« PreviousContinue »
cumstance common to them all: they do not stop at the bare message, but, having delivered it, go on to declare “ the glory that should follow.” The purpose of God will have its completion, when his will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven; and the Holy Spirit, in dictating to the Prophet his peculiar message, so links it on to the chain of events which are accomplishing the final purpose of God, that no one part of revelation is insulated, or separated from the rest ; but the whole one uniform emanation from the mind of Him who hath declared the end from the beginning, whose hand none can stay, or say unto him, What doest thou?
The prophetic inquirer should always bear these things in mind, and distinguish carefully between that part of the prophecy which was immediately applicable, and that part of it which related to future times: and in this latter portion, again, distinguish that part which has been fulfilled since the time of the Prophet, from that part which yet remains to be accomplished. To separate these with certainty seems no easy task, since every one of the prophecies has portions which may be understood literally or spiritually; and a detached portion, therefore, may be considered as past or future,according as it is interpreted spiritually or literally. But let each prophecy be considered as a whole, and interpreted consistently, either spiritually throughout, or literally throughout, and scarcely any difficulty will remain : for it will be found, that all those prophecies which are most important in their bearing on the times yet future, have portions which cannot be understood otherwise than literally; and these are so connected, by their language and the order of events, with the other prophecies which are less clear, that he who follows a consistent mode of interpretation can scarcely fail in the end to understand them all. The difficulty and the mistakes arise from the perverse method of interpretation which is now so general-namely, passing from spiritual to literal, and from literal to spiritual, often in the very same verse,
any better reason than the interpreter's preconceived notions.
Among all the books of Prophecy, there is not one whose external claims upon our attention are stronger than those of the book of Zechariah. The time at which it was written, and the immediate object of these prophecies, are of a cheering and hopeful character; and being at the foundation of that very temple, in which it was purposed that the Redeemer should be manifested in flesh, Christian sympathy is attracted towards every thing connected with its lowly origin, in a much stronger degree than by all the glories of that of Solomon. This temple, apparently so weak in its beginnings, assailed by malicious foes, and rising with difficulty to such a condition as to withstand their attacks, is in perfect and tender keeping with the “Root out
of a dry ground,” “ the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” who “in the fulness of time” shewed himself there, and there laid the “sure foundation-stone” of that more glorious edifice, which shall “ in the last days be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." But though the external claims of Zechariah are thus strong, its internal are still stronger : for these prophecies, beginning in “the day of small things," uniformly pass on to the " latter-day glory.” They stop not at Jerusalem which then was, but call upon the Daughter of Zion to “sing and rejoice ; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” They not only treat of Christ the “ Servant,” but declare his coming vengeance on his foes, the final deliverance of his people, and his glorious manifestation as the Man whose name is “The Branch;" at once a King upon his throne and a Priest upon his throne; the Melchizedech, Prince of Peace, of whose government and peace there shall be no end. These things are most strikingly represented in that series of visions given in the first six chapters; to which, being complete in themselves, we shall confine our attention in the present paper ; they being, as it were, the text which is unfolded and applied in the remainder of the book.
The Prophets Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to encourage the people in building the second temple, and to point their faith to the final glories which would result from these humble beginnings. Solomon's temple was the object ever present to their thoughts. It was complete in all respects; not only in external splendour, but in all those indications of the Divine presence which constituted its chiefest glory,—the tabernacle, the sacred fire, the Shechinah. “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do you see it now? is it not in your eyes, in comparison of it, as nothing?" The visions of Zechariah correct this tendency of the people, and shew that the very things in which this temple was deficient were but types of those "heavenly things ” which would in reality be manifested herein, and constitute its true glory. Solomon's reign completed the long series of persons and acts which typified the person and kingdom of Messiah ; and Solomon's temple embodied in itself all the types and symbols of the church. In many of the most remarkable of these types the second temple was deficient—as, the tables of the Law, the ark and mercy-seat, the pot of manna, Aaron's rod, and Urim and Thummim. In following out the visions of Zechariah, we shall see that all these are shewn to have their antitype and accomplishment in Christ, and to be either embodied in him as their end, or to be given out afresh by him under a new form. These visions also bring together and reconcile the double,
and seemingly contradictory, characters given of the Messiah by the other Prophets. Isaiah, for instance, prophesies of Him as a Servant (xli. 1), as a Man of sorrows (liji. 7), in some places; in others, as Wonderful, Counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (ix. 6). Zechariah reconciles both characters, by shewing the Branch coming forth first as “servant,” to “ remove iniquity” (iii. 8, 9); and secondly, as the Man whose name is the Branch, who shall build the temple of the Lord, and bear the glory, and shall sit and rule as King and Priest : and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (vi, 12, 13). These visions also reveal the corresponding destination of the church, which from humble beginnings shall advance, not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts ;” and the “ great mountain shall become a plain; and he shall bring forth the head-stone with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it” (iv. 7).
In chap. i. 12, the time is come for speaking good and comfortable words” to Jerusalem, against whom the Lord has “ had indignation these threescore and ten years ;" and we are taught (ver. 15), that he is “sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease,” for helping forward the affliction of his people. We are further taught (ver. 19), that the heathen are but as
horns,” brutal instruments of violence; for the controul and punishment of whom there are in reserve an equal number of intelligent agents (ver. 20), signified by “carpenters” (artificers), who shall " fray and cast out” these®“ horns of the Gentiles.” These horns “ have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem” (ver. 19). They therefore not only refer to the captivity of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings xxv.), and the captivity of Israel by Shalmaneser (2 Kings xvii.), but look forward to the captivity of Jerusalem by the Romans; and thus include the whole time of the four Gentile monarchies, and lead us to conclude that the time is future still, when “the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem” (ver. 17).
The four Gentile monarchies of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, are symbolized in Dan. ii. by the image of four metals, and in Dan. vii. by the four beasts. But as in Daniel the kingdom of the saints does not commence till the destruction of the fourth monarchy, so we might in Zechariah expect that the four horns must be frayed and cast out before the comforting of Zion. Accordingly we find, after the casting out of these horns, chap. i. 21, that the first act, in chap. ii. 1-4, is the rebuilding of Jerusalem; which, though it might have been taken as an encouragement in their work to the people whom the Prophet addressed, and though really applicable to them in its first and limited sense, will only have its full accomplishment in the last deliverance of the Jews from their present dispersion and captivity, the land of the north, and the Babylon in which they are now hid and held captive. This is shewn in ver. 5, when “the glory shall be in the midst of her:" which glory is the restored Shechinah; whose departure from Solomon's temple is shewn forth in Ezek. x.; which returns not during the whole period of the second temple, nor of course during the time of the present dispersion of the Jews; but which shall again return, and fill the last temple which they shall raise on mountZion, after their restoration to their own land: when it shall never again be withdrawn, as is manifest from Ezek. xliii. 4.
This departure and return of the glory I shall prove from Ezekiel. In his vision of the Cherubim (i. 22) there is a firmament over their heads; and above the firmament (ver. 26) the likeness of a throne; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a Man above upon it. Here the whole is complete, --cherubim, throne, and King thereon. But in x. 1 the cherubim and throne are first seen without the King; and (ver. 3) the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, the
King of Glory” being as yet on the mercy-seat in the holy of holies, between the cherubim of gold. But (ver. 4) the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub (i. e. the mercy-seat), and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the Lord's glory. Here the Shechinah leaves the holy of holies, and rests over the gate of the temple. “Then (ver. 18) the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim." “ The cherubim stood on the right side of the house” ver. 3, and the throne above them was vacant: here the glory of the Lord fills the vacant throne. (Ver. 19), “ And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight... and stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.” Here the Shechinah is ready for departure. “Then (xi. 22) did the cherubim lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.” (Ver. 23), “ And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city” (i.e. Mount Olivet, whence our Lord ascended). (Ver. 24). “ so the vision that I had seen went up
. from me.' Thus the Shechinah departed from Solomon's temple previous to its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. This glory returned not to the second temple; but another yet remains to be built, which house the Lord shall fill with glory (Heb. xii. 26); for in Ezek. xxxvi. 24 the Lord promises “ I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land;" (ver. 26) “a new heart also will I give you; and a new spirit will í put within you: and I will take the stony heart out of your
flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” This gathering is of both the houses of Judah and Israel, shewn by the two sticks (Ezek. xxxviii. 16), “one for Judah, and the children of Israel his companions; another for Joseph, and all the house of Israel his companions: and they shall become one stick in thine hand :" (ver. 22) “and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:” (ver. 26) " and I will place them and multi
“ ply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore:” (ver. 27) "my tabernacle also shall be with them : yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people;" (ver. 28) "and the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” To this everlasting sanctuary the Shechinah shall return. (xliii. 2) “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east; and his voice like the noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.” (Ver. 4) “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate, whose prospect is towards the east : (ver. 5) “and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house." (Ver. 7) “ And he said to me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever:” (xlviii. 35) "and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there."
Such is “the glory in the midst of her” (Zech. ii. 5), at the deliverance of Zion from the daughter of Babylon (ver. 7). But (ver. 8) “after the glory”—that is, after the Lord's return to his people—the nations are visited, and become a spoil to those who had previously been their servants. And this answers precisely to the invasion of Gog in Ezekiel, and its attendant circumstances : (Ezek. xxxviii. 14) “Say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord God, In that day when my people Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land : it shall be in the latter days: and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.” (Ver. 23) “ Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am the Lord." (xxxix. 25) “ Now will
“ I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name:” (ver. 29) “neither will I hide my face any more from them : for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." These events, given at large by the other prophets, are condensed into a single chapter of Zechariah; intending to shew, when and under what circumstances, the