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Future Warfare and Final Victory


See, a day is coming for the L ord, when the plunder taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then the L ord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. 5And you shall flee by the valley of the L ord’s mountain, for the valley between the mountains shall reach to Azal; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the L ord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there shall not be either cold or frost. 7And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the L ord), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.

8 On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter.

9 And the L ord will become king over all the earth; on that day the L ord will be one and his name one.

10 The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses. 11And it shall be inhabited, for never again shall it be doomed to destruction; Jerusalem shall abide in security.

12 This shall be the plague with which the L ord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet; their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. 13On that day a great panic from the L ord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of a neighbor, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other; 14even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected—gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. 15And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever animals may be in those camps.

16 Then all who survive of the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the L ord of hosts, and to keep the festival of booths. 17If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the L ord of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. 18And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then on them shall come the plague that the L ord inflicts on the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths. 19Such shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths.

20 On that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the L ord.” And the cooking pots in the house of the L ord shall be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar; 21and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the L ord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the L ord of hosts on that day.

Here is subjoined a more cheering prophecy, — that the grace of God would yet prevail. Whatever evils, and troubles, and dangers, and fears, and diseases awaited the faithful, he yet says that in such miseries they would still be made happy. And this ought to be carefully observed, for nothing can be more suitably found to alleviate our sorrows than to put in the balance God’s benefits on one side, and on the other the punishments and chastisements which he brings on us; for as God’s mercy and kindness always greatly preponderate, it cannot be but that we shall be able to say with holy Job,

“If good things have we received from the Lord’s hand,
why should we refuse evil things?” (Job 2:10.)

This then is what Zechariah sets before us, — that though the Church may be harassed by many cares, and subject to many fears, and terrified by many dangers, and be as it were in trepidation, yet the grace of God, if rightly viewed, is sufficient to administer invaluable comfort, for go forth shall living waters from Jerusalem 184184     “Living, that is, running waters. This passage refers to the wide effusion of divine knowledge from Jerusalem when restored.” — Newcome.
   The Gospel blessings are often mentioned as waters. See Isaiah 55:1; Jeremiah 2:13; Ezekiel 47:1; John 4:10. “Perennial waters” is the rendering of Dathius. — Ed.

This prophecy no doubt refers to the kingdom of Christ, and this may be sufficiently proved by other passages. The Prophet then has hitherto spoken of the many afflictions, which were nigh at hand, in order that the Jews might not faint or entirely fail; but he now directs their minds to the kingdom of Christ, from whence they were to look for not only a deliverance from all evils, but also the full restitution of the Church, and as it were the renovation of the world.

There is here no doubt an implied contrast between living waters and those which soon dry up: hence he says, that they would flow continually summer and winter. 185185     “In those countries most springs failed during summer.” — Newcome. Judea, we know, was subject to want of water, and there were no waters around Jerusalem, except the spring of Siloam, which had waters in abundance, and supplied the wants of the citizens. But the Prophet promises living waters, which would not be like occasional streams, but flow continually. At the same time he seems to regard something higher. As by living waters he understands those which are spiritual, so he compares these waters with all those streams which are earthly; as though he had said, “the fountain from which the two streams arise is inexhaustible, so that its exuberance shall never fail, but shall send forth streams from one sea to the opposite sea, and shall water the farthest regions of the earth.”

By the eastern sea many understand the Lake Asphaltes, but it seems to me more probable that the Prophet speaks of the Persian Sea; 186186     Both Newcome and Henderson consider it to be the Lake Asphaltes or the Dead Sea. The land of Canaan is here throughout contemplated, and not the whole world, as Calvin and many others have thought. The land of Canaan was emblematic of the land of the Church, the whole world; hence what is promised to extend to the extremities of its borders is to be understood, when it appertains to Christ’s kingdom, as extending to the utmost limits of the earth. — Ed. for if he had said that the waters would go forth to that lake, the distance would be very short; but he meant on the contrary to show, that the copiousness of the waters would be so large and abundant that though they would pass through the whole earth, yet their flow would never cease. By the hinder sea he no doubt meant the Mediterranean. The import of the whole is, — that thong the earth were previously dry, yet such would be the abundance of waters as to be sufficient for all, not only as in former times to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but also to all the Jews in whatever part of the country they might dwell.

Now, since the language is metaphorical, we must bear in mind what I have lately said, — that here is set forth the spiritual grace of God; nor is it a new thing to apply the word waters to the Spirit of God:

“I will pour forth waters on the dry land
and rivers on the thirsty land” (Isaiah 44:3;)

and again,

“I will give clean waters.” (Ezekiel 36:25.)

There is a twofold reason why Scripture gives the name of waters to the Holy Spirit, — because he performs the two offices of cleansing and of watering: for we are like barren and dry land, except the Lord by his Spirit from heaven gives us new vigor and conveys moisture to us. As then the earth derives moisture from heaven, that it may produce fruit, so also we must have conferred on us by the hidden power of the Spirit whatever vigor we may possess. Since then Zechariah promises a fountain of living waters, he understands that God’s grace would be offered to all the Jews, so that they might drink and be satisfied, and no more be exposed as formerly to the want of water.

If any one objects and says, that this interpretation seems forced, the answer is ready at hand, which is this, — that as it is certain that the prophet here speaks of the kingdom of Christ, this rule is to be remembered, — That whatever is foretold of Christ’s kingdom, must correspond with its nature and character. Since then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, there is no doubt but that when Scripture, as we have seen, promises a large produce of corn and wine, an abundance of all good things, tranquillity and peace, and bright days, it intends by all these things to set forth the character of Christ’s kingdom. We hence see what the prophet means by living waters; and then, why he says that they would go forth to the east and to the west; and lastly, why he adds, that they would flow in winter as well as in summer. It now follows —

Here the prophet shows more clearly, and without using a figurative language, what might otherwise be more obscure: he says, that Jehovah would be king. Here Zechariah compares the kingdom of Christ with those periods of misery and calamities which had preceded, and which had continued till the coming of Christ. We indeed know that there had been the most dreadful scattering through the whole land, since the time the ten tribes separated from the family of David; for since the body of the people ceased to be one, they wilfully contrived ruin for themselves. When therefore the Israelites fought against Judah, the wrath of God appeared, the fruit of their defection. We indeed know that David was not made king by the suffrages of men, but was chosen by the decree of God. Hence when the kingdom of Israel departed from the son of David, it was the same as though they had refused to bear the authority of God himself, according to what he said to Samuel,

“Thee have they not despised, but me,
that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7.)

And yet Samuel was only a governor for a time over the people; but when the people through a foolish zeal wished a king to be given then, God complains that he was despised in not being allowed to reign over them alone. This was more fully completed, when the ten tribes separated themselves from the lawful kingdom which God himself had established and had commanded to be inviolable. From that time then God was not their king. This is one thing.

Afterwards we know that the kings of Israel joined themselves with the kings of Syria to overthrow the kingdom of Judah, and that the Jews also sent for aid to the Assyrians, and afterwards had recourse to the Egyptians. At length the kingdom of Israel was cut off; then the kingdom of Judah, and the city was destroyed and the temple burnt, so that the worship of God for a time ceased. They afterwards returned; but we know they were ever oppressed by hard and cruel tyranny: when they perceived that they were unprotected, because they had refused to take shelter under the wings of God. Though he had so often told them that they would be safe and secure under his protection, they yet refused that favor. Therefore the Jews then found to their great loss that God was not their king.

Hence when Zechariah now speaks of the restoration of the Church, he rightly says, that Jehovah would be king; 187187     It is added, “over all the earth,” according to our version and Newcome and Henderson; but it ought to be, “over the whole land,” as it appears evident from the verses which follow; and our version and Newcome render the same phrase, “all the land” in the next verse, while Henderson, more consistent with himself, but not with the meaning of the passage, retains the words, “all the earth.” — Ed. that is, though the Jews had been torn asunder and pillaged by tyrants, though they had suffered many reproaches and wrongs, yet God would become again their king, that He might defend them against all unjust violence and keep them under His protection. Nothing indeed can be more blessed than to live under the reigns of God; and this highest happiness is ever promised to the faithful.

We now understand the Prophet’s meaning as to this part; but he shows immediately after that this cannot be hoped for, except the Jews really attended to true religion and worshipped God aright and cast away their superstitions. Hence he joins together these two things, — that the condition of the people would be a happy one, because God would undertake the care of them and perform the office of a king, — and then, that God would be their king, in order that he might be rightly and sincerely worshipped by them: there shall be, he says, one Jehovah. Here the Prophet briefly shows that the legitimate worship of God cannot be set up, unless superstition be abolished. We indeed know that God is jealous, as he calls himself, so that he cannot bear rivals: for when we devise for ourselves any sort of deity, we instantly take from God what is his own. The Prophet then teaches us, that God cannot be truly worshipped, except he shines alone as the supreme, so that our religion may be pure and sound. In short, he indirectly condemns here those superstitions by which the earth had been corrupted and polluted, and also the superstitions by which true religion had been adulterated and the worship under the law had been violated. For this reason he says, that Jehovah would be one 188188     Henderson seems to have unnecessarily introduced another version,
   In that day Jehovah alone shall be,
And his name alone.

   The obvious meaning is, that there would be but “one Jehovah” acknowledged, to the exclusion of all pretended deities, and that his “name” would be one to the exclusion of every other name. It is an announcement suitable to the previous state of things, when many gods were acknowledged, and many names given to them, under which they were worshipped. Much more emphatical and expressive is the usual rendering, —

   In that day there shall be one Jehovah, and his name one.

   [Εσται κύριος εἱς καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτου ἕν]. — Septuagint

   “One name” is mentioned, because the heathens pretended to worship the true God under various names. — Ed.

He expresses this still clearer by saying, that his name would be one. This second clause may indeed appear useless; for whatever can be said of God is comprehended in his oneness. But as we are wont by various artifices to cover superstitions, and ever devise new excuses and new disguises, by which our impiety may seem specious and plausible, the Prophet expressly adds here, that God’s name is one; as though he had said, “It is not enough for men to declare that they acknowledge one true God or one supreme deity, except also they agree in some true and simple faith, so that the name of this one true God may be celebrated on the earth.” But the idea of the Prophet will become more clear if we notice the difference between the one true God and the name of the only true God, or the one name of God. All the philosophers with one mouth teach, that there are not many gods, but some supreme deity, who is the source of divinity: and this is what has been believed by all heathen nations. But in course of time they began to imagine that from this source many gods have emanated; and hence has come a multitude of false gods, so that some worshipped Jupiter, others Mercury, others Apollo; not because they thought that there are many gods partaking of original divinity; but because they imagined that gods have proceeded from the supreme fountain. As then the Jews might have sought subterfuges, and excused themselves by saying that they did not in heart worship many gods, the Prophet adds the second clause, — that the name of God is one; which means, that there is a certain way in which God is to be worshipped, that there is a certain fixed rule, so that no one is to follow what he himself may imagine to be right, and that the majesty of God ought not to be profaned by various errors, nor should men be lost each in his own notion, but that all ought to attend to the voice of God, and to hear what he testifies of himself.

We now then understand what the Prophet means: he says first, that things would be in a happy state in Judea, when God would be regarded as one, that is, when the whole land had been cleansed from its defilements, and when true religion again prevailed: but as this purity would not easily obtain footing in the world, and as men easily decline from it, he adds, that the name of God would be one, in order that the Jews might understand that God cannot be rightly worshipped except he be alone worshipped; and that it cannot be one, unless there be one faith, prescribed and certain, and not alternating between diverse opinions, like that of the heathens, whose religion is no other than to follow what they themselves imagine or what they have derived from their ancestors.

Now this is a remarkable passage: God distinguishes himself from all idols and his worship from all superstitions; and the more attentively we ought to consider what the Prophet teaches us, because our inclinations, as I have said, to vanity, is so great, and this is what experience itself sufficiently shows, and we also see how easily superstition, like a whirlwind, carries us away, and not only one superstition, but innumerable kinds of superstition. The more then it behaves us to notice this truth, so that the one name of God may prevail among us, and that no one may allow himself the liberty of imagining anything he pleases; but that we may know what God ought to be worshipped by us. And Christ also condemns for this reason all the forms of worship which prevailed in the world, by saying to the woman of Samaria,

“Ye know not what ye worship, we Jews alone,” he says,
“know this.” (John 4:22.)

We hence see that this one thing is sufficient to condemn all superstitions, that is, when men follow their own fancies, and observe not a fixed and unchangeable rule, which cannot deceive. It follows —

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