(Calvin. Commentaries on the Prophet Zechariah. Part 6) Lecture One Hundred and Thirty-ninth. Zechariah 2:11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. The Prophet describes here the voluntary surrender of the nations, who would so join themselves to the Church of God, as to disown their own name and to count themselves Jews: and this is what the Prophet borrowed from those who had predicted the same thing; but he confirms their testimony, that the Jews might know that the propagation of the Church had not been promised to them in vain by so many witnesses. That what is said here refers to the calling of the nations who would willingly surrender themselves to God, is quite evident; for it is said that they would be a people to God. This could not be, except the nations surrendered their own name, so as to become one body with the Jews. He then repeats what he had said, that God would dwell in the midst of Judea. Of this dwelling something was said yesterday; for as they had already begun to offer sacrifices in the temple, it follows that God was already dwelling among them. We must then necessarily come to another kind of dwelling, even that which God, who had before testified by many proofs that he was nigh the Jews, had at length accomplished through Christ; for Christ is really Emmanuel, and in him God is present with us in the fullness of his power, justice, goodness, and glory. He at last adds, "Thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts has sent me to thee." Something has also been said on this sentence: the Prophet means, that it would be evident by what would really take place, that these things had not been in vain foretold, as the prophecy would be openly fulfilled before the eyes of all. Then shalt thou know, not by the assurance of faith, which is grounded on the word, but by actual experience. But he expresses more than before, for he says, "Thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts has sent me to thee." The particle "'elayich", "to thee," is not superfluous; for he said a little while before, that he was sent to the nations. As he now says, that he would be the guardian of the chosen people, he also declares that his mission was to them; and he gives to God the name of Jehovah of hosts, that the Jews might feel assured that there would be no difficulty sufficient to hinder or delay the word of God, as he possessed supreme power, so that he could easily execute whatever he had decreed. I will not repeat now what I said yesterday of Christ; but we ought nevertheless to remember this, that he who declares that he was sent, is often called Jehovah. It hence appears that one and the same divine eternal essence is in more persons than one. Let us go on - Zechariah 2:12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. The Prophet confirms the former doctrine, but removes offences, which might have occurred to the Jews and prevented them from believing this prophecy: for they had been for a time rejected, so that there was no difference between them and other nations. The land of Canaan had been given them as a pledge of their heirship; but they had been thence expelled, and there had been no temple, no public worship, no kingdom. The Jews then might have concluded from all these reasons, that they were rejected by God. Hence the Prophet here promises that they were to be restored again to their former state and to their own place. "Jehovah, he says, will take Judah as his hereditary portion"; that is, God will really show that he has not forgotten the election by which he had separated the Jews for himself; for he intended them to be to him a peculiar people. They were now mixed with the nations; their dispersion seemed an evidence of repudiation; but it was to be at length manifest that God was mindful of that adoption, by which he once purposed to gather the Jews to himself, that their condition might be different from that of other nations. When therefore he says, that Judah would be to God for an heritage or for an hereditary portion, he brings forward nothing new, but only reminds them that the covenant by which God chose Judah as his people would not be void, for it would be made evident in its time. And the following clause is to the same purpose, "And he will again choose Jerusalem"; for it was not then for the first time that Jerusalem became the city of God when restoration took place, but the election, which existed before, was now in a manner renewed conspicuously in the sight of men. It is then the same as though the Prophet had said, "The course of God's favour has indeed been interrupted, yet he will again show that you have not been in vain chosen as his people, and that Jerusalem, which was his sanctuary, has not been chosen without purpose." The renovation of the Church, then, is what the Prophet means by these words. What we have said elsewhere ought at the same time to be noticed, that the word "choose" is not to be taken here in its strict sense; for God does not repeatedly choose those whom he regards as his Church. God's election is one single act, for it is eternal and immutable. But as Jerusalem had been apparently rejected, the word choose imports here that God would make it evident, that the first elections had ever been unchangeable, however hidden it may have been to the eyes of men. He then adds - Zechariah 2:13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation. Here is a sealing of the whole prophecy. The Prophet highly extols the power of God, that the Jews might not still doubt or fear as with regard to things uncertain. He says that whatever he had hitherto declared was indubitable; for God would put forth his power to succour his Church and to remove whatever hindrance there might be. We have seen similar expressions elsewhere, that is, in the second chapter of Habakkuk and in the first of Zephaniah; and these Prophets had nearly the same object in view; for Habakkuk, after having spoken of the restoration of the people, thus concludes, - that God was coming forth to bid silence to all nations, that no one might dare to oppose when it was his will to redeem his Church. So also Zephaniah, after having, described the slaughter of God's enemies, when God ordered sacrifices to be made to him as it were from the whole world, uses the same mode of expression, as though he had said, that there would be nothing to resist the power of God. It is the same here, "Silent", he says, "let all flesh be before Jehovah". It is, in short, the shout of triumph, by which Zechariah exults over all the enemies of the Church, and shows that they would rage in vain, as they could effect nothing, however clamorous they might be. By silence we are to understand, as elsewhere observed, submission. The ungodly are not indeed silent before God, so as willingly to obey his word, or reverently to receive what he may bid or command, or humbly to submit under his powerful hand; for these things are done only by the faithful. Silence, then, is what especially belongs to the elect and the faithful; for they willingly close their mouth to hear God speaking. But the ungodly are also said to be silent, when God restrains their madness: and how much soever they may inwardly murmur and rage, they yet cannot openly resist; so that he completes his work, and they are at length made ashamed of the swelling, words they have vomited forth, when they pass off in smoke. This is the sense in which the Prophet says now, silent be all flesh. He means, in short, by these words, That when God shall go forth to deliver his Church, he will be terrible; so that all who had before furiously assailed his chosen people, shall be constrained to tremble. With regard to the habitation of holiness, I explain it of the temple rather than of heaven. I indeed allow that heaven is often thus called in Scripture: and it is called the palace or temple of God, for we cannot think as we ought of God's infinite glory, except we are carried above the world. This is the reason why God says that he dwells in heaven. But as the Church is spoken of here, Zechariah, I doubt not, means the temple. It is indeed certain that there was no temple when God began to rise as one awakened from sleep, to restore his people: but as the faithful are said in Psalm 102 to pity the dust of Sion, because the place continued sacred even in its degradation and ruin; so also in this passage Zechariah says, that God was roused - Whence? from Sion, from that despised place, exposed to the derision of the ungodly: yet there God continued to dwell, that he might build again the temple, where his name was to be invoked until Christ appeared. We now see that the temple or Sion is intended rather than heaven, when all circumstances are duly weighed. Now follows - Chapter 3. Zechariah 3:1,2 1 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. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? We have said at the beginning that Zechariah was sent for this end - to encourage weak minds: for it was difficult to entertain hope in the midst of so much confusion. Some, but a small portion of the nation, had returned with the tribe of Judah: and then immediately there arose many enemies by whom the building of the city and of the temple was hindered; and when the faithful viewed all their circumstances, they could hardly entertain any hope of a redemption such as had been promised. Hence Zechariah laboured altogether for this end - 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. This is the subject which he now pursues, when he says, that Joshua the priest was shown to him, with Satan at his right hand to oppose him. God was, however, there also. But when Zechariah says, that the priest Joshua was shown to him as here represented, it was not only done in a vision, but the fact was known to all; that is, that Joshua was not adorned with a priestly glory, such as it was before the exile; for the dignity of the priest before that time was far different from what it was after the return of the people; and this was known to all. But 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 any particular nations - and also that they might understand that a remedy was at hand, for God stood in defence of the priesthood which he had instituted. God, then, in the first place, purposed to remind the faithful that they had to carry on war, not with flesh and blood, but with the devil himself: this is one thing. And then his design was to recall them to himself, that they might consider that he would be their sure deliverer from all dangers. Since we now perceive the design of this prophecy, we shall proceed to the words of the Prophet. He says that Joshua was shown to him. This was done no doubt in a prophetic vision: but yet Zechariah saw nothing by the spirit but what was known even to children. But, as I have already said, we must observe the intentions of the vision, which was, that the faithful might understand that their neighbours were troublesome to them, because Satan turned every stone and tried every experiment to make void the favour of God. And this knowledge was very useful to the Jews, as it is to us at this day. We wonder why so many enemies daily rage against us, and why the whole world burn against us with such implacable hatred; and also why so many intrigues arise, and so many assaults are made, which have not been excited through provocation on our part: but the reason why we wonder is this, - because we bear not in mind that we are fighting with the devil, the head and prince of the whole world. For were it a fixed principle in our minds, that all the ungodly are influenced by the devil, there would then be nothing new in the fact, that all unitedly rage against us. How so? Because they are moved by the same spirit, and their father is a murderer, even from the beginning. (John 8: 44.) We hence see that the faithful were taught what was extremely necessary, - that their troubles arose from many nations, because Satan watched for their ruin. And though this vision was given to the Prophet for the sake of his own age, yet it no doubt belongs also to us; for that typical priesthood was a representation of the priesthood of Christ, and Joshua, who was then returned 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 withdraw 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. Therefore at this day, which we see the world seized with so much madness, that it assails us, and would wholly consume us, let not our thoughts be fixed on flesh and blood, for Satan is the chief warrior who assails us, and who employs all the rage of the world to destroy us, if possible, on every side. Satan then ever stands at Christ's right hand, so as not to allow him in peace to exercise his priestly office. Now follows another reason for the prophecy, - that God interposes and takes the part of his Church against Satan. Hence he says, "Rebuke thee Satan let Jehovah, rebuke thee let Jehovah, who has chosen Jerusalem". God speaks here; and yet he seems to be the angel of Jehovah: but this is not inscrutable; for as in the last verse, where Zechariah says that Joshua stood before the Angel of Jehovah, Christ is doubtless meant, who is called an angel and also Jehovah; so also he may be named in this verse. But that no contentious person may say that we refine on the words too much, we may take them simply thus, - that God mentions here his own name in the third person; and this mode of so speaking is not rare in Scripture, "Jehovah rained from God." (Gen. 19: 24). Why did Moses speak thus? Even to show that when God fulminated against Sodom, he did not adopt a common mode of proceeding, but openly showed that it was an unusual and a singular judgement. Thus the expression here is emphatic, "Rebuke thee let Jehovah", that is, I myself will rebuke thee. However, were any one to consider well the whole context, he could not but allow that the words may properly be applied to Christ, who is the portion of his Church, and that therefore he was the angel before whom Joshua stood; and he himself shows afterwards that the Church would be safe under his patronage. "Let Jehovah then rebuke thee, Satan, let him rebuke thee". The repetition more fully confirms what Zechariah meant to show, even that sufficient protection would be found in God alone for the preservation of the Church, how much soever Satan might employ all his powers for its ruin, and that though God would not immediately give help and restrain Satan, yet a firm hope was to be entertained, for this would be done in time the most seasonable. The import of the whole is, - that though God had hitherto let loose Satan to assail the Church as to the priesthood, yet God would be the faithful guardian of his Church, and would check Satan, that he might not execute what he intended; and further, that many contests must be patiently endured, until the period of the warfare be completed. We now then see what the Prophet had in view in these words. But the rebuke of God is not to be regarded as being only in words, but must be referred to that power by which God subverts and lays prostrate all the attempts of Satan. At the same time he mentions the end for which this rebuke was given; it was, that the Church might continue safe and secure, Let Jehovah, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. These words are to be read, not apart, but as joined with the former, as though he had said, "Let God raise up his hand for the salvation of his chosen people, so as to put thee, Satan, to flight with all thy furies." This is the meaning. Let us therefore know, that God is not simply the enemy of Satan, but also one who has taken us under his protection, and who will preserve us safe to the end. Hence God, as our Redeemer and the eternal guardian of our salvation, is armed against Satan in order to restrain him. The warfare then is troublesome and difficult, but the victory is not doubtful, for God ever stands on our side. But we are at the same time reminded, that we are not to regard what we have deserved in order to gain help from God; for this wholly depends on his gratuitous adoption. Hence, though we are unworthy that God should fight for us, yet his election is sufficient, as he proclaims war against Satan in our behalf. Let us then learn to rely on the gratuitous adoption of God, if we would boldly exult against Satan and all his assaults. It hence follows, that those men who at this day obscure, and seek, as far as they can, to extinguish the doctrine of election, are enemies to the human race; for they strive their utmost to subvert every assurance of salvation. He at last adds, "Is not this a brand snatched from the fire?" Here God makes known the favour he had manifested towards the high priest, that the faithful might be convinced that Joshua would overcome his enemies, as God would not forsake his own work; for the end ever corresponds with the beginning as to God's favour; he is never wearied in the middle course of his beneficence. This is the reason why he now objects to Satan and says, "Why! God has wonderfully snatched this priest as a brand from the burning: as then the miraculous power of God appears in the return of the high priest, what dost thou mean, Satan? Thou risest up against God, and thinkest it possible to abolish the priesthood, which it has pleased him in his great favour hitherto to preserve. See whence has the priest come forth. While he was in Chaldea, he seemed to be in the lower regions; yet God delivered him from thence: and now, when he sits in the temple and is performing his office, is it possible for thee to pull down from heaven him whom thou could not detain in hell?" We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet as to this similitude. He then adds - Zechariah 3:3,4 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. Zechariah adds here another thing, - that Joshua had on mean garments, but that new garments were given him by the angel's command. And by this he means, that though the priesthood had been for a time contemptible, it would yet recover whatever dignity it had lost. But he ever leads the minds of the faithful to this point, - to look for what they did not then see, nor could conjecture from the state of things at that time. It is certain that the sacerdotal vestments, after the return from exile, were not such as they were before; for they were not sumptuously woven, nor had attached to them so many precious stones. Though Cyrus had bountifully supplied great abundance of gold and silver for the worship of God, yet the chief priest did not so shine with precious stones and the work of the Phrygians as before the exile. Hence, what was shown to Zechariah was then well known to all. But we ought to notice the latter clause, - that the angel commanded a change of garments. The Prophet then bids the faithful to be of good cheer, though the appearance of the priesthood was vile and mean, because God would not overlook its contemptible state; but the time of restoration had not yet come; when it came, the ancient dignity of the priesthood would again appear. With regard to the words, the first thing to be observed is the fact, that Joshua stood before the angel, having on sordid or torn garments. The repetition seems to be without reason; for he had said before that Joshua stood before the angel of God. Why then does he now repeat that he stood before the angel? That the faithful might take courage; because it was God's evident purpose that the chief priest should remain there in his sordid garments; for we think that God forgets us when he does not immediately succour us, or when things are in a confused state. Hence Zechariah meets his doubt by saying, that Joshua stood before the angel. He further reminded them, that though the whole world should despise the priesthood, it was yet under the eyes of God. Conspicuous were other priests in the eyes of men, and attracted the admiring observation of all, as it is well known; but all heathen priesthoods, we know, were of no account before God. Hence though heathen priesthoods shone before men, they were yet abominations only in the sight of God; but the priesthood of Joshua, however abject and vile it may have been, was yet, as Zechariah testifies, esteemed before God. We now see that he who is often said to be Jehovah is called an angel: the name therefore of Angel as well as of Jehovah, I doubt not, ought to be applied to the person of Christ, who is truly and really God, and at the same time a Mediator between the Father and the faithful: and hence he authoritatively commanded the angels who were present; for Christ was there, but with his hosts. While therefore the angels were standing by, ready to obey, he is said to have bidden them to strip the high priest of his mean garments. Afterwards the angel addresses Joshua himself, "See, I slave made to pass from thee thine iniquity, and now I will clothe thee with new or other garments." When the angel said that he had taken away iniquity, he justly reminded them of the filthiness contracted by the priest as well as by the people; for they had denuded themselves of all glory by their iniquities. We hence see that the mouths of the Jews were here closed, that they might not clamour against God, because he suffered them still to continue in their sordid condition, for they deserved to continue in such a state; and the Lord for this reason called their filth, iniquity. He further teaches us, that though the Jews fully deserved by their sins to rot in their struggle and filthiness, yet the Lord would not finally allow their unworthiness to prevent him from affording relief. The import of the prophecy then is this, - That however much the mean outward condition of the high priest might offend the Jews, they were still to entertain hope; for the remedy was in God's power, who would at length change the dishonour and reproach of the high priest into very great glory, even when the time of gratuitous remission or of good pleasure arrived. 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 but 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 thine 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, 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. (Calvin... on Zechariah) Continued in Part 7... ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: cvzec-06.txt .