The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
The burden of the word of the Lord for - Rather, "upon (see at Nahum 1:1, p. 129) Israel." If this prophecy is a continuation of the last, notwithstanding its fresh title, then "Israel" must be the Christian Church, formed of the true Israel which believed, and the Gentiles who were grafted into them. So Cyril; "Having spoken sufficiently of the Good Shepherd Christ, and of the foolish, most cruel shepherd who butchered the sheep, that is, antichrist, he seasonably makes mention of the persecutions which would from time to time arise against Israel; not the Israel according to the flesh, but the spiritual, that Jerusalem which is indeed holy, "the Church of the Living God" 1 Timothy 3:15. For as we say, that "he" is spiritually a Jew, who hath the "circumcision in the heart," Romans 2:29, that through the Spirit, "and not" in the flesh "through the letter;" so also may "Israel" be conceived, not that of the blood of Israel, but rather that, which has a mind beholding God. But such are all who are called to sanctification through the faith in Christ, and who in Him and by Him, know of God the Father. For this is the one true elected way of beholding God."
Since the Good Shepherd was rejected by all, except the "poor of the flock," the "little flock" which believed in Him, and thereupon the "band" of "brotherhood" was dissolved between Israel and Judah, "Israel" in those times could not be Israel after the flesh, which then too was the deadly antagonist of the true israel, and thus early also chose antichrist, such as was Bar-Cochba, with whom so many hundreds of thousands perished. There was no war then against Jerusalem, since it had ceased to be (see the notes on Micah 3:12).
But Zechariah does not say that this prophecy, to which he has annexed a separate title, follows, in time, upon the last; rather, since he has so separated it by its title, he has marked it as a distinct prophecy from the preceding. It may be, that he began again from the time of the Maccabees and took God's deliverances of the people Israel then, as the foreground of the deliverances to the end ).
Yet in the times of Antiochus, it was one people only which was against the Jews, and Zechariah himself speaks only of the Greeks; Zechariah 9:13; here he repeatedly emphasizes that they were "all nations" (Zechariah 12:2-3, Zechariah 12:6, Zechariah 12:9). It may then rather be, that the future, the successive efforts of the world to crush the people of God, and its victory amid suffering, and its conversions of the world through the penitent looking to Jesus, are exhibited in one great perspective, according to the manner of prophecy, which mostly exhibits the prominent events, not their order or sequence. : "The penitential act of contrite sinners, especially of Jews, looking at Him "whom they pierced," dates from the Day of Pentecost, and continues to the latter days, when it will be greatly intensified and will produce blessed results, and is here concentrated into one focus. The rising up of God's enemies against Christ's Church, which commenced at the same time, and has been continued in successive persecutions from Jews, Gentiles, and other unbelievers in every age, and which will reach its climax in the great antichristian outbreak of the last times, and be confounded by the Coming of Christ to judgment, is here summed up in one panoramic picture, exhibited at once to the eye."
Which stretcheth forth the heavens - God's creative power is an ever-present working, as our Lord says, "My Father worketh hitherto and I work" John 5:17. His preservation of the things which He has created is a continual re-creation. All "forces" are supported by Him, who alone hath life in Himself. He doth not the less "uphold all things by the word of His power," because, until the successive generations, with or without their will, with or against His Will for them, shall have completed His Sovereign Will, He upholds them uniformly in being by His Unchanging Will. Man is ever forgetting this, and because, "since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as from the beginning of the creation" 2 Peter 3:4, they relegate the Creator and His creating as far as they can to some time, as far back as they can imagine, enough to fill their imaginations, and forget Him who made them, in whose bands is their eternity, who will be their Judge. So the prophets remind them and us of His continual working, which people forget in the sight of His works; "Thus saith the Lord; He that createth the heavens, and stetcheth them out; He that spreadeth forth the earth and its produce, who giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein" Isaiah 42:5; and, "I am the Lord who maketh all things, who stretcheth out the heavens alone, who spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself" Isaiah 44:24; speaking at once of that, past in its beginning yet present to us in its continuance, but to Him ever-present present; and of things actually present to us, "that frustrateth the tokens of the liars" Isaiah 44:25; and of things to those of that day still future, "that confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers" Isaiah 44:26 : the beginning of which was not to be till the taking of Babylon. And the Psalmist unites past and present in one, "Donning light as a garment, stretching out the heavens as a curtain; who layeth the beams of His chambers on the waters, who maketh the clouds His chariot; who walketh on the wings of the wind; who maketh His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire; He founded the earth upon its base." Psalm 104:2-5. And Amos, "He that formeth the mountains and createth the winds, and declareth unto man his thoughts" (Amos 4:13, add Amos 5:8); adding whatever lieth nearest to each of us.
And formeth the spirit of man, within him - Both by the unceasing creation of souls, at every moment in some spot in our globe, or by the re-creation, for which David prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" Psalm 51:10. He who formed the hearts of people can overrule them as He wills. Cyril: "But the spirit of man is formed by God in him, not by being called to the beginnings of being, although it was made by Him, but, as it were, transformed from weakness to strength, from unmanliness to endurance, altogether being transelemented from things shameful to better things."
Cyril: "It is the custom of the holy prophets, when about to declare beforehand things of no slight moment, to endeavor to show beforehand the Almightiness of God, that their word may obtain credence, though they should declare what was beyond all hope, and (to speak of our conceptions) above all reason and credibility."
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling - For encouragement, He promises the victory, and at first mentions the attack incidentally. Jerusalem is as a cup or basin, which its enemies take into their hands; a stone, which they put forth their strength to lift; but they themselves reel with the draught of God's judgments which they would give to others, they are torn by the stone which they would lift to fling. The image of the "cup" is mostly of God's displeasure, which is given to His own people, and then, His judgment of chastisement being exceeded, given in turn to those who had been the instruments of giving it . Thus, Isaiah speaks of "the cup of trembling." Thou, "Jerusalem, hast drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, hast wrung them out. Therefore hear thou this, thou afflicted and drunken but not with wine. Thus saith thy Lord, the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of His people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee" Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:21-23. Jeremiah speaks of "the cup of God's anger," as given by God first to Jerusalem, then to all whom Nebuchadnezzar should subdue, then to Babylon itself Jeremiah 25:15-26; and as "passing through" to Edom also Lamentations 4:21; Jeremiah 49:12; Ezekiel, of "Aholibah" Ezekiel 23:31-33 (Jerusalem) "drinking the cup of Samaria." In Jeremiah alone, Babylon is herself the cup. "Babylon" is "a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the nations drunken; the nations have drunken of the wine; therefore the nations are mad" Jeremiah 51:7. Now Jerusalem is to be, not an ordinary cup, but a large "basin" or vessel, from which all nations may drink what will make them reel.
"And also upon Judah will it be in the siege against Jerusalem, that is, the burden of the word of the Lord which was on Israel" should be "upon Judah," that is, upon all, great and small.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all nations - What is "a stone to all nations?" It is not a rock or anything in its own nature immovable, but a "stone," a thing rolled up and down, moved, lifted, displaced, piled on others, in every way at the service and command of people, to do with it what they willed. So they thought of that "stone cut out without hands" Daniel 2:45; that "tried stone and sure foundation, laid in Zion" Isaiah 28:16; that "stone" which, God said in Zechariah, "I have laid" Zechariah 3:9; of which our Lord says, "the stone, which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner" Luke 20:17; "whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" Matthew 21:44; Luke 20:18. The Church, built on the stone, seems a thing easily annihilated; ten persecutions in succession strove to efface it; Diocletian erected a monument, commemorating that the Christian name was blotted out . It survived; he perished.
The image may have been suggested by the custom, so widely prevailing in Judaea, of trying the relative strength of young men, by lifting round stones selected for that end .
Jerome: "The meaning then is, I will place, Jerusalem to all nations like a very heavy stone to be lifted up. They will lift it up, and according to their varied strength, will waste it; but it must needs be, that, while it is lifted, in the very strain of lifting the weight, that most heavy stone should leave some scission or rasure on the bodies of those who lift it. Of the Church it may be interpreted thus; that all persecutors, who fought against the house of the Lord, are inebriated with that cup, which Jeremiah gives to all nations, to drink and be inebriated and fall and vomit and be mad. Whosoever would uplift the stone shall lift it, and in the anger of the Lord, whereby He chastens sinners, will hold it in his hands; but he himself will not go unpunished, the sword of the Lord fighting against him."
All that burden themselves with it will be cut to pieces - More exactly, "scarified, lacerated;" shall bear the scars. "Though" (rather, "and") "all the people (peoples, nations) of the earth shall be gathered together against it." The prophet marshals them all against Jerusalem, only to say how they should perish before it. So in Joel God says, "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat" , speaking of that last closing strife of antichrist against God. Wars against Israel had either been petty, though anti-theistic, wars of neighboring petty nations, pitting their false gods against the True, or one, though world-empire wielded by a single will. The more God made Himself known, the fiercer the opposition. The Gospel claiming "obedience to the faith among all nations" Romans 1:5, provoked universal rebellion. Herod and Pontius Pilate became friends through rejection of Christ; the Roman Caesar and the Persian Sapor, Goths and Vandals, at war with one another, were one in persecuting Christ and the Church. Yet in vain.
In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
Koster further refers to Zechariah 1:4, Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 3:5, Zechariah 3:9 and, on the other hand, to Zechariah 9:9-10, Zechariah 9:13, Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 10:11; Zechariah 11:2, Zechariah 11:7, Zechariah 11:9, Zechariah 11:17; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 14:4, Zechariah 14:8.
With one considerable exception , those who would sever the six last chapters from Zechariah, are now at one in placing them before the captivity. Yet, Zechariah here too speaks of the captivity as past. Adopting the imagery of Isaiah, who foretells the delivery from the captivity as an opening of a prison, he says, in the name of God, "By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water" Zechariah 9:11. Again, "The Lord of hosts hath visited His flock, the house of Judah. I will have mercy upon them (Judah and Joseph) and they shall be as though I had not cast them off" Zechariah 10:3-5. The mention of the mourning of all the "families that remain" Zechariah 12:14 implies a previous carrying away. Yet more; Zechariah took his imagery of the future restoration of Jerusalem, from its condition in his own time. "It shall be lifted up and inhabited in its 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" Zechariah 14:10. "The gate of Benjamin" is doubtless "the gate of Ephraim," since the road to Ephraim lay through Benjamin; but the gate of Ephraim existed in Nehemiah's time Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39, yet was not then repaired, as neither was the tower of Hananeel Nehemiah 3:1, having been left, doubtless, at the destruction of Jerusalem, being useless for defense, when the wall was broken down. So at the second invasion the Romans left the three impregnable towers, of Hippicus, Phasaelus, and Mariamne, as monuments of the greatness of the city which they had destroyed. Benjamin's gate, the corner gate, the tower of Hananeel, were still standing; "the king's winepresses" were naturally uninjured, since there was no use in injuring them; but "the first gate" was destroyed, since not itself but "the place" of it is mentioned.
The prophecy of the victory over the Greeks fits in with times when Assyria or Chaldaea were no longer the instruments of God in the chastisement of His people. The notion that the prophet incited the few Hebrew slaves, sold into Greece, to rebel against their masters, is so absurd, that one wonders that any one could have ventured to forge it and put it upon a Hebrew prophet .
Since, moreover, all now, who sever the six last chapters from the preceding, also divide these six into two halves, the evidence that the six chapters are from one author is a separate ground against their theory. Yet, not only are they connected by the imagery of the people as the flock of God Zechariah 9:16; Zechariah 10:3, whom God committed to the hand of the Good Shepherd Zechariah 11:4-14, and on their rejecting Him, gave them over to an evil shepherd Zechariah 11:15-17; but the Good Shepherd is One with God Zechariah 11:7-12; Zechariah 13:7. The poor of the flock, who would hold to the Shepherd, are designated by a corresponding word.
A writer has been at pains to show that two different conditions of things are foretold in the two prophecies. Granted. The first, we believe, has its foreground in the deliverance during the conquests of Alexander, and under the Maccabees, and leads on to the rejection of the true Shepherd and God's visitation on the false. The later relates to a later repentance and later visitation of God, in part yet future. By what law is a prophet bound down to speak of one future only?
For those who criticize the prophets, resolve all prophecy into mere "anticipation" of what might, or might not be, denying to them all certain knowledge of any future, it is but speaking plainly, when they imagine the author of the three last chapters to have "anticipated" that God would interpose miraculously to deliver Jerusalem, then, when it was destroyed. It would have been in direct contradiction to Jeremiah, who for 39 years in one unbroken dirge predicted the evil which should come upon Jerusalem. The prophecy, had it preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, could not have been earlier than the reign of the wretched Jehoiakim, since the mourning for the death of Josiah is spoken of as a proverbial sorrow of the past. This invented prophet then would have been one of the false prophets, who contradicted Jeremiah, prophesying good, while Jeremiah prophesied evil; who encouraged Zedekiah in his perjury, the punishment whereof Ezekiel solemnly denounced Ezekiel 13:10-19, prophesying his captivity in Babylon as its penalty; he would have been one of those, of whom Jeremiah said that they spake lies Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:22; Jeremiah 27:15; Jeremiah 28:15; Jeremiah 29:8-9 in the name of the Lord. It was not "anticipation" on either side.
It was the statement of those who spoke more certainly than we could say, "the sun will rise tomorrow." They were the direct contradictories of one another. The false prophets said, "the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace" Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 23:17; the true, "they have said, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace" Ezekiel 13:2-10; the false said, "sword and famine shall not be in the land" Jeremiah 14:15; the true "By sword and famine shall their prophets be consumed;" the false said, "ye shall not serve the king of Babylon; thus saith the Lord, even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years" Jeremiah 27:9-14; Jeremiah 28:11; the true, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and all nations shall serve him, and his son and his son's son" Jeremiah 27:4, Jeremiah 27:6-7. The false said, "I will bring again to this place Jeconiah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon" Jeremiah 28:4; the true, "I will cast thee out and the mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born, and there ye shall die. But to the land, whereunto they desire to return, thither they shall not return" Jeremiah 22:26-27. The false said; "The vessels of the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon" Jeremiah 27:16; the true "the residue of the vessels that remain in this city, - they shall be carried to Babylon" Jeremiah 27:19-22.
If the writer of the three last chapters had lived just before the destruction of Jerusalem in those last reigns, he would have been a political fanatic, one of those who, by encouraging rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, brought on the destruction of the city, and, in the name of God, told lies against God. "That which is most peculiar in this prophet," says one , "is the uncommon high and pious hope of the deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah, notwithstanding all visible greatest dangers and threatenings. At a time when Jeremiah, in the walls of the capital, already despairs of any possibility of a successful resistance to the Chaldees and exhorts to tranquility, this prophet still looks all these dangers straight in the face with swelling spirit and divine confidence, holds, with unbowed spirit, firm to the like promises of older prophets, as Isaiah 29, and anticipates that, from that very moment when the blind fury of the destroyers would discharge itself on the sanctuary, a wondrous might would crush them in pieces, and that this must be the beginning of the Messianic weal within and without."
Zechariah 14 is to this writer a modification of those anticipations. In other words there was a greater human probability, that Jeremiah's prophecies, not his, would be fulfilled: yet, he cannot give up his sanguineness, though his hopes had now become fanatic. This writer says on Zechariah 14 , "This piece cannot have been written until somewhat later, when facts made it more and more improbable, that Jerusalem would not any how be conquered, and treated as a conquered city by coarse foes. Yet, then too, this prophet could not yet part with the anticipations of older prophets and those which he had himself at an earlier time expressed: so boldly, amid the most visible danger, he holds firm to the old anticipation, after that the great deliverance of Jerusalem in Sennacherib's time Isaiah 37 appeared to justify the most fanatic hopes for the future, (compare Psalm 59). And so now the prospect moulds itself to him thus, as if Jerusalem must indeed actually endure the horrors of the conquest, but that then, when the work of the conquerors was half-completed, the great deliverance, already suggested in that former piece, would come, and so the Sanctuary would, notwithstanding, be wonderfully preserved, the better Messianic time would notwithstanding still so come."
It must be a marvelous fascination, which the old prophets exercise over the human mind, that one who can so write should trouble himself about them. It is such an intense paradox, that the writing of one convicted by the event of uttering falsehood in the name of God, incorrigible even by the thickening tokens of God's displeasure, should have been inserted among the Hebrew prophets, in times not far removed from those whose events convicted him, that one wonders that anyone should have invented it, still more that any should have believed in it. Great indeed is "the credulity of the incredulous."
And yet, this paradox is essential to the theories of the modern school which would place these chapters before the captivity. English writers, who thought themselves compelled to ascribe these chapters to Jeremiah, had an escape, because they did not bind down prophecy to immediate events. Newcome's criticism was the conjectural criticism of his day; i. e. bad, cutting knots instead of loosing them. But his faith, that God's word is true, was entire. Since the prophecy, placed at the time where he placed it, had no immediate fulfillment, he supposed it, in common with those who believe it to have been written by Zechariah, to relate to a later period. That German school, with whom it is an axiom, "that all definite prophecy relates to an immediate future," had no choice but to place it just before the destruction of the temple by the Chaldees, or its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes; and those who placed it before the Captivity, had no choice, except to believe, that it related to events, by which it was falsified.
Nearly half a century has passed, since a leading writer of this school said , "One must own, that the division of opinions as to the real author of this section and his time, as also the attempts to appropriate single oracles of this portion to different periods, leave the result of criticism simply "negative;" whereas on the other hand, the view itself, since it is not yet carried through exegetically, lacks the completion of its proof. It is not till criticism becomes "positive," and evidences its truth in the explanation of details, that it attains its completion; which is not, in truth, always possible." Hitzig did what he could, "to help to promote the attainment of this end according to his ability." But although the more popular theory has of late been that these chapters are to be placed before the captivity, the one portion somewhere in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, or Hezekiah; the other, as marked in the chapters themselves, after the death of Josiah; there have not been wanting critics of equal repute, who place them in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Yet, criticism which reels to and fro in a period of near 500 years, from the earliest of the prophets to a period a century after Malachi, and this on historical and philological grounds, certainly has come to no definite basis, either as to history or philology.
Rather, it has enslaved both to preconceived opinions; and at last, as late a result as any has been, after this weary round, to go back to where it started from, and to suppose these chapters to have been written by the prophet whose name they bear .
It is obvious that there must be some mistake either in the tests applied, or in their application, which admits of a variation of at least 450 years from somewhere in the reign of Uzziah (say 770 b.c.) to "later than 330 b.c."
And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.
And the princes of Judah - He pictures the onemindedness of the Church. No one shall assume anything to himself; each shall exalt the strength which the other was to him; but all, "in the Lord. The princes of Judah" shall say "in their heart," not outwardly or politically, but in inward conviction, "strength to me" (all speak as one) "are the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the Lord of hosts their God." The highest in human estimation acknowledge that their strength is in those who are of no account in this world; as, in fact the hearts of the poor are evermore the strength of the Church; but that, "in the Lord of hosts;" in Him, in whose hands are the powers of heaven and earth, over against the petty turmoil on earth. God had chosen Jerusalem Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 2:12; Zechariah 3:2; therefore she was invincible. "That most glorious prince of Judah, Paul, said, 'I can do all things in Christ who instrengtheneth me. '"
In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
I will make the governors of Judah like a hearth - or "cauldron" of fire large, broad, deep, and full of fire, among the wood which is prepared for burning, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf The fire could not kindle the wood or the sheaf, of itself, unless applied to it. All is of the agency of God: "I will make."
Ribera: "He foretells the increase of the Church, which by such persecutions shall not be diminished, but shall be marvelously increased. The preachers of the Church shall raise up all the peoples round about, shall destroy all unbelief, and shall kindle the hearts of hearers with the fire of the divine word." "On the right hand and on the left." Ribera: "He indicates the strength and success of the preachers, whom no one can resist nor hinder," as our Lord says, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" Luke 21:15.
And Jerusalem shall again - Rather, "yet, be inhabited." "Yet" is a sort of burden in Zechariah's prophecies . Osorius: "They at once burned up by the flame all the defilement of vices, and kindled the minds of people with the torch of divine love; at once consumed the enemy and cast a heavenly fire into the human heart: 'yet;' in despite of all appearances, of all which is against her. 'She shall yet dwell in her own place in Jerusalem;' for, however the waves of this world chafe and lash themselves into foam against her, they break themselves, not her; as soon as they have reached their utmost height, they fall back; if they toss themselves, and, for a moment, hide her light, they fall down at all sides, and the ray shines out, steady as before; for she is 'founded on a rock,' against which 'the gates of hell' should not 'prevail' Matthew 16:18.
The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first - Still it is, 'the Lord shall save.' We have, on the one side, the 'siege,' the gathering of all the peoples of the earth 'against Jerusalem, the horse and his rider.' On the other, no human strength; not, as before, in the prophecy of the Maccabees, the bow, the arrow, and the sword, though in the hand of God Zechariah 9:13. It is thrice, 'I will make' Zechariah 9:2-3,; 'I will smite' (Zechariah 9:4 bis); and now, 'The Lord shall save.' By 'the tents,' he probably indicates their defenselessness. God would 'save' them first; that 'the glory of the house of David - 'be not great against' or 'over Judah,' may not overshadow it; but all may be as one; for all is the free gift of God, the mere grace of God, that 'he that glorieth may glory in the Lord' Jeremiah 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17, and both "may own that, in both, the victory is the Lord's" (Jerome).
Lap.: "In Christ Jesus is neither Jew nor Greek; neither bond nor free, neither rich nor poor" Galatians 3:28; "but all are one," namely a new creation; yea in Christendom the poor are the highest, both because Christ "preached to the poor" Luke 4:18, and pronounced the "poor blessed" Luke 6:20, and He made the Apostles, being poor, nobles in His kingdom, through whom He converted kings and princes, as is written, "ye see your calling, brethren, that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the would to confound the things which fire mighty ..." 1 Corinthians 1:26; and, "Hath not God called the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which God has promised to them that love Him?" James 2:5. The rich and noble have greater hindrances to humility and Christian virtues, than the poor. For honors puff up, wealth and delights weaken the mind; wherefore they need greater grace of Christ to burst their bonds than the poor. Wherefore, for the greater grace shown them, they are bound to give greater thanks unto Christ."
In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
In that day the Lord shall defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble, rather, he theft stumbleth among them, shall be as David - The result of the care and the defense of God is here wholly spiritual, "the strengthening of such as do stand, and the raising up of such as fall." It is not simply one feeble, but one "stumbling" and ready to fall, who becomes as David, the great instance of one who fell, yet was raised. Daniel says of a like trial-time, "And some of those of understanding shall stumble, to try them and to purge and to make them white, to the time of the end" Daniel 11:35. Ribera: "Such care will God have of protecting the sons of the Church, when it shall be infested with persecutions, that he who shall have fallen through human infirmity, either deceived by heretics or overcome by fear of tortures, shall arise the more fervent and cautious, and with many tears shall make amends for his sins to God, as did David. "He who stumbled shall be as David," because the sinner returneth' to repentance. This is not said of all times, nor of all (for many have stumbled, who never rose) but chiefly of the first times of the Church and of people of great sanctity, such as were many then."
And the house of David shall be as God - They who stumbled became really like David; but he, though mighty and a great saint of God, though he once fell, was man. How then could the house of David be really like God? Only fully in Him, who, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" Philippians 2:6; who said, "He who hath seen Me, hath seen My Father also" John 14:9; "I and the Father are one" John 10:30. And this the prophet brings out by adding, "as the Angel of the Lord before them," that is, that one Angel of the Lord, in whom His very Presence and His Name was; who went before them, to guide them (see "Daniel the prophet" pp. 519-523). Else, having said, "like God," it had been to lessen what he had just said, to add, "like the Angel of the Lord." Our Lord prayed for those who are truly His, "As Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they may be one in Us; that they may be one as We are one, I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfect in one" John 17:21-23; and Paul saith, "Christ is formed in us" Galatians 4:19; "Christ dwelleth in our hearts by faith" Ephesians 3:17; "Christ liveth in me" Galatians 2:20; "Christ is in you" Romans 8:10; "Christ is our life" Colossians 3:4; "Christ is all and in all" Colossians 3:11; "we grow into Him which is the Head, even Christ" Ephesians 4:15; "we are in Christ" Romans 16:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 1:22; and Peter, we are "partakers of the divine nature" 2 Peter 1:4; and John, "As He is, so are we in this world" 1 John 4:17. Then in a degree the glory of Christ passeth over to those who dwell in Him, and in whom He dwells by the Spirit, as Paul says; "Ye received me, as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus" Galatians 4:14.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
In that day, I will seek to destroy - Woe indeed to those, whom Almighty God shall "'seek' to destroy!" Man may seek earnestly to do, what at last he cannot do. Still it is an earnest seeking. And whether it is used of human seeking which fails, or which succeeds 1 Samuel 14:4; 1 Samuel 23:10; Ecclesiastes 12:10, inchoate or permitted 1 Kings 11:22; Zechariah 6:7, it is always used of seeking to do, what it is a person's set purpose to do if he can. Here it is spoken of Almighty God . Ribera: "He saith not, 'I will destroy' but 'I will seek to destroy,' that is, it shall ever be My care to destroy all the enemies of the Church, that they may in no way prevail against it: this I will do alway to the end of the world."
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.
And I will pour - As He promised by Joel, "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28. See vol. i. pp. 193, 194), largely, abundantly, "upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem," all, highest and lowest, from first to last, the "Spirit of grace and supplication," that is, the "Holy Spirit" which conveyeth "grace," as "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding" Isaiah 11:2 is "the Spirit" infusing "wisdom and understanding," and the "Spirit of counsel and might" is that same Spirit, imparting the gift "of counsel" to see what is to be done and "of might" to do it, and the Spirit "of the knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" is that same "Spirit," infusing loving acquaintance with God, with awe at His infinite Majesty. So "the Spirit of grace and supplication," is that same Spirit, infusing grace and bringing into a state of favor with God, and a "Spirit of supplication" is that Spirit, calling out of the inmost soul the cry for a yet larger measure of the grace already given. Paul speaks of "the love of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" Romans 5:5; and of "insulting the Spirit of grace" , rudely repulsing the Spirit, who giveth grace. Osorius: "When God Himself says, 'I will pour out,' He sets forth the greatness of His bountifulness whereby He bestoweth all things."
And they shall look - with trustful hope and longing. Cyril: "When they had nailed the Divine Shrine to the Wood, they who had crucified Him, stood around, impiously mocking. But when He had laid down His life for us, "the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, seeing the earthquake and those things which were done, feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" Matthew 27:54. As it ever is with sin, compunction did not come till the sin was over: till then, it was overlaid; else the sin could not be done. At the first conversion, the three thousand "were pricked 'in the heart.' "when told that He "whom they had taken and with wicked hands had crucified and slain, is Lord and Christ" Acts 2:23, Acts 2:36. This awoke the first penitence of him who became Paul. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" This has been the center of Christian devotion ever since, the security against passion, the impulse to self-denial, the parent of zeal for souls, the incentive to love; this has struck the rock, that it gushed forth in tears of penitence: this is the strength and vigor of hatred of sin, to look to Him whom our sins pierced, "who" Paul says, "loved me and gave Himself for me." Osorius: "We all lifted Him up upon the Cross; we transfixed with the nails His hands and feet; we pierced His Side with the spear. For if man had not sinned, the Son of God would have endured no torment."
And they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for an only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for a first-born - We feel most sensibly the sorrows of this life, passing as they are; and of these, the loss of an only son is a proverbial sorrow. "O daughter of My people, gird thee with sackcloth and wallow thyself in ashes," God says; "make thee the mourning of an only son, Most bitter lamentation" Jeremiah 6:26. "I will make it as the mourning of an only son" Amos 8:10. The dead man carried out, "the only son of his mother and she was a widow," is recorded as having touched the heart of Jesus. Alb.: "And our Lord, to the letter, was the Only-Begotten of His Father and His mother." He was "the first-begotten of every creature" Colossians 1:15, and "we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" John 1:14. This mourning for Him whom our sins pierced and nailed to the tree, is continued, week by week, by the pious, on the day of the week, when He suffered for us, or in the perpetual memorial of His Precious Death in the Holy Eucharist, and especially in Passion-Tide. God sends forth anew "the Spirit of grace and supplication," and the faithful mourn, because of their share in His Death. The prophecy had a rich and copious fulfillment in that first conversion in the first Pentecost; a larger fulfillment awaits it in the end, when, after the destruction of antichrist, "all Israel shall" be converted and "be saved." Romans 11:26.
There is yet a more awful fulfillment; when "He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" Revelation 1:7. But meanwhile it is fulfilled in every solid conversion of Jew pagan or careless Christian, as well as in the devotion of the pious. Zechariah has concentrated in few words the tenderest devotion of the Gospel, "They shall look on Me whom they pierced." Lap.: "Zechariah teaches that among the various feelings which we can elicit from the meditation on the Passion of Christ, as admiration, love, gratitude, compunction, fear, penitence, imitation, patience, joy, hope, the feeling of compassion stands eminent, and that it is this, which we especially owe to Christ suffering for us. For who would not in his inmost self grieve with Christ, innocent and holy, yea the Only Begotten Son of God, when he sees Him nailed to the Cross and enduring so lovingly for him sufferings so manifold and so great? Who would not groan out commiseration, and melt into tears? Truly says Bonaventure in his 'goad of divine love:' 'What can be more fruitful, what sweeter than, with the whole heart, to suffer with that most bitter suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ? '"
In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
As the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon - This was the greatest sorrow, which had fallen on Judah. Josiah was the last hope of its declining kingdom. His sons probably showed already their unlikeness to their father, whereby they precipitated their country's fall. in Josiah's death the last gleam of the sunset of Judah faded into night. Of him it is recorded, that "his pious acts, according to what was written in the law of the Lord," were written in his country's history 2 Chronicles 35:26, 2 Chronicles 35:7; for him the prophet "Jeremiah wrote a dirge" 2 Chronicles 35:25; "all" the minstrels of his country "spake of him in their dirges" 2 Chronicles 35:25. The dirges were "made an ordinance" which survived the captivity; "to this day" 2 Chronicles 35:25, it is said at the close of the Chronicles. Among the gathering sorrows of Israel, this lament over Josiah was written in the national collection of "dirges" 2 Chronicles 35:25. "Hadadrimmon," as being compounded of the name of two Syrian idols, is, in its name, a witness how Syrian idolatry penetrated into the kingdom, when it was detached from the worship of God. It was (Jerome) "a city near Jezreel, now called Maximinianopolis in the plain of Megiddon, in which the righteous king Josiah was wounded by Pharaoh Necho." This "was 17 miles from Caesarea, 10 from Esdraelon." Its name still survives in a small village, south of Megiddon , and so, on the way back to Jerusalem.
And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;
This sorrow should be universal but also individual, the whole land, and that, family by family; the royal family in the direct line of its kings, and in a branch from Nathan, a son of David and whole brother of Solomon 1 Chronicles 3:5, which was continued on in private life yet was still to be an ancestral line of Jesus Luke 3:31 : in like way the main priestly family from Levi, and a subordinate line from a grandson of Levi, "the family of Shimei" Numbers 3:23; and all the remaining families, each with their separate sorrow, each according to Joel's call, "let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber and the bride out of her closet" Joel 2:16, each denying himself the tenderest solaces of life.
Dionysius: "The ungrateful and ungodly, daily, as far as in them lies, crucify Christ, as Paul says, "crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh and putting Him to an open shame" Hebrews 6:6. And on these Christ, out of His boundless pity, poureth forth a spirit of grace and supplication, so that, touched with compunction, with grieving and tearful feeling, they look on Christ, suffering with His suffering, and bewailing their own impurities."
Osorius: "The likeness is in the sorrow, not in its degree. Josiah had restored religion, removed a dire superstition, bound up relaxed morals by healthful discipline, recalled to its former condition the sinking state. In their extremest needs light shone on them, when there came his unlooked-for death, Therewith the whole state seemed lost. So in the Death of Christ, they who loved Him, saw His divine works, placed their whole hope of salvation in His goodness, suddenly saw the stay of their life extinct, themselves deprived of that most sweet contact, all hope for the future cut off: But the grief in the death of Christ was the more bitter, as He awoke a greater longing for Himself, and had brought a firmer hope of salvation."
The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;
All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.