Zechariah 1:7

An Exposition, With Practical Observations, of
The Prophecy of Zechariah
This prophet was colleague with the prophet Haggai, and a worker together with him in forwarding the building of the second temple (Ezra 5:1); for two are better than one. Christ sent forth his disciples two and two. Zechariah began to prophesy some time after Haggai. But he continued longer, soared higher in visions and revelations, wrote more, and prophesied more particularly concerning Christ, than Haggai had done; so the last shall be first: the last in time sometimes proves first in dignity. He begins with a plain practical sermon, expressive of that which was the scope of his prophesying, in the first five verses; but afterwards, to the end of ch. 6, he relates the visions he saw, and the instructions he received immediately from heaven by them. At ch. 7, from an enquiry made by the Jews concerning fasting, he takes occasion to show them the duty of their present day, and to encourage them to hope for Godís favour, to the end of ch. 8, after which there are two sermons, which are both called burdens of the word of the Lord (one begins with ch. 9, the other with ch. 12), which probably were preached some time after; the scope of them is to reprove for sin, and threaten Godís judgments against the impenitent, and to encourage those that feared God with assurances of the mercy God had in store for his church, and especially of the coming of the Messiah and the setting up of his kingdom in the world.
Chapter 1
In this chapter, after the introduction (v. 1), we have, I. An awakening call to a sinful people to repent of their sins and return to God (v. 2-6). II. Great encouragement given to hope for mercy. 1. By the vision of the horses (v. 7Ė11). 2. By the prayer of the angel for Jerusalem, and the answer to that prayer (v. 12Ė17). 3. By the vision of the four carpenters that were employed to cut off the four horns with which Judah and Jerusalem were scattered (v. 18Ė21).
Verses 1-6
Here is, I. The foundation of Zechariahís ministry; it is laid in a divine authority: The word of the Lord came to him. He received a divine commission to be Godís mouth to the people and with it instructions what to say. He received of the Lord that which also he delivered unto them. The word of the Lord was to him; it came in the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit, as a real thing, and not a fancy. For the ascertaining of this, we have here, 1. The time when the word of the Lord came first to him, or when the word that next follows came to him: it was in the second year of Darius. Before the captivity the prophets dated their writings by the reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel; but now by the reigns of the kings of Persia, to whom they were subjects. Such a melancholy change had sin made of their circumstances. Zerubbabel took not so much state upon him as to have public acts dated by the years of his government, and in things of this nature the prophets, as is fit, complied with the usage of the time, and scrupled not to reckon by the years of the heathen kings, as Dan. 7:1; 8:1. Zechariah preached his first sermon in the eighth month of this second year of Darius; Haggai preached his in the sixth month of the same year, Hag. 1:1. The people being readily obedient to the word of the Lord in the mouth of Haggai, God blessed them with another prophet; for to him that has, and uses well what he has, more shall be given.
     2. The name and family of the prophet to whom the word of the Lord came; He was
Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, the son of Iddo, and he was the prophet, as Haggai is called the prophet, Hag. 1:1. For, though in former ages there was one Iddo a prophet (2 Chr. 12:15), yet we have no reason to think that Zechariah was of his progeny, or should be denominated from him. The learned Mr. Pemble is decidedly of opinion that this Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, is the same that our Saviour says was slain between the temple and the altar, perhaps many years after the rebuilding of the temple (Mt. 23:35), and that our Saviour does not mean (as is commonly thought) Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, for why should Jehoiada be called Barachiah? And he thinks the manner of Christís account persuades us to think so; for, reckoning up the innocent blood shed by the Jews, he begins at Abel, and ends even in the last of the holy prophets. Whereas, after Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, many prophets and righteous men were put to death by them. It is true there is no mention made in any history of their slaying this Zechariah, but Josephus might industriously conceal that shame of his nation. Perhaps what Zechariah spoke in his prophesying concerning Christ of his being sold, his being wounded in the house of his friends, and the shepherd being smitten, was verified in the prophet himself, and so he became a type of Christ. Probably, being assaulted by his persecutors, he took sanctuary in the court of the priests (and some think he was himself a priest), and so was slain between the porch and the altar.
II. The first-fruits of Zechariahís ministry. Before he came to visions and revelations, and delivered his prophetic discourses, he preached that which was plain and practical; for it is best to begin with that. Before he published the promises of mercy, he published calls to repentance, for thus the way of the Lord must be prepared. Law must be first preached, and then gospel. Now,
1. The prophet here puts them in mind of the controversy God had had with their fathers (v. 2): "The Lord has been sorely displeased with your fathers, and has laid them under the tokens of his displeasure. You have heard with your ears, and your fathers have told you of it; you have seen with your eyes the woeful remains of it. Godís quarrel with you has been of long standing, and therefore it is time for you to think of taking it up.íí Note, The judgments of God, which those that went before us were under, should be taken as warnings to us not to tread in their steps, and calls to repentance, that we may cut off the entail of the curse and get it turned into a blessing.
2. He calls them, in Godís name, to return to him, and make their peace with him, v. 3. God by him says that to this backsliding people which he had often said by his servants the prophets: "Turn you to me in a way of faith and repentance, duty and obedience, and I will turn to you in a way of favour and mercy, peace and reconciliation.íí Let the rebels return to their allegiance, and they shall be taken under the protection of the government and enjoy all the privileges of good subjects. Let them change their way, and God will change his. See Mal. 3:7. But that which is most observable here is that God is called here the Lord of hosts three times: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts. It is he that speaks, and therefore you are bound to regard what he says.íí Turn you to me, saith the Lord of hosts (this intimates the authority and obligation of the command), and I will turn to you, saith the Lord of hostsóthis intimates the validity and value of the promise; so that it is no vain repetition. Note, The consideration of Godís almighty power and sovereign dominion should both engage and encourage sinners to repent and turn to him. It is very desirable to have the Lord of hosts our friend and very dreadful to have him our enemy.
3. He warns them not to persist in their impenitence, as their fathers had done (v. 4): Be you not as your fathers. Instead of being hardened in their evil courses by the example of their fathersí sins, let them rather be deterred from them by the example of their fathersí punishment. We are apt to be governed very much by precedent, and we are well or ill governed according to the use we make of the precedents before us. The same examples to some are a savour of life unto life, to others a savour of death unto death. Some argued, "Shall we be wiser than our fathers? They never minded the prophets, and why then should we mind them? They made laws against them, and why should we tolerate them?íí But they are here taught how they should argue: "Our fathers slighted the prophets, and God was sorely displeased with them for it; therefore let us the more carefully regard what God says to us by his prophets.íí "Review what is past, and observe,íí
(1.) "What was the message that God sent by his servants the prophets to your fathers: The former prophets cried to your fathers. cried aloud, and did not spare, not spare themselves, not spare your fathers; they cried as men in earnest, as men that would be heard; they spoke not as from themselves, but in the name of the Lord of hosts; and this was the substance of what they said, the burden of every song, the application of every sermonóTurn you now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings; the very same that we now preach to you. Be persuaded to leave your sins; resolve to have no more to do with them. A speedy reformation is the only way to prevent an approaching ruin: Turn you now from sin to God without delay.íí
(2.) "How little this message was regarded by your fathers: But they did not hear, they did not heed. They turned a deaf ear to these calls: They would not hearken unto me, saith the Lord. They would not be reclaimed, would not be ruled, by the word I sent them; say not then that you will do as your fathers did, for they did amiss;íí see Jer. 44:17. Note, We must not follow the examples of our dear fathers unless they were Godís dear children, nor any further than they were dutiful and obedient to him.
(3.) "What has become both of your fathers and of the prophets that preached to them? They are all dead and gone,íí v. 5. [1.] Your fathers, where are they? The whole generation of them is swept away, and their place knows them no more. Note, When we think of our ancestors, that have gone through the world and gone out of it before us, we should think, Where are they? Here they were, in the towns and countries where we live, passing and repassing in the same streets, dwelling in the same houses, trading in the same shops and exchanges, worshipping God in the same churches. But where are they? They are somewhere still; when they died there was not an end of them. They are in eternity, in the world of spirits, the unchangeable world, to which we are hastening apace. Where are they? Those of them that lived and died in sin are in torment, and we are warned by Moses and the prophets, Christ and his apostles, to look to it that we come not to that place of torment, Lu. 16:28, 29. Those of them that lived and died in Christ are in paradise; and, if we live and die as they did, we shall be with them shortly, with them eternally.
     
  [2.]
The prophets also, did they live for ever? No, they are gone too. The treasure is put into earthen vessels, the water of life into earthen pitchers, often cracked, and brought home broken at last. Christ is a prophet that lives for ever, but all other prophets have a period put to their office. Note, Ministers are dying men, and live not for ever in this world. They are to look upon themselves as such, and to preach accordingly, as those that must be silenced shortly, and know not which sermon may be the last. People are to look upon them as such, and to hear accordingly, as those that yet a little while have the light with them, that they may walk and work while they have the light. Oh that this weighty consideration had its due weight given it, that we are dying ministers dealing with dying people about the concerns of immortal souls and an awful eternity, which both they and we are standing upon the brink of! It concerns us to think of the prophets that are gone, that were before us of old, Jer. 28:8. Those that were the glory of men withered and fell; but the word of the Lord endures for ever, 1 Pt. 1:24, 25. The prophets that are now, do we live for ever? (so some read it); no, Haggai and Zechariah will not be long with you, and prophecy itself shall shortly cease. In another world both we and our prophets shall live for ever; and to prepare for that world ought to be our great care and business in this.
(4.) "What were the effects of the word which God spoke to them by his prophets, v. 6. The preachers died, and the hearers died, but the word of God died not; that took effect, and not one iota or tittle of it fell to the ground.íí As the rain and snow from heaven, it shall not return void, Isa. 55:11. He appealed to themselves; they knew very well, [1.] That the judgments God had threatened were executed upon their fathers, and they were made to feel what they would not believe and fear: "My statutes which I commanded my servants the prophets, the precepts with the penalties annexed, which I charged them with the delivery of, did they not take hold of your fathers?íí Though Godís prophets could not fasten convictions upon them, the calamities threatened overtook them, and they could not escape them, nor get out of the reach of them. Godís words took hold of them as the bailiff arrests the debtor, and takes him in execution for contempt. Note, The unbelief of man cannot make the threatenings of Godís word of no effect, but, sooner or later, they will take place, if the prescribed course be not taken to prevent the execution of them. Godís anger will certainly take hold of those that will not be taken hold of by his authority; for when he judges he will overcome. [2.] That they themselves could not but own the accomplishment of the word of God in the judgments of God that were upon them, and that therein he was righteous, and had done them no wrong: They returned, and said (they changed their mind, and when it was too late to prevent the ruin of their nation they acknowledged), Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us according to our ways and doings, to reckon with us for them, so has he dealt with us, and we must acknowledge both his truth and his justice, must blame ourselves only, and have no blame to lay to him. Sero sapiunt PhrygesóIt is late before the Phrygians become wise. This after-wit, as it is a proof of the truth of God, so it is a proof of the folly of men, who will look no further than they can see. They would never be persuaded to say in time, "God will be as good as his word, for he is faithful; he will deal with us according to our deserts, for he is righteous.íí But now they see both plainly enough when the sentence is executed; now he that runs may read, and publish the exact agreement that appears between the present providences and the former predictions which then were slighted, between the present punishments and the former sins which then were persisted in. Now they cannot but say, The Lord is righteous, Dan. 9:11Ė13.

Verses 7-17
We not come to visions and revelations of the Lord; for in that way God chose to speak by Zechariah, to awaken the peopleís attention, and to engage their humble reverence of the word and their humble enquiries into it, and to fix it the more in their minds and memories. Most of the following visions seem designed for the comfort of the Jews, now newly returned out of captivity, and their encouragement to go on with the building of the temple. The scope of this vision (which is as an introduction to the rest) is to assure the Jews of the care God took of them, and the eye of his providence that was upon them for good, now in their present state, when they seem to be deserted, and their case deplorable.
      The vision is dated (v. 7)
the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, three months after he preached that sermon (v. 1), in which he calls them to repentance from the consideration of Godís judgments. Finding that that sermon had a good effect, and that they returned to God in a way of duty, the assurances he had given them are confirmed, that God would return to them in a way of mercy. Now observe here,
I. What the prophet saw, and the explication of that. 1. He saw a grove of myrtle-trees, a dark shady grove, down in a bottom, hidden by the adjacent hills, so that you were not aware of it till you were just upon it. This represented the low, dark, solitary, melancholy condition of the Jewish church at this time. They were over-topped by all their neighbours, buried in obscurity; what friends they had were hidden, and there appeared no way of relief and succour for them. Note, The church has not been always visible, but sometimes hidden, as the woman in the wilderness, Rev. 12:6.

2. He saw
a man mounted upon a red horse, standing in the midst of this shady myrtle-grove. This man is no other than the man Christ Jesus, the same that appeared to Joshua with his sword drawn in his hand as captain of the host of the Lord (Jos. 5:13, 14) and to John with his bow and his crown, Rev. 6:2. Though the church was in a low condition, yet Christ was present in the midst of it. Was it hidden by the hills? He was much more hidden in the myrtle-grove, yet hidden as in an ambush, ready to appear for the seasonable relief of his people, to their happy surprise. Compare Isa. 45:15, Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, and yet Israelís God and Saviour at the same time, their Holy One in the midst of them. He was riding, as a man of war, as a man in haste, riding on the heavens for the help of his people, Deu. 33:26. He rode on a red horse, either naturally so or dyed red with the blood of war, as this same victorious prince appeared red in his apparel, Isa. 63:1, 2. Red is a fiery colour, denoting that he is jealous for Jerusalem (v. 14) and very angry at her enemies. Christ, under the law, appeared on a red horse, denoting the terror of that dispensation, and that he had yet his conflict before him, when he was to resist unto blood. But, under the gospel, he appears on a white horse (Rev. 6:2. and again ch. 19:11), denoting that he has now gained the victory, and rides in triumph, and hangs out the white, not the bloody flag.

 3. He saw a troop of horse attending him, ready to receive and obey his orders:
Behind him there were some red horses, and some speckled, and some white, angels attending the Lord Jesus, ready to be employed by him for the service of his church, some in acts of judgment, others of mercy, others in mixed events. Note, The King of the church has angels at command, not only to do him honour, but to minister for the good of those that are his.

4. He enquired into the signification of this vision. He had an angel talking with him, as his instructor, besides those he saw in the vision; so had Ezekiel (ch. 40:3), and Daniel, ch. 8:16. Zechariah asked him (v. 9),
O my Lord! what are these? And, it should seem this angel that talked with him was Christ himself, the man on the red horse, whom the rest were attendants on; to him immediately Zechariah addresses himself. Would we be acquainted with the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, we must make our application, not to angels (they are themselves learners), but to Christ himself, who is alone able to take the book, and open the seals, Rev. 5:7. The prophetís question implies a humble acknowledgment of his own ignorance and an earnest desire to be informed. O let me know what these are! This he desired, not for the satisfying of his curiosity, but that he might be furnished with something proper for the comfort and encouragement of the people of God, in their present distress.

5. He received from the
angel that talked with him (v. 9), and from the man that stood among the myrtle-trees (v. 10), the interpretation of this vision. Note, Jesus Christ is ready to instruct those that are humbly desirous to be taught the things of God. He immediately said, I will show thee what these are. What knowledge we have, or may have, concerning the world of spirits, we are indebted to Christ for. The account given him was, These are those whom the Lord has sent: they are his messengers, his envoys, appointed (as his eyes are said to do, 2 Chr. 16:9) to walk, to run, to fly swiftly through the earth, to observe what is done in it and to execute the divine commands. God needs them not, but he is pleased to employ them, and we need the comfort arising from the doctrine of their administration.
II. What the prophet heard, and what instructions were thereby given him. Faith comes by hearing, and, generally, in visions there was something said.
1. He heard the report or representation which the angels made to Christ of the present state of the world, v. 11. They had been out abroad, as flying posts (being hastened by the King of kingsí commandment, Esth. 3:15), and, having returned, they give this account to the Angel that stood among the myrtle-trees (for to the Lord Jesus angels themselves are accountable): We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold all the earth sits still and is at rest. We are taught to pray that the will of God may be done by men on earth as it is done by the angels in heaven; and here we see what need we have to pray so, for it is far from being so. For,
            (1.) We find the world of angels here very busy. Those that are employed in the court above rest not day nor night from praising God, which is their business there; and those that are employed in the camp below are never idle, nor lose time; they are still
ascending and descending upon the Son of man (Jn. 1:51, as on Jacobís ladder, Gen. 28:12); they are still walking to and fro through the earth. Thus active, thus industrious, Satan owns himself to be in doing mischief, Job 1:7. It is well for us that good angels bestir themselves as much to do good, and that here in this earth we have guardians going about continually seeking to do us a kindness, as we have adversaries which, as roaring lions, go about continually, seeking to devour us. Though holy angels in this earth meet with a great deal that is disagreeable, yet, while they are going on Godís errands, they hesitate not to walk to and fro through it. Their own habitation, which those that fell liked not, they will like the better when they return.
           (2.) We find the world of mankind here very careless:
All the earth sits still, and is at rest, while all the church is made uneasy, tossed with tempests and not comforted. Those that are strangers to the church are secure; those that are enemies to it are successful. The Chaldeans and Persians dwell at ease, while the poor Jews are continually alarmed; as when the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city Shushan was perplexed. The children of men are merry and jovial, but none grieve for the affliction of Godís children. Note, It is sad to think what a deep sleep the world is cast into, what a spirit of slumber has seized the generality of mankind, that are under Godís wrath and Satanís power, and yet secure and unconcerned! They sit still and are at rest, Lu. 17:26, etc.
2. He heard Christís intercession with the Father for his afflicted church, v. 12. The angels related the posture of affairs in this lower world, but we read not of any prayers they made for the redress of the grievances they had made a remonstrance of. No; it is the Angel among the myrtle-trees that is the great intercessor. Upon the report of the angels he immediately turned heavenward, and said, Lord, wilt thou not have mercy on thy church?
         (1.) The thing he intercedes for is
mercy; as Ps. 85:7, Show us thy mercy, O Lord! Note, Godís mercy is all in all to the churchís comfort; and all his mercy must be hoped for through Christís mediation.
         (2.) The thing he complains of is the delay of this mercy:
How long wilt thou not have mercy! He knows that mercies through him shall be built up for ever (Ps. 89:2), but thinks it long that the building is deferred.
         (3.) The objects of compassion recommended to the divine mercies are, Jerusalem, the holy city, and the other cities of Judah that were now in ruins; for God had had
indignation against them now threescore and ten years. He mentions seventy years because that was the time fixed in the divine councils for the continuance of the captivity; so long the indignation lasted, and though now for a little space grace had been shown them from the Lord their God, to give them some reviving (Ezra 9:8), yet the scars of those seventy yearsí captivity still remained so deep, so painful, that this is the melancholy string they still harp uponóthe divine indignation during those seventy years. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that whereas the seventy years of the captivity were reckoned from Jehoiakimís fourth year, and ended in the first of Cyrus, these seventy years are to be computed from the eleventh of Zedekiah, when Jerusalem and the temple were burnt, about nineteen years after the first captivity, and which ended in this second year of Darius Hystaspes, about seventeen years after Cyrusís proclamation, as that seventy years mentioned ch. 7:5 was about nineteen years after; the captivity went off, as it came on, gradually. "Lord, we are still under the burden of the seventy yearsí wrath, and wilt thou be angry with us for ever?íí
3. He heard a gracious reply given to this intercession of Christís for his church; for it is a prevailing intercession, always acceptable, and him the Father heareth always (v. 13): The Lord answered the angel, this angel of the covenant, with good words and comfortable words, with promises of mercy and deliverance, and the perfecting of what he had begun in favour to them. These were comfortable words to Christ, who is grieved in the grievances of his church, and comfortable to all that mourn with Zion. God often answers prayer with good words, when he does not immediately appear in great works; and those good words are real answers to prayer. Menís good words will not feed the body (Jam. 2:16), but Godís good words will feed the faith, for saying and doing with him are not two things, though they are with us.
4. He heard that reply which was given to the angel repeated to himself, with a commission to publish it to the children of his people, for their comfort. The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to him he signified to his servant John, and by him to the churches, Rev. 1:1, 4. Thus all the good words and comfortable words of the gospel we receive from Jesus Christ, as he received them from the Father, in answer to the prayer of his blood, and his ministers are appointed to preach them to all the world.
      Now that God would
speak comfortably to Jerusalem, Zechariah is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord. The voice said, Cry. Cry then. The prophets must now cry as loudly to show Godís people their comforts as ever they did formerly to show them their transgressions, Isa. 40:2, 3, 6. And if he ask, What shall I cry? he is here instructed.

     (1.) He must proclaim the wrath God has in store for the enemies of Jerusalem. He is
jealous for Zion with great jealousy, v. 14. He takes himself to be highly affronted by the injuries and indignities that are done to his church, as he had been formerly by the iniquities found in his church. The earth sat still and was at rest (v. 11), not relenting at all, nor showing the least remorse, for all the mischief they had done to Jerusalem, as Josephís brethren, who, when they had sold him, sat down to eat bread; and this God took very ill (v. 15): I am very sorely displeased with the heathen, that are at ease, and have no concern for the afflicted church. Much more will he be displeased with those that are at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1), with Zionís own sons, that sympathize not with her in her sorrows.
      But this was not all; they were not only not concerned for her, but they were concerned against her:
I was but a little displeased with my people, and designed to correct them moderately, but those that were employed as instruments of the correction cast off all pity, and with the greatest rage and malice helped forward the affliction and added to it, persecuting those whom God had smitten (Ps. 69:26) and insulting over those whom he had troubled. See Isa. 47:6; 10:5; Eze. 25:12, 15. Note, God is displeased with those who help forward the affliction even of such as suffer justly; for true humanity, in such a case, is good divinity. (2.) He must proclaim the mercy God has in store for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, v. 16. He must cry, "Thus saith the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercies. I was going away in wrath, but I am now returning in love. Cry yet to the same purport,íí v. 17. There must now be line upon line for consolation, as formerly there had been for conviction. The Lord, even the Lord of hosts, assures them,
       [1.] That the temple shall be built that is now but in the building. This good work which they are now about, though it meet with much discouragement, shall be perfected, and they shall have the tokens of Godís presence, and opportunities of conversing with him, and worshipping him, as formerly. Note, It is good news indeed to any place to hear that God will build his house in it.
        [2.] That Jerusalem shall again be
built as a city compact together, which had formerly been its glory, Ps. 122:3. A line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem, in order to the rebuilding of it with great exactness and uniformity.
        [3.] That the nation shall again become populous and rich, though now diminished and impoverished. Not only Jerusalem, but other cities that are reduced and lie in a little compass, shall yet
spread abroad, or be diffused; their suburbs shall extend far, and colonies shall be transplanted from them; and this through prosperity: they shall be so numerous, and so wealthy, that there shall not be room for them; they shall complain that the place is too strait, Isa. 49:20. As they had been scattered and spread abroad, through their calamities, so they should now be through their prosperity. Let thy fountains be dispersed, Prov. 5:16. The cities that should thus increase God calls his cities; they are blessed by him, and they are fruitful and multiply, and replenish the land.
       [4.] That all their present sorrows should not only be balanced, but for ever silenced, by divine consolations:
The Lord shall yet comfort Zion. Yet at length, though her griefs and grievances may continue long, God has comforts in reserve for Zion and all her mourners.
        [5.] That all this will be the fruit of Godís preventing distinguishing favour: He shall yet
choose Jerusalem, shall renew his choice, renew his covenant, shall make it appear that he has chosen Jerusalem. As he first built them up into a people when he brought them out of Egypt, so he will now rebuild them, when he brings them out of Babylon, not for any worthiness of theirs, but in pursuance of his own choice, Deu. 7:7, 8. Jerusalem is the city he has chosen, and he will not cast it off.
Verses 18-21
It is the comfort and triumph of the church (Isa. 59:19) that when the enemy shall come in like a flood, with mighty force and fury, then the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. Now, in this vision (the second which this prophet had), we have an illustration of that, Godís Spirit making a stand, and making head, against the formidable power of the churchís adversaries.
I. We have here the enemies of the church bold and daring, and threatening to be its death, to cut off the name of Israel; such the people of God had lately been insulted by: I looked and behold four horns (v. 18), which are explained v. 19.
     They
are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, that is, the Jews both in the country and in the city, because they were the Israel of God. They have tossed them (so some read it), as furious bulls with their horns toss that which they are enraged at. They have scattered them, so that no man did lift up his head, v. 21. No man durst show his face for fear of them, much less give them any opposition, or make head against them. They are horns, denoting their dignity and dominionóhorns exalted, denoting also their strength, and power, and violence. They are four horns, for the Jews are surrounded with them on every side; when they avoid one horn that pushes at them they run upon another.
       The men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and many of Israel that joined themselves to them, set about the building of the temple; but the enemies of that work from all sides pushed at them, and drove them from it. Rehum, and Shimshai, and the other Samaritans that opposed the building of the temple, were these horns, Ezra 4:8. So were Sanballat and Tobiah, and the Ammonites and Arabians, that opposed the building of the wall, Neh. 4:7.
       Note, The churchís enemies have horns, and use them to the hindrance of every good work. The great enemy of the New-Testament church has
seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:3), so that those who endeavour to do the church any service must expect to be pushed at.
 
II. We have here the friends of the church active and prevailing. The prophet did himself lift up his eyes and see the four horns, and saw them so formidable that he began to despair of the safety of every good man, and the success of every good work; but
the Lord then showed him four carpenters, or smiths, who were empowered to cut off these horns, v. 20, 21. With an eye of sense we see the power of the enemies of the church; look which way we will, the world shows us that.
       But it is with an eye of faith that we see it safe, notwithstanding; it is the Lord that shows us that, as he opened the eyes of the prophetís servant to see the angelic guards round about his master, 2 Ki. 6:17.
      Observe, Those that were to fray or break the horns of the Gentiles, and to cast them out, were, 1.
Carpenters or smiths (for they are supposed by some to have been horns of iron), men who had skill and ability to do it, whose proper business it was, and who understood their business and had tools at hand to do it with. Note, God calls those to serve the interests of his church whom he either finds, or makes, fit for it. If there be horns (which denote the force and fury of beasts) against the church, there are carpenters (which denote the wisdom and forecast of men) for the church, by which they find ways to master the strongest beasts, for every kind of beasts is tamed, and has been tamed, of mankind, Jam. 3:7. 2.
       They were
four carpenters, as many horns so many hands to saw them off. Note, Which way soever the church is threatened with mischief, and opposition given to its interests, God can find out ways and means to check the force, to restrain the wrath, and make it turn to his praise. Some by these four carpenters understand Zerubbabel and Joshua, Ezra and Nehemiah, who carried on the work of God in spite of the opposition given to it.
       Those horned beasts broke into Godís vineyard to tread it down; but the good magistrates and the good ministers whom God raised up, though they had not power to
cut off the horns of the wicked (as David did, Ps. 75:5, 10), yet frightened them and cast them out. Note, When God has work to do he will raise up some to do it and others to defend it and protect those that are employed in the doing of it.
Chapter 2
In this chapter we have, I. Another vision which the prophet saw, not for his own entertainment, but for his satisfaction and the edification of those to whom he was sent (v. 1, 2). II. A sermon upon it, in the rest of the chapter, 1. By way of explication of the vision, showing it to be a prediction of the replenishing of Jerusalem and of its safety and honour (v. 3-5). 2. By way of application. Here is, (1.) A use of exhortation to the Jews that were yet in Babylon, pressing them to hasten their return to their own land, (v. 6-9). (2.) A use of consolation tot hose that were returned, in reference to the many difficulties they had to struggle with (v. 10Ė12). (3.) A use of caution to all not to prescribe to God, or limit him, but patiently to wait for him (v. 13).
Verses 1-5
This prophet was ordered, in Godís name, to assure the people (ch. 1:16) that a line should be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Now here we have that promise illustrated and confirmed, that the prophet might deliver that part of his message to the people with the more clearness and assurance.
I. He sees, in a vision, a man going to measure Jerusalem (v. 1, 2): He lifted up his eyes again, and looked. God had shown him that which was very encouraging to him, (ch. 1:20), and therefore now he lifted up his eyes again and looked. Note, The comfortable sights which by faith we have had of Godís goodness made to pass before us should engage us to lift up our eyes again, and to search further into the discoveries made to us of the divine grace; for there is still more to be seen. In the close of the foregoing chapter he had seen Jerusalemís enemies baffled and broken, so that now he begins to hope she shall not be ruined. But that is not enough to make her happy, and therefore that is not all that is promised. Here is more carpenterís work to be done.
      When David had resolved to
cut off the horns of the wicked he engaged likewise that the horns of the righteous should be exalted, Ps. 75:10. And so does the Son of David here; for he is the man, even the man Christ Jesus, whom the prophet sees with a measuring line in his hand; for he is the master builder of his church (Heb. 3:3), and he builds exactly by line and level. Zechariah took the boldness to ask him whither he was going and what he designed to do with that measuring line. And he readily told him that he was going to measure Jerusalem, to take a particular account of the dimensions of it each way, that it might be computed what was necessary for the making of a wall about it, and that it might appear, by comparing its dimensions with the vast numbers that should inhabit it, what additions were necessary to be made for the receiving and containing of them; when multitudes flock to Jerusalem (Isa. 60:4) it is time for her to enlarge the place of her tent, Isa. 54:2.
       Note, God takes notice of the extent of his church, and will take care that, when ever so many guests are brought in to the wedding supper, still there
shall be room, Lu. 14:22. In the New Jerusalem, my Fatherís house above, there are many mansions.
II. He is informed that this vision means well to Jerusalem, that the measuring line he saw was not a line of confusion (as that Isa. 34:11), not a line to mete out for destruction, as when God purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion he stretched out a line (Lam. 2:8); but it is as when he divided the inheritance by line, Ps. 78:55.
      The
angel that talked with the prophet went forth, as he designed, to measure Jerusalem, but another angel went out to meet him, to desire that he would first explain this vision to the prophet, that it might not occasion him any uneasy speculations: Run, and speak to this young man (for, it seems, the prophet entered upon his prophecy when he was young, yet no man ought to despise his youth when God thus highly honoured it); he is a young man, not experienced, and may be ready to fear the worst; therefore bid him hope the best; tell him that Jerusalem shall be both safe and great, 1. As safe and great as numbers of men can make it (v. 4):
     
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls; the inhabitants of it shall increase, and multiply, and replenish it to admiration, so that it shall extend itself far beyond the present dimensions which now there is an account taken of. The walls of a city, as they defend it, so they straiten and confine it, and keep its inhabitants from multiplying beyond such a pitch; but Jerusalem, even when it is walled, to keep off the enemy, shall be inhabited as towns without walls. The city shall be in a manner lost in the suburbs, as London is, where the out-parishes are more populous than those within the walls.
     So shall it be with Jerusalem; it shall be extended as freely as if it had no walls at all, and yet shall be as safe as if it had the strongest walls, such a
multitude of men (which are the best walls of a city) shall there be therein, and of cattle too, to be not only food, but wealth too, for those men. Note, The increase of the numbers of a people is a great blessing, is a fruit of Godís blessing on them and an earnest of further blessings, Ps. 107:38.
      They are multiplied, for he blesses them.


 2. As safe and great as the presence of God can make it, v. 5. (1.) It shall be safe, for God himself will be a
wall of fire round about it. Jerusalem had no walls about it at this time, but lay naked and exposed; formerly, when it had walls, the enemies not only broke through them, but broke them down; but now God will be unto her a wall of fire. Some think it alludes to shepherds that made fires about their flocks, or travellers that made fires about their tents in desert places, to frighten wild beasts from them. God will not only make a hedge about them as he did about Job ( i. 10), not only make walls and bulwarks about them, Isa. 26:1 (those may be battered down), not only be as the mountains round about them, Ps. 125:2 (mountains may be got over), but he will be a wall of fire round them, which cannot be broken through, nor scaled, nor undermined, nor the foundations of it sapped, nor can it be attempted, or approached, without danger to the assailants.
      God will not only make a wall of fire about her, but he will himself be such a wall; for
our God is a consuming fire to his and his churchís enemies. He is a wall of fire, not on one side only, but round about on every side.

   (2.) It shall be great, for God himself
will be the glory in the midst of it. His temple, his altar, shall be set up and attended there, and his institutions observed, and there then shall the tokens of his special presence and favour be, which will be the glory in the midst of them, will make them truly admirable in the eyes of all about them. God will have honour from them, and put honour upon them.
       Note, Those that have God for their God have him for their glory; those that have him in the midst of them have glory in the midst of them, and thence the church is said to be
all glorious within. And those persons and places that have God to be the glory in the midst of them have him for a wall of fire round about them, for upon all that glory there is, and shall be, a defence, Isa. 4:5. Now all this was fulfilled in part in Jerusalem, which in process of time became a very flourishing city, and made a very great figure in those parts of the world, much beyond what could have been expected, considering how low it was brought and how long it was ere it recovered itself; but it was to have its full accomplishment in the gospel-church, which is extended far, as towns without walls, by the admission of the Gentiles into it, and which has God, the Son of God, for its prince and protector.
Verses 6-9
One would have thought that Cyrusís proclamation, which gave liberty to the captive Jews to return to their own land, would suffice to bring them all back, and that, as when Pharaoh gave them leave to quit Egypt and their house of bondage there, they would not leave a hoof behind; but it seems it had not that effect. There were about 40,000 whose spirits God stirred up to go, and they went; but many, perhaps the greater part, staid behind.
     The land of their captivity was to most of them the land of their nativity; they had taken root there, had gained a settlement, and many of them a very comfortable one; some perhaps had got estates and preferments there, and they did not think they could better themselves by returning to their own land.
Patria est ubicunque bene estóMy country is every spot where I feel myself happy.
      They had no great affection to their own land, and apprehended the difficulties in their way to it insuperable. This proceeded from a bad causeóa distrust of the power and promise of God, a love of ease and worldly wealth, and an indifference to the religion of their country and to the God of Israel himself; and it had a bad effect, for it was a tacit censure of those as foolish, rash, and given to change, that did return, and a weakening of their hands in the work of God. Such as these could not sing (Ps. 137) in their captivity, for they had
forgotten thee, O Jerusalem! and were so far from preferring thee before their chief joy that they preferred any joy before thee.
       Here is therefore another proclamation issued out by the God of Israel, strictly charging and commanding all his free-born subjects, wherever they were dispersed, speedily to return into their own land and render themselves at their respective posts there. They are loudly summoned (v. 6):
Ho! ho! come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the Lord. This fitly follows upon the promise of the rebuilding and enlarging of Jerusalem. If God will build it for them and their comfort, they must come and inhabit it for him and his glory, and not continue sneaking in Babylon. Note, The promises and privileges with which Godís people are blessed should engage us, whatever it cost us, to join ourselves to them and cast in our lot among them. When Zion is enlarged, to make room for all Godís Israel, it is the greatest madness imaginable for any of them to stay in Babylon. The captivity of a sinful state is by no means to be continued in, though a man be ever so easy upon temporal accounts.
      No:
Come forth and flee with all speed, and lose no time. Escape for thy life; look not behind thee. To induce them to hasten their return, let them consider,

1. They are now dispersed, and are concerned to incorporate themselves for their mutual common defence (v. 6):
"I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven, sent some into one corner of the world and some into another; this has been your condition a long time, and therefore you should now think of coming together again, to help one another.íí
      God owns that his scattering them was in wrath, and therefore they must take this invitation as a token of Godís being willing to be reconciled to them again, so that they kicked at his kindness in refusing to accept the call.

2. They are now in bondage, and are concerned to assert their own liberty; and therefore,
"Deliver thyself, O Zion! flee from the oppressor, and make the best of thy way. Let us see some such bold efforts and struggles to help thyself as become the generous gracious seed of Abraham.íí v. 7.

Note, When Christ has proclaimed that deliverance to the captives which he has himself wrought out it then concerns each of us to
deliver ourselves, to loose ourselves from the bands of our necks (Isa. 52:2), and, since we are under grace, to resolve that sin shall not have dominion over us, Zion herself is here said to dwell with the daughter of Babylon, because many of the precious sons of Zion dwelt there, and where the people of God are there the church of God is, for it is not tied to places.

Now it is not fit that Zion should dwell with the daughter of Babylon; what communion can light have with darkness? Zion will be in danger of partaking with the daughter of Babylon both
in her sins and in her plagues; and therefore, "Come out of her, my people, Rev. 18:4. Deliver thyself, O Zion! by a speedy return to thy own land, and do not destroy thyself by continuing in that polluted devoted land.íí

Those that would be found among the generation of Godís children must
save themselves from the untoward generation of this world; it was St. Peterís charge to his new converts, Acts 2:40.

3. They have seemed to be forsaken and forgotten of God, but God will now make it to appear that he espouses their cause and will plead it with jealousy, v. 8,9. It was a discouragement to those who remained in Babylon to hear of the difficulties and oppositions which their brethren met with that had returned, by which they were still in danger of being crushed and overpowered. "And we might as well sit stillíí (think they) "as rise up and fall.íí
       In answer to this objection, the
angel that talked with the prophet (that is, Jesus Christ) tells him what he had commission to do for their protection and the perfecting of their salvation, and herein he has an eye to the great redemption which, in the fulness of time, he was to be the author of. Christ, who is Jehovah, and the Lord of hosts, of all the hosts of heaven and earth, in both which he has a sovereign power, says, He (that is, the Father) has sent me.

Note, What Jesus has done, and does, for his church against his enemies, he was sent and commissioned by the Father to do. With great satisfaction he often speaks of
the Father that sent him.

 (1.) He is sent
after the glory. After the glorious beginning of their deliverance he is sent to perfect it, for he is the finisher of that work which he is the author of. Christ is sent, in the first place, to the nation and people of the Jews, to whom pertained the glory, Rom. 9:4. And he was himself the glory of his people Israel. But after the glory, after his care of them, he is sent to the nations, to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, by the power of his gospel to captivate them, and bring them, and every high thought among them, into obedience to himself.

(2.) He is
sent to the nations that spoiled them, to take vengeance on them for the wrongs done to Zion, when the year of his redeemed comes and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion, Isa. 34:8. He is sent to shake his hand upon them, to lift up his mighty hand against them and to lay upon them his heavy hand, to bruise them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potterís vessel, Ps. 2:9. Some think it intimates how easily God can subdue and humble them with the turn of his hand; it is but shaking his hand over them and the work is done. They shall be a spoil to their servants, shall be enslaved to those whom they had enslaved, and be plundered by those whom they had plundered. In Estherís time this was fulfilled, when the Jews had rule over those that hated them (Esth. 9:1), and often in the time of the Maccabees. The promise is further fulfilled in Christís victory over our spiritual enemies, his spoiling principalities and powers and making a show of them openly, Col. 2:15. And it is still in force to the gospel-church. Christ will reckon with all that are enemies to it, and sooner or later will make them his footstool, Ps. 110:1; Rev. 3:9.

 (3.) What he will do for his church shall be an evident proof of Godís tender care of it and affection to it:
He that touches you touches the apple of his eye. This is a high expression of Godís love to his church. By his resentment of the injuries done to her it appears how dear she is to him, how he interests himself in all her interests, and takes what is done against her, not only as done against himself, but as done against the very apple of his eye, the tenderest part, which nature has made very fine, has put a double guard upon, and taught us to be in a special manner careful of, and which the least touch is a great offence to. This encourages the people of God to pray with David (Ps. 17:8), Keep me as the apple of thy eye; and engages them to do as Solomon directs (Prov. 7:2), to keep his law as the apple of their eye. Some understand it thus: "He that touches you touches the apple of his own eye; whoever do you any injury will prove, in the issue, to have done the greatest injury to themselves.íí

(4.) It shall be an evident proof of Christís mission:
You shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to be the protector of his church, that the promises made to the church are yea and amen in him. Christís victory over our spiritual enemies proves that the Father sent him and was with him.
Verses 10-13
Here is, I. Joy proclaimed to the church of God, to the daughter of Zion, that had separated herself from the daughter of Babylon. The Jews that had returned were in distress and danger, their enemies in the neighbourhood were spiteful against them, their friends that remained in Babylon were cool towards them, shy of them, and declined coming in to their assistance; and yet they are directed to sing, and to rejoice even in tribulation. Note, Those that have recovered their purity, and integrity, and spiritual liberty, though they have not yet recovered their outward prosperity, have reason to sing and rejoice, to give glory to God and take comfort to themselves.
I. God will have a people among them. If their brethren in Babylon will not come to them, those of other nations shall, and shall replenish Jerusalem and the cities of Judah: Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day that are now at a distance from him and strangers to him. The Jewish nation, after the captivity, multiplied very much, by the accession of proselytes to it, that were naturalized, and were entitled to all the privileges of native Israelites, and perhaps they were equal in number; and therefore Paul mentions it as an honour to him which many Jews had not, that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, Phil. 3:5. And this was an earnest of the bringing in of the Gentiles into the christian church and in that this and other similar promises were to have their full accomplishment. It was therefore strange that that should be so great an offence to the Jews, as we find it was in the apostlesí times, which was promised them as a blessing in the prophetsí timesóthat many nations should be joined to the Lord. And, as there had been one law, so should there be one gospel for the stranger and for those born in the land; whatever nation they come from, when they join themselves to the Lord, they shall be my people, as dear to God as ever Israel had been.

Note, God will own those for his people who with purpose of heart join themselves to him; and, when many do so, we ought to look upon them, not with a jealous eye, but with a joyful one. Angels rejoice, and therefore so should the daughter of Zion, when many nations are joined to the Lord.

II. They shall have his presence among them:
Sing and rejoice, for I come. Those to whom God comes have reason to rejoice, for he will be to them their chief joy. God will come, not to make them a visit only, but to reside with them and preside over them: I will dwell in the midst of thee (v. 10), and it is repeated (v. 11), because it was to have a double accomplishment,

1. In the dedication of the temple, in their regularly observing all Godís institutions there and Godís owning them therein. Those have God
dwelling in the midst of them that have his ordinances administered in their purity, and a divine power going along with them; with these tokens of Godís presence the Jewish church was blessed, after this, as much as ever.

2. In the incarnation of Christ. He that here promises to dwell among them is that
Lord whom the Lord of hosts has sent (v. 11), and therefore must be the Lord Jesus, who came and dwelt in the midst of the Jewish nation, the eternal Word, that was made flesh, and dwelt among us. This was the great honour reserved for that nation in its last days; the promise of it effectually secured their continuance till it was accomplished. They could not be destroyed while that blessing was in them; and the prospect of it, according to the promise, was the great support and comfort of those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. It is promised that when Christ comes and dwells among them they shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent him; all that were Israelites indeed were made to know it; sufficient proofs were given of it by the miracles Christ wrought, so that they might have known it, and yet there were those that perished in ignorance and unbelief, that would not know it, for, if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

III. They shall have all their ancient dignities and privileges restored to them again, v. 12.

1. Canaan shall be a holy land again, not polluted by sin as it had been formerly, not profaned by the enemies as it had been of late; it shall be an enclosure again, and not laid in common.
2. Judah shall be in this holy land, shall inhabit it, and enjoy the comfort of it, and no longer be lost and scattered in Babylon.
3. Judah shall be Godís portion, which he will delight in, which shall be dear to him, by which he will be served, and in which he will be glorified.
The Lordís portion is his people.
4. God will
inherit Judah again as his portion, will claim his interest, and recover the possession out of the hands of those that had invaded his right. He will protect his people and govern them as a man does his inheritance, and will be at home among them.
5. He will
choose Jerusalem again, as he had chosen it formerly, to put his name there; he will renew and confirm the choice, and continue it a chosen place, till it must resign its honours to the Jerusalem that is from above. Though the election seemed to be set aside for a while, yet it shall obtain.

II. Here is silence proclaimed to all the world besides, v. 13. The daughter of Zion must sing, but
all flesh must be silent. Observe here,

1. A very awful description of Godís appearances for the relief of his people. He is
raised up out of his holy habitation; as a man out of sleep (Ps. 44:23; 78:65), or as a man entering with resolution upon a business that he will go through with. Heaven is his holy habitation above; thence we must expect him to appear, Isa. 64:1. His temple is so in this lower world; thence from between the cherubim he will shine forth, Ps. 80:1. He is about to do something unusual, unexpected, and very surprising, and to plead his peopleís cause, which had long seemed neglected.

2. A seasonable caution and direction at such a time:
Be silent, O all flesh! before the Lordóbefore Christ and his grace (let not flesh object against the methods he takes)óbefore God and his providence; the enemies of the church shall be silenced; all iniquity shall stop her mouth. The friends of the church also must be silent. Leave it to God to take his own way, and neither prescribe to him what he should do nor quarrel with him whatever he does. Be still, and know that he is God. Stand still, and see his salvation. See Hab. 2:20; Zep. 1:7. Silently acquiesce in his holy will, and patiently wait the issue, as those who are assured that when God is raised up out of his holy habitation he will not retreat, nor sit down again, till he has accomplished his whole work.
Chapter 3
The vision in the foregoing chapter gave assurances of the re-establishing of the civil interests of the Jewish nation, the promises of which terminated in Christ. Now the vision in this chapter concerns their church-state, and their ecclesiastical interests, and assures them that they shall be put into a good posture again; and the promises of this also have an eye to Christ, who is not only our prince, but the high priest of our profession, of whom Joshua was a type. Here is,

 I. A vision relating to Joshua, as the representative of the church in his time, representing the disadvantages he laboured under, and the people in him, with the redress of the grievances of both. 1. He is accused by Satan, but is brought off by Christ (v. 1, 2).

2. He appears in filthy garments, but has them changed (v. 3-5). 3. He is assured of being established in his office if he conduct himself well (v. 6, 7). II. A sermon relating to Christ, who is here called "The branch,íí who should be endued with all perfections for his undertaking, should be carried triumphantly through it, and by whom we should have pardon and peace (v. 8Ė10).
Verses 1-7
The angel that talked with Zechariah showed him Joshua the high priest; it is probable that the prophet saw him frequently, that he spoke to him, and that there was a great intimacy between them; but, in his common views, he only saw how he appeared before men; if he must know how he stands before the Lord, it mThere was a Joshua that was a principal agent in the first settling of Israel in Canaan; here is another of the same name very active in their second settlement there after the captivity; Jesus is the same name, and it signifies Saviour; and they were both figures of him that was to come, our chief captain and our chief priest. ust be shown him in vision; and so it is shown him. And men are really as they are with God, not as they appear in the eye of the world.
      He stood
before the angel of the Lord, that is, before Christ, the Lord of the angels, to whom even the high priests themselves, of Aaronís order, were accountable.
      He
stood before the angel of the Lord to execute his office, to minister to God under the inspection of the angels.
      He stood to consult the oracle on the behalf of Israel, for whom, as high priest, he was agent.
Guilt and corruption are our two great discouragements when we stand before God. By the guilt of the sins committed by us we have become obnoxious to the justice of God; by the power of the sin that dwells in us we have become odious to the holiness of God. All Godís Israel are in danger upon these two accounts. Joshua was so here, for
the law made men priests that had infirmity, Heb. 7:28. And, as to both, we have relief from Jesus Christ, who is made of God to us both righteousness and sanctification.
I. Joshua is accused as a criminal, but is justified.
    1. A violent opposition is made to him.
Satan stands at his right hand to resist him to be a Satan to him, a law-adversary. He stands at his right hand, as the prosecutor, or witness, at the right hand of the prisoner. Note, The devil is the accuser of the brethren, that accuses them before God day and night, Rev. 12:10. Some think the chief priest was accused for the sin of many of the inferior priests, in marrying strange wives, which they were much guilty of after their return out of captivity, Ezra 9:1, 2; Neh. 13:28.
     When God is about to reestablish the priesthood, Satan objects the sins that were found among the priests, as rendering them unworthy the honour designed them. It is by our own folly that we give Satan advantage against us and furnish him with matter for reproach and accusation; and if any thing be amiss, especially with the priests, Satan will be sure to aggravate it and make the worst of it. He
stood to resist him, that is, to oppose the service he was doing for the public good. He stood at his right hand, the hand of action, to discourage him, and raise difficulties in his way.
      Note, When we stand before God to minister to him, or stand up for God to serve his interests, we must expect to meet with all the resistance that Satanís subtlety and malice can give us. Let us then resist him that resists us and he shall flee from us.

      2. A victorious defence is made for him (v. 2):
The Lord (that is, the Lord Christ) said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee. Note, It is the happiness of the saints that the Judge is their friend; the same that they are accused to is their patron and protector, and an advocate for them, and he will be sure to bring them off.
       (1.) Satan is here checked by one that has authority, that has conquered him, and many a time silenced him.
The accuser of the brethren, of the ministers and the ministry, is cast out; his indictments are quashed, and his suggestions against them as well as his suggestions to them, are shown to be malicious, frivolous, and vexatious. The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! The Lord said (that is, the Lord our Redeemer), The Lord rebuke thee, that is, the Lord the Creator. The power of God is engaged for the making of the grace of Christ effectual. "The Lord restrain thy malicious rage, reject thy malicious charge, and revenge upon thee thy enmity to a servant of hisíí Note, those that belong to Christ have him ready to appear vigorously for them when Satan appears most vehement against them. He does not parley with him, but stops his mouth immediately with this sharp reprimand: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! This is the best way of dealing with that furious enemy. Get thee behind me, Satan.
        (2.) Satan is here argued with. He resists the priest, but let him know that his resistance,
             [1.] Will be fruitless; it will be to no purpose to attempt any thing against Jerusalem, for
the Lord has chosen it, and he will abide by his choice. Whatever is objected against Godís people, God saw it; he foresaw it when he chose them and yet he chose them, and therefore that can be no inducement to him now to reject them; he knew the worst of them when he chose them; and his election shall obtain.

             [2.] It is unreasonable; for
is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Joshua is so, and the priesthood, and the people, whose representative he is. Christ has not that to say for them for which they are to be praised, but that for which they are to be pitied. Note, Christ is ready to make the best of his people, and takes notice of every thing that is pleadable in excuse of their infirmities, so far is he from being extreme to mark what they do amiss.
           They have been lately in the fire; no wonder that they are black and smoked, and have the smell of fire upon them, but they are therefore to be excused, not to be accused. One can expect no other than that those who but the other day were captives in Babylon should appear very mean and despicable. They have been lately brought out of great affliction; and is Satan so barbarous as to desire to have them thrown into affliction again? They have been wonderfully delivered out of the fire, that God might be glorified in them; and will he then cast them off and abandon them?
          No, he will not quench the smoking flax, the smoking fire-brand; for he snatched it out of the fire because he intended to make use of it. Note, Narrow escapes from imminent danger are happy presages and powerful pleas for more eminent favours. A converted soul is a
brand plucked out of the fire by a miracle of free grace, and therefore shall not be left to be a prey to Satan.