(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 
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. 
    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...

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