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Third Vision: The Man with a Measuring Line


I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2Then I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” 3Then the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him, 4and said to him, “Run, say to that young man: Jerusalem shall be inhabited like villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and animals in it. 5For I will be a wall of fire all around it, says the L ord, and I will be the glory within it.”

Interlude: An Appeal to the Exiles

6 Up, up! Flee from the land of the north, says the L ord; for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven, says the L ord. 7Up! Escape to Zion, you that live with daughter Babylon. 8For thus said the L ord of hosts (after his glory sent me) regarding the nations that plundered you: Truly, one who touches you touches the apple of my eye. 9See now, I am going to raise my hand against them, and they shall become plunder for their own slaves. Then you will know that the L ord of hosts has sent me. 10Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the L ord. 11Many nations shall join themselves to the L ord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the L ord of hosts has sent me to you. 12The L ord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

13 Be silent, all people, before the L ord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

He continues the same subject. The meaning is, that God begins nothing which he does not determine to bring to its end. Since then he had already begun to gather his people, that they might dwell in the Holy Land, it was a work in progress, at length to be completed; for the Lord’s will was not to be a half Redeemer. This is the purport of what the Prophet says.

But he now exhorts Sion to rejoice, as though the happiness which he predicts was already enjoyed. This mode of speaking, as we have seen elsewhere, is common among the Prophets. When they intended to animate God’s servants to a greater confidence, they brought them as it were into the midst of what was promised, and dictated a song of thanksgiving. We are not wont to congratulate ourselves before the time. When, therefore, the Prophets bade the Church to sing to God and to give thanks, they thus confirmed the promises made to them; as though the Prophet had said, that as yet indeed the brightness and glory of God was in a great measure laid, but that the faithful were beyond the reach of danger, and that therefore they could boldly join in a song of thanks to God, as though they were already enjoying full redemption; for the Lord will perfect what he begins.

Rejoice then and exult, thou daughter of Sion, — Why? For I come. God had already come; but here he expresses the progress of his favor, by declaring that he would come; as though he had said, “I have already given you obscure tokens of my presence; but you shall find another coming which will be much more effectual to confirm your faith.” Though then God had already appeared to the Jews, yet he says that he would come, that is, when Christ would come forth, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in whom God’s perfect glory and majesty shines forth. And hence also does it more evidently appear what I have already said, that this address cannot be applied without perversion to the Prophet, nor be suitably applied to the person of the Father. It then follows that Christ speaks here: but he does not speak as a man or an angel; he speaks as God the Redeemer. We hence see that the name Jehovah is appropriated to Christ, and that there is no difference between the Father and the Son as to essence, but that they are only to be distinguished as to their persons. Whenever then Christ announces his own divinity, he takes the name Jehovah; but he also shows, that there is something peculiar and distinct belonging to him as the messenger of the Father. For this reason, and in this respect, he is inferior to the Father; that is, because he is sent as a messenger, and executes what has been entrusted to him. These things do not militate the one against the other, as many unlearned and turbulent men think, who entangle themselves in many vain imaginations, or rather in mere ravings, and say, “How can it be, that there is one eternal God, and yet that Christ, who is distinct from the Father, and is called his angel, is a true God?” So they imagine that the origin of divinity is God the Father, as though the one true God had begotten, and thus produced another God from himself, as by propagation. But these are diabolical figments, by which the unity of the Divine essence is destroyed. Let us then bear in mind what the Prophet teaches here clearly and plainly, — that Christ is Jehovah, the only true God, and yet that he is sent by God as a Mediator.

Behold I come, he says, and I will dwell in the midst of thee. God dwelt then among the Jews, for the building of the temple had been begun, and sacrifices had been already offered; but this dwelling was typical only. It hence follows, that some new kind of presence is here pointed out, when God was to reveal himself to his people, not under ceremonial figures and symbols, but by dwelling, at the fullness of time, substantially among them; for Christ is the temple of the Godhead, and so perfectly unites us to God the Father, that we are one with him. And it ought further to be carefully borne in mind, that the Prophet does here also make a distinction between the ancient types of the law and the reality, which was at length exhibited in Christ; for there is no need now of shadows, when we enjoy the reality, and possess the completion of all those things which God only shadowed forth under the law.

The Prophet describes here the voluntary surrender of the nations, who would so join themselves to the Church of God, as to disown their own name and to count themselves Jews: and this is what the Prophet borrowed from those who had predicted the same thing; but he confirms their testimony, that the Jews might know that the propagation of the Church had not been promised to them in vain by so many witnesses. That what is said here refers to the calling of the nations who would willingly surrender themselves to God, is quite evident; for it is said that they would be a people to God. This could not be, except the nations surrendered their own name, so as to become one body with the Jews. He then repeats what he had said, that God would dwell in the midst of Judea. Of this dwelling something was said yesterday; for as they had already begun to offer sacrifices in the temple, it follows that God was already dwelling among them. We must then necessarily come to another kind of dwelling, even that which God, who had before testified by many proofs that he was nigh the Jews, had at length accomplished through Christ; for Christ is really Emmanuel, and in him God is present with us in the fullness of his power, justice, goodness, and glory.

He at last adds, Thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts has sent me to thee. Something has also been said on this sentence: the Prophet means, that it would be evident by what would really take place, that these things had not been in vain foretold, as the prophecy would be openly fulfilled before the eyes of all. Then shalt thou know, not by the assurance of faith, which is grounded on the word, but by actual experience. But he expresses more than before, for he says, “Thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts has sent me to thee.” The particle אליך, alik, “to thee,” is not superfluous; for he said a little while before, that he was sent to the nations. As he now says, that he would be the guardian of the chosen people, he also declares that his mission was to them; and he gives to God the name of Jehovah of hosts, that the Jews might feel assured that there would be no difficulty sufficient to hinder or delay the word of God, as he possessed supreme power, so that he could easily execute whatever he had decreed. I will not repeat now what I said yesterday of Christ; but we ought nevertheless to remember this, that he who declares that he was sent, is often called Jehovah. It hence appears that one and the same divine eternal essence is in more persons than one. Let us go on -

The Prophet confirms the former doctrine, but removes offenses, which might have occurred to the Jews and prevented them from believing this prophecy: for they had been for a time rejected, so that there was no difference between them and other nations. The land of Canaan had been given them as a pledge of their heirship; but they had been thence expelled, and there had been no temple, no public worship, no kingdom. The Jews then might have concluded from all these reasons, that they were rejected by God. Hence the Prophet here promises that they were to be restored again to their former state and to their own place. Jehovah, he says, will take Judah as his hereditary portion; that is, God will really show that he has not forgotten the election by which he had separated the Jews for himself; for he intended them to be to him a peculiar people. They were now mixed with the nations; their dispersion seemed an evidence of repudiation; but it was to be at length manifest that God was mindful of that adoption, by which he once purposed to gather the Jews to himself, that their condition might be different from that of other nations. When therefore he says, that Judah would be to God for an heritage or for an hereditary portion, he brings forward nothing new, but only reminds them that the covenant by which God chose Judah as his people would not be void, for it would be made evident in its time.

And the following clause is to the same purpose, And he will again choose Jerusalem; for it was not then for the first time that Jerusalem became the city of God when restoration took place, but the election, which existed before, was now in a manner renewed conspicuously in the sight of men. It is then the same as though the Prophet had said, “The course of God’s favor has indeed been interrupted, yet he will again show that you have not been in vain chosen as his people, and that Jerusalem, which was his sanctuary, has not been chosen without purpose.” The renovation of the Church, then, is what the Prophet means by these words.

What we have said elsewhere ought at the same time to be noticed, that the word choose is not to be taken here in its strict sense; for God does not repeatedly choose those whom he regards as his Church. God’s election is one single act, for it is eternal and immutable. But as Jerusalem had been apparently rejected, the word choose imports here that God would make it evident, that the first elections had ever been unchangeable, however hidden it may have been to the eyes of men. He then adds —

Here is a sealing of the whole prophecy. The Prophet highly extols the power of God, that the Jews might not still doubt or fear as with regard to things uncertain. He says that whatever he had hitherto declared was indubitable; for God would put forth his power to succor his Church and to remove whatever hindrance there might be. We have seen similar expressions elsewhere, that is, in the second chapter of Habakkuk and in the first of Zephaniah; (Habakkuk 2:1 Zephaniah 1:1) and these Prophets had nearly the same object in view; for Habakkuk, after having spoken of the restoration of the people, thus concludes, — that God was coming forth to bid silence to all nations, that no one might dare to oppose when it was his will to redeem his Church. So also Zephaniah, after having, described the slaughter of God’s enemies, when God ordered sacrifices to be made to him as it were from the whole world, uses the same mode of expression, as though he had said, that there would be nothing to resist the power of God. It is the same here, Silent, he says, let all flesh be before Jehovah. It is, in short, the shout of triumph, by which Zechariah exults over all the enemies of the Church, and shows that they would rage in vain, as they could effect nothing, however clamorous they might be.

By silence we are to understand, as elsewhere observed, submission. The ungodly are not indeed silent before God, so as willingly to obey his word, or reverently to receive what he may bid or command, or humbly to submit under his powerful hand; for these things are done only by the faithful. Silence, then, is what especially belongs to the elect and the faithful; for they willingly close their mouth to hear God speaking. But the ungodly are also said to be silent, when God restrains their madness: and how much soever they may inwardly murmur and rage, they yet cannot openly resist; so that he completes his work, and they are at length made ashamed of the swelling, words they have vomited forth, when they pass off in smoke. This is the sense in which the Prophet says now, silent be all flesh. He means, in short, by these words, That when God shall go forth to deliver his Church, he will be terrible; so that all who had before furiously assailed his chosen people, shall be constrained to tremble.

With regard to the habitation of holiness, I explain it of the temple rather than of heaven. I indeed allow that heaven is often thus called in Scripture: and it is called the palace or temple of God, for we cannot think as we ought of God’s infinite glory, except we are carried above the world. This is the reason why God says that he dwells in heaven. But as the Church is spoken of here, Zechariah, I doubt not, means the temple. It is indeed certain that there was no temple when God began to rise as one awakened from sleep, to restore his people: but as the faithful are said in Psalm 102 to pity the dust of Sion, because the place continued sacred even in its degradation and ruin; so also in this passage Zechariah says, that God was roused — Whence? from Sion, from that despised place, exposed to the derision of the ungodly: yet there God continued to dwell, that he might build again the temple, where his name was to be invoked until Christ appeared. We now see that the temple or Sion is intended rather than heaven, when all circumstances are duly weighed. Now follows —

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