah ; even He (or, literally, He Himself) shall build the Temple of Jehovah"
1 The only other place where "umitachtav" is found in the Old Testament is Ex. x. 23, where it means "out of his own place."
2 Dr. Wright.
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The repetition and the strong emphasis laid upon the pronoun " He " being intended as an affirmation both of the certainty of the fact, and the greatness of the task to be accomplished by Him. Joshua the priest and Zerubbabel the prince were then engaged in the building of a Temple, and one primary object in the visions and prophecies of Zechariah even as it was of Haggai was to encourage them in the task which was now nearing completion. But, perhaps as a reward for his faithfulness, or as an encourage ment to those who sorrowed because of the apparent insignificance of the House they were then able to build, 1 the prophet is commissioned of God to reveal to Joshua that another, greater than he and his companion, but whom they in their respective offices had the honour to foreshadow He who would combine in His own Person the dignities of priesthood and royalty would build the Temple of Jehovah, of which also that they were now engaged in building was a type and pledge.
But, we may ask, what Temple is it which the Messiah, according to this and other predictions, was to build ?
In answer to this question we would say first of all that we cannot exclude from this prophecy the reference to a literal Temple in Jerusalem, which shall, after Israel s national conversion, be built under the superintendence of their Messiah-King, and which will, during the millennial period, be " the House of Jehovah " on earth, to which " the nations will flow " and many peoples go, in order that they may be taught His ways, and learn to walk in His paths, and which will be literally " An House of Prayer " and worship " for all nations." 2
But there is something greater and deeper in this prophecy than the reference to a future material Temple on earth, however glorious that may be. The Temple in Jerusalem was the outward visible symbol of communion between God and His people, which in the past has never been perfectly realised. And let us remember, mysterious
1 Ezra iii. 10-13 ; Hag. ii. 3 ; Zech. iv. 10.
2 Isa. ii. 2-4, Ivi. 6, 7 ; Mic. iv. 1-7 ; Ezek. xl. to xliii.
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and wonderful as it may appear to us, that not only is the blessedness of man created in the image of God conditional on communion with his Maker, but the infinite and ever- blessed God, the Father of spirits, seeks communion with man. Indeed, it might be said that this was the chief object which God had in creating man that he might be a temple to contain His perfection and fulness ; that the mind with which He had endowed him might comprehend and admire His infinite wisdom, and his heart respond to His love. In the Garden of Eden we get a beautiful glimpse of what was intended as the beginning of a fellow ship between God and man, which was to go on and unfold through limitless ages.
But soon sin that hateful and accursed thing in God s universe entered, and communion between God and man was interrupted. The outward token of this was the banishment of the man from the garden, and the placing of the cherubim with the " flaming sword which turned every way " to bar the way against his re-entering that blessed abode.
But the heart of God yearned for man, and in His infinite wisdom and grace He devised a means by which His banished be not for ever an outcast from Him.
He chose Israel, whom He suffered to approach to Him through the sprinkling of blood, which in His mind pointed to the blood of the everlasting covenant which the Messiah, who was to be " led as a lamb to the slaughter," was to shed as an atonement for sin ; and to them His proclamation went forth, " Make Me a tabernacle, that I may dwell among you" The tabernacle was built, and then the Temple on Mount Moriah ; but soon, alas ! this Temple, too, was defiled, and sin in its progress made such rapid strides that it penetrated even into the Holy of Holies, and God was obliged entirely to withdraw His manifest presence even from His chosen dwelling-place.
After the destruction of the first Temple by the Chal deans under Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings xxv.) the Jews built another one after their restoration from Babylon ; but the
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manifest presence of Jehovah no more returned to it ; for Rabbi Samuel Bar Juni, in the Talmud (Yoma, f. 21, c. 2), and Rabbis Solomon and Kimchi, in their comment on Hag. i. 8, all agree that five things that were in the first Temple were wanting in the second ?>., the ark, wherein were the tables of the Covenant, and the cherubim that covered it ; the fire that used to come down from heaven to devour the sacrifices ; the SJiekinah Glory ; the gift of prophecy, or the Holy Ghost ; and the miraculous Urim and Thummim.
But before that Temple was destroyed by the Romans, another Temple, not built by the hands of man, arose, and in it dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. ii. 9). One came, and in sight of the magnificent structure which had then become more a " den of thieves " than a " house of prayer," proclaimed, " Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again ; and this He spake of the Temple of His body." Who was this who thus spoke but the promised Messiah, with whose advent the presence of Jehovah should again return to His people, as is implied in His very name Immanuel, which being interpreted means " God with us." Behold, " the tabernacle of God is with men " once more, " and He doth dwell with them." For " the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth " (John i. 14).
Behold, therefore, O Christian, in the Person of the Redeemer Himself, the fulfilment of these words, " He shall build the Temple of Jehovah" for in Him we have the fullest manifestation of the Divine glory, and " in Christ Jesus " is the true meeting-place where communion between God and man is consummated.
But there is another Temple of which the Messiah Himself is actually the builder, and in which we may see a fulfilment of this and other prophecies.
" Thou art Peter," were the words of Jesus on a certain solemn occasion, " and upon this rock (i.e., the confession
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Peter had just uttered, " Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God ") I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." And what is the Church but the Temple of the living God, of which the Tabernacle and material Temple in Jerusalem were but types, and in which His fulness and glory shall be eternally manifested ? Thus the Apostle Peter, addressing primarily Jewish believers, says : " Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual House " ; and in a yet fuller manner, Paul, addressing Gentile believers, writes : " Ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the Chief Corner-stone ; in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God in the Spirit" (Eph. ii. 19-22, R.V.). And how glorious is this Temple which " the Man Whose Name is the Branch " is now, by His Spirit through His servants, building ! It is He Who, as the Eternal Word, built the material Temple of the Universe, which is filling the minds of men in successive generations more and more with wonder and astonishment. What a spectacle, for instance, do the starry heavens present to us ! The more we contemplate them, the more we are lost in wonder at their immeasurable immensity, and the more do our hearts go up in reverent adoration of the God Whose eternity, glory, power, and wisdom they ceaselessly proclaim in language intelligible to every human heart. But the spiritual Temple which He is now engaged in building, when completed, will astonish even the admiring angels, and will throughout eternity show forth to principalities and powers in heavenly places " the manifold wisdom " as well as the infinite grace of God (Eph. iii. 10). But to proceed to the next sentence :
" And He shall bear the glory, or regal majesty a 1 The word Yin hod is used in different significations, but it is especially
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The pronoun is again emphatic : He Himself, and none other, shall build the Temple of Jehovah, and He Himself shall bear the glory, or regal majesty, as none other has borne it. He is peerless in His work and in His reward. His is the glory of the only -begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Already, as the result of His sufferings, having by the grace of God tasted death for every man, He is " exalted and extolled, and lifted very high," " crowned with honour and glory " ; but this prophecy speaks especially of the royal majesty which He shall bear when He shall come forth again from the presence of the Father and, all His enemies having been made a footstool for His feet, He shall sit down upon His own throne as the theocratic King of Israel.
Then, indeed, upon His head there shall be " many crowns " ; for, not only will God the Father invest Him with glory and majesty, but men too, especially His own nation, will glorify Him ; " and He," as the true Son of David, the One Whose right it is to reign, " shall be for a throne of glory to His Father s house : and they shall hang upon Him all the glory of His Father s house, the offspring and the issue, every small vessel, from the vessels of cups to the vessels of flagons" (Isa. xxii. 23, 24). We come to the next sentence of the prophecy :
"And He shall sit and rule upon His throne"
i.e.) He shall not only possess the honour and dignity of a king ; He shall not be " a constitutional " monarch, who reigns but does not rule ; but He shall Himself exercise all royal power and authority. Yes, the rule of King- Messiah will be absolute and autocratic, but autocracy will be safe
employed to describe royal majesty (Jer. xxii. 18 ; I Chron. xxix. 25 ; Dan. xi. 21 ). Pusey observes : " This word is almost always used of the special glory of God, and then, although seldom, of the majesty of those on whom God confers majesty, as Moses or Joshua (Num. xxvii. 20), or theory of the kingdom given to Solomon" (i Chron. xxix. 25). It is used of the glory or majesty to be laid on the ideal King in Ps. xxi. 5 which the Jews themselves interpreted of the Messiah.
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and beneficent in the hands of the Holy One, Who is infinite in wisdom, power, and love. The result of His blessed rule will be that
" In His days shall the righteous flourish ; And abundance of peace till the moon be no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River unto the ends of the earth. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him ; All nations shall serve Him. He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, And shall break in pieces the oppressor ; For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth, And the poor that hath no helper.
He shall redeem their soul from oppression and violence : And precious shall their blood be in His sight. . . . And men shall be blessed in Him : All nations shall call Him blessed."
The character of His blessed rule is further explained in the next sentence :
" And He shall be a priest upon His throne"
How full of significance is this one sentence of Holy Writ ! As is the manner of Zechariah, we have in these four Hebrew words a terse summary of nearly all that the former prophets have spoken of Messiah and His work.
Here is the true Melchizedek, Who is at the same time King of Righteousness, King of Salem, which is King of Peace, and the great High Priest, whose priesthood, unlike the Aaronic, abideth " for ever." " He shall be a Priest upon His throne."
Now He royally exercises His high priestly office as the Advocate with the Father, and only Mediator between God and man, at the right hand of God in heaven. From thence He shall come forth again to take possession of His throne, and to commence His long-promised reign on the earth. But, even when as King he exercises His sovereign rule, He will still be " a Priest upon His throne," who will have compassion upon the ignorant and erring (Heb. v. 2),
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and cause His righteous severity to go forth only against the wilfully froward and rebellious. For our Lord Jesus is " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever " ; and that which will eternally constitute His chief glory will be, not His power, but His grace, manifested once in His laying down His life a ransom for many and since in His priestly mediatorial rule, whether in heaven or on earth.
" And the counsel of peace shall be between them both"
The expression atsath shalom, " counsel of peace," means not merely " peace," for if that alone were meant, the simple idiom Di- K rprn, vehayah shalom, " there shall be peace between them both," would be used. The word used here signifies a counsel planning or procuring peace for some other than those who counsel.
But who are " the twain " who thus devise peace for man between them ?
Some commentators consider that the offices of Priest and King are alluded to, but the phraseology naturally constrains us to think of persons, not of things or abstract offices. The explanation advocated by Hengstenberg, and adopted by Koehler, is a probable and reasonable one namely, that " the reference is to the two offices of Priest and King combined in the Person of Messiah, and that the prophecy speaks of a plan devised by Messiah in His double character, whereby peace and salvation should be secured for the people of God," and on the earth during His reign. " This fact," observes Dr. Wright, " agrees with the New Testament statements in which the angelic choirs are re presented announcing Peace on earth as one of the results of Christ s birth ; and with our Lord s own words, Peace I leave with you My peace I give unto you, the full realisa tion of which is exhibited in the final vision of the Book of Revelation." But I am personally inclined to think that another view, which is held by many scholars, is the right one namely, that " the two " are Jehovah and the Messiah, or " Jesus and the Father." 1 " It is clear, no doubt, that the
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pronoun His in the expression His throne is used twice in ver. 1 3 in reference to the Messiah, and cannot well be regarded as relating to Jehovah. The royal dignity of the Messiah is specially referred to, inasmuch as the Messiah, as King, would have power to perform the work which He had to do. But the fact that the pronoun in the phrase His throne cannot refer to Jehovah, does not prove that Jehovah cannot be one of the two persons referred to at the close of the verse. Two, and only two, persons are referred to in the verse namely, the Lord and the Lord s Christ ; and many eminent scholars as Vitringa, Reuss, Pusey, and Jerome have considered that these are the two Persons to whom reference is made in the clause, the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
" The prophecy indeed is closely connected with Ps. ex., where a counsel between the Lord and His Christ is plainly referred to, and where Messiah is predicted as King and Priest. This is the natural meaning, and the way in which the words were no doubt interpreted by the hearers of the prophet Zechariah." l
" In Christ," to quote another writer, " all is perfect harmony. There is a counsel of peace between Him and the Father whose Temple He builds. The will of the Father and the Son is one. Both have one will of love toward us, the salvation of the world, bringing forth peace through our redemption. God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only -begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life ; and God the Son is our peace \ who hath made both one, that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, and came and preached peace to them whicJi were afar off, and to them that were nigh" (Eph. ii. 14, 16, 17).
In all fulness, however, the blessed fruit of this " counsel of peace," and the " thoughts of salvation " between the Father and the Son, will only be realised by Israel and the nations of the earth during the period of Messiah s reign, and by the one Church of the living God through
1 Dr. Wright.
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the eternity that is to follow. Then in the limitless ages to come " He will show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him unto a dispensa tion of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth . . . according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will " (Eph. i. 9-1 1, ii. 7, R.V.).
We now come to the I4th verse. First let me give a word of explanation in reference to the difference of the names here as compared with the loth verse. As to 0?n, Helem, it is the same as ^n, Heldai, the difference being probably occasioned by a very slight scribal error of running two separate Hebrew letters into one. " Hen " is not a proper name at all, but an appellative, meaning " the favour," or " grace," and is rightly rendered in the margin of the R.V. and by all scholars, " and for the kindness of the son of Zephaniah."
This is very beautiful. The crowns were to be deposited in the Temple of God as a memorial, not only of these three distinguished strangers who had brought their own and their brethren s offerings for the House of God, but as a memorial also of " the kindness " of this true son of Abraham, who, as stated at the beginning of this exposition, was evidently a man given to hospitality, and received these three strangers into his house. It was apparently a small service rendered to the cause of God, but it was very precious to Him because it was doubtless done for His Name s sake. And so many a little and apparently insignificant deed done out of love for our Lord Jesus yea, even the cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple is treasured up in His memory, and shall in no wise lose its reward " For God is not unrighteous to forget your work, and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His Name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Heb. vi. 10). "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith " (Gal. vi. i o).
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But while the crowns were to be thus deposited in the Temple as a memorial of these four men, they were also to serve as a pledge and earnest of the fulfilment of the prophecy, and of the realisation of the symbolical action on which it was based : " And they that are far off shall come and build in the Temple of the Lord."
These words not only refer to those Jews who were still in the far lands of the dispersion, who in Messiah s time would be gathered, and take their share in the build ing of the future Temple, as some have explained, but are a glorious promise, as I have already stated at the begin ning, of the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the time when all nations would walk in the light of Jehovah. " It is probable," as another writer suggests, " that the great Apostle of the Gentiles may have had this prophecy in his view when he reminded his converts in Ephesus that now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off have become nigh through the blood of Christ (Eph. ii. 1 3)." On the other hand, Peter probably understood the similar expres sions to which he gave utterance as referring (primarily) to the dispersed of Israel. " The promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call " (Acts ii. 39).
But again, I repeat, that whatever fulfilment of the words we may already see, the full realisation of them will not be until Messiah sits and reigns a " Priest upon His throne" over Israel. Then, when the law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and converted Israel goes forth declaring among the peoples the wonderful works of God, shall the nations which are still " afar off" learn His ways and walk in His paths, and come with their tribute of worship and service to His Temple.
" And ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts has sent Me unto you" The fulfilment, or realisation, of what had here been predicted in symbol and verbal prophecy would be, so to say, the Divine authentication of the Message and Messenger, and " Israel will perceive that the speaker had
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been sent to them by Jehovah of hosts." Keil, however, from whom I quote the last sentence, contends that it is not the prophet who thus speaks, but the Angel of Jehovah. " For although in what precedes, only the prophet, and not the Angel of Jehovah, has appeared as acting and speak ing, we must not change the sending into speaking here, or understand the formula, or expression, used in any other sense here than in chap. ii. 8 I l and iv. 9. We must therefore assume that just as the words of the prophet pass imperceptibly into words of Jehovah, so here they pass into words of the Angel of Jehovah, who says, con cerning Himself, that Jehovah hath sent Him."
The final sentence of the prophecy reads : " And this shall come to pass (vehayah : this shall be ) if (or when) ye diligently obey (lit., if hearkening ye shall hearken i.e., give heed with a view to obey } the voice of Jehovah your God."
Not that the fulfilment of the prophecy will be condi tional on their obedience that is, conditional on the will and unchangeable purpose of God alone but their participa tion in it depends on their faith and obedience. " Because He had said, And ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent Me unto you, " observes an old writer. " He warns them that the fruit of that coming will reach to those only who should hear God, and with ardent mind join themselves to His Name. For as many as believed in Him were made sons of God, but the rest were cast into outer darkness."
The whole Hebrew phrase, I may point out, is taken bodily from Deut. xxviii. i , where it is rendered : " And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God " then all the blessings promised to them under the old covenant would be enjoyed by them. Under the law, however, though they were very ready to promise, they had no power " diligently to hearken " or to obey the voice of Jehovah their God, and instead of enjoying the blessings they came under the curse of the law. But what was impossible under the law shall be
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realised under grace. Then, as one great blessing of the
New Covenant under which they shall be brought, the law
of God shall be put in their inward parts and written ir
their hearts, or, as we read in Jer. xxxii. 38-41, " The}
shall be My people, and I will be their God ; and I will give
them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me for ever,
for the good of them, and their children after them : and I
will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will no
turn away from them, to do them good ; and I will put My
fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me.
Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will
plant them in this land assuredly with My whole heart and
with My whole soul"
And then, also after Israel shall yield ready and joyful obedience to the voice of Jehovah their God " shall come to pass " what is stated in the first part of the last verse of the prophecy which we have been considering, and the Gentile nations " that are afar off shall come and build in the Temple of Jehovah." " And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth : in that day shall Jehovah be One, and His Name One