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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.

The Prophet explains here more clearly what we have already considered — that such would be the reverence for God, and the fear of him through the whole world, that whatever men undertook would be a sacrifice to him: he therefore says, that all the kettles, or pots, or vessels, would be sacred to God. And this is fulfilled when men regard this end — to glorify God through their whole life, as Paul exhorts us to do. (1 Corinthians 10:31.) Our provisions and our beds, and all other things, become then holy to God, when we really devote ourselves to him, and regard in all the actions of our life the end which I have mentioned, even to testify in truth that he is our God, and that we are under his guidance. By such comparisons then does Zechariah teach us, that men will be sacred to God; for nothing they touch shall be unclean, but what was before profane shall be sanctified to his glory. 199199     Drusius, Grotius, and some others, take another view, thinking what the number of vessels required for sacrifices would be very great, so that pots would be used, the bowls belonging to the altar being not sufficient. Grotius says that Antiochus the Great sent 20 thousand pieces of silver (20 mille nummos argenteos) to be spent in sacrifices in the temple, and that Demetrius sent 150 thousand annually; and he refers to Josephus, 12:3 and 13:5. But Marckius justly says, that there is no reference here to number, but to consecration, and agrees in the view given here by Calvin. The same is also taken by Henry, Newcome, Scott, and Henderson.
   The literal accomplishment of what is here said was at the time posterior to Nehemiah, the last reformer recorded in Scripture, who lived many years — probably from fifty to sixty — after Zechariah, and about ninety years after the first return under Zerubbabel. After Nehemiah, and for nearly three centuries, the state of the Jews was very flourishing and prosperous. Their calamities chiefly commenced in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, and continued, with some intermission, until their final overthrow by the Romans. — Ed.

Come, he says, shall they who sacrifice, and shall boil flesh in pots; as though he had said, That such would be the multitude of men who would ascend to offer sacrifices to God, that the vessels of the temple before in use would not be sufficient. It would hence be necessary to apply for that purpose what was previously profane. The language of Isaiah is similar, for he says that they who were Levites would become priests of the first order, and that those of the common people would become Levites, so that they might all come nigh to God. (Isaiah 66:20,21.) The meaning then of the Prophet is now clear — that he wished to stir up the Jews to constancy and firmness, who regarded their small number as their reproach and were almost disheartened: as then they thought that they had in vain returned to their own country, as the Lord did not gather the whole people, he says that God’s worship would become more celebrated than at the time when the state of things was most flourishing in Judea; for assemble they would, from the whole world, to offer sacrifices to God at Jerusalem, so that the whole city, with all its utensils, would be sacred to God, for the pots and the sacred vessels of the temple, used before under the law, would not be sufficient.

And he adds, And there shall be no Canaanite in the land: the meaning is, that the Church would become pure from all defilements: and this change ought to have given no small comfort to the Jews in their sad and calamitous state; for God had used no small severity, when all were driven into exile; and many tokens of this dreadful rigour still remained, since very few worshipped God, and were despised by all, so that true religion was exposed to the contempt and ridicule of all nations. This compensation then, that the Lord would by this remedy cleanse his Church from its filth, must have greatly allayed their sorrow: on this subject I have already said much.

Zechariah now briefly promises that the Church would become pure, so that all would from the heart and sincerely worship God, and that there would be no mixture of hypocrites to pollute the temple and holy things. But this seems strange, since the Church has ever been contaminated by many pollutions: and hence John the Baptist compares it to a floor, where the chaff is mixed with the wheat; and it is also compared to a net, into which are gathered many fishes, some good and some bad; and also at this day, in the kingdom of Christ, the Church is subject to this evils that it cannot cast out all corruptions: it seems then that the Prophet has spoken hyperbolically. But what we have elsewhere said ought to be borne in mind — that a comparison is made between the ancient state of the people and their second state, when the Church was renewed. As the religion had been in the most disgraceful manner corrupted, and as the Jews had impudently boasted that they were the holy people of God, while they were the most wicked of men, the Prophet justly says, that the Church when renewed would be purer; for the Lord would cleanse it by the cross, as gold and silver are cleansed, which are not only tried by the fire, but become also brighter, because the dross is removed. This is simply what the Prophet means when he says, that there will be no Canaanite among the people of God; that is, there will be no foreign or profane men, mingled with the faithful, to pollute the pure worship of God.

Some have wrested the passage and applied it to the last coming of Christ. But this is inconsistent with the subject in hand. At the same time I allow that the kingdom of Christ, according to the prophetic mode of writing, is here described from its commencement to its end. When God therefore purposed to renew his Church, he cleansed it from much filth, and still daily cleanses it, nor will he cease to do so, until, after all the defilements of the world having been removed, we shall be received into the celestial kingdom. Whenever then the Prophets speak of perfection under the reign of Christ, we ought not to confine what they say to one day or to a short time, but we ought to include the whole time from the beginning to the end. Hence when Christ appeared in the world, then began to shine the splendor of which Zechariah now speaks: but the Lord will go on until that shall be completed which now makes continual progress.

Some read, There shall be a merchant no more, etc.; and they have some reason for what they say, for the word is sometimes rendered merchant: but as in this case, we must have recourse to allegories, and take merchants for impious corrupters who make a merchandise of God’s worship, or give this interpretation, that there shall be no merchant any more, because all would freely bring their offerings, — as these explanations are not appropriate, it is better to take the passage simply as it is — that the Lord will gather his elect, so that pure sacrifices will be offered by them all; and that there will be no hypocrites any more to contaminate and corrupt the Church, or to adulterate the worship of God. 200200     The word is rendered “Canaanite — [χαναναιος],” by the Septuagint, — “merchant” by the Targum and Aquila, and is taken in this sense by Jerome, Newcome, and Henderson: but Theodoret and Cyril take the first sense, and the latter explains it by “stranger and idolater — [αλλογευνὴς και εἰδωλολάτρης].” It is justly observed by Marckius, that there is nothing in the passage that can lead us to give the word its secondary meaning of a merchant. — Ed.

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