The Dark and the Bright Side of God's Revelation to Mankind
Zechariah 9:1-8
The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man…

The burden of the word of the Lord, etc. This chapter begins that portion of the book whose genuineness, though denied by some, is accepted by most unbiassed expositors. As it is our main purpose, in preparing these sketches, to use the statements, whether prosaic or poetic, prophetic or historic, to illustrate truths of universal application, it comes not within our purpose to discuss the questions of genuineness, authenticity, and inspiration. In the preceding chapters the prophet had in vision seen and said much concerning many of the more remarkable events connected with the continued rule of the Persians; he advances now to foretell some of the more striking circumstances which would transpire under that of the Greeks, during the military expeditions of Alexander and his successors, so far as they had a bearing upon the affairs of the Jewish people. "He describes," says Dr. Henderson, "in this chapter the conquest of Syria after the battle of Issus (ver. 1), and the progress of the army of Alexander along the coast of the Mediterranean, involving the capture of the principalities of the Phoenicians and Philistines, but leaving the Jews unmolested, through the protecting care of Jehovah (vers. 2-8). He then contrasts with the character and military achievements of that conqueror the qualities which should distinguish the Messiah and his kingdom, whom he expressly predicts (vers. 9, 10). After which he resumes the thread of his historical discourse, and describes the wars of the Maccabees with Antiochus Epipbanes, and the victory and prosperity with which they were followed (vers. 11-17)." These verses may be taken to illustrate the dark and the bright side of God's revelation to mankind. Here are threatenings and promises. The Bible, in relation to humanity, is something like the mystic pillar in the wilderness, as it appeared on the Red Sea; it threw a radiance on the chosen tribes as they advanced, and a black cloud upon their pursuing foes, overwhelming them in confusion. Notice, then -


1. In this aspect it is here called a "burden." The word "burden" is almost invariably used to represent a calamity. Thus we read of the burden of Babylon, the burden of Moab, the burden of Damascus, the burden of Tyre, the burden of Egypt, etc. The general meaning is a terrible sentence. God's sentence of condemnation is indeed a terrible thundercloud.

2. In this aspect it bears upon wicked men. The doomed peoples are here mentioned. They are in "the land of Hadrach. Whether Hadrach here means the land of Syria or the common names of the kings of Syria, it scarcely matters; the people of the place of which Damascus was the capital were the doomed ones. Besides these, there are the men of Hamath," a country lying to the north of Damascus and joining the districts of Zobah and Rehub. And still more, there are "Tyrus" and "Zidon," places about which we often read in the Bible, and with whose history most students of the Bible are acquainted. "Ashkelon," "Gaza," and "Ekron" are also mentioned. These were the chief cities of the Philistines, and the capitals of different districts. All these peoples were not only enemies of the chosen tribe, but enemies of the one true and living God. History tells us how, through the bloody conquests of Alexander and his successors, this "burden of the word of the Lord" fell with all its weight upon these people. Observe:

(1) That the Bible is heavy with black threatenings to the wicked. It has not one word of encouragement to such, but all menace; not one gleam of light, but a dark mass of cloud. (Quote passages.)

(2) That these black threatenings will inevitably be fulfilled. All the threatenings here against the land of Hadrach, Hamath, Tyrus, Zidon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashkelon, and the Philistines were fulfilled.

II. THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE DIVINE WORD. There is a beam of promise here. "And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite. And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes." The following is Dr. Keil's translation of these verses: "And I shall take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth, and he will also remain to our God, and will be as a tribe prince in Judah, and Ekron like the Jebusite. I pitch a tent for my house against military power, against those who go to and fro, and no oppressor will pass over them any more; for now have I seen with my eyes." The promise in these words seems to be twofold.

1. The deprivation of the Tower of the enemy to injure. "I will take away his blood from between his teeth," etc. "The Philistines and other enemies of the Jews," says Scott, "world be deprived of their power to waste them any more; and the spoils they had taken by violence and the most abominable rapine would be taken away from them as prey from a wild beast." The Bible promises to the good man the subjection of all his foes. "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly;" "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

2. Divine protection from all their enemies. "I will encamp about mine house," etc. "They were not to be injured," says Henderson, "by the army of Alexander, on its march either to or from Egypt - a promise which was fulfilled to the letter, for while that monarch punished the Samaritans, he showed great favour to the Jews. Nor was any foreign oppressor to invade their land, as the Assyrians and Chaldeans had done, during the period that was to intervene before the advent of the Messiah. predicted in the verse immediately following. They were, indeed, subject to much suffering, both from the Egyptian and the Syrian kings, especially from Antiochus Epiphanes; but their nationality was not destroyed; and the evils to which they were exposed only paved the way for the Maccabean victories and for the establishment of the Asmonean dynasty. For this preservation they were indebted to the providence of God, which watched over them for good. This is emphatically expressed in the last clause of the verse." The Bible promises eternal protection to the good. "God is our Refuge and Strength," etc. - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.

WEB: An oracle. The word of Yahweh is against the land of Hadrach, and will rest upon Damascus; for the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is toward Yahweh;

The Dark and Bright Side of God's Revelation to Mankind
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