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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.

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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