(Calvin. Commentaries on the Prophet Zechariah. Part 33) Lecture One Hundred and Sixty-sixth. We explained shortly yesterday why the Prophet says, that there would be for some time no difference between day and night; it was to prepare the faithful for all changes, and to show that they are not to promise themselves anything certain or sure in this world. Days and nights revolve throughout all seasons of the year, but the Prophet shows that there would be an uncertain time, as though it were twilight, or that there would not be constant light, but light mixed with darkness. The two verses ought to be connected together, when he says, In that day there shall not be precious light and mingled light, or, on the contrary, thick darkness. What he says afterwards, in that day there shall not be day or night, is disjoined by some, but not rightly, as we shall presently see. But with regard to the words, light of preciousnesses, it is agreed among all writers that the word "yekarot" means what is excellent. As to this word then there is no ambiguity; for the Prophet means that it shall not be a light day, such as is wont to be during a clear sky. But as to the second word, interpreters differ. It is written "kippa'ot": "kapha" means to coagulate, to become thick: hence "kippa'ot" signifies density or dense darkness. Some think it to be in construction; and others, that "waw" is to be put in; and this is probable, as we may see from the context, though yet it may have a twofold meaning. If indeed we join these two words, the Prophet may understand that the light would not be very clear, and that there would not be thick darkness. But we may take the light of densities for that which is steady and fixed, which gains such strength, that it cannot be darkened. But I prefer a different view: we know that the copulative in Hebrew is often taken adversatively; and this exposition is the most suitable, - that there would not be clear light, but on the contrary, a density, that is, thick darkness, which would obscure the light of the sun, or hinder the eyes of men from enjoying clear light. This seems to be the meaning of our Prophet, In that day there shall not be light, that is, that day shall not be clear, that is, so far that it can be numbered among fair and bright, or clear days; but on the contrary, there will be densities, that is, it will be a cloudy time, for much darkness will fill the sky, and prevent men to see the sun. As to the subject itself, it is sufficiently apparent what the Prophet meant; for as I said yesterday, and have again reminded you, it was to be a perilous time, so that the miserable Jews would hourly and every moment be filled with fear, as they should see many dangers around them; and there would ever be some appearance of a sudden change. As when we find the south wind blowing, and the heavens covered with clouds, a shower is expected, and every one keeps within floors, and they who travel dare not proceed lest a storm overtakes them; so also the Prophet says, that this time would be like cloudy and dark days. The same is the meaning of what he adds, It shall be one day, when it shall not be day and night; as though he had said, that there would not be any settled state of weather. Interpreters have given a very different view - that it would be neither day nor night. Some give this reason, because the Lord will rule his Church by faith; and we indeed know that our salvation is hid under the safe keeping of faith. Others give an entirely different meaning, - that the Lord will so fill heaven and earth by his own brightness, that there will be no need for the sun and the moon, according to what is said by Isaiah, "Shine to thee shall not the sun by day nor the moon by night; but to thee shall Jehovah be an eternal light." (Isa. 60: 19.) But these are mere refinements. The real meaning of the Prophet, I doubt not, is, - that men would be in continual trepidation, as wile the air is in various ways agitated, when clouds arise, when the thunder is heard, and when the light of the sun disappears. When such is the state of the sky, men we know fear, for there is hardly a distinction between day and night. Thus our Prophet warns the faithful as to future events, and prepares them for patience, lest any storm should overwhelm them, and they should despond when overtaken by it, but that they might look for what had been foretold, even for darkness mixed with light, which would be a continual twilight: and the word, twilight, the ancients have said, is derived from one signifying what is doubtful (crepusculum a crepero.) But we must also notice what he afterwards says, that this day would towards evening be light. He here intimates, that there will ever be a joyful end to the troubles of the faithful. Though then they were tossed by many cares, and troubled with various kinds of fear, as though they were in darkness, yet he says, that the evening would be clear. And this ought to be carefully observed, for with this solace alone is the Spirit wont to ease the sorrows of the godly, that is, that after God has for a while tried them, there will come shortly an end, and that a joyful one, to all their evils, so that God will shine on them like the sun in its meridian splendour. He calls, in short, the attention of the faithful to this end, because God makes thus a distinction between the elect and the reprobate; for though he afflicts both alike, and overwhelms them as with darkness, there is yet light prepared for his elect; and after having suffered them for a time to lie in darkness, he will make them at length to emerge into clear light; but he deprives the reprobate of every hope. This is the subject which the Prophet now handles; as though he had said, - "There is no reason for the faithful to be disheartened by adversities, when darkness on all sides surrounds them; for the Lord will at length restore light to them, of which it was needful for them to be deprived for a time." But Zechariah speaks not here of one day, but of a period which would be like a dark day, even until Christ by his coming restored the full light, as the Sun of Righteousness, according to what he is called by Malachi. Then he says, that this day is known to Jehovah, in order that the faithful night depend on his good pleasure, and not too anxiously enquire about an event hidden from them and the whole world. The day then is known, says Zechariah, only to God, though he speaks of things well known, and which the Jews had at length to know by experience. But his object must be regarded, for his purpose was to restrain the godly, that they might not unnecessarily torment themselves, for we are wont to be too curious to know things: when God's design is to calm us, and to make us rely on his providence, then many thoughts come across our minds, and toss us here and there, and thus we torment ourselves with anxiety. As then it is disease is innate in human nature, the Prophet supplies a seasonable remedy, - that the faithful are to allow themselves to be ruled by God, and to follow the example of their father Abraham, "The Lord will provide:" when he was in extremity and no escape was open he committed himself to God's providence. So also Zechariah says, that it would be entirely dependent on the will of God alone, now to cover the heavens with darkness, and then to restore the sun, and also to blend darkness with light; and nothing is better for men than to check themselves, and not to enquire more than what is right, nor take away anything from God's power, for whenever men murmur against God's judgements, it is the same thing as though they wished to penetrate into heaven, and concede nothing to him except what they themselves think right. Then, in order to check this presumption, the Prophet says, that this day is known to Jehovah, so that the faithful might patiently wait until the ripened end should come, for our curiosity drives us here and there, so that we always wish to be certain about the end, "How long is this to endure?" and thus we complain against God; but when we are not able to subordinate our minds to his will, then we break forth as it were into a furious temper. We hence see how useful a doctrine this clause contains, where the Prophet sets God as the judge and the arbitrator of all events, so that he afflicts the Church as long as it pleases him, sets bounds to adversities, and regulates all things as it seemeth good to him; and he also covers the heavens with thick clouds, and takes away the sight of the sun. All this then is what the Prophet would have us to know is in God's power, and directed by his counsel. It now follows - Zechariah 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. Here is subjoined a more cheering prophecy, - that the grace of God would yet prevail. Whatever evils, and troubles, and dangers, and fears, and diseases awaited the faithful, he yet says that in such miseries they would still be made happy. And this ought to be carefully observed, for nothing can be more suitably found to alleviate our sorrows than to put in the balance God's benefits on one side, and on the other the punishments and chastisements which he brings on us; for as God's mercy and kindness always greatly preponderate, it cannot be but that we shall be able to say with holy Job, "If good things have we received from the Lord's hand, why should we refuse evil things?" (Job 2: 10.) This then is what Zechariah sets before us, - that though the Church may be harassed by many cares, and subject to many fears, and terrified by many dangers, and be as it were in trepidation, yet the grace of God, if rightly viewed, is sufficient to administer invaluable comfort, for go forth shall living waters from Jerusalem. This prophecy no doubt refers to the kingdom of Christ, and this may be sufficiently proved by other passages. The Prophet then has hitherto spoken of the many afflictions, which were nigh at hand, in order that the Jews might not faint or entirely fail; but he now directs their minds to the kingdom of Christ, from whence they were to look for not only a deliverance from all evils, but also the full restitution of the Church, and as it were the renovation of the world. There is here no doubt an implied contrast between living waters and those which soon dry up: hence he says, that they would flow continually summer and winter. Judea, we know, was subject to want of water, and there were no waters around Jerusalem, except the spring of Siloam, which had waters in abundance, and supplied the wants of the citizens. But the Prophet promises living waters, which would not be like occasional streams, but flow continually. At the same time he seems to regard something higher. As by living waters he understands those which are spiritual, so he compares these waters with all those streams which are earthly; as though he had said, "the fountain from which the two streams arise is inexhaustible, so that its exuberance shall never fail, but shall send forth streams from one sea to the opposite sea, and shall water the farthest regions of the earth." By the eastern sea many understand the Lake Asphaltes, but it seems to me more probable that the Prophet speaks of the Persian Sea; for if he had said that the waters would go forth to that lake, the distance would be very short; but he meant on the contrary to show, that the copiousness of the waters would be so large and abundant that though they would pass through the whole earth, yet their flow would never cease. By the hinder sea he no doubt meant the Mediterranean. The import of the whole is, - that thong the earth were previously dry, yet such would be the abundance of waters as to be sufficient for all, not only as in former times to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but also to all the Jews in whatever part of the country they might dwell. Now, since the language is metaphorical, we must bear in mind what I have lately said, - that here is set forth the spiritual grace of God; nor is it a new thing to apply the word waters to the Spirit of God: "I will pour forth waters on the dry land and rivers on the thirsty land" (Is. 44: 3;) and again, "I will give clean waters." (Ezek. 36: 25.) There is a twofold reason why Scripture gives the name of waters to the Holy Spirit, - because he performs the two offices of cleansing and of watering: for we are like barren and dry land, except the Lord by his Spirit from heaven gives us new vigour and conveys moisture to us. As then the earth derives moisture from heaven, that it may produce fruit, so also we must have conferred on us by the hidden power of the Spirit whatever vigour we may possess. Since then Zechariah promises a fountain of living waters, he understands that God's grace would be offered to all the Jews, so that they might drink and be satisfied, and no more be exposed as formerly to the want of water. If any one objects and says, that this interpretation seems forced, the answer is ready at hand, which is this, - that as it is certain that the prophet here speaks of the kingdom of Christ, this rule is to be remembered, - That whatever is foretold of Christ's kingdom, must correspond with its nature and character. Since then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, there is no doubt but that when Scripture, as we have seen, promises a large produce of corn and wine, an abundance of all good things, tranquillity and peace, and bright days, it intends by all these things to set forth the character of Christ's kingdom. We hence see what the prophet means by living waters; and then, why he says that they would go forth to the east and to the west; and lastly, why he adds, that they would flow in winter as well as in summer. It now follows - Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. Here the prophet shows more clearly, and without using a figurative language, what might otherwise be more obscure: he says, that Jehovah would be king. Here Zechariah compares the kingdom of Christ with those periods of misery and calamities which had preceded, and which had continued till the coming of Christ. We indeed know that there had been the most dreadful scattering through the whole land, since the time the ten tribes separated from the family of David; for since the body of the people ceased to be one, they wilfully contrived ruin for themselves. When therefore the Israelites fought against Judah, the wrath of God appeared, the fruit of their defection. We indeed know that David was not made king by the suffrages of men, but was chosen by the decree of God. Hence when the kingdom of Israel departed from the son of David, it was the same as though they had refused to bear the authority of God himself, according to what he said to Samuel, "Thee have they not despised, but me, that I should not reign over them." (1 Sam. 8: 7.) And yet Samuel was only a governor for a time over the people; but when the people through a foolish zeal wished a king to be given then, God complains that he was despised in not being allowed to reign over them alone. This was more fully completed, when the ten tribes separated themselves from the lawful kingdom which God himself had established and had commanded to be inviolable. From that time then God was not their king. This is one thing. Afterwards we know that the kings of Israel joined themselves with the kings of Syria to overthrow the kingdom of Judah, and that the Jews also sent for aid to the Assyrians, and afterwards had recourse to the Egyptians. At length the kingdom of Israel was cut off; then the kingdom of Judah, and the city was destroyed and the temple burnt, so that the worship of God for a time ceased. They afterwards returned; but we know they were ever oppressed by hard and cruel tyranny: when they perceived that they were unprotected, because they had refused to take shelter under the wings of God. Though he had so often told them that they would be safe and secure under his protection, they yet refused that favour. Therefore the Jews then found to their great loss that God was not their king. Hence when Zechariah now speaks of the restoration of the Church, he rightly says, that Jehovah would be king; that is, though the Jews had been torn asunder and pillaged by tyrants, though they had suffered many reproaches and wrongs, yet God would become again their king, that He might defend them against all unjust violence and keep them under His protection. Nothing indeed can be more blessed than to live under the reigns of God; and this highest happiness is ever promised to the faithful. We now understand the Prophet's meaning as to this part; but he shows immediately after that this cannot be hoped for, except the Jews really attended to true religion and worshipped God aright and cast away their superstitions. Hence he joins together these two things, - that the condition of the people would be a happy one, because God would undertake the care of them and perform the office of a king, - and then, that God would be their king, in order that he might be rightly and sincerely worshipped by them: there shall be, he says, one Jehovah. Here the Prophet briefly shows that the legitimate worship of God cannot be set up, unless superstition be abolished. We indeed know that God is jealous, as he calls himself, so that he cannot bear rivals: for when we devise for ourselves any sort of deity, we instantly take from God what is his own. The Prophet then teaches us, that God cannot be truly worshipped, except he shines alone as the supreme, so that our religion may be pure and sound. In short, he indirectly condemns here those superstitions by which the earth had been corrupted and polluted, and also the superstitions by which true religion had been adulterated and the worship under the law had been violated. For this reason he says, that Jehovah would be one. He expresses this still clearer by saying, that his name would be one. This second clause may indeed appear useless; for whatever can be said of God is comprehended in his oneness. But as we are wont by various artifices to cover superstitions, and ever devise new excuses and new disguises, by which our impiety may seem specious and plausible, the Prophet expressly adds here, that God's name is one; as though he had said, "It is not enough for men to declare that they acknowledge one true God or one supreme deity, except also they agree in some true and simple faith, so that the name of this one true God may be celebrated on the earth." But the idea of the Prophet will become more clear if we notice the difference between the one true God and the name of the only true God, or the one name of God. All the philosophers with one mouth teach, that there are not many gods, but some supreme deity, who is the source of divinity: and this is what has been believed by all heathen nations. But in course of time they began to imagine that from this source many gods have emanated; and hence has come a multitude of false gods, so that some worshipped Jupiter, others Mercury, others Apollo; not because they thought that there are many gods partaking of original divinity; but because they imagined that gods have proceeded from the supreme fountain. As then the Jews might have sought subterfuges, and excused themselves by saying that they did not in heart worship many gods, the Prophet adds the second clause, - that the name of God is one; which means, that there is a certain way in which God is to be worshipped, that there is a certain fixed rule, so that no one is to follow what he himself may imagine to be right, and that the majesty of God ought not to be profaned by various errors, nor should men be lost each in his own notion, but that all ought to attend to the voice of God, and to hear what he testifies of himself. We now then understand what the Prophet means: he says first, that things would be in a happy state in Judea, when God would be regarded as one, that is, when the whole land had been cleansed from its defilements, and when true religion again prevailed: but as this purity would not easily obtain footing in the world, and as men easily decline from it, he adds, that the name of God would be one, in order that the Jews might understand that God cannot be rightly worshipped except he be alone worshipped; and that it cannot be one, unless there be one faith, prescribed and certain, and not alternating between diverse opinions, like that of the heathens, whose religion is no other than to follow what they themselves imagine or what they have derived from their ancestors. Now this is a remarkable passage: God distinguishes himself from all idols and his worship from all superstitions; and the more attentively we ought to consider what the Prophet teaches us, because our inclinations, as I have said, to vanity, is so great, and this is what experience itself sufficiently shows, and we also see how easily superstition, like a whirlwind, carries us away, and not only one superstition, but innumerable kinds of superstition. The more then it behaves us to notice this truth, so that the one name of God may prevail among us, and that no one may allow himself the liberty of imagining anything he pleases; but that we may know what God ought to be worshipped by us. And Christ also condemns for this reason all the forms of worship which prevailed in the world, by saying to the woman of Samaria, "Ye know not what ye worship, we Jews alone," he says, "know this." (John 4: 22.) We hence see that this one thing is sufficient to condemn all superstitions, that is, when men follow their own fancies, and observe not a fixed and unchangeable rule, which cannot deceive. It follows - Zechariah 14:10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. The Prophet in this verse promises two things, - that the city would be in a very prominent place, so as to be seen at a distance, and also, that it would be a secure and peaceable habitation. With regard to the former part he says, Turned shall be the whole land into a plain. We indeed know that Jerusalem was situated with mountains around it, its foundations, as it is said in Ps. 87: 1, were on the holy mountains. As then the country was uneven on account of its many hills, the Prophet says, that it would become a wide plain, so that travelling would not be rough and difficult as before; and further, that Jerusalem would not be low in a deep place, but would be on a plain, which would not prevent it from being seen from whatever quarter the visitants might come. The whole land, he says, shall be a plain from Geba to Rimmon. As we do not fully know what sort of country that was, nor where Geba and Rimmon were, I shall not speak here particularly on every word; but it is enough for us to understand the design of what is said, which was to show - that steep places would become level ground, so that Jerusalem might be seen from far, and that the surface being level there would be no mountains to impede a distant view. Then follows the second clause, Inhabited shall be Jerusalem in its own place; that is, though it was formerly pulled down, and now lies as it were dilapidated, and the buildings already begun are very imperfect, yet it shall on itself be inhabited, it shall have the same limits, the same boundaries: in short, the Prophet means, that the size of the city would be the same as it was formerly. Zechariah, we know, performed the office of a teacher, when the Jews began, not without great hindrances, to build the city. They were not able at first to take in the whole compass; indeed they thought this impracticable, until they were encouraged by Ezra and Nehemiah, as we learn from the books of both. Since then the city they began to build was confined in its limits, Zechariah says, that there was no reason to despair, for in a short time it would again attain its ancient splendour, and be extended to all its gates, as it is afterwards stated. And a description of the ancient city, when destroyed, is no doubt given here when he says, From the gate of Benjamin to the place of the first gate, (he mentions the place of the gate, for there was then no gate, as that part of the city remained as yet desolate,) to the gate of the corners, from the citadel of Hananeel to the wine-vats of the king. Though we know not fully now how far the ancient Jerusalem extended, or what was its exact situation, it is yet certain that the Prophet meant that such would be the greatness and magnificence of the city, that its condition would fully equal its ancient splendour which then had disappeared. The city, as it is well known, had been very large; though writers do not agree on the subject, yet it is commonly admitted, that it included 30 stadia. This was certainly no common size; and hence the Prophet states what all thought to be incredible, that though the extent of the city was small, it would yet become a new Jerusalem, not inferior to the former either in largeness or in magnificence, or in any other respect. But we must defer what remains till to-morrow. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that as thou gatherest us for this end, that we may be to thee a peculiar people, and as thou hast separated us from profane men, that thy legitimate worship may prevail among us, - O grant, that we may all attend to thy word, and surrender ourselves wholly to thee, and never thorn aside either to the right hand or to the left, but continue to observe the rule which thou hast prescribed, so that we may know by the continual flowing of thy favour that thou rulest in the midst of us; and may we by this enjoyment be stimulated more and more to love, worship, and fear thee, so that consecrating ourselves, body and soul, truly and from the heart, to thee, we may make continual advances in true religion, until having at length put off all the filth of our flesh we shall come to that blessed inheritance, which has been purchased for us by the blood of thy only begotten Son - Amen. (Calvin... on Zechariah) Continued in Part 34... ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: cvzec-33.txt .