Zechariah 2:8
For this is what the LORD of Hosts says: "After His glory has sent me against the nations that have plundered you--for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye--
A Figure of Speech with a Gracious MeaningG. Brooks.Zechariah 2:8
The Church and Unjust CriticismF. B. Perry.Zechariah 2:8
The Divine Interest in His PeopleRalph Wardlaw, D. D.Zechariah 2:8
Soul-ExileHomilistZechariah 2:6-9
Soul-ExileD. Thomas Zechariah 2:6-9
The Exiles' ReturnW. Forsyth Zechariah 2:6-9
Return. This call implies -

I. KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR CONDITION. In the dark days we are apt to say, "Doth God know?" This is our weakness. The cries Of the poor, the needy, and the oppressed are ever heard on high.

II. CONTINUED INTEREST IN THEIR WELFARE. Israel, though scattered, was not forsaken. Affliction witnesses both as to our sin and God's mercy. If God did not care, he would let us go on in sin. But because he loves and pities us and yearns for our home coming, he ceases not to cry, "Return."

III. ADEQUATE MEANS PROVIDED FOR THEIR RESTORATION. God does not require the impossible. His commands are promises. The way is open. The exiles are free to come back. Welcome and peace are assured on the word of the Lord. But self-effort is needed. We must ourselves act.

IV. GRANDEST ENCOURAGEMENT TO OBEDIENCE. The best reasons to convince the judgment. The most powerful motives to sway the heart. God appeals:

1. To the sense of right. What should be the best and the noblest? "We needs must love the highest when we see it"'

2. The feeling of brotherhood. The old unity might be restored. The Jews looked back with pride to the days of David and Solomon. So of the Church.

3. Their consciousness of the real dignity of their being. They were precious in God's sight. Specially protected and dear "as the apple of his eye." Such thoughts fitted to raise our hearts, to inspire us with worthier ideas of our nature and destiny (1 John 3:1).

4. Their hope of better times. Obedience would bring blessedness. - F.

He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye
1. While we disown the reference of the former portion of the vision to Gospel times, and to the spiritual or New Testament Jerusalem, we are very far from disowning the applicability to the latter of what is said in the former. Whatever sayings are here respecting the extension, the security, and the glory of the literal Jerusalem are equally true of the spiritual and heavenly.

2. The people of God may now, as well as of old, and even more emphatically, appropriate the Divine assurance, "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye." He identifies Himself with His people, and His own interests with theirs. What a spring of consolation to believers in every hour of darkness!

3. We ought to be earnest in persuading God's people to "come forth," and "flee" from the mystical Babylon.

(Ralph Wardlaw, D. D.)

It is expressive of —

1. Intimate union.

2. High appreciation.

3. Earnest attention.

4. Intense sympathy.

5. Watchful care.

(G. Brooks.)

In a religious paper there appeared a symposium on "The Church and the Kingdom of God" — In it we are told that "one of the most dangerous of current heresies is the identification of the kingdom of God with the Church." "The kingdom of God can never embody itself in an institution." "I am reluctantly coming to believe that Christianity, as it is organised, is the most serious obstacle in the way of the realisation of the Christianity of Christ." Similar criticisms fill the air everywhere. These strictures must be met.

1. The first thing to be said in reply is, that although the kingdom of God is spiritual, nevertheless it and the external organisation which we call the Church are practically identical. There is very little of the real spirit of the kingdom outside of that institution. When men become imbued with the spirit of God's kingdom they are generally ready to go into the Church. The reason they stay outside is because they have not caught that spirit. Where are the much-talked-of philanthropies, charities, establishments, colleges, seminaries, asylums, homes, refuges, founded by men or societies outside of the Church of God? When sceptics and other devotees of the world give a thousandth part as much for the advancement of morality, and the elevation of mankind, as members of the Church give, then it will be time enough to lampoon the Church.

2. Spirit in this world needs body through which to work. Man is a spirit, but he can do nothing here without a body. It is so with God's kingdom; it is a spiritual kingdom, but it must be embodied in an institution for its propagation. When one becomes so spiritual that he wants soul to work without body, and God's kingdom to advance in the world without a temporal organisation, he is altogether too ethereal for this mundane sphere. He ought to take on his wings and go. What if Jesus does use the word "church" only twice? He founded the Church, and evidently instructed His disciples to rear it with scrupulous care. And if Churches are "in a struggle to keep themselves going," what of it? Would that prove they were utterly useless? That sort of talk will not help on God's kingdom. The work is slow, it is true; that is partly, at least, because it is a prodigious undertaking. To cleanse this planet from sin. What audacity for finite beings to attempt such an infinite enterprise! But the Church is accomplishing much when it merely exists in this world. But it really looks as if the Church was doing something more than simply existing. Who can measure the influence of the Church upon society, business, legislation? If politics is so bad with Christianity, what would it be without it? Who can measure the abysmal depths to which all Christian govern. ments and peoples would plunge without the upholding and preserving influence of the Church?

(F. B. Perry.)

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