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8. Lord Promises to Bless Jerusalem

Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, 2Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. 3Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain. 4Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. 6Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts. 7Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

9Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built. 10For before these 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 affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour. 11But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts. 12For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. 13And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, 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. 14For thus saith the Lord of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not: 15So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

16These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: 17And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.

18And the word of the Lord of hosts came unto me, saying, 19Thus saith the Lord 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 the truth and peace. 20Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. 22Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. 23Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even 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.

The Prophet now more clearly explains what he intended; but it was necessary to preserve this order — that enemies were to be by force ejected from their possession, and the Church delivered, before God could dwell in the midst of it; for how could God have proved that Jerusalem was under his guardianship and protection without having first subdued its enemies? It was not then without reason that the Prophet commenced with this promise — that God was prepared for war, and was burning with wrath, that he might deliver his Church from the hands of enemies. Then follows the fruit of the victory; for it would not have been enough for God to avenge the wrongs done to his chosen people, without gathering the dispersed and restoring the Church to its ancient condition. For it often happens that those who have been cruelly treated find an avenger; but no comfort, or very little comfort, comes to them, as they are made nothing better; but the Lord here refers to these two things — that he would take up arms to defend his chosen people, and also that he would become, as the case was, the defender and protector of the holy city.

The repetition of the sentence, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, almost in every verse, was no doubt intended for the purpose of strengthening their faith; for it was, as I have already said a thing incredible. It was then necessary to bring forward often the name of God, that the faithful might more readily give assent to the prophecy which they knew proceeded from God, even the God of hosts, whose power is infinite, and to whom nothing is difficult, as we shall find it presently stated.

And he says that he had returned; not that the accomplishment of this prophecy was then visible, but the decree is put for the reality. God had been, as it were, for a long time silent, while his people were exposed as a sport to their enemies; and he seemed then to be far away from Jerusalem, for the place was desolate and waste, yea, it was a scene of dreadful vengeance. God, then, during the whole of that time, seemed to have forsaken the place, according to the testimony of Ezekiel, who says, that God had removed from the temple, and that it was an empty place, and as it were profane. On this account he says now that he had returned; for he intended openly to show that it had not in vain been made the seat of his glory, when he had commanded his name to be there invoked. It is indeed true that mount Sion had never been forsaken by God; but no other opinion could have been formed, when there were there no altar, no sacrifices, and no people to worship God; for this is said with reference to divine worship; and the holiness of the mount was also nothing, except as far as God had consecrated it to himself. Hence these two things were connected — the holiness of the mount and the presence of God. It therefore follows that God, according to the judgment of men, was absent, when no religion appeared there, and the Jews offered there no sacrifices.

He further says, that he had returned, that he might dwell in the midst of Jerusalem 8080     “The walls of the city were not dedicated, Nehemiah 12:27, till above sixty years after this prophecy.”—Newcome. It was necessary to add this, that the Jews might be convinced that his return was not in vain; for many said that they foolishly made too much haste, and that though the commencement had been favorable, yet many troubles would come upon them in future, and that their building would be only for a short time, and that though they spent much toil and labor in rebuilding the city, it would yet be only for a season, as their enemies would shortly come and destroy their new edifices. Since then reports of this kind were spreading, it was necessary to support the minds of the godly, that they might be fully persuaded that God had returned to his people, and had become the restorer of his exiles for this end — that he might as before dwell at Jerusalem.

We now apprehend the Prophet’s object; it was as though he had said, that the people had not returned in vain to their country, but that they had been delivered by the authority of God, and that his dwelling at Jerusalem would be fixed and perpetual, as it had before been his habitation. We indeed know that the stability of the Church is not otherwise secured than by the presence of God, as it is said in Psalm 46, “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;” for the Church would not be less exposed to sudden and frequent destruction than other things, were it not that God, her support, dwells in her. And this is what our Prophet means here when he says, that God would dwell there.

He adds, And called shall be Jerusalem the city of truth, and the mount of Jehovah the mount of holiness 8181     This verse presents an example of an inverted order in the words, often met with in Scripture. Zion and Jerusalem are first mentioned, then Jerusalem and Zion. “Truth” here seems especially to mean faithfulness, as opposed to perfidy; for Jerusalem had become unfaithful and broken her covenant with God. “Holiness” included what was moral and ceremonial. — Ed. By the first clause the Prophet reminds us why God had for a time forsaken Jerusalem, even because it was a city given to falsehoods, wicked devices, deceits, and perverse counsels. As then the Jews had wholly degenerated from true religion, the Prophet intimates that the city became destitute of its guardian and protector, even of God himself. And for the same purpose are added the words, the mount of Jehovah shall be called the mount of holiness. For however proudly the Jews boasted that they worshipped God, they yet had profaned both the temple and the altar by their sins, as we have seen it proved by the Prophet Haggai. (Haggai 2:15.) Here then Zechariah indirectly reproves the Jews for having corrupted all purity by their frauds, and also for having, by the defilements of their sins, polluted Sion and the temple of God. At the same time he teaches us that God dwells in his Church where he sanctifies it.

Hence God is never idle while he dwells in his people; for he cleanses away every kind of impurity, every kind of deceit, that where he dwells may ever be a holy place. Therefore the Prophet not only promises here an external blessing to the Jews, but also shows that God performs what is far more excellent — that he cleanses the place where he intends to dwell, and the habitation which he chooses, and casts out every kind of filth. And since God promises to do this, we hence see that it is his own peculiar work and gift to cleanse all our impurities, and also to dissipate everything false and deceitful. The import of the whole is, that when God reconciles his people to himself, he not only brings an outward blessing of an earthly kind, but also something better and far more excellent, even the renewal of the heart and mind, and that when all things are polluted and filthy, he restores true and perfect cleanness and integrity.

We must further bear also in mind what I have already stated — that their sins are here intimated to the Jews, that they might be touched with shame, and seek repentance; for we have seen that they were very slow and tardy in this respect. It was then necessary to stimulate them that they might repent. For what the Prophet says clearly intimates that mount Sion had been profaned, though God had consecrated it to himself; for God’s worship had been there vitiated, and there was there no integrity; and that the faithful city, such at least as it ought to have been, had become full of falsehood and treachery; for truth is not to be confined to that fidelity which men ought to observe one towards another, but is to be extended to that sincerity which the faithful ought to possess as to the pure and sincere worship of God. This is the sum of the whole. It now follows —


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