« VorigeDoorgaan »
expressly foretold. As this prophecy was speedily accomplished, it would encourage reliance on the message sent by the prophet, respecting the greater events to come; and it gave emphasis to the words, "Who hath despised the day of small things?" Solemn warnings of judgments against sin are given, ch. v., followed by notice of the changes about to come upon the surrounding nations, ch. vi.
Another prophecy was delivered upon an occasion which attracted the notice of the people. Some Jews came from Babylon with valuable offerings for the temple, thus showing their faith that the work of the Lord would go forward. The names of these messengers are recorded, Hildai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah; they were faithful in executing their charge. Zechariah was directed to meet them, and cause crowns to be made from their silver and gold, to be set upon the head of Joshua. This was to be done with special reference to Him whose name is "The Branch;" and the crowns were to remain in the temple, a memorial of the prophecy of Him who should be the Ruler and Builder of a more glorious temple, to which those afar off, even the Gentiles, should come, and join in the work and worship of Jehovah. Zech. vi. 12, 13;
Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; And he shall grow up out of his place,
And he shall build the temple of the Lord:
Even he shall build the temple of the Lord;
And he shall bear the glory,
And shall sit and rule upon his throne;
And he shall be a priest upon his throne:
And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
This prophecy remarkably shows how determinately the Jews resisted the revealed will of God, in their views respecting the Messiah, in their rejection of Christ, and those who believe in him.
Their resuming the work of building the temple, drew the attention of the provincial rulers, who in
quired under what authority the Jews proceeded. They were referred to the decree of Cyrus, Ezra i. Tatnai, who was the chief governor of Syria and Palestine, being a man of temper and justice, did not interfere in a harsh or hasty manner, but applied for directions. He stated the case fairly, and requested Darius to cause the records to be searched, when, after a fruitless search in the record office at Babylon, the enrolled decree of Cyrus was found at Ecbatana, in Media, Ezra vi. 2.
The work then was not only allowed to proceed, it was encouraged by another decree, ordering the governors to supply the cost of the sacrifices "from the king's goods, even of the tribute." Darius was anxious to support the memory of Cyrus, whose daughter he had married, by forwarding all his plans, and further decreed that all who opposed this great work of the rebuilding the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, should have his own house pulled down, and be put to death, Ezra vi. 11. The decree of Darius concludes with a remarkable acknowledgment of the almighty power of the God of Israel, "The God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem," ver. 12. These edicts appear to be official copies, and thus are specimens of ancient decrees.
The work of rebuilding the temple went forward successfully, and the Jewish state may be considered as restored from this time. To this event the 138th Psalm, and some others, are supposed to refer; the words in ver. 6, 8, seem to have especial force, when taken in connexion with these events.
Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly :
But the proud he knoweth afar off.
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:
Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever:
Forsake not the works of thine own hands.
THE BUILDING OF JERUSALEM.
THE BUILDING OF JERUSALEM-THE TEMPLE FINISHED-THE LATTER PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH.
THE Jews at Babylon partook of the joy which the decree of Darius Hystaspes, promulgated on finding the roll containing the decree of Cyrus, afforded to their nation. But their first proceeding was too much in accordance with the natural inclination of the heart of man, to forget that past sufferings are testimonies of the evil of sin. They sent to Jerusalem to inquire, whether it was needful still to observe the fasts in which the destruction of Jerusalem was commemorated. In answer, they were reminded of the selfish views that had engrossed them, even when engaged in those services. They were reminded of the causes of the sufferings of their nation, expressly set forth by the former prophets. Leaving them to consider
ITS PROSPERITY PROPHESIED.
whether it was right for them to put away the remembrance that the sins of their fathers had produced deep and national sufferings, they were directed to the more important observances of judgment and mercy, and told to bear in mind that it was for disobedience the Lord had scattered them among the nations. Let us apply this to ourselves also.
The Jews were again encouraged to proceed in restoring Jerusalem, by a direct promise which beautifully depicts a city in a state of continued peace, Zech. viii. 4, 5.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts;
There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem,
And every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
Of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
Read the impressive description of the troublous times that had so recently occurred, Zech. viii. 10.
For before these days
The hire of man became nothing, and the hire for beast; Neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in
Because of the affliction:
For I set all men every one against his neighbour.
In England, we know not this sad state of things, and it may be fading from the recollection of the nations on the continent of Europe; but it was otherwise when the remembrance was fresh of the painful consequences of the wars of that man, who after having been used as "the rod of God's anger," to correct the nations, was broken and cast aside, leaving his name, "at which the world grew pale, to point a moral or adorn a tale." May we never lightly value the blessing of peace at home; and may those hasty and bitter spirits, who, on one side or the other, think lightly of civil discord and deeds of blood, may they be kept under by the restraining hand of HIM, who can alike say, "Peace, be still," to the conflicting
THE TEMPLE FINISHED.
elements, and to the embittered spirits of man. All the promises of Divine favour in outward blessings, invariably are accompanied by reference to PEACE. Thus, Zech. viii. 16, (margin,) Judge truth and the judgment of peace in your gates ;" and ver. 19, "Love the truth and peace." With this is connected a remarkable promise of the future glories of Israel, see ver. 22, 23.
In the sixth year of Darius the temple was finished. An account of the solemn dedication of the building to the Lord, is recorded, Ezra vi. 16-22. Many sacrifices were offered; among them were sin-offerings for each of the twelve tribes. The temple had been twenty years in building; many an anxious thought had been occasioned by the delay in its completion; many an aged Jew had watched its gradual advance, or lamented over the pauses in the work, when he considered it was not probable that the temple services would be restored till after he was laid in the silent grave.
Connected with this event several Psalms are placed, as the 48th, 81st, 146th, 148th, 149th, 150th; but, of course, with some degree of uncertainty.
The following month brought round the season for the passover, when the children of Israel who had returned from captivity, and had separated themselves from the defilements of the heathen, joyfully celebrated the festival. The recent freedom from Babylon would cause them to look back with thankfulness for the deliverance from Egyptian bondage; both events would lead some, if not many of them, to look forward to the greater deliverance, from the spiritual adversary, and the bitter bondage of sin. In like manner, the believer of every age rejoices to recal to mind his deliverance from captivity, by commemorating the dying love of the Saviour, while partaking of that ordinance in which our blessed Lord directed his disciples should unite, saying, "This do in remem
brance of me," Luke xxii. 19.