(calvin, minor prophets. part 6) whole then is - that though the Church would not be exempt and free from many troubles, yet God would have in his hand those remedies by which he would check all the assaults of the wicked. Though the prophet intended by this prophecy to encourage and animate to patience his own nation, yet there is here set before us by the Lord, as in a mirror, the real condition of the Church at this day. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as we are on every side surrounded by many enemies and as Satan never ceases to kindle the fury of many, not only to be hostile to us, but also to destroy and consume us, - grant that we may learn to raise up our eyes to heavens and trusting in thy protection may boldly fight in patience, until at length that shall appear which thou hast once for all testified in this remarkable prophecy, that there are many smiths in thine hand and also many hammers, by which thou breakest in pieces those horns which rise up to scatter us, and until at length having overcome all the devices of Satan, we shall reach that blessed rest which has been provided for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. Amen. The True Priest And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. (Zech.3:1) ZECHARIAH laboured to show that the faithful were to look for more than they had reason to expect from the aspect of things at the time, and that they were to direct their eyes and their thoughts to the power of God, which was not as yet manifested, and which indeed God purposely designed not to exercise, in order to try the patience of the people. The vision was given to the prophet for two reasons - that the faithful might know that their contest was with Satan, their spiritual enemy, rather than with neighbouring nations, and also that they might understand that a remedy was at hand, for God stood in defense of the priesthood which he had instituted. That typical priesthood was a representation of the priesthood of Christ, and Joshua, who was then retained from exile, bore the character of Christ the Son of God. Let us then know that Christ never performs the work of the priesthood, but that Satan stands at his side - that is, devises all means by which he may remove and draw Christ from his office. It hence follows that they are much deceived who think that they can live idly under the dominion of Christ, for we all have a warfare, for which each is to arm and equip himself. Let not our thoughts be fixed on flesh and blood, for Satan is the chief warrior who assails us. Prayer GRANT Almighty God, that as thou hast made us a royal priesthood in thy Son, that we may daily offer to thee spiritual sacrifices, and be devoted to thee both in body and soul, - O grant that we, being endued with thy power, may boldly fight against Satan, and never doubt that thou wilt finally give us the victory, though we may have to undergo many troubles and difficulties; and may not the contempt of the world frighten or dishearten us, but may we patiently bear all our reproaches until thou at length stretches forth thy hand to raise us up to that glory, the perfection of which now appears in our Head, and shall at last be clearly seen in all the members, and in the whole body, even when he shall come to gather us into that celestial kingdom which he has purchased for us by his own blood. Amen. The Day of Small Things For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. (Zech.4:10) GOD, to exhibit the more his power, begins with small things in building his spiritual temple; nothing grand is seen to attract the eyes and thoughts of men, but everything is almost contemptible. God indeed could put forth his power immediately, and thus rouse the attention of all men and fill them with wonder. But his purpose is to increase, by doing wonders, the brightness of his power, which he does when from a small beginning he brings forth what no one would have thought; and besides, his purpose is to prove the faith of his people, for it behoves us ever to hope beyond hope. Now, when the beginning promises something great and sublime, there is no proof and no trial of faith; but when we hope for what does not appear, we give due honour to God, for we depend only on his power, and not on the proximate means. There is no one who does not sometimes become cold when he sees the beginning of the Church so mean before the world and so destitute of any dignity. But we know that Christ is the chief builder and that ministers are workmen who labour under him. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that since Satan at this day sets against us many terrors to cast us down, and we are very weak, - O grant that with our eyes lifted above we may meditate on that invincible power which thou possesses, and by which thou can't overcome all the hindrances of this world, and then, when nothing in this world but what is contemptible appears to be capable of confirming and supporting our faith, may we, nevertheless, by the eyes of faith, behold thy hidden power and never doubt that thou wilt at length perform what the world at this day thinks to be impossible, and therefore ridicules; and may we so constantly persevere in this confidence that every one of us may devote to thee his labour to the end, and never faint in the work of promoting the spiritual building, until at length we ourselves shall be assembled, and others also shall be gathered through our labours, to offer to thee not only spiritual sacrifices such as thou receives now from us, but also to offer to thee, together with the angels, that eternal sacrifice of praise and triumphant thanksgiving on seeing perfected what at this day is only feebly begun. Amen. The Providence of God Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country. (Zech.6:8) FROM this verse we learn that the chief object of the vision was, that the Jews might know that the dreadful tumults in Chaldea, which had in part happened, and were yet to take place, were not excited without a design; but that all things were regulated by God's hidden counsel, and also that God had so disturbed and embarrassed the state of that empire that the end of it might be looked for. There is, therefore, no reason for any one too anxiously to labour to understand the import of every part of the prophecy, since its general meaning is evident. But why does the angel expressly speak of the land of the south rather than of the land of the north, or of the whole world? Even because the eyes of all were fixed on that quarter; for Chaldea, we know, had been, as it were, the grave of the Church, whence the remnant had emerged, that there might be some people by whom God might be worshipped. The angel then bids the Jews to continue undisturbed in their minds, until these chariots had run their course through the whole of Chaldea; for what the angel now says would be fulfilled, even that the Spirit of God would be quieted, who seemed before to be disturbed when he involved all things in darkness, even in Judea itself. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that since we are here exposed to so many evils, which suddenly arise like violent tempests, - O grant, that with hearts raised up to heaven, we may yet acquiesce in thy hidden providence, and be so tossed here and there, according to the judgment of our flesh, as yet to remain fixed in this truth, which thou wouldst have us to believe - that all things are governed by thee, and that nothing takes place except through thy will, so that in the greatest confusions we may always clearly see thy hand, and that thy counsel is altogether right, and perfectly and singularly wise and just; and may we ever call upon thee and flee to this port - that we are tossed here and there in order that thou mayest nevertheless always sustain us by thine hand until we shall at length be received into that blessed rest which has been procured for us by the blood of thine only begotten Son. Amen. Brotherly Kindness Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: (Zech.7:9) THE people were so devoted to their ceremonies as to think that the whole of religion consisted in fasting and in similar exercises. And as we are by nature prone to this evil, we ought carefully to consider what the prophet has taught us - that fasting is not simply, or by itself, approved by God, but on account of the end designed by it. Having already shown to the Jews their error in thinking that God could be pacified by ceremonies, he now reminds them of what God mainly requires in his law - that men should observe what is just and right toward one another. It is indeed true that the first part of the law refers to the service due to God, but it is a way which God has commonly adopted, to test the life of men by the duties of the second table, and to show what this part of the law especially requires. Therefore God in this passage, as in many others, does not commend righteousness towards men so as to depreciate godliness; for as this far excels everything in the whole world, so we know that in rightly forming the life the beginning ought ever to be made by serving God aright. But as the prophet had to do with hypocrites, he shows that they only trifled with God, while they made much of external things, and at the same time neglected uprightness and the duties of love. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou hast adopted us for this end, that we may show brotherly kindness one toward another and labour for our mutual benefit, - O grant, that we may prove by the whole tenor of our life that we have not been called in vain by thee, but that we may live so in harmony with each other that integrity and innocence may prevail among us; and may we so strive to benefit one another, that thy name may be thus glorified by us, until having at length finished our course, we reach the goal which thou hast set before us, that having at last gone through all the evils of this life, we may come to that blessed rest which has been prepared for us in heaven by Christ our Lord. Amen. Deliverance by Covenant As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. (Zech.9:11) HE addresses Jerusalem as though he had said, "There is no reason for thee to torment thyself with perplexed and anxious thoughts, for I will accomplish what I have promised - that I would become a deliverer to my people." For this doubt might have occurred to them, "Why does he exhort us to rejoice while the Church of God is still in part captive, and while those who have returned to their country are miserably and cruelly harassed by their enemies?" To this objection Zechariah answers, in the person of God, that God would be able to deliver them, though they were sunk in the deepest gulf. The relation, we know, between God and his people as to the covenant is mutual; it is God's covenant, because it flows from him; it is the covenant of the Church, because it is made for its sake, and laid up, as it were, in its bosom. Now, since God receives you into favour, that ye may be safe, he will therefore deliver the captives of his Church. In short, he means, first, that the Jews were sunk in the deep; and, secondly, that thirst would consume them, so that death was nigh at hand unless they were miraculously delivered by God; but he reminds them that no impediment would prevent God from raising them to light from the deepest darkness. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as we do not at this day look for a Redeemer to deliver us from temporal miseries, but only carry on a warfare under the banner of the cross until he appear to us from heaven to gather us into his blessed kingdom, - O grant that we may patiently bear all evils and all troubles, and as Christ once for all poured forth the blood of the new and eternal covenant, and gave us also a symbol of it in the Holy Supper, may we, confiding in so sacred a seal, never doubt that he will always be propitious to us, and render manifest to us the fruit of this reconciliation, when, after having supported us for a season under the burden of those miseries by which we are now oppressed, thou gatherest us into that blessed and perfect glory which has been procured for us by the blood of Christ our Lord, and which is daily set before us in his gospel, and laid up for us in heaven, until we at length shall enjoy it through Christ, our only Lord. Amen. An Abundant Blessing For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids. (Zech.9:17) THE prophet here exclaims at the incredible kindness of God, that the Jews might learn to raise up their thoughts above the world, as though his words were, "No one ought to judge God's favour, of which I have spoken, according to his own doings or conduct or experience; but on the contrary, every one of you ought to be filled with amazement at God's incredible kindness and at his incredible beauty." But by the last word he understands the brightness or splendour which appears in all God's favours and gifts. He then concludes by saying, that the abundance of corn and wine would be so great that young men and young women would eat and drink together, and be fully satisfied. But he speaks not here of God's blessing as though it were an incentive to luxury; but what he means is, that the abundance of provisions would be so great as to be fully sufficient not only for the old, but also for young men and young women. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as we cannot look for temporal or eternal happiness, except through Christ alone, and as thou settest him forth to us as the only true fountain of all blessings, - O grant that we, being content with the favour offered to us through him, may learn to renounce the whole world, and so strive against all unbelief, that we may not doubt that thou wilt ever be our kind and gracious Father, and fully supply whatever is necessary for our support; and may we at the same time live soberly and temperately so that we may not be under the power of earthly things, but with our hearts raised above, aspire after that heavenly bliss to which thou invites us, and to which thou also guides us by such helps as are earthly, so that being really united to our Head we may at length reach that glory which has been procured for us by his own blood. Amen. Promise of Restoration And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them. (Zech.10:6) THE work of redemption, the beginning of which the Jews saw, would not be incomplete, for the Lord would at length fulfill what he had begun. And this truth is very useful to us, for we are wont to confine God's promises to a short duration of time, and when we thus include him within our narrow limits, we prevent him from performing what we desire. Therefore, let the example of the return of the people of Israel ever come to our minds, for the Lord had promised by his prophets that they would become very eminent, and in every way rich and happy; but when this did not take place after their return to their country, many of the Jews thought that they had been deceived, as they had expected God to fulfill his word immediately; but they ought to have suspended their hope and expectation until Christ came into the world. The state of the people would be happier than it had been since the ten tribes separated from the kingdom of Judas or from the house of David, for God would gather for himself a Church from all the children of Abraham. Though God had dealt severely with that people, yet his vengeance would not be forever, for he would give place to mercy. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as we are constrained continually to groan under the burden of our sins, and the captivity in which we are held until now justly exposes us to continual trembling and sorrow, - O grant that the deliverance already begun may inspire us with a good hope, so as to expect more from thee than what we can see with our eyes; and may we continually call on thee until thou completest what thou hast begun, and puttest to flight both Satan and our sins, so that, being in true and full liberty devoted to thee, we may be partakers of that power which has already appeared in our Head, until, having at length passed through all our contests, we may reach that blessed rest where we shall enjoy the fruit of our victory in Christ alone our Lord. Amen. Beauty and Bands And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. (Zech.11:7) GOD here intimates that he had manifested his care for the whole people, for he had hoped that there were a few sheep yet remaining who were worthy to obtain mercy. As then, some poor sheep might have been found among the impure flock, he did not deem it grievous or burdensome to undertake the office of shepherd in ruling the people. The prophet then says, that he had taken two rods, that he might devote himself in a manner not common to the office of a shepherd. Shepherds were satisfied with one crook; for by rods he means here the crook used by shepherds. As then, every shepherd carried his own crook, the prophet says here that he was furnished with two crooks, or shepherd's staffs, because the Lord surpassed all men in his solicitude in the office of ruling his people. Nothing could have been more perfect in beauty than the government which God had exercised over the Israelites; and hence he compares here his shepherd's staff to beauty, as though he had said, "The order of things was so arranged that nothing better could be imagined." He then mentions unity or concord; and it was the highest favour that God gathered again the scattered Israelites so as to make them one body. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou hast hitherto so kindly showed thyself to be our shepherd, and even our Father, and hast carefully provided for our safety, - O grant that we may not, by our ingratitude, deprive ourselves of thy favours, so as to provoke thine extreme vengeance; but, on the contrary, suffer ourselves to be gently ruled by thee, and render thee due obedience; and as thine only-begotten Son has been set over us by thee as our only true Shepherd, may we hear his voice and willingly obey him, so that we may be able to triumph with thy prophet, that thy staff is sufficient for us, so as to enable us to walk without fear through the valley of the shadow of death, until we shall at length reach that blessed and eternal rest which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only Son. Amen. True Repentance And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zech.12:10) WE see here that not only an external grace or favour was promised to the Jews, but an internal light of faith, the author of which is the Spirit. The words, "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced," are to be taken metaphorically, for the prophet expresses here that the Jews would some time return to a sound mind. For it is a true conversion when men seriously acknowledge that they are at war with God, and that he is their enemy until they are reconciled; for except a sinner sets himself in a manner before God's tribunal, he is never touched by a true feeling of repentance. John says that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ when his side was pierced by a spear. John 19:37. It was necessary that the visible symbol should be exhibited in the person of Christ, in order that the Jews might know that he was the God who had spoken by the prophets. The Jews then had crucified their God when they grieved his Spirit, but Christ was also as to his flesh pierced by them. Zechariah promises the spirit of repentance to (continued in part 7...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: calmp-06.txt .