The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 13
ADDRESS TO THE DEPUTATION FROM BETHEL ON THE QUESTION OF THE OBSERVANCE OF FASTS
(B} THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER (CHAPTER vin)
And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus saith Jehovah : I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem : and Jerusalem shall be called The city of truth ; and the mountain of Jehovah of hosts, The holy mountain. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvellous in Mine eyes ? saith Jehovah of hosts. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : Behold, I will save My people from the east country, and from the west country ; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem ; and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words from the mouth of the prophets, that were in the day that the foundation of the house of Jehovah of hosts was laid, even the Temple, that it might be built. For before those days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast ; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the adversary : for I set all men every one against his neigh bour. But now I will not be unto the remnant of this people as in the former days, saith Jehovah of hosts. For there shall be the seed of peace ; the vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its increase, and the heavens shall give their dew ; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. And it shall come to pass that, as ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong. For thus saith Jehovah of hosts : As I thought to do evil unto you, when your fathers provoked Me to wrath, saith Jehovah of hosts, and I repented not ; so again have I thought in these days to do good unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah : fear ye not. These are the things that ye shall do ; Speak ye every man the truth with his neighbour ; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates : and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbour ; and love no false oath : for all these are things that I hate, saith Jehovah. And the word of Jehovah of hosts came unto me, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts ; therefore love truth and peace. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities : and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to entreat the favour of Jehovah, and to seek Jehovah of hosts : I will go also. Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favour of Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.
AS shown in the exposition of the 7th chapter, of which the scripture we are now to consider is a continuation, the message which the prophet was inspired to deliver, not only to the deputation from Bethel, but " to all the people of the land," in answer to the ques tion whether they should continue to observe the fasts which had been appointed in celebration of certain sad anniversaries connected with the destruction of the Temple and the desolations of the land by the Chaldeans, divides itself into two parts.
The first, which I have described as the negative part of the answer, is contained in chap. vii. ; and the second, or positive part, in chap. viii. " Each of these two larger divisions," to repeat some sentences from the previous exposition, " is, however, again subdivided into two sections the whole answer thus falling into four parts, each of which begins with the words, And the word of Jehovah of hosts came to me, saying (vii. 4, 8, viii. I, 18) the usual formula, as has already been pointed out, by which the prophets authenticated their messages as being not of, or from, themselves, but from the mouth of the Lord."
The negative part of the answer in the 7th chapter may, moreover, be regarded in a very important sense as preparatory to the debharim tobltim debharim nicJiummim ("good words, even comforting words," i. 13), which the prophet proceeds to unfold in the glorious prophecy in chap, viii., inasmuch as chap. vii. is practically a call to repentance, and a solemn reminder that their sorrows were the direct consequence of their sins, and that before Israel s fasts shall at last turn to feasts, and they shall enjoy the
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" good thing " which Jehovah has promised them, they must give heed to the voice of the prophets, and be no more like their fathers, who brought all these calamities upon themselves by obdurate disobedience and progressive apostasy from God.
The first section of the consolatory message in chap, viii. consists of vers. i to 17.
The first thing which strikes us in reading the series of great and precious promises in this scripture is the frequent reiteration of the sentence " saith Jehovah of hosts." Apart from the authenticating formula, " The word of Jehovah of hosts came unto me," by which each of the four sections is introduced, it is repeated eleven times in the first seventeen verses of the 8th chapter ; and the object and reason for it is to strengthen our faith, and to assure us at the very outset that, however incredible from a natural or human point of view the fulfilment of these things may be, they will most certainly come to pass, because the Name of the infinite, eternal, and faithful Jehovah, with Whom nothing is too hard or impossible, stands pledged to their accomplishment. 1
Let us bear this in mind as we proceed, and not stagger at the promises of God through unbelief, saying, as many, alas, do say, " How is it possible ? " The series of promises commences with the words, " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath (or fury )."
This is a repetition, with one slight variation in the original, but " in the same rhythm," of the declaration of His tender love for Zion in the first of the series of visions
"At each word and sentence in which good things, for their greatness almost incredible, are promised, the prophet declares, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, as if he would say, Think not that what I pledge you are my own, and refuse me not credence as man. What I unfold are the promises of God."- Jerome.
So also Lange : "Es handelt sich darum eine ganze Reihe scheinbaren un- moglichkeiten durch die Gewahr des Namens Jehovah Zebaoth in Gewissheiten zu verwandeln." By making the name of Jehovah of hosts surety for their accomplishment, a whole series of apparent impossibilities are thus turned into certainties.
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(chap. i. 1 4). 1 And because His love for Zion is so great, He is jealous on her account, and His anger is stirred to the heat of "fury " against the nations, for the reason already stated in the first vision, namely, because when He was but " a little displeased " and gave over " the dearly beloved of His soul " for a time into the hands of her enemies (Jer. xii. 7), the nations among whom they were scattered " showed them no mercy," but rather " helped forward the affliction."
We have dwelt fully on these solemn and fervent words of Jehovah and their application, not only to the great world-powers of antiquity, but to the nations of Christen dom, in my exposition of the first vision, so we need not tarry on this point here. But I may take the opportunity of again emphasising one fact in connection with the warn ing to the nations contained in these words, and this is the testimony which history supplies, that God s jealous anger and hot displeasure against the nations, because of their oppression and cruelty to Israel, is to be greatly dreaded. " Where," to repeat a few sentences, " are the great nations of antiquity who have lifted up their hands against the Jewish people ? "
And in modern times the ancient word which God spake to Abraham is still verifying itself in the experience of nations as of individuals : " I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse."
And the fervent inalienable love of Jehovah for His people will manifest itself, not only in His wrath and indignation against the nations who have oppressed and persecuted them, but in the full restoration of the long- interrupted communion.
" Thus saith Jehovah, I am returned to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem " the glad announcement of which, contained in the two verbs shabhti and shakhanti
1 Only n^n? nan, fyemah gedolah, " great heat of anger," or " fury," is here substituted for Vnj jsjs, qetseph gadol (chap. i. 14), there rendered, "very sore displeased" in the English versions, but literally "great anger," though not quite so strong an expression as here.
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(" I am returned " and " I will dwell," which are in the prophetic perfect tense), being again an inspired repetition of the " good and comfortable words " which were set forth in the first vision.
Thus the word shabhti (" I am returned ") takes us back to chap. i. 1 6 (" / am returned sliabhtti to Jerusalem with mercies "), and sliaklianti (" I will dwell ") to chap, ii. i o, where we read, " Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion : for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of tkee, saith JeJiovah"
According to some commentators these glad announce ments of the return and dwelling of Jehovah in the midst of His people, in chap, viii., " signify nothing more nor less than the restitution of His favour and goodwill toward Israel," x as shown in their partial restoration from Babylon, and in the relief which the remnant then experienced. But this is a very poor and inadequate view to take of this prophecy, as its very connection with the glorious predic tions in chaps, i. and ii. itself shows. No, as I have shown in my notes on the first vision, the announcement, " I am returned to Zion with mercies," is itself the very heart and substance of the consoling part of the message which the prophet was commissioned to deliver ; and the fulfilment of the promise, " I will dwell in the midst of thee," is the goal to which all the former prophets looked forward, and will in its fulness be realised only in the visible and manifest reign in and from Mount Zion, in the midst of restored and converted Israel, of Him Whose Name is " Immanuel " which, being interpreted, is " God with us."
We take this promise, then, not only in a more literal, but, if we may use the expression, also in a more personal sense. At the commencement of " the times of the Gentiles," which began with the Babylonian Captivity, when God was about to give Israel over into the hands of their enemies, the prophet Ezekiel saw the slow and reluctant departure of the glory of Jehovah from the Temple and City of Jerusalem. And with this withdrawal
1 C. H. H. Wright.
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of the presence of Jehovah from the midst of His people, commenced Israel s Ichabod period, and the long night of darkness which has rested on the people and on the land. But not for ever has Jehovah forsaken His land and cast off His people. " I will go," He said through the prophet Hosea, " and return to My place // // they acknowledge their offence " (or, lit, " till they declare themselves guilty "), " and seek My face : in their affliction (lit., in their tribulation ) they shall seek Me early." Then He will return unto them with mercies, and " His going forth is sure as the morning ; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that wateretJi the earth" (Hos. v. 15, vi. 1-3).
In its fulness, to repeat again some sentences from the notes on the first vision, this promise will only be fulfilled when this same Jesus, Whom at His first coming they handed over to the Gentiles to be crucified, and Who, after His resurrection, ascended back into heaven to the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, shall return in the manner, and under the circumstances, described by the same prophet in the last three chapters of his prophecy.
Then Jehovah, in the person of the Messiah, " will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem" which shall become the centre of His governmental dealings with the world, and the place whence light and truth shall go forth unto all the nations. " And Jerusalem shall be called Ir ha-emeth, the City of Truth " ; first, because it shall be the seat of the El-emeth) " The God of Truth " ; and, secondly, because " the remnant of Israel," which shall then dwell in it, " shall not any longer do iniquity, nor speak lies" (Zeph. iii. 13), but be known throughout the earth for their truth and fidelity toward God and man. " And the mountain of Jehovah of hosts" i.e., Mount Zion, shall be called " The Holy Mountain" because there the Holy One of Israel shall once more take up His abode, and by His presence in their midst sanctify His people, so that they, too, shall be holy ; and, Qodesh la- Yehovah " Holiness (or holy )
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unto Jehovah," shall be written, not only upon their hearts and foreheads, but upon all their possessions, down to the very " bells of their horses," and the " pots " which they shall use to prepare their food. 1
Now follows a beautiful picture of restored and flourishing Jerusalem. No longer shall the holy city, and the land of which it is the metropolis, be depopulated by wars and other grievous calamities, and lie desolate ; no longer shall such terrible sights be witnessed in her streets as are described by inspired writers who witnessed the siege and capture of the city by the Babylonians, which, however, were surpassed in the still more awful and horrible condi tions which prevailed during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and in subsequent sieges since then when old and young were cut off without mercy, and those children and sucklings who were not destroyed by the sword " fainted for hunger in the top of every street." 2 But the promises contained already in the law, of prolongation of life and numerous offspring, which in the past have been only at certain intervals partially fulfilled, because of Israel s sin and disobedience, shall, under the new and unconditional covenant, into which the people shall then be brought, be fully realised. There and then " there shall be no more an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days" Then "they shall not build and another inhabit ; they shall not plant and another eat ; for as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people, and My chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands " (Isa. Ixv. 20-22). And thus it shall come to pass, saith Jehovah of hosts, that " there shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand, for multitude of days. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof" " The two opposite pictures," to adopt words of
1 Chap. xiv. 20, 21. See also Isa. i. 26 : " Thou shall be called The City of Righteousness, The Faithful City"; Ix. 14: "They shall call thee The City of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel"; Ixii. 12: "They shall call them The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord."
3 Lam. ii. 11-19; P S - Ixxviii. 63, 64.
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another writer, " the old man so aged that he has to lean on his staff for support because of the multitude of his days," and the young in the glad buoyancy of recent life, fresh from their Creator s hands (shall in that day) " attest alike " (as in measure they do now in all communities of men) " the goodness of the Creator Who protecteth both, the children in their yet undeveloped strength, and the very old, whom He hath brought through all the changes and chances of this mortal life, in their yet sustained weak ness ; for the tottering limbs of the very old, and the elastic, perpetual motion (and playfulness) of childhood, are like far distant chords of the diapason of the Creator s love." l
Then, as if doubly to confirm the immutability of His counsel, and to strengthen our hearts in the certain fulfil ment of the things just announced, as well as of those which follow however " marvellous " or " impossible " they may appear to human sight there follows a brief paren thetical statement (ver. 6) which is closed in, so to say, by a twofold use of the divine attesting formula, " saith Jehovah of hosts."
Even the saved remnant, contemplating the actual fulfilment of these great and precious promises, will exclaim, " This is Jehovah s doing " (or, lit., " This is of Jehovah " ; for by no human or natural means could this have been brought about) " it is marvellous in our eyes " (Ps. cxviii. 23). But " thus saith Jehovah of hosts, If it is marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days? should it also be marvellous in Mine eyes ? saith Jehovah of hosts"
The word Nbs , yipalei, used in this verse, from N?s, polla> rendered variously " wonderful," " marvellous," " hard," " difficult," " hidden," in the Authorised Version, reminds us of its use in at least two other places in the Old Testament in which God wants to teach us the great and prominent lesson which He has designed the whole of mankind to
z Bayyamim hahtm. The Authorised Version has " these days" ; but this is incorrect.
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learn from the history of Israel. One is in Gen. xviii. There we read that " Sarah laughed within herself " when she heard the Angel of Jehovah give the definite promise to Abraham of the birth of Isaac, for to nature and human reasoning it was no longer possible for Sarah to bear a child. But " Jehovah said to Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old ? Is anything too hard (or wonderful } for Jehovah f"
Indeed, one great reason of the long delay of the fulfilment of the promise of the birth of the child, in whom the great promise of blessing for all nations was to be handed down, was because God wanted to lay a super natural basis for the history of Israel ; and that both Israel and the nations of the future might learn that the things which are naturally impossible are not super naturally impossible, and that nothing which Jehovah has ever spoken is " too hard " for Him to accomplish.
The other place where the word is used is in Jer. xxxii., a prophecy which is in some respects parallel to Zech. vii. and viii. Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison adjoining the palace, when the word of the Lord came to him that his uncle s son, Hanameel, would come to him with the request that he should buy a piece of ground which belonged to him in Anathoth ; and the prophet, in obedience to God s command, went through all the legal formalities connected with the purchase of land in Palestine. Now, from the human and natural point of view, the whole transaction seemed a mere farce and absurdity. The Chaldeans had already laid waste the whole land, and were even then besieging Jerusalem. How unlikely, so far as human probabilities went, that houses, or fields, or vine yards, would ever again be possessed by Jews in Palestine.
Jeremiah s own faith in the promises of God in refer ence to the future of the people and the land, was strongly put to the test by this symbolical transaction which he was commanded to carry through, but he stood the test ; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief. He looked away from human improbabilities and natural
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impossibilities to the Almighty and covenant-keeping God, and exclaims (ver. 17), "Ah, Lord God, behold Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched- out arm, and there is nothing too hard" (or wonderful ) for Thee" to which God Himself adds, so to say, His " Amen," by repeating in ver. 2 3 the prophet s own words " Behold, I am Jehovah, the God of all flesh ; is there anything too hard" (or marvellous ) for Me?" and proceeds to tell him that, though the city and land would now be given over to desolation, and the people carried into captivity because of their great sin and mani fold provocations of the Holy One, yet the time would assuredly come when " men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe the deeds and seal them, and call witnesses in every part of the promised land ; for I will cause their captivity to return, saith Jehovah"
Before passing on to the following verses, let me ask you, dear reader, Have you learned this great lesson ? Have you experienced personally the supernatural power of the living God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, and with Whom nothing is impossible, or " marvellous," in your own heart and life ? For only then can you believe in the great and marvellous things which God promised to do for Israel in the future, and through them for the whole world.
But let us proceed to the next brief paragraph (vers. 7,8). " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Behold I will save My people from the east country, and from the west country : and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jeru salem ; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness"
This is one of the greatest and most comprehensive promises in reference to Israel s restoration and conversion to be found in the prophetic Scriptures, but on which I may not tarry long for want of space, and because I have fully dwelt on this subject in some of my other writings. 1
1 The Jewish Problem Its Solution ; also, The Shepherd of Israel and His Scattered Flock.
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But let me very briefly point out in passing first, that it is a promise which has manifestly not yet been fulfilled. The expression BWn siao pKtM rrjTO pK, literally, "from the land of the rising of the sun, and from the land of the going down of the sun" properly rendered, " from the east country, and from the west country," in the English versions, really includes all parts of the earth, as may be seen from Ps. 1. i, cxiii. 3 ; Mai. i. II, etc., where the same Hebrew idiom is used. Now, never in the past has such a restora tion taken place. A representative section, but a mere handful out of the whole people, was indeed brought back to the land after the seventy years captivity in Babylon, of which Zechariah himself was a witness, but that could not possibly be the restoration here promised ; first, because, as is to be inferred from the whole prophecy, this was to be something which should take place at a \\\n& future in the point of view, or outlook, of this post-exilic prophet, to whom, what we may call the chief act in the restoration from Babylon was already an accomplished fact ; and, secondly, because that partial restoration was only from one direction, namely, from the east, or " north " (as Babylon and Persia were called, because their invasions of Palestine were from the north). From the " west " they could not then have been brought back, since very few of the Jewish nation had as yet wandered westward.
It was only at the second stage of Israel s dispersion, which was brought about by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans, that Israel became in the fullest sense a Diaspora scattered over all the face of the earth the majority always found in lands more or less to the west of Palestine. No ; the promise here is a divine summary and repetition of the many promises of the yet future restoration which were uttered by the former prophets, as, for instance, Isa. xliii. 5, 6, where we read, "Fear not : for I am with thee : I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west ; I will say to the north, Give up ; and to the south, Keep not back : bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth " ; and will be ful-
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filled when "Jehovah shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people ; . . . and He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the out casts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (Isa. xi. 1 1, 12).
That the restoration spoken of here is yet future, is proved also by the fact that it is to be followed by Israel s national conversion, which has certainly never yet taken place. "And they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness"
The restoration of Israel to their own land after the many centuries of dispersion and wanderings, will, as I have stated elsewhere, " be a great mercy and a wonderful event in the world s history " ; but a still greater mercy, and a still more wonderful thing, will be the restoration of the long - interrupted covenant relationship and communion between them and their God. This is what is promised in the last words of the 8th verse : " They shall be My people" the " Lo-ammi" period, during which Israel, separated from God, is given over into the hands of his enemies, shall at last be ended, and God shall again receive them graciously and acknowledge them as " Ammi" and He, Jehovah, shall be their God, be emeth u-bhits* dakah, " in truth and in righteousness " even as we read in Hos. ii. 19, 20 : " And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever ; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness ; and thou shalt know the Lord" But the expression be emeth u-bhits dakah " in truth and in righteousness " belongs to both clauses of the brief statement which announces the restoration of the covenant relationship between Israel and God, for not only will God act toward them (as, indeed, on His part He has ever done) in truth and in righteousness, but this also shall henceforth be the condition of the people. No longer shall it be said of them that " they swear by the name of Jehovah, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth nor in righteousness" (Isa. xlviii. i), but like the man after God s
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own heart, of whom the expression is first used (i Kings iii. 6), and their other fathers, who " walked with God " ; so also restored and converted Israel shall walk before Him " in truth and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart " throughout the rest of their national history even as we read in Jer. xxxii. 38-41, which, as already stated, is in some respects parallel to Zech. viii. : " A nd they 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 tJiem, and of their children after them : and I will make an everlasting covenant witli them, that I will not 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."
A word more, perhaps, needs to be said on the ex pression in the 8th verse, " And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem" upon which the allegorising com mentators have fixed as a proof that it is not a literal restoration of literal Israel which is spoken of.
Thus Pusey, Dr. Wright, Keil, and others are quite dogmatic that it is not the literal Jerusalem, because this, to quote the words of the first of the above-named authors, " could not contain the Jews from all quarters of the world, whom, as they multiplied, the whole land could not contain ; but the promised Jerusalem, the Jerusalem which should be inhabited as towns without walls, to which the Lord should be a wall of fire round about," which, as is to be seen from his comments on the ?th verse, he interprets of the Church.
To this I would reply that the enlarged Jerusalem, which " should be inhabited as towns without walls," and of which Jehovah Himself shall be the defence and " the glory in the midst thereof," is also the literal Jerusalem, as I have, I think, clearly shown in my exposition of the 2nd chapter. As to the expression, " in the midst of Jerusalem," even Dr. Wright, who denies any future fulfilment of this prophecy to literal Israel, says : " The allusion is evidently to Jeru-
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salem, not so much as the actual residence of all the people, but as the place where Israel should worship Jehovah." Jerusalem stands here for the land of which it is the centre and metropolis, to which restored and converted Israel (in whatever part of the country they may be located) will turn, as the place where the glory of their Divine Messiah will then be especially manifested even as in times past the tribes from all parts of the land went up during the three great festivals, there to appear before God, being thus taught to regard the place where His honour dwelt, and His glory was specially manifested, as their true home.
The great and glorious promises contained in the first eight verses of this chapter, like all prophecy about the future, are to be turned to practical account. Not only is the restored remnant to derive comfort and stimulus from " these words," but they are to act as incentives in the path of obedience and to the more perfect accomplishment of the will of God in the present : " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words from the mouth of the prophets which were in the day that the foundation of the house of Jehovah of hosts was laid, even the Temple, that it might be built?
" Let your hands be strong," which is an idiom for the expression " Be of good courage " (Judg. vii. 1152 Sam. ii. 7; Ezek. xxii. 14, etc.), reminds us of the words of Zechariah s contemporary and colleague, whose voice was now silenced by death : " Be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith Jehovah ; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest ; and be strong, all ye people of the land, and work" (Hag. ii. 4) though here, in the 8th chapter of Zechariah, the phrase is used as an exhortation not merely or especially to the continuation of the building of the Temple, as is the case in Haggai, but with reference to their doing, individually and collectively, the will of God in all things.
" These words " refer particularly to the words of
promise which had just been uttered by Zechariah in the
preceding verses of this chapter, and by Haggai in the
prophecy from which I have just quoted, who are together
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spoken of as " the prophets" who were God s mouthpieces to the people since a beginning was made by them in rebuild ing the Temple, and are thus contrasted with the "former prophets" to whom Zechariah so often refers.
The word nfoan^, fhibanoth ("that it might be built"), is added as a more precise definition of the time to which the prophet refers in the expression, " in the day that the foundation of the house of Jehovah of hosts was laid " ; for there had, in fact, been two beginnings, or foundation- layings, of the Temple. Already, in the seventh month of the very year of the return of the first colony of exiles, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, the altar of Jehovah was rebuilt, and the sacrificial service restored in Jerusalem ; and in the second month of the second year the foundation was laid amid solemn and joyous scenes described in the 3rd chapter of Ezra. But very soon difficulties and hindrances came in the way. There were the Samaritans and their intrigues and accusa tions at the Persian Court ; and there were the still more insidious and dangerous enemies in their own midst, and in their own hearts namely, the selfish love of ease and comfort, and their unwillingness to devote their time and means to the building of the house of God, because they wanted to build " ceiled houses " for themselves (Hag. i. 3-5). And so they neglected the work, excusing them selves that " the time is not come, the time that Jehovah s house should be built " ; with the result that for about thirteen years the work which they began was suspended and " lay waste." But in the second year of Darius the king the word of Jehovah came to Haggai and Zechariah, whose rebukes, exhortations, and appeals, " in the Name of the God of Israel" (Ezra v. I, 2), roused the people to make a new beginning, and then it was that they took up the task " with set purpose of heart" Fhibanoth " that it might be built" (Hag. i. 1215).
And with " the day " in which they set their hearts to obey the voice of Jehovah their God in this matter, there began a new epoch in the history of the remnant of the
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 243
people, and their leaders, for " from this day will I bless you," saith Jehovah (Hag. ii. 19).
Then there follows a contrast between the time before they obeyed the voice of Jehovah their God and took up the work of building the Temple, and the condition of things since they hearkened to the voice of the Word of God through Haggai and Zechariah. Before, when they cared only for their own affairs, nothing prospered with them, and there was nothing but disaster and disappoint ment : " For before those days there was no hire (or wages ) for man, nor any hire for beast" so little was the produce that it did not pay the labour of man and beast ; which answers to the description of those same days by Haggai : " Ye have sown much, and bring in little ; ye eat, but ye have not enough ; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink ; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put into a bag with holes" (Hag. i. 6). And not only so, but (to return to our passage in Zechariah) "for him that went out and for him that came in (literally) there was no peace, because of the. adversary" which is most probably a true and graphic description of the conditions which then prevailed ; for, to quote words from another writer, " in such an empire as the Persian there was large scope for actual hostility among the petty nations subject to it ; so that they did not threaten revolt against itself, or interfere with the payment of tribute, as in the Turkish Empire now." *
On the rebuilding of the walls (a little later) we actually read that " the adversaries " z>., the Samaritans, Arabians, Ammonites, and Ashdodites conspired to fight against Jerusalem, and to slay the Jews, but were frustrated because the Lord s protection was now over the little remnant of the people.
And not only was there no peace " in those days " to him that went out and to him that came in, because of the
1 According to Hitzig the expedition of Cambyses to Egypt occurred at this time ; and though it was not referred to in the Book of Ezra, the march of the Persian army through the land southward must have caused no little affliction to the colonists under their then distressing circumstances.
244 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH
adversary without, but the misery was increased because there was strife and contention which prevailed among themselves, for " the Lord hath set (vaashallacJt) all men every one against his neighbour But now, having entered on the path of obedience, and made God s service their delight, God was going to " make their wants His care " : " But now I will not be unto this people as in the former days, saith JeJwvah of hosts. For there shall be the seed of peace " (or, the seed of peace even) ; " the vine 1 shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew" which reminds us somewhat of the promise in Hos. ii. 21, 22 : " And it shall come to pass in that day, I will answer, saitJi Jehovah, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth ; and the earth shall answer the corn, and the wine, and the oil" etc.
And not only shall the blessing of the Lord resting on their toil produce plentiful harvests and abundant vintage, but no one shall despoil them of these gifts of God s bountifulness.
" And I will cause tJie remnant of this people to inherit all these things"
And the improvement in the condition of the restored remnant since they set themselves earnestly to the task of building God s house, was only a pledge of the greater things which God has promised them, and which yet await their fulfilment in the day of Israel s national restoration and conversion, as announced by the prophet in the first part of this chapter. The whole may be said to be summed up in the words in the I3th verse: "And it shall come to pass that, as ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing : fear not, let your hands be strong"
1 The expression j^jn c l^n jnj (zera-hashalom haggepheti) is peculiar, but I think that the rendering adopted by Keil, Koehler, Wright, and others is the correct one, and that zera-hashalom, "seed of peace," is a noun which stands in apposition to haggcphen, " the vine." Keil thinks that the vine may especially be called "the seed of peace," inasmuch as it can only prosper in days of peace, its cultivation requiring much care and attention, which it is impossible to bestow in times of war or adversity.
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 245
Here we note first of all how both " Judah " and " Israel " i.e., the entire nation, which had previous to the Exile been for a time divided into two kingdoms are now after the partial restoration from Babylon, included in undivided unity in one common destiny, both of wretched ness and blessedness. Together they are, during the Lo- ammi period the time during which God s face is averted from them " a curse," for the solemn and terrible words which He spoke through Jeremiah have been literally fulfilled in the whole nation : " I will give them up to be tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth for evil ; to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places wherein I shall drive them " (Jer. xxiv. 9, xlii. 1 8).
But, as they have been together in their entirety " a curse," or the object of curse, i.e., so smitten of God as to serve the object of curses, and " the nations when impre cating curses on their foes were wont to wish them the fate of Israel " a and not only so, but as the unbelieving majority of the nation had also actually and actively in the period of their separation from God and bitter hostility to their Messiah and His gospel been a curse to the nations so says Jehovah, " will I save you " (not only from your captivity, but from your sin ; not only from your outward enemies and oppressors, but from the evil of your own hearts from yourselves}, " and ye shall be a blessing? This glorious promise is to be understood, not only as " equivalent to being so blessed as to be used as a benedictory formula," 2 but is a revival and an application of the original promise to Abraham, " thou shalt be a bless ing" as Pusey well observes, and reiterates the oft-expressed purpose of God to make saved and blessed Israel the source and instrument of blessing to all the nations of the earth, even as we read in Isa. xix. 24, " In that day shall Israel be . . . a blessing in the midst of the land" ; and Ezek. xxxiv. 26, " / will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing."
1 C. H. H. Wright. Keil.
246 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH
In measure this has already been the case, for all the great blessings which have come to the world have come to it through the seed of Abraham ; " for of them," to quote another, " according to the flesh Christ came, Who is over all God blessed for ever : of them were the apostles and evangelists, of them every writer of God s Word ; of them those who carried the gospel throughout the whole world." x But, so far, the blessing which has come through Israel to the world has been only partial, and has extended only to individuals ; but when Israel as a nation is " saved in Jehovah with an everlasting salvation," and their hearts are set aflame with love to the long-rejected Messiah and zeal for His cause, then " the receiving of them " shall indeed be " as life from the dead " to the whole world, and the great Messianic blessings shall universally be spread by them throughout the whole earth. In Abraham and his seed which includes Christ and Israel shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
And it is God s faithfulness and the steadfastness of His purpose which form the grounds for our hope of His certain fulfilment of His promises. This is brought out in vers. 14 and 15 : "For thus saith the Lord of hosts : As I thought to do evil unto you, when your fathers provoked Me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not ; so again have I thought in these days to do good unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah : fear ye not."
The remnant of Israel to whom Zechariah spoke knew from their own experience that Jehovah is faithful yes, faithful in carrying out His threatenings as well as in ful filling His promises ; for when, after repeated warnings, their fathers continued in their impenitent provocations of Him through their many sins, the " evil " which He fore- announced that He would do unto them came. They may, therefore, be assured that when He announces to them through the prophet that His thoughts toward them now are " thoughts of peace and not of evil," and that His purpose " in these days " is " to do good unto Jerusalem
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 247
and to the house of Judah," He will not repent or prove false to His word. This passage again reminds us of Jer. xxxii. a scripture which, as we observed before, is in some respects parallel to Zech. vii. and viii., where we read (ver. 42): " Thus saith Jehovah : Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them"
But these great promises of God, to be experimentally realised, must be responded to by the faith and obedience of God s people, and, as has been well said, " God s cove nanted grace leads those truly blessed by it to holiness, not to licentiousness." Hence the exhortation to practical godliness which follows in vers. 16 and 17 :
" These are the things (debharim, literally, words ) which ye shall do : Speak ye every man the truth with his neighbour ; truth and judgment of peace judge ye in your gates : and let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour, and love no false oath : for all these are the things that I hate, saith Jehovah " ; which is an inspired repetition and application of the preaching of the former prophets, which Zechariah had already summarised in chap, vii. 9, 10, an exposition of which will be found in my notes on those verses. I would only here add that the mishpat shalom, "judgment of peace," which they are exhorted to judge " in their gates " (the place where justice and judgment were wont to be administered, Deut. xvi. 18, xxi. 19, etc.), means "judgment which issues in peace," or " such an administration of justice as tends to promote peace and establish concord between those that are at strife." x
The sins enumerated in the I7th verse which are con-
1 Keil. The remarks of the Jewish commentator, Kimchi, on this expression are as follows : " If ye judge righteousness there will be peace between the parties in the lawsuit ; according as our Rabbis have said in a proverb, He that has his coat taken from him by the tribunal, let him sing and go his way in proof of which they have adduced the verse, And all this people shall also go to their place in peace (Ex. xviii. 23): ALL the people, even he that is con demned in judgment. And our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have interpreted mishpat shalom (judgment of peace) of reconciliation between the litigants, for it is said (in Sanhedrin, fol. 6b), What sort of judgment is that in which there is peace ? It is that of arbitration. "
248 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZfiCHARIAH
trary to " truth and peace " are emphatically described as the very things which God hates, $y WK n^ !>3 n, eth kol-elleh asher sanethi as if He meant to say, " This is the sum of what I hate " ; for they sum up in brief the breaches of both tables of the law that which sets forth man s duty to God, and that which sets forth his duty to his fellow-man.
And because God hates these sins we, too, must hate them, for " religion consists in conformity to God s nature, that we should love what God loves and hate what God hates."
We now come to the last of the four sections into which the whole of chaps, vii. and viii. are divided. Here we have the direct positive part of the reply to the original question by the deputation from Bethel (chap. vii. 13) to ask whether there was still occasion to observe the fasts which had been appointed to celebrate the anniversaries of the destruction of the Temple and the desolation of the land by the Chaldeans : " And the word of Jehovah of hosts came unto me, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : The fast (or fasting ) of the fourth, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth (months) shall be (or become ) to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts D^to D^yio, moadim fob him (^ good seasons , or holidays ) ; therefore love truth and peace . The fast of the ninth day of the fourth month was instituted to cele brate the taking of the city by Nebuchadnezzar in the eleventh year of Zedekiah s reign ; * the fast of the fifth month (the blackest day of all in the Jewish calendar) commemorates the destruction of both the city and the Temple, 2 and many other calamities which, according to Jewish tradition, happened on this same day (some of which are enumerated in my notes on chap. vii. 3) ; the fast of the seventh month, as already stated in the exposition of chap, vii., was appointed for the murder of Gedaliah ; 3 and the fast of the tenth commemorated the commence-
1 Jer. Hi. 6, 7. - Jer. Hi. 12, 13.
3 2 Kings xxv. 25, 26 ; |cr. xli. 1-3.
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 249
ment of the siege of Jerusalem on the tenth day of that month in the ninth year of Zedekiah. 1
All these days are still observed as fasts by the Jewish nation in all parts of the earth, for it is still the night of weeping for Israel, and Zion still sits desolate and mourns.
But the long night of weeping is to be followed by a morning of joy, when Jehovah shall accomplish the " good " which He has purposed and promised to Israel and Jerusalem (vers. 14, 15), and then the former troubles and calamities shall be "forgotten" (Isa. Ixv. 1 6), and the very days which commemorate them shall be turned into "joy and gladness" and moadim tobhim cheerful feasts or sacred festivals. " Therefore," the prophet turns again to the remnant whom he was addressing, " love ha-emeth ve ha-shalom truth and peace " for the promises of future blessedness and glory, whether national in relation to Israel, or spiritual in relation to the individual believer in Christ, are intended in every case to act as incentives to holiness of life and consecration to God s service in the present ; and though God s covenants and promises to the nation are unconditional, and " without repentance," or any change of mind as far as He is concerned, and are not made to depend on Israel s goodness or righteousness, yet righteous ness, truth, and love must be blessed fruit of these promises.
What the consequence of Jehovah s dwelling in the midst of Israel will be to the other nations, and how Israel s blessing will react upon the whole earth, we see in the last four verses of our chapter.
" Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : It shall yet come to pass " (or, " it shall yet be ") however unlikely it may have appeared in the eyes of the remnant of the people to whom Zechariah prophesied, and however " wonderful " or impossible it may appear in our eyes " that there shall come peoples " (a collective and representative name for all peoples), "and the inhabitants of many (or great } cities : and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily (literally, going, let us go Tji/n naps or
2 Kings xxv. I ; Jer. xxxix. I ; Ezek. xxiv. i, 2.
250 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH
let us go on and on/ i.e., perseveringly until we attain the blessed goal) l to entreat the favour (literally, to entreat the face ) of Jehovah? and to seek Jehovah " to which the ready and glad response of those invited will be, " / will go also and many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the face of Jehovah" all which is but an iteration by the central figure in the group of post-exilic prophets of the glorious announcements concerning " the latter days " made by the former prophets. Thus, for instance, we read both in Isaiah and in Micah, " And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills ; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob ; and He will teach us of His ways, and zve will walk in His paths : for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. ii. 2, 3, R.V.).
The allegorising commentators, according to whom " the literal fulfilment of such passages is a sheer impossi bility " 3 as if it had not been foretold in this very scripture that the fulfilment of the great and glorious things which are here prophesied would appear too " wonderful " and impossible in the eyes of men would have us believe that what is predicted by Isaiah, and Micah, and Zechariah (indeed, by all the prophets) in
1 Pusey wrongly applies this, as all the other great promises in this chapter, to the present ; yet there is some truth in his observation that " the words seem to speak of that which is a special gift of the gospel, namely, continued pro gress, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press forward toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us go on and on; whence it is a Christian proverb, Non progredi est regredi Not to go on is to go back. Augustine observed, The whole life of a good Christian is a holy longing to make pro gress ; and again, The one perfection of man is to have found that he is not perfect. , If thou sayest it sufficeth, thou art lost. Nolle proficere deficere est To be unwilling to increase is to decrease." St. Bernard, quoted by Pusey.
See footnote on this phrase in the exposition of chap. vii. p. 213.
3 C. If. H. Wright.
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 251
reference to the universal spread of the knowledge of Jehovah through the instrumentality of Israel, has already been fulfilled, or is now exhaustively fulfilling itself in this gospel dispensation.
Thus one of them, commenting on these verses, writes : " Zechariah describes vividly the eagerness and mutual impulse with which not only many, but mighty nations should throng to the gospel, and every fresh conversion should win others also, till the great tide should sweep through the world."
" The inhabitants of one city shall go to another. It is one unresting extension of the faith, the restlessness of faith and love. They shall not be satisfied with their own salvation, careless about the salvation of others ; they shall employ all labour and industry, with wondrous love, to provide for the salvation of others as if it were their own. It is a marvellous stirring of minds. Missionary efforts, so familiar with us as to be a household word, were unknown then. The time was not yet come. Before the faith in Christ came, the Jewish people were not to be the converters of mankind. They were to await Him, the Redeemer of the world, through Whom and to Whom they were to be first converted, and then the world through those who were of them. This mutual conversion was absolutely unknown. The prophet predicts certainly that it would be, and in God s time it was. From you, St. Paul writes to a small colony in Greece, sounded out the Word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God ward is spread abroad. Your faith he writes to the heathen capital of the world, is spoken of throughout the whole world Within eighty years after our Lord s ascension the Roman governor of Bithynia reported, on occasion of the then persecution, that it spread as a contagion. The contagion of that superstition traversed not cities only, but villages and scattered houses too. Before the persecution the temples had been desolated, the solemn rites long intermitted, the sacrificed animals had very rarely found a purchaser. An impostor of the same date
252 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH
says : Pontus is full of atheists and Christians. There is no one race of men, it was said before the middle of the second century, whether barbarians, or Greeks, or by whatsoever name called, whether of those wandering, homeless tribes who live in waggons, or those pastoral people who dwell in tents, in which there are not prayers and eucharists to the Father and Creator of all things, through the name of the crucified Jesus. The word of our teacher, said another, abode not in Judaea alone, as philosophy in Greece ; but was poured out throughout the whole world, persuading Greeks and barbarians in their several nations and villages and every city whole houses and each hearer individually and having brought over to the truth no few even of the very philosophers ; and if any ordinary magistrate forbid the Greek philosophy, forthwith it vanishes, but our teaching forthwith, at its first announcement, kings and emperors and subordinate rulers and governors, with all their mercenaries and countless multitudes, forbid, and war against us and try to extirpate, but it rather flourishes. " l
That there is a measure of truth in all this no one will gainsay, nor can any one deny the fact of the marvellous, rapid spread of the gospel in the first two or three Christian centuries, through those Jewish apostles and messengers whose hearts were all aflame with love and zeal for their all-glorious Redeemer, and through their first con verts from among the Gentiles. But what about the subse quent history of the professing Church ? Has it continued in its first love ? Has it " gone on and on " in faith and purity, and in zeal for Christ s cause and the salvation of men ? Alas ! instead of converting the world, the Gentile Church became more and more merged into the world, and their candlesticks of corporate testimony were one by one removed from the earth. Not as if the Word of God has failed in that whereto it was sent : a people for His Name from among the Gentiles a multitude which no man can number, out of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues
1 Pusey. The quotations are from Justin Martyr, Trypho, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 253
have been, and are^being, gathered into the fold of the One Great Shepherd. But this dispensation, according to the predictions of Christ and His apostles, instead of ending in the universal knowledge of God, and in peace and righteous ness among the nations, is to end in almost universal apostasy and failure, and in the greatest conflict among the nations that the world has yet known.
Beside this, what is here predicted is something which, as we have seen, is to take place subsequent to the restora tion and national conversion of Israel. Has that yet taken place ? No ; as we observed in the notes on chap, ii., it is only ignorance of God s plan and self-delusion which can boast of the gradual conversion of the world, and speak of " Christian nations " in this present dispensation. But when Jehovah will have mercy upon Jacob, and will yet choose Israel again and set them in their own land when, after the long centuries of darkness and unbelief the eyes of the blind shall be opened and Israel nationally is converted, and the heart of each of them is fired with that love and zeal which burned in the heart of Paul after the Lord revealed Himself to him, saying : " / am Jesus whom thou persecutest" then this prediction of Zechariah shall be fulfilled, and " many peoples and strong nations shall come and seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the face of Jehovah " ; and the still more ancient promise shall be realised : " As truly as I live, saith Jehovah, all the earth shall be filled with tJie glory of Jehovah" " for the earth 3 : | shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters
cover the sea." x
All this is confirmed and brought to a climax in the last 1 verse : " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : In those days it shall r \come to pass that ten men out of all the languages of the
- nations sfiall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, > . say ing, We will go with you, for we have Iteard that Jehovah
is with you."
Ten is used in Scripture for an indefinite number; 2
1 Num. xiv. 21 ; Isa. xi. 9.
2 Gen. xxxi. 7 ; Lev. xxvi. 26 ; Num. xiv. 22 ; i Sam. i. 8.
254 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH
here it stands for " a great and complete multitude." The unusual Hebrew phrase, mikol leshonoth haggoyim " of all the languages of the nations" is an echo of Isa. Ixvi. 18, where we read that " all nations and tongues " (or " languages " haggoyim vehallesJionoth) shall be gathered to see God s glory in Jerusalem. They shall lay hold on the khenaph, which is the corner of the long flowing garment worn in the East. Among the Jews, to each of the four kenaphayim of the outer garment of white, the rpiPif (tsitsitJi, " fringes," or tassels (of blue) were attached ; and some writers have supposed that this is what is referred to, since it was the distinctly visible sign of " a man, a Jew." It is spoken of as being laid (or caught) hold of, first with a view to detain the Jew, so as to beg his permission to accompany him. But it has the sense of keeping firm hold, expressive of the earnest determination of the Gentile seekers of Jehovah to accompany the Jew, who is himself represented as travelling towards Zion, with his face turned thither ward. Like Ruth, the Moabitess, to her Jewish mother-in- law, so the Gentile converts to the God of Israel shall say : " Entreat us not to leave Thee, or to return from following after Thee : for whither Thou goest we will go : . . . Thy people shalt be our people, and Thy God our God" " We will go with you, for we have heard that Jehovah is with you."
It is because the Jew shall then not only " believe in one God " (which is their boast now), but shall be so one with God that for a Gentile convert to call himself by the name of Jacob will be equivalent to saying, " I am the Lord s " ; and to surname himself " by the name of Israel," \equal to " subscribing with his hand unto Jehovah " flsa. xliv. 1 5). It is because the glorious hope and p r( )fnise contained in the Name " Immanuel " shall then be fulfilled in a literal and personal sense to Israel nationally, and Jehovah Himself, the Holy One of Israel, in the Person df their Messiah Jesus, shall dwell in the midst of them ; an4 because, finally, Qodesh / Yehovah " Holiness (or holy ; unto Jehovah " shall then be written upon their foreheads. vea > upon all that they possess, that the
THE POSITIVE PART OF THE ANSWER 255
Gentiles shall honour and reverence them " as the priests of Jehovah, the ministers of our God" (Isa. Ixi. 10), and cleave unto them as the appointed messengers of salvation and instruments of blessing, saying, " We will go with you, for we have heard that Jehovah is with you."
A pledge and prophecy of it we have in the history of the gospel in this dispensation, for it is a remarkable and wonderful fact that " the religion introduced by a Jew, the religion which consists of faith in the person of One who was indeed a Jew namely, our blessed Lord is that which has been embraced " by multitudes from among the Gentiles. Those are, therefore, not far wrong who have interpreted the words " a man, a Jew," of Christ ; for although, as the whole context shows, it is not primarily and directly of the Messiah, but of the Jews in the days of their future blessing, that this prophecy is spoken ; yet, as we have seen, it is only when Israel shall be the Messianic people and the representatives of Christ among the nations, Who will then be the King of the Jews, that this prophecy will be fulfilled. In this connection it is interesting to observe that even the Jews saw a reference in this scripture to the Messiah. Thus in an ancient Midrash we read : " All nations shall come, falling on their faces before the Messiah, and the Israelites saying, Grant that we may be Thy servants, and of Israel. For, as relates to the doctrine and the knowledge of the law, the Gentiles shall be their servants, according as it is written : In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirts of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. " *
1 Pesikta Rabhathai, in Yaklut Shimoni.