Blessing Assured in God's Time
Following the prophecy of the certainty of God's future blessing for Israel, based on the perfect goodness and beauty of the Messiah, how good it is to see Israel encouraged to pray. They are to do so, however, as recognizing God's own time. Faith does this, for it depends on the certainty of the Word of God. This blessing for Israel is to be "at the time of the latter rain." The early rain was in October and November, and the latter rain in March and April. Spiritually, there has been an early rain for Israel when the Lord Jesus came in lowly grace to suffer and die on Calvary. But Israel was not even grateful for this and took no advantage of it. Since then she has been passing through the winter of cold unbelief toward her Messiah, and the intensity of that winter will culminate in the great tribulation. But the springtime, "the time of the singing of birds," will follow this long distress, and the godly in Israel will be awakened to pray earnestly for the latter rain. It will come whether they all pray for it or not, but God desires His people to be in tune with His thoughts of grace.
The thunderstorms of heavy rain will make the earth bring forth richly for Israel. This will no doubt be literal for the sake of the land, but its spiritual significance is more precious still, in the nation being refreshed and blessed in true spiritual prosperity.
Verse 2 shows that Israel had special reason to appeal to God in prayer, for they had been deluded by idols (or teraphim) by which idolaters sought supernatural help, and by diviners- those in contact with evil spirits, claiming supernatural powers. They had comforted in vain, making people feel comfortable when they were headed for greater trouble. The result was the people were wandering like sheep without a shepherd, and found themselves in trouble. There was really no shepherd at all, though there were those who took that outward place. Against these, the anger of the Lord was kindled (v. 3), for they were false shepherds, responsible to care for the people, but oppressing them instead. Also, he speaks of punishing the "he-goats." Because goats are more able to lead than are sheep, sheep often will follow a goat. Goats are typical of unbelievers (Matthew 25:31-46), and it has often happened that believers will follow an unbeliever who has an impressive title and ability to speak, but leads them in the wrong direction.
The Lord of hosts will visit His flock, to take His rightful place as Shepherd over the house of Judah and will make His flock "as His royal horse in the battle." A royal horse is far different than a sheep. But when the time of judgment comes, the sheep will be given by God the dignity and courage of a warhorse to go boldly into the battle against the evils that had formerly oppressed them.
"From Him comes the cornerstone." From the true Shepherd of Israel the cornerstone will be manifested. This is a prophecy concerning the Lord Himself. He is the cornerstone of God's edifice. Isaiah 28:16 speaks of Him as "a precious cornerstone," and 1 Peter 2:6 confirms this One as being the Lord Jesus. He is also spoken of as the foundation, that upon which the entire building stands. The cornerstone is the reference point for the whole building: all receives its character from Him. It speaks of that which is stable, providing lasting blessing for Israel in contrast to the instability of their condition described in verse 2.
From Him "the nail" or peg also will come. This is another designation of the Messiah. He is as "a peg in a secure place" (Isaiah 22:23). "The nail" (KJV) is a hanger for clothes or other articles. He will bear up all the glory that no one else can bear, a weight of glory far beyond mere human strength. Also, "the battle bow" comes from God, this being another symbol of the Lord Jesus. He will accomplish victories just as the bow releases the arrows to effectively defeat the power of the enemy. His arrows will always find their mark. These features of His character are vitally connected to the establishing of blessing for Israel in the Millennium.
The last thing added here includes others beside the Messiah: "From Him every ruler together." He will appoint those whom He chooses to exercise administrative authority over revived Israel. The word together involves the unity of such rulers in subjection to the Lord. He will make them "as mighty men" (v. 5), giving them power to "tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets," in contrast to their often having been trodden down themselves in the past. This looks on to the end of the tribulation, following the time when the Lord Jesus suddenly appears on the Mount of Olives and Israel is broken down in true repentance and faith to receive their once-rejected Messiah. Then "Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14:14) under the leadership of the Lord Jesus, "because the Lord is with them." The joy of the Lord's presence with them will give them unusual courage and strength, so their enemies, though riding on imposing war horses, will be put to shame.
"I will strengthen the house of Judah" (v. 6). Though Judah will be weakened to the point of despairing of recovery, the strength of the Lord will change this completely. The house of Joseph also is mentioned here. The Lord will save them. In verses 6-12 we have the one direct reference to the ten tribes in Zechariah. They are first spoken of as Joseph, then as Ephraim who was the son of Joseph and took the place of representing the ten tribes who are sometimes called Ephraim, sometimes Joseph and often Israel.
Though Zechariah deals most extensively with Jerusalem and Judah, yet he uses this one occasion to tell us that the ten tribes also will yet share in the great blessing of the millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus. He will save them and bring them again from their state of obscurity back to the land. Judah is reminded that, though they have despised the other tribes because of their defection during the reign of Rehoboam, God will have mercy on these tribes and they shall be as though God had not cast them off. Wonderful is the grace of God that can reverse the painful inflictions of His governmental judgments when those judgments have accomplished their purpose. He can do this because He is "the Lord their God," and will hear them. They have been "lost" or "hidden" for centuries. But He knows where they are, and will bring them figuratively from their graves.
"Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man" (v. 7), just as is said of Judah in verse 5. This is a wonderful change that will bring such rejoicing as through wine. The difference is that wine will cheer a person only for a short time, but the joy of Ephraim will be lasting and full. Their children also will be interested observers, and will be glad, for this will be a dramatic change from a life that held no prospect of prosperity and blessing. They will rejoice, not only in their circumstances, but "in the Lord." The knowledge of the Lord Jesus Himself will make all the difference.
"I will whistle for them and gather them" (v. 8). The word for whistle refers to a shrill-noted pipe used by shepherds to gather the sheep. Israel will thus respond to the authoritative call of the Lord Jesus in that day and will return to Him. He adds, "for I will redeem them." This is prophetic language. Though the nation has been terribly decimated and depleted in numbers, they will again be as numerous as in their brightest days.
"When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back" (v. 9). God was in perfect control of Israel's scattering and prophesied of it long before. The length of their scattering has been far greater than might have been imagined, and some have argued that it has been too long for Israel even to be recognized if they are regathered. But God's sovereign work is seen wonderfully in this. Jews have retained their national identity, though for centuries scattered among other nations. As to the ten tribes, God is just as able to bring them back as He is to bring those of Judah back to the land, as He has been doing in recent years. Wonderful is the grace of God, and His power is no less wonderful.
Verse 10 indicates that some have been dispersed in the land of Egypt, others throughout the Assyrian empire which embraced a large part of the Middle East. Egypt is to the south and Assyria to the north, contrary directions, so the ten tribes have been scattered in different areas, just as Judah was. God will bring them "into the land of Gilead and Lebanon." Judah did not inhabit those areas as did the other tribes. Gilead is east of Jerusalem and Lebanon north. Israel will take possession of what was theirs centuries ago. But even this will not provide room for them, a statement that brings to mind Isaiah 49:20, "The children you will have after you have lost the others, will say again in your ears, 'The place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell.'"
The answer to this protest as to the size of Israel's land in the past is found in one of God's earliest prophecies. He told Abram, "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates" (Genesis 15:16). These borders embrace a size much larger than Israel has ever yet possessed, but God has promised it to the nation.
"He shall pass through the sea with affliction, and strike the waves of the sea" (v. 11). The sea is a symbol of the Gentile nations (Revelation 17:15). The Lord Jesus will pass through all of these in His devastating judgment. The deeps of the river too, the sources of refreshment for those nations, will be dried up, leaving them desolated. Assyria and Egypt are specially mentioned as being brought low. The ten tribes will be strengthened in the Lord to "walk up and down in His name" (v. 12), no longer restrained by enemies, but in the freedom of having their own land, in willing submission to the Lord's authority.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Zechariah 10". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany