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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.

It is said, that the angel went forth, and that another angel met him. It hence appears as from the whole of what the Prophet says, how carefully God provides for the safety of his Church; for he has ever angels as his emissaries, who hasten at his nod, and aid the Church in its necessities. Since then angels thus unite to secure the well-being of the Church, we hence perceive how dear to God are the faithful, in whose favor he thus employs all his angels; and we also see, that it was the Lord’s will that this prophecy should be clear and manifest to all the godly: go, and run to that young man, he says, and tell him. Zechariah had indeed asked for an explanation of the measure in the man’s hand, but from the fact that another angel met him, it appears, as I have already said, that God does not neglect the request and prayers of his people, provided only that they are desirous of learning; he will then perform the part of a true and faithful teacher towards them. But the word “run,” ought especially to be noticed: “go,” he says, “and even hasten, lest the youth should longer doubt, and explain the purpose of this prophecy.” He calls the Prophet a youth, because he was then among angels. He would not call him a man of full age, because he had before called an angel man. What rank could the Prophet hold among angels except that of a youth? This circumstance ought therefore to be observed as the reason why Zechariah spoke disparagingly or humbly of himself.

Now as to the import of the prophecy, we have already said, that here is described the heavenly Jerusalem, which is surrounded by no walls, but is open to the whole world, and which depends not on its own strength, but dwells safely though exposed on all sides to enemies; for the Prophet says not without reason, “through the villages shall Jerusalem be inhabited;” that is, it shall everywhere be inhabited, so that it will have no need of defense to restrain or hinder enemies to come near; for a safe rest shall be given to it, when every one shall quietly occupy his own place. It follows —

He confirms in this verse what I have just mentioned — that Jerusalem would be safe, though without any fortifications; for God alone would be sufficient for walls, for towers, for fortresses, according to what is said by other Prophets: “God will be to thee a wall and a fortress”, (Isaiah 26:1), again, “he will be to thee a stronghold”. It is, therefore, a sentence in accordance with other prophecies when Jehovah testifies, that he would be a wall of fire. We indeed know, that though walls may be high and thick, they may be scaled by enemies; but who will dare to throw himself into the fire? It is then the same as though God had spoken thus — “Though there will be no watchmen to defend Jerusalem, no soldiers to protect it, in short, no guardians whatever, yet I alone shall be sufficient; for I shall not only be a wall to keep off enemies, but I shall be also a fire to fill them with terror.”

He then adds, I will be for glory in the midst of her: as though he had said, “the real happiness of Jerusalem, within and without, will be in me alone and in my favor: within, in the midst of her I will be for glory; I will adorn her with every thing praiseworthy; and when there shall be any fear from the assault of enemies, I will be to her a wall of fire. For though she will not excel in strongholds and towers, and be without walls and fortresses, and shall be thus exposed to many evils, I shall yet strike all enemies with terror, so that they shall be kept afar off; and my Church shall be thus preserved safe, though destitute of all human aids, and without any defense.”

We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet to be this — that though the Jews saw that they were but few in number, weak in strength, wretched and despised, they had yet reason to entertain hope; for though few returned from exile God was yet able to increase the Church and to make it a vast multitude, and that this was certain and decreed, for it was shown by the vision, that however unequal they were to their enemies, God was still sufficiently strong and powerful to defend them; and that however destitute they were of all blessings, God was still rich enough to enrich them, provided they relied on the blessing which he had promised; for he had engaged to render them happy and blessed within, and safe from enemies from without.

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