|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:18-23 When God comes towards us in ways of mercy, we must meet him with joy and thankfulness. Therefore be faithful and honest in all your dealings; and let it be a pleasure to you to be so, though thereby you come short of the gains others get dishonestly; and, as much as in you lies, live peaceably with all men. Let the truths of God rule in your heads, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Thus the ancient servants of God drew the notice of heathen neighbours, whose prejudices were softened. A great increase to the church shall be made. Hitherto the Jews had been prone to learn the idolatries of other nations: what more unlikely than that they should teach religion to their conquerors, and to all the principal nations of the earth! Yet this is expressly foretold, and it came to pass. Hitherto the prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled, and no doubt future events will explain it further. It is good to be with those who have God with them; if we take God for our God, we must take his people for our people, and be willing to take our lot with them. But let not any one think that mere zeal, either for Jews or Gentiles, will stand in the place of personal religion. Let us be living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men, so that others may wish to go with us, and to have their portion with us in the realms of bliss.
Verse 22. - Many people (peoples) and strong nations. This explains ver. 20 more fully. The Jews were not actuated by the missionary spirit, yet even before Christ's advent their religion had spread into all parts of the world, as we see from the catalogue of proselytes in Acts 2:9-11. Intimations of the same fact are given in Ezra 6:21; Esther 8:17. To seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem; i.e. to keep the solemn festivals observed there (comp. Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 66:20-23 Micah 4:1, and note there). The literal fulfilment of this prophecy is not to be looked for. It declares the future conversion of the Gentiles, and their being made one with Israel in the Church of Christ, "one fold under one Shepherd" (John 10:16).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Yea, many people, and strong nations,.... Or, "mighty kingdoms", as the Targum renders it; even such have embraced the Gospel, and professed the Christian religion; of which there has been abundant proof since the downfall of Paganism under Constantine:
shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem; that is, shall attend the public worship of God in the church:
and to pray before the Lord; join in public prayer, and other ordinances of the Gospel. This phrase, which is used also in the preceding verse Zechariah 8:21, signifies that the Lord, and he only, is the object of prayer: it is not to be made to a creature, or to an idol made with hands, they had been used to pray to before, but to the one only living and true God, Father, Son, and Spirit; and that this is to be done as in the presence of God, who is omniscient, who knows all persons and their cases, and what are their ends and views in their petitions to him, and whether these come from a true heart and unfeigned lips; for all things are naked and open unto him, with whom we have to do; that, under the Gospel dispensation especially, men may come into the presence of God with great freedom and liberty, and pour out their souls before him, and with great boldness and confidence, through the blood of Christ being shed, and a new and living way opened by it, in which they may come and ask in faith whatever they want; though this should always be performed with reverence and godly fear, and with all humility and submission to the will of God: and though it may take in all sorts of prayer, and wherever and by whomsoever performed, either mental or vocal, in the closet or in the family, which is always to be done in like manner before God; yet it seems chiefly to design social and public prayer: which being put up to God in the church, may be said to be before the Lord, it being in the assembly of his saints, where he more especially grants his presence, and shows himself to be a God hearing and answering prayer; see Psalm 65:1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
22. many … strong nations … in Jerusalem—In contrast to the few and weak Jews now building the temple and city, then such shall be their influence that many and strong nations shall come to worship Jehovah their God in Jerusalem (Isa 60:3; 66:23).
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