(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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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