Zechariah 2:5
For I will be a wall of fire around it, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory within it.'"
Inward Glory and Outward DefenceA. Maclaren, D. D.Zechariah 2:5
Protected by GodF. B. Meyer.Zechariah 2:5
The City Without WallsA. Maclaren, D. D.Zechariah 2:5
The Wall and Glory of JerusalemT. Hannam.Zechariah 2:5
Zion's ProtectionJames Wells.Zechariah 2:5
Measuring the ChurchW. Forsyth Zechariah 2:1-5
Third Vision: an Interesting Future for the WorldD. Thomas Zechariah 2:1-5
Jerusalem stands for the Church. The "man" (ver. 1) seems the same person who is afterwards spoken of as "young," and who is implicitly rebuked for taking in hand a task beyond his powers. The passage suggests for consideration -

I. MAN'S IDEA OF THE CHURCH AS CAPABLE OF STRICT DEFINITION AND MEASUREMENT. There has always been a disposition to fix and limit the boundaries of the Church.

1. Irrational. The visible Church may be defined, but not the invisible. Truth is not to be measured by our belief, or godliness by the piety of the party to which we belong, or the community of the good by the little systems of our day.

2. Presumptuous. This work cannot be done by man. He has neither the capacity nor the means. "We mete out love as if our eye saw to the end of heaven." It demands higher powers - a purer eye, a deeper insight, a more far reaching vision. Even Elijah failed, and Peter greatly erred. Only the Lord himself knoweth them who are his.

3. Injurious. Mistakes must occur. Some excluded who ought to have been included, and others included who should have been excluded. Hence evil both to the judge and to the judged - pride, injustice, uncharitableness. See Saul "breathing out threatenings and slaughter." Mark John, the beloved disciple, wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans. Behold the Corinthian Church - sample of many others down to our own day - torn by factions and blighted by party spirit. How often, in the world, have grievous wars arisen from paltry questions as to boundaries! So the Church has suffered incalculable evils from "profane and vain babblings" and questions which minister strife.

II. GOD'S IDEA OF THE CHURCH AS TRANSCENDING ALL HUMAN LIMITATIONS, God is the Supreme and only Judge. He sees things as they are. He knows not only the outward works, but the heart, and the end from the beginning. In the woman whom Simon the Pharisee despised our Lord saw a true penitent. In the man who was casting out devils in his name he discerns an ally, though he followed him not openly as a disciple. In the devout Cornelius he acknowledged a true worshipper and servant of God, though he was as yet unknown to the apostles. His love overflows the letter of our Creeds and the boundaries of our Churches. And as in the past, so in the future. The picture is grand and inspiring. It foreshadows the glory of the latter day. Here is:

1. Vast extension. (Vers. 6, 7.) The Church is like a city that outgrows its walls, that absorbs the outlying villages and hamlets, that gradually includes the whole land in its benign embrace. As Jerusalem, so the Church, in the day of prosperity, would far surpass all former bounds.

2. Inviolable security. The figure is vivid and striking. It recalls the story of the prophet (2 Kings 6:15-17) and the more ancient records of Moses and of Israel in the wilderness. The true defence is not material, but spiritual - not of the world, but of God.

3. Divine blessedness. The life and splendour of the Church are in the inhabitation of God. This secures the supremacy of goodness, and the brotherhood of man in Christ Jesus. God is in the midst. "God is Light," "God is Love," God is Holiness; therefore the people will live and move and have their being in light and love and holiness. It will be the days of heaven on earth. - F.

I will be unto her a wall of fire
I. THE PEOPLE THAT SHALL BE THUS DEFENDED. It is Jerusalem that is to be defended; and that will include three things: the temple, the habitations of the people, and the people themselves. The people of God are spoken of as the temple of God. Do we belong to the temple of the Lord? If we belong to the temple of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ will be our only foundation. There are two things that make the Lord Jesus the foundation —

1. As being the end of the law for righteousness. He brings in everlasting righteousness.

2. As being the end of sin. He is spiritually, legally, properly, and entirely the end of sin; His blood cleanseth from all sin. As is the foundation in character, so the building must accord in character with the foundation. The foundation is one of free grace. Therefore we are not only justified by grace, but saved by grace. The first feature given to this building is mercy. Then it is a free-grace building. The third feature is certainty. We may be upon the right foundation, and yet not rightly built. God's people are spoken of as a city; they have habitations which require to be defended. Take these habitations as the truths of the Gospel, wherein God's people dwell. Electing grace; predestination; Christ's righteousness; the atonement; God's promises may all be spoken of as habitations.

II. THE DEFENCE. Notice the forms under which the Lord represents Himself as round about His people: all indicative of two things, destruction to the adversary, safety to the friend. The Lord is round His people as a hedge; and as mountains; and as a guard of fire, such as men use to protect from wild beasts.

III. THE GLORY IN THE MIDST. He is in the midst, the living God, the life-giving God. He is the glory in the midst by being the temple in the midst.

(James Wells.)

In one of the great cities of the Continent the regalia are not kept behind iron bars as in the Tower of London, but lie upon an open table. It might appear that any ruthless hand could wrench any jewel or diamond from the glittering array; and yet no man dare put out his hand to take one, because that table is charged with a strong current of electricity. You cannot see the protection, but there it is. And so if a man will only live in daily and hourly communion with Christ, the devil can no more touch him than a thief can touch those jewels.

(F. B. Meyer.)

In this chapter is a vision of a man with a measuring line in his hand, to show that the Lord was now in readiness to build and restore the city and temple. Two great discouragements the people met with — danger and scorn. The Lord here, by a gracious promise, fortifieth them against the fear of both. Against the fear of danger, by promising to be their protection; and against the fear of scorn, by promising to be their glory. The Lord is to His people whatever good they want. "I will be a wall."

1. A wall of partition, to separate the Church from the world.

2. A wall of conjunction, uniting the parts together in one common interest.

3. A wall of protection and defence. The Lord doth as a wall protect His Church —

(1)In a way of promise.

(2)In a way of power.

(3)In a way of providence.

(4)In a way of grace.His protection is like that of a wall. It is near, adequate, and impregnable. Consider the city walled, the subject of His defence. The Church is His property, His rest, His peculiar treasure. The Lord is the glory in the midst of His people —

1. By His spiritual residence and gracious presence with them.

2. By His holy ordinances.

3. In glorious privileges and immunities belonging to every citizen of the New Jerusalem.What folly, then, and what wickedness, to oppose the Church of God, briars to contend with flames! We need not make use of carnal wisdom and sinful means for protection. Envy not the glory of the world. Above all, hold fast God and His presence. God will be with you while you are with Him. If God be thus your glory, let your glorying be in Him alone.

(T. Hannam.)

The glory in the midst of her
Speak of the bearing of the text upon our individual lives.

1. If we choose, we may have the Divine glory in the deepest heart of us. The "glory" of the Old Testament was that material but supernatural symbol of the Divine presence which gleamed above the mercy seat in the most holy place. That little house on the temple hill was nothing in sanctity in comparison with the temple of the Christian heart. The true habitation of God is man. Spirit dwells in spirit in a profounder sense than it does in space, or in the material creation. Have you got the glory in the centre of your being? We may all have the indwelling of the glory of God if we will.

2. If God be for glory within, He will be a fiery rampart round. He is not only a wall, but a wall of fire. His protection is not merely of the passive sort which shields from evil, but active and preserving.

3. If God is a wall of fire round about us, we do not want any other walls. God is everything that we need, and do not find anywhere else; and having Him, we do not want anything else. But the lives of most of us do not much look as if we believed that the only necessary thing was God, and that, having Him, we required nothing else. Let us cast all our self-confidences down, and rest ourselves on Him, and Him alone.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Zechariah was the prophet of the returning exiles, and his great work was to hearten them for their difficult task, with their small resources and their many foes, and to insist that the prime condition to success, on the part of that portion of the nation that had returned, was holiness. And that exuberant promise was spoken about the Jerusalem over which Christ wept when He foresaw its inevitable destruction. When the Romans had cast a torch into the Temple, and the streets of the city were running with blood, what had become of Zechariah's dream of a wall of fire round about her? Then, can the Divine fire be quenched? Yes. And who quenched it? Not the Romans, but the people that lived within that flaming rampart. "If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee."

I. "I WILL BE A WALL OF FIRE ROUND ABOUT HER." I need not dwell on the vividness and beauty of that metaphor. These encircling flames will consume all antagonism, and defy all approach. But let me remind you that the conditional promise was intended for Judea and Jerusalem, and was fulfilled in literal fact. So long as the city obeyed and trusted God it was impregnable, though all the nations stood round about it like dogs round a sheep. The fulfilment of the promise has passed over, with all the rest that characterised Israel's position, to the Christian Church, and today, in the midst of all the agitations of opinion and all the vauntings of men about an effete Christianity and dead churches, it is as true as ever it was that the living Church of God is eternal. If it had not been that there was a God as a wall of fire round about the Church it would have been wiped off the face of the earth long ago. If nothing else had killed it, the faults of its members would have done so. The continuance of the Church is a perpetual miracle, when you take into account the weakness and the errors and the follies and the stupidities and the narrownesses and the sins of the people who in any given day represent it. It does not become any Christian ever to have the smallest scintillation of a fear that the ship that bears Jesus Christ can fail to come to land, or can sink in the midst of the waters. But do not let us forget that this great promise does not belong only to the Church as a whole, but that we have each to bring it down to our own individual lives and to be quite sure of this, that in spite of all that sense says, in spite of all that quivering hearts and weeping eyes may seem to prove, there is a wall of fire round each of us, if we are keeping near Jesus Christ. Only, we have to interpret that promise by faith and not by sense, and we have to make it possible that it shall be fulfilled by keeping inside the wall, and trusting to it. As faith dwindles, the fiery wall burns dim, and evil can get across its embers, and can get at us.

II. A GLORY "IN THE MIDST" OF US. The one is external defence; the other inward illumination, with all that light symbolises — knowledge, joy, purity. There is even more than that meant by this great promise." For notice that emphatic little word "the" — the glory, not a glory — in the midst of her. Now, you all know what "the glory" was. It was that symbolic Light that spoke, of the special Presence of God, and went with the children of Israel m their wanderings, and sat between the cherubim. There was no "shekinah" —as it is technically called — in that second Temple. But yet the prophet says, "the glory" —the actual presence of God — "shall be in the midst of her," and the meaning of that great promise is taught us by the very last vision in the New Testament, in which the seer of the Apocalypse says, "the glory of the Lord did lighten it" (evidently quoting Zechariah), "and the Lamb is the light thereof." So the city is lit as by one central glow of radiance that flashes its beams into every corner, and therefore "there shall be no night there." Now, this promise, too, bears on churches and on individuals. On the Church as a whole it bears in this way — the only means by which a Christian community can fulfil its function, and be the light of the world, is by having the presence of God, in no metaphor, the actual presence of the illuminating Spirit in its midst. The same thing is true about individuals. For each of us the secret of joy, of purity, of knowledge is that we be holding close communion with God.

III. "JERUSALEM SHALL BE WITHOUT WALLS." It is to be like the defenceless villages scattered up and down over Israel. There is no need for bulwarks of stone. The wall of fire is round about. The more a Christian community is independent of external material supports and defences the better. Luther tolls us somewhere, in his parabolic way, of people that wept because there were no visible pillars to hold up the heavens, and were afraid that the sky would upon their heads. No, no, there is no fear of that happening, for an unseen hand holds them up. A Church that hides behind the fortifications of its grandfathers' erection has no room for expansion; and if it has no room for expansion it will not long continue as large as it is. It must either grow greater or grow, and deserve to grow, less. The same thing is true about ourselves individually. Zechariah's prophecy was never meant to prevent what he himself helped to further, the building of the actual walls of the actual city. And our dependence upon God is not to be so construed as that we are to waive our own common sense and our own effort. We have to build ourselves round, in this world, with other things than the "wall of fire," but in all our building we have to say, "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchers watch in vain." But yet neither Jerusalem nor the Church nor the earthly state of that believer who lives most fully the life of faith exhausts this promise. It waits for the day when the city shall descend, "like a bride adorned for her husband, having no need of the sun nor of the moon, for the glory...lightens it."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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