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Dionysius: “After the Lord had, in the preceding chapter, manifoldly rebuked the Jewish people, He now comforts it with renewed promises, as a good physician, who after a bitter draught employs sweet and soothing remedies; as that most loving Samaritan poured in wine and oil.” The chapter falls into two portions, each marked by the words, The Word of the Lord of hosts came or came unto me, the first Zechariah 8:1-17 declaring the reversal of the former judgments, and the complete, though conditional, restoration of God’s favor; the 2nd Zechariah 8:18-23 containing the answer to the original question as to those fasts, in the declaration of the joy and the spread of the Gospel. The first portion has, again, a sevenfold, the second, a threefold subordinate division; marked by the beginning, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts.”
Thus saith the Lord of hosts - Jerome: “At each word and sentence, in which good things, for their greatness, almost incredible are promised, the prophet premises, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts,” as if he would say, Think not that what I pledge you are my own, and refuse me not credence as man. What I unfold are the promises of God.”
I was jealous - Literally, “I have been and am jealous for.” . He repeats in words slightly varied, but in the same rhythm, the declaration of tits tender love wherewith He opened the series of visions, thereby assuring beforehand that this was, like that, an answer of peace. The form of words shows, that this was a jealousy for, not with her; yet it was one and the same strong, yea infinite love, whereby God, as He says, “clave unto their fathers to love them and chose their seed after them out of all nations” Deuteronomy 10:15. His jealousy of their sins was part of that love, whereby, (Dionysius), “without disturbance of passion or of tranquillity, He inflicted rigorous punishment, as a man fearfully reproves a wife who sins.” They are two different forms of love according to two needs. Rup.: “The jealousy (Zelus) of God is good, to love people and hate the sins of people. Contrariwise the jealousy of the devil is evil, to hate people and love the sins of people.” Osorius: “Since God’s anger had its origin in the vehemence of His love (for this sort of jealousy arises from the greatness of love), there was hope that the anger might readily be appeased toward her.”
I am returned - Dionysius: “Without change in Myself, I am turned to that people from the effect of justice to the sweetness of mercy, “and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem,” in the temple and the people, indwelling the hearts of the good by charity and grace. Christ also, Very God and Very Man, visibly conversed and was seen in Zion.” Osorius: “When He says, ‘I am turned,’ He shows that she was turned too. He had said, “Turn unto Me and I will turn unto you;” otherwise she would not have been received into favor by Him. As the fruit of this conversion, He promises her His presence, the ornaments of truth, the hope of security, and adorns her with glorious titles.”
God had symbolized to Ezekiel the departure of His special presence, in that the “glory of the God of Israel” which was over the temple, at “the very place where they placed the image of jealousy, “went up from the Cherub” Ezekiel 8:4-5, whereupon it was, “to the threshold of the house” Ezekiel 9:3; then “stood over the Cherubim” Ezekiel 10:4, Ezekiel 10:18; and then “went up from the midst of the city and stood upon the mountain, which is on the east side of the city” Ezekiel 11:23, so removing from them. He had prophesied its return in the vision of the symbolic temple, how “the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate looking toward the East, and the Spirit took me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house” Ezekiel 43:4. This renewed dwelling in the midst of them, Zechariah too prophesies, in the same terms as in his third vision, “I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem” (Zec 2:1-13 :14, Hebrew (Zechariah 2:10 in English)).
And Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth - , being what she is called, since God would not call her untruly; so Isaiah says, “afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city” Isaiah 1:26, and they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel” . So Zephaniah had prophesied, “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies” Zephaniah 3:13. Truth embraces everything opposite to untruth; faithfulness, as opposed to faithlessness; sincerity, as opposed to simulation; veracity, as opposed to falsehood; honesty, as opposed to untruth in act; truth of religion or faith, as opposed to untrue doctrine. Dionysius: “It shall be called the city of truth, that is, of the True God or of truth of life, doctrine, and justice. It is chiefly verified by the Coming of Christ, who often preached in Jerusalem, in whom the city afterward believed.”
And the mountain of the Lord of hosts - Mount Zion, on which the temple shall be built, shall be called and be “the mountain of holiness.” This had been the favorite title of the Psalmists , and Isaiah (Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 65:11, Isaiah 65:25; Isaiah 66:20; also in Joel 2:1; Joel 3:17; Obadiah 1:16; Zephaniah 3:11; Daniel 9:16, Daniel 9:20); and Obadiah had foretold, “upon Mount Zion there shall be holiness” Obadiah 1:17; and Jeremiah, “As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord shall bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness” Jeremiah 31:23. It should be called and be; it should fulfill the destination of its titles; as, in the Apostles’ Creed we profess our belief of “the holy Catholic Church,” and holiness is one of its characteristics.
There shall yet dwell old men and old women - Dionysius: “Men and women shall not be slain now, as before in the time of the Babylonish destruction, but shall fulfill their natural course.” It shall not be, as when “He gave His people over unto the sword; the fire consumed their young men and their maidens were not given to marriage; the priests were slain by the sword and their widows made no lamentation” Psalms 78:63-64; apart from the horrible atrocities of pagan war, when the unborn children were destroyed in their mothers’ womb 2 Kings 15:16; Hosea 13:16; Amos 1:13, with their mothers. Yet (as in Zechariah 1:17), once more as in the days of old, and as conditionally promised in the law Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:16, Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 11:9; Deuteronomy 17:20; Deuteronomy 22:7; Deuteronomy 32:47; Ezekiel 20:17. As death is the punishment of sin, so prolongation of life to the time which God has now made its natural term, seems the more a token of His goodness. This promise Isaiah had renewed, “There shall no more be an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days” Isaiah 65:20. In those fierce wars neither young nor very old were spared. It implied then a long peace, that people should live to that utmost verge of human life.
The man, whose staff is in his hand for the multitude of days - The two opposite pictures, the old men, Dionysius), “so aged that they support with a staff their failing and trembling limbs,” and the young in the glad buoyancy of recent life, fresh from their Creator’s hands, attest alike the goodness of the Creator, who protecteth both, the children in their yet undeveloped strength, the very old whom He hath brought through “all the changes and chances of this mortal life,” in their yet sustained weakness. The tottering limbs of the very old, and the elastic perpetual motion of childhood are like far distant chords of the diapason of the Creator’s love. It must have been one of the most piteous sights in that first imminent destruction of Jerusalem Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:21, how “the children and the sucklings swooned in the streets of the city; how the young children fainted for hunger in the top of every street” Lamentations 2:11, Lamentations 2:19.
We have but to picture to ourselves any city in which one lives, the ground strewn with these little all-but corpses, alive only to suffer. We know not, how great the relief of the yet innocent, almost indomitable joyousness of children is, until we miss them. In the dreadful Irish famine of 1847 the absence of the children from the streets of Galway was told me by Religious as one of its dreariest features . In the dreary back-streets and alleys of London, the irrepressible joyousness of children is one of the bright sun-beams of that great Babylon, amid the oppressiveness of the anxious, hard, luxurious; thoughtless, careworn, eager, sensual, worldly, frivolous, vain, stolid, sottish, cunning, faces, which traverse it. God sanctions by His word here our joy in the joyousness of children, that He too taketh pleasure in it, He the Father of all. It is precisely their laughing, the fullness of her streets of these merry creations of His hands, that He speaks of with complacency.
If it should be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those - (not these) days, shall it be marvelous in Mine eyes also? saith the Lord of hosts Man’s anticipations, by reason of his imperfections and the chequered character of earthly things, are always disappointing. God’s doings, by reason of His infinite greatness and goodness, are always beyond our anticipations, past all belief. It is their very greatness which staggers us. It is not then merely that the temporal promises seemed “too good to be true” (in our words) (Jerome), “in the eyes of the people who had come from the captivity, seeing that the city almost desolate, the ruins of the city-walls, the charred houses showed the doings of the Babylonians.” It is in the day of the fulfillment, not of the anticipation, that they would seem marvelous in their eyes, as the Psalmist says, “This is the Lord’s doing: and it is marvelous in our eyes” .
The temporal blessings which God would give were not so incredible. They were but the ordinary gifts of His Providence: they involved no change in their outward relations. His people were still to remain under their Persian masters, until their time too should come. It was matter of gladness and of God’s Providence, that the walls of Jerusalem should be rebuilt: but not so marvelous, when it came to pass. The mysteries of the Gospel are a marvel even to the blessed angels. That fulfillment being yet future, so the people, in whose eyes that fulfillment should be marvelous, were future also. And this was to be a remnant still. It does not say, “this people which is a remnant,” nor “this remnant of the people,” that is, those who remained over out of the people who went into captivity, or this remnant, but “the remnant of this people,” that is, those who should remain over of it, that is, of the people who were returned. It is the remnant of the larger whole, this people (see at Amos 1:8, vol. i. p. 247, n. 28, and on Haggai 1:12, p. 305). It is still “the remnant according to the election of grace;” that election which obtained what all Israel sought, but, seeking wrongly, were blinded Romans 11:5-7.
Shall it be marvelous in Mine eyes also? - It is an indirect question in the way of exclamation . “It be marvelous in Mine eyes also,” rejecting the thought, as alien from the nature of God, to whom “all things are possible, yea, what with men is impossible” Matthew 19:26. As God says to Jeremiah, “Behold, I am, the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27. “For with God nothing shall be impossible” Luke 1:37. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” Luke 18:27. “For with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27 Cyril: “For He is the Lord of all powers, fulfilling by His will what exceedingly surpasseth nature, and efecting at once what seemeth Him good. The mystery of the Incarnation passeth all marvel and discourse, and no less the benefits redounding to us. For how is it not next to incredible, that the Word, Begotten of God, should be united with the flesh and be in the form of a servant, and endure the Cross and the insults and outrages of the Jews? Or how should one not admire above measure the issue of the dispensation, whereby sin was destroyed, death abolished, corruption expelled, and man, once a recreant slave, became resplendent with the grace of an adopted son?”
I will save My people from the East country and from the West country - Dionysius: “that is, the whole world; for Israel had been scattered in every part of the world.” God had said to Israel, “I will bring thy seed from the east and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back” Isaiah 43:5-6. The two tribes had been carried to Babylon and had been dispersed, or had been allowed to migrate to the various provinces of the Babylonian or Persian empire. But these were in the East, though commonly called the north, because they invaded Israel from the north. Those who had migrated to Egypt were in the south. As yet none were in the West. The dispersion, as well as the gathering, was still future. When our Lord came, they had migrated westward. Greece, Italy, Asia minor, were full of them; and from all they were gathered. All Paul’s Epistles written to named Churches, were written to Churches formed from converts in the West. In all these countries God would gather His one people, His Church, not of “the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” Romans 9:24, grafted into them, as our Lord said, “I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom (the unbelieving Jews, who were not the remnant) shall be cast out into outer darkness” Matthew 8:11-12.
They shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem - Not the literal Jerusalem; for this would not contain the Jews from all quarters of the world, whom, as they multiplied, the whole land could not contain; but the promised Jerusalem, the Jerusalem, which “should be inhabited as towns without walls,” to which the Lord should be a wall of fire round about.
And they shall be My people - He promises this as to those who were already His people; “I will save My people - and will bring them, and they shall dwell - and they shall be My people.” And this they were to be in a new way, by conversion of heart, as Jeremiah says, “I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the Lord, and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7; add Jeremiah 30:22), and, “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and will write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people” Jeremiah 31:33.
Osorius: “The circuit of one city will not contain so great a multitude. But one confession of faith, one conspiration of sanctity, one communion of religion and righteousness, can easily enfold all born of the holy fathers, united to them in faith and piety. And God is specially called the God of all these. For He specially consults for these, loads them with benefits, fences them in with most strong protection, illumines them with His light, crowns them, when confirmed in the image of His beauty, with glory immortal and divine.”
In truth and in righteousness - This too is on account of their former relation to God. Isaiah had upbraided them for a worship of God, “not in truth and righteousness” Isaiah 48:1. Jeremiah had said, “Thou shalt swear, the Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness” Jeremiah 4:2. God should be their God in truth and righteousness; Ribera: “truth in fulfilling His promises; righteousness in rewarding every man according to his works.”
Let your hands be strong - The fulfillment of God’s former promises are the earnest of the future; His former providences, of those to come. Having then those great promises for the time to come, they were to be earnest in whatever meantime God gave them to do. He speaks to them, “as hearing in these days,” that is, that fourth year of Darius in which they apparently were, “these words from the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day when the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, the temple, that it might be built.” Haggai was now gone to his rest. His voice had been silent for two years. But his words lived on. The fulfillment of what the prophets had then spoken in God’s Name, was a ground, why their hands should be strong, now and thereafter, for every work which God gave or should give them to do. Ribera: “Some things are said to Jerusalem, that is, to the Jews, which belong to them only; some relate to what is common to them and the other members of the Church, that is, these who are called from the Gentiles. Now he speaks to the Jews, but not so as to seem to forget what he had said before. He would say, Ye who hear the words, which in those days when the temple was founded, Haggai and Zechariah spake, be strong and proceed to the work which ye began of fulfilling the will of the Lord in the building of the temple, and in keeping from the sins, in which ye were before entangled. For as, before ye began to build the temple, ye were afflicted with many calamities, but after ye had begun, all things went well with you, as Haggai said, “so, if you cultivate piety and do not depart from God, ye shall enjoy great abundance of spiritual good” Haggai 2:15-19. Osorius: “The memory of past calamity made the then tranquillity much sweeter, and stirred the mind to greater thanksgiving. He set forth then the grief of those times when he says;”
There was no hire for man - Literally, “hire for man came not to pass.” It was longed for, waited for and came not. So little was the produce, that neither laborer nor beast of burden were employed to gather it in.
Neither was there peace to him who went out or came in because of the affliction, better, of the adversary - In such an empire as the Persian, there was large scope for actual hostility among the petty nations subject to it, so that they did not threaten revolt against itself, or interfere with the payment of tribute, as in the Turkish Empire now, or in the weak government of Greece. At the rebuilding of the walls, after this time, the Samaritans, “Arabians, Ammonites, Ashdodites conspired to fight against Jerusalem,” and to “slay them” Nehemiah 4:7-11. They are summed up here in the general title used here, “our adversaries”.
For I set - Literally, “and I set.” Domestic confusions and strife were added to hostility from without. Nehemiah’s reformation was, in part, to stop the grinding usury in time of dearth or to lear the king’s taxes, through which men sold lands, vineyards, even their children Nehemiah 5:1-12.
(literally) let them loose, each against his neighbor - in that He left them to their own ways and did not withhold them.
And now - The words imply a contrast of God’s dealings, rather than a contrast of time. “I am not to the remnant of this people.” He had said, “I will be to them God;” so now He does not say that He will not do to them, “as in former days,” but “I am not to the remnant” of this people as heretofore. He would be, as tie was in Jesus, in a new relation to them.
For the seed shall be peace - o“Your seed shall be peace and a blessing, so that they will call it ‘a seed of peace.’” The unusual construction is perhaps adopted, in order to suggest a further meaning. It is a reversal of the condition, just spoken of, when there was “no peace to him that went, or to him that returned.”
The vine shall give her fruit and the ground shall give her increase - The old promise in the law on obedience Leviticus 26:4, as the exact contrary was threatened on disobedience Leviticus 26:20. It had been revived in the midst of promise of spiritual blessing and of the coming of Christ, in Ezekiel Ezekiel 34:27. Ribera: “By the metaphor of sensible things he explains (as the prophets often do) the abundance of spiritual good in the time of the new law, as did Hosea Hosea 2:21-22, Joel Joel 2:23-25; Joel 3:18, Amos Amos 9:13, and many others.” “And I will cause the remnant of the people to inherit.” Ribera: “As if he said, I promised these things not to you who live now, but to the future remnant of your people, that is, those who shall believe in Christ and shall be saved, while the rest perish. These shall possess these spiritual goods, which I promise now, under the image of temporal.” As our Lord said, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son” Revelation 21:7.
As ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you - The ten tribes bore the name of Israel, in contrast with the two tribes with the name of Judah, not only in the history but in the prophets; as Hosea says, “I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, and on the house of Judah I will have mercy” Hosea 1:6-7. Here he unites both; both, in the time of their captivity, were a curse, were held to be a thing accursed, as it is said, “He that is hanged is the curse of God” Deuteronomy 21:23, that is, a thing accursed by Him; and God foretold of Judah, that they should be “a desolation and a curse” 2 Kings 22:10, and by Jeremiah, “I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for hurt, a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places whither I shall drive them” ; and in deed, when it was so, “therefore is your land a desolation and an astonishment and a curse without an inhabitant, as at this day” Jeremiah 44:22.
Now the sentence was to be reversed as to both. “As ye were a curse, among the nations, naming each, so I will save you.” There would have been no proportion between the curse and the blessing, unless both had been included under the blessing, as they were under the curse. But Israel had no share in the temporal blessing, not returning from captivity, as Zechariah knew they were not returned hitherto. Therefore the blessings promised must be spiritual. Even a Jewish commentator saw this. “It is possible, that this may have been spoken of the second temple, on condition that they should keep the commandments of the Lord; or, it is still future, referring to the days of the Messiah: and this is proved by the following verse which says, ‘O house of Judah and house of Israel.’ During the second temple the house of Israel did not return.”
And ye shall be a blessing - This is a revival and an application of the original promise to Abraham, “thou shalt be a blessing” Genesis 12:2; which was continued to Jacob, “God give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee” Genesis 28:4. And of the future king, of whom it is said, “Thou gavest him length of days forever and ever,” David says, “Thou hast made him blessings forever” Psalms 21:4, Psalms 21:6, and again, “They shall be blessed in Him” Psalms 72:17). So Isaiah had said of the days of Christ, “In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land;” Isaiah 19:24; and symbolically of the cluster of grapes, “Destroy it not: for a blessing is in it” Isaiah 65:8; and Ezekiel, “I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing” Ezekiel 34:26. They were this; for of them, “according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” Romans 9:5; of them were the Apostles and Evangelists, of them every writer of God’s word, of them those who carried the Gospel throughout the world. Osorius: “Was this fulfilled, when the Jews were under the Persians? or when they paid tribute to the Greeks? or when they trembled, hour by hour, at the mention of the Roman name? Do not all count those who rule much happier than those oppressed by the rule of others? The prediction then was fulfilled, not then, but when Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone on the earth, and He chose from the Hebrews lights, through whom to dissipate darkness and illumine the minds of people who were in that darkness. The Jews, when restored from the captivity, seemed born to slavery.” They were reputed to be of slaves the most despised. “But when they had through Christ been put in possession of that most sure liberty, they overthrew, through their empire, the power and tyranny of the evil spirits.”
As I thought to punish you - (Literally, to do evil to you) “and repented not.” In like way God says in Jeremiah, “I have purposed and will not repent.” Jeremiah 4:28.
So have I turned and purposed in these days to do well unto Jerusalem - Dionysius: “God, to be better understood, speaketh with the feelings and after the manner of men, although, in the passionless and unchangeable God, there is no provocation to anger, nor turning, implying change in Himself.” So He says by Jeremiah, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil” Jeremiah 29:11. And, with the same contrast as here, “As I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to throw down, and to destroy and to afflict, so will I watch over them, to build and to plant, saith the Lord” Jeremiah 31:28. His having done what He purposed before was an earnest the more, that He would do what He purposed now. His chastisements were the earnests of His mercies; for they too were an austere form of His love. Osorius: “When the Lord stretches out His hand to strike those who are contumacious in guilt, none can hold His hand that He exact not the due punishment. Therefore He says, that He repented not; so, when He receives to grace those who repent of their sins, no one can any way delay the course of His benevolence. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” Romans 11:29.
And to the house of Judah - Ribera: He speaks to the two tribes, not to, or of the ten, because Christ was to come to the two tribes, and Zechariah was prophesying to them, and they were to be admonished to prepare themselves in good works, lest the coming of Christ should not profit them, on account of their depraved ways. But the ten tribes were far off in the cities of the Medes, nor was Christ to come to them; but they were to hear the Gospel through the Apostles, and so he prophesies of the conversion of all to the glory of Christ, yet he could not admonish all, but those only to whom he was sent.
These are the things that ye shall do - He exhorts them to the same duties, to which the former prophets had exhorted their fathers, Zechariah 7:9-10, and, as before, first positively to truth and peace; then to avoid everything contrary to it. “Judgment of peace” must be judgment which issues in peace, as all righteous judgment righteously received, in which case each party acquiesces, must. Kimchi: “If ye judge righteousness, there will be peace between the litigants, according to that proverb, Sanhedr. f. 7. a. quoted by Me. Caul, p. 78), ‘He that hath his coat taken from him by the tribunal, let him sing and go his way’ (“because,” says a gloss (Rashi, quoted Ibid.), “they have judged the judgment of truth, and have taken away that which would have been stolen property, if he retained it,” being in fact not his). And they have quoted that, “And all this people shall go to their place in peace” Exodus 18:23. : “All this people,” even he that is condemned in judgment. It is also interpreted of arbitration. What sort of judgment is that, in which there is peace? It is that of arbitration.”
For all these things do I hate - Literally, emphatic, “For they are all these things which I hate.” This is the sum of what I hate; for they comprise in brief the breaches of the two tables, the love of God and of man.
The fast of the fourth month - On the ninth day “of the fourth month” of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, Jerusalem, in the extremity of famine, opened to Nebuchadnezzar, and his princes sat in her gate; in the “tenth month” of his ninth year Nebuchadnezzar began the siege. Ezekiel was bidden “on its tenth day; write thee the name of the day, of this same day,” Ezekiel 24:1-2, as the beginning of God’s uttermost judgments against “the bloody city” . The days of national sorrow were to be turned late exuberant joy, “joy and gladness and cheerful feasts” Esther 8:17; Esther 9:19, Esther 9:22; Ecclesiastes 7:14, for the sorrows, which they commemorated, were but the harbingers of joy, when the chastisements were ended; only He adds, love the truth and peace; for such love whereby they would be Israelites indeed, in whose spirits is no guile, were the conditions of their participating the blessings of the Gospel, of which he goes on to speak;
It shall yet be that - The promises are those which God had already made by Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2 ff) and Micah (Micah 4:1 ff). Yet where was the show of their fulfillment? The Jews themselves, a handful: the temple unfinished; its completion depending, in human sight, upon the will of their pagan masters, the rival worship at Samaria standing and inviting to coalition. Appearances and experience were against it. God says virtually, that it was, in human sight, contrary to all expectations. But “weakness is aye Heaven’s might.” Despite of all, of the fewness of those who were returned, their downheartedness, broken condition, hopelessness, though all had hitherto failed, though, or rather because, all human energy and strength were gone, as God had said before, “The Lord shall yet (Zechariah 1:17; Zec 2:1-13 :16 (12 English)) choose Jerusalem,” so now, It shall “yet” be “that.”
Nations and many cities shall come - He describes vividly the eagerness and mutual impulse, with which not only many but mighty nations should throng to the Gospel, and every fresh conversion should win others also, until the great tide should sweep through the world.
The inhabitants of one city shall go to another - It is one unresting extension of the fairly, the restlessness of faith and love. Osorius: “They shall not be satisfied with their own salvation, careless about the salvation of others; they shall employ all labor and industry, with wondrous love, to provide for the salvation of others as if it were their own.” It is a marvelous stirring of minds. Missionary efforts, so familiar with us as to be a household word, were unknown then. The time was not yet come. “Before the faith” in Christ came, the Jewish people were not to be the converters of mankind. They were to await for Him, the Redeemer of the world, through whom and to whom they were to be first converted, and then the world through those who were of them. This mutual conversion was absolutely unknown. The prophet (see below on Zechariah 9:12) predicts certainly that it would be, and in God’s time it was. “From you,” Paul writes to a small colony in Greece, “sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad” 1 Thessalonians 1:8. “Your faith” Romans 1:8, he writes to the pagan capital of the world, “is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Within eighty years after our Lord’s Ascension, the Roman governor of Bithynia reported, on occasion of the then persecution, that it spread as a contagion. Pliny ad. Trajan Eph. x. 97: “The contagion of that superstition traversed not cities only but villages and scattered houses too.” Before the persecution, the temples had been desolated, the solemn rites long intermitted, the sacrificed animals had very rarely found a purchaser. An impostor of the same date says, , Pontus is full of atheists and Christians.” “There is no one race of people,” it was said before the middle of the second century , “whether Barbarians or Greeks or by whatsoever name called, whether of those wandering houseless tribes who live in wagons or those pastoral people who dwell in tents, in which there are not prayers and Eucharists to the Father and Creator of all things, through the name of the crucified Jesus.” “The word of our teacher,” said another, , “abode not in Judaea alone, as philosophy in Greece; but was poured out throughout the whole world, persuading Greeks and barbarians in their several nations and villages and every city, whole houses and each hearer individually, and having brought over to the truth no few even of the very philosophers. And if any ordinary magistrate forbid the Greek philosophy, immediately it vanishes; but our teaching, immediately at its first announcement, kings and emperors and subordinate rulers and governors with all their mercenaries and countless multitudes forbid, and war against us and try to extirpate; but it the rather flourishes.”
The second century had not closed, before another said, , “We are a people of yesterday, and yet we have filled every place belonging to you, cities, islands, castles, towns, assemblies, your very camp, your tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum! We leave you your temples only. We can count your armies; our numbers in a single province will be greater.” “People cry out that the state is beset; that the Christians are in their fields, in their forts, in their islands. They mourn, as for a loss, that every sex, age, condition, and now even rank is going over to this sect.” : “On whom besides have all nations believed, except on Christ who hath already come?” Then having enumerated the nations mentioned in the Acts Acts 2:9-11, he adds, “And now the varieties of the Getulians, and the many tracts of the Moors, all the bounds of the Spains, and the divers nations of the Gauls, and places of the Britons, unreached by the Romans but subdued to Christ; of Sarmatians, Dacians, Germans, and Scythians, and of many remote nations, and many provinces and islands, unknown to us, and which we can scarce enumerate. In all which places the name of Christ, who hath already come, reigneth, seeing that before Him the gates of all cities are opened and none are shut against Him, before whom “the bars of iron are broken in pieces and the gates of brass are opened” Isaiah 45:2.
In all these places dwelleth a people called by the name of Christ. For who could reign over all, save Christ the Son of God, who was foretold as about to reign over all nations forever?” Then having contrasted the limited rule of Solomon, Darius, the Pharaohs, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, “the Romans who protect their own empire by the strength of their legions and are unable to extend the might of their kingdom beyond these nations (Germans, Britons, Moors, Getulians), he sums up, “but the kingdom and the Name of Christ is extended everywhere, is believed in everywhere, is worshiped by all the nations above enumerated. Everywhere He reigns, everywhere is adored, is given everywhere equally to all. With Him no king hath greater favor; no Barbarian inferior joy; no dignities or birth enhance the merit of any; to all He is equal; to all, King; to all Judge; to all, God and Lord.” A little later, a pagan owns, while calumniating, , “Those most foul rites of that impious coalition are growing throughout the whole world, as bad things come up most luxuriantly, evil ways creeping on daily.” The Christian answers . “That our number increases daily, this is no imputation of error, but a testimony to praise. For in a good mode of life, its own persevere, aliens accrue to it.”
Let us go on and on - Perseveringly, until we attain “to entreat the face of the Lord.” It is not a Theism or Monotheism, but the God, who had revealed Himself to Israel, who, when our Lord came, was worshiped in Jerusalem, to which those invited say, “I too would go with thee.” Yet not so, but the words seem to speak of that which is a special gift of the Gospel, continued progress, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us go on and on” Philippians 3:13-14; whence it is a Christian proverb, , “not to go on is to go back.” : “The whole life of a good Christian is a holy longing to make progress.” “The one perfection of man is, to have found that he is not perfect.” : “If thou sayest, It sufficeth, thou art lost.” : “To be unwilling to increase, is to decrease.”
Ten men of all languages of the nations - Ten is the symbol of a whole, all the numbers before it meeting in it and starting again from it. The day of Pentecost was to be the reversal of the confusion of Babel; all were to have one voice, as God had said, “It (the time) shall come to gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see My glory” Isaiah 66:18.
They shall lay hold of the skirt of one man who is a Jew - Jerome: “That is, of the Lord and Saviour, of whom it is said, “A prince shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until He shall come, for whom it is laid up, and for Him shall the Gentiles wait” Genesis 49:8-10; for “there shall be a rod of Jesse, and He who shall arise to rule over the Gentiles, to Him shall the Gentiles seek” Isaiah 11:10. And when they shall lay hold of Him, they shall desire to tread in His steps, since God is with Him. Or else, whosoever shall believe out of all nations, shall lay hold of a man who is a Jew, the Apostles who are from the Jews, and shall say, Let us go with you; for we have known through the prophets and from the voice of all the Scriptures, that the Son of God, Christ, God and Lord, is with you. Where there is a most manifest prophecy, and the coming of Christ and His Apostles and the faith of all nations is preached, let us seek for nothing more.”
Cyril: “Christ turning our sorrow into joy and a feast and good days and gladness, and transferring lamentation into cheerfulness, the accession to the faith and union to God by sanctification in those called to salvation shall not henceforth be individually; but the cities shall exhort each other thereto, and all nations shall come in multitudes, the later ever calling out to those before them, “I too will go.” For it is written, “iron sharpeneth iron, so doth a man the countenence of another” Proverbs 27:17. For the zeal of some is ever found to call forth others to fulfill what is good. But what is the aim proposed to the cities, that is, the Gentiles? “To entreat and to seek the face of the Lord,” that is, Christ, who is the exact image of God the Father, and, as is written, “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person” Hebrews 1:3, of whom also the divine David saith, “Shew Thy countenance to Thy servant” Psalms 119:135.
For the Image and Countenance of God the Father hath shone upon us. Having Him propitious and kind, we lay aside the injury from sin, being justified through faith, “not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His great mercy” Titus 3:5. But how they shall come, he explains. By the ten men you are to understand time perfect number of those who come. For the number ten is the symbol of perfection. But that those of the Gentiles, who cleave to the holy Apostles, took in hand to go the same way with them, being justified by the faith in Christ, he sets evidently before us. For little children, if they would follow their fathers, lay hold of the hem of their dress, and, aided by the touch and hanging from their dress, walk steadily and safely. In like way, they too who “worshiped the creature rather than the Creator” Romans 1:25, choosing as their true fathers the bringers-in of the Gospel-doctrines, and joining themselves by like-mindedness to them, follow them, being still of childlike minds, and go the same way, ever showing themselves zealous followers of their life, and by continued progress advancing “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:13.
But why do they follow them? Being persuaded that God is with them, that is, Emmanuel, God with us. But that this calling belongs not only to those of the blood of Israel but to all nations throughout the world, he indicated by saying, that those who laid hold of that hem should be of all languages. But when were the nations called to the knowledge of the truth, and when did they desire to seek the face of the Lord and to entreat it, and to go the same way, as it were, as the holy Apostles, except when the Only-Begotten came to us, who is “the expectations of the nations” Genesis 49:10; to whom also the divine David singeth, “All the naions, whom Thou hast made, shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord?” Psalms 86:9. For the multitude of the nations also is saved through Him.”
The startling condescension of this passage is, that our Lord is spoken of as “a man, a Jew.” Yet of His human Nature it is not only the simple truth, but essential to the truth. Pilate said to Him in scorn, “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me” John 18:35. But it was essential to the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Christ was to be “the Son of David” Matthew 1:1; Matthew 22:42. “Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the linen of Bethlehem, where David was?” John 7:42. David, “being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne Acts 2:30; “Of this man’s seed hath God, according to promise, raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus” Acts 13:23. Whence Paul begins his great doctrinal Epistle with this contrast, “the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power” Romans 1:1-4. He was that “one Man among a thousand, whom Solomon says, I found; but a woman among all those have I not found” Ecclesiastes 7:28; the one in the whole human race. It was fulfilled in the very letter when “they brought to Him all that were diseased, and besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole” Matthew 14:35-36. “The whole multitude sought to touch Him, for there went virtue out of Him and healed all” (Luke 6:19, add Luke 8:46; Mark 5:30).
Even the Jews saw the reference to the Messiah. : “All nations shall come, falling on their faces before the Messiah and the Israelites, saying, Grant, that we may be Thy servants and of Israel. For as relates to the doctrine and the knowledge of the law, the Gentiles shall be their servants, according to that, “In those days ten men etc.””
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Zechariah 8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34