4:2-6 Not only the setting forth Christ's kingdom in the times of the apostles, but its enlargement by gathering the dispersed Jews into the church, is foretold. Christ is called the Branch of the Lord, being planted by his power, and flourishing to his praise. The gospel is the fruit of the Branch of the Lord; all the graces and comforts of the gospel spring from Christ. It is called the fruit of the earth, because it sprang up in this world, and was suited for the present state. It will be good evidence that we are distinguished from those merely called Israel, if we are brought to see all beauty in Christ, and holiness. As a type of this blessed day, Jerusalem should again flourish as a branch, and be blessed with the fruits of the earth. God will keep for himself a holy seed. When most of those that have a place and a name in Zion, and in Jerusalem, shall be cut off by their unbelief, some shall be left. Those only that are holy shall be left, when the Son of man shall gather out of his kingdom every thing which offends. By the judgment of God's providence, sinners were destroyed and consumed; but by the Spirit of grace they are reformed and converted. The Spirit herein acts as a Spirit of judgment, enlightening the mind, convincing the conscience; also as a Spirit of burning, quickening and strengthening the affections, and making men zealously affected in a good work. An ardent love to Christ and souls, and zeal against sin, will carry men on with resolution in endeavours to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Every affliction serves believers as a furnace, to purify them from dross; and the convincing, enlightening, and powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, gradually root out their lusts, and render them holy as He is holy. God will protect his church, and all that belong to it. Gospel truths and ordinances are the glory of the church. Grace in the soul is the glory of it; and those that have it are kept by the power of God. But only those who are weary will seek rest; only those who are convinced that a storm is approaching, will look for shelter. Affected with a deep sense of the Divine displeasure, to which we are exposed by sin, let us at once have recourse to Jesus Christ, and thankfully accept the refuge he affords.
2. In contrast to those on whom vengeance falls, there is a manifestation of Jesus Christ to the "escaped of Israel" in His characteristic attributes, beauty and glory, typified in Aaron's garments (Ex 28:2). Their sanctification is promised as the fruit of their being "written" in the book of life by sovereign love (Isa 4:3); the means of it are the "spirit of judgment" and that of "burning" (Isa 4:4). Their "defense" by the special presence of Jesus Christ is promised (Isa 4:5, 6).
branch—the sprout of Jehovah. Messiah (Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12; Lu 1:78, Margin). The parallel clause does not, as Maurer objects, oppose this; for "fruit of the earth" answers to "branch"; He shall not be a dry, but a fruit-bearing branch (Isa 27:6; Eze 34:23-27). He is "of the earth" in His birth and death, while He is also "of the Lord" (Jehovah) (Joh 12:24). His name, "the Branch," chiefly regards His descent from David, when the family was low and reduced (Lu 2:4, 7, 24); a sprout with more than David's glory, springing as from a decayed tree (Isa 11:1; 53:2; Re 22:16).
excellent—(Heb 1:4; 8:6).
comely—(So 5:15, 16; Eze 16:14).
escaped of Israel—the elect remnant (Ro 11:5); (1) in the return from Babylon; (2) in the escape from Jerusalem's destruction under Titus; (3) in the still future assault on Jerusalem, and deliverance of "the third part"; events mutually analogous, like concentric circles (Zec 12:2-10; 13:8, 9, &c.; 14:2; Eze 39:23-29; Joe 3:1-21).