Here are divers precious promises made to the people of God, which look further than to the state of the Jews in the latter days of their church, and have certain reference to the spiritual Israel of God, the gospel-church, and all true believers.
I. They shall have God’s favour and presence, and shall be owned and accepted of him. This is the foundation of all the rest: The Lord is with them, Zech. 10:5. He espouses their cause, takes their part, is on their side; and, if he be for them, who can be against them? Again (Zech. 10:6), I have mercy upon them. All their dignity and joy are owing purely to God’s mercy; and mercy, as it supposes misery, so it excludes merit. They had been cast off, the effect of which could not but be misery; they had been justly cast off, and therefore could pretend to merit nothing at God’s hand but wrath and the curse; yet it is promised, They shall be as though I had not cast them off. The transgressions of their fathers, for which they had been rejected, shall not only not be visited upon them, but shall not be so much as remembered against them. God will be as perfectly reconciled to them as if he had never contended with them, and the falling out of these lovers shall rather be the renewing than the weakening of love. They shall have such a full assurance of God’s being reconciled to them, and upon that shall be so well reconciled to themselves, that they shall be as easy as if they had never been cast off; and their condition, after their restoration to the divine favour, shall be so very happy that there shall not remain the least scar from the wounds which were given them by their being cast off. Such favour does God show to returning repenting sinners, who were by nature at a distance, and children of wrath; such fellowship are they admitted into, and such freedom does he use with them, that they are as though they had never been cast off. 1. The covenant they are admitted into is the same that ever it was: I am the Lord their God, according to the original contract, the covenant made with their fathers. 2. The communion they are admitted into is the same that ever it was: I will hear them. They shall be as welcome as ever to speak to him, and as sure as ever to receive from him an answer of peace; for, as he never did, so he never will, say to Jacob’s seed, Seek you me in vain.
II. They shall be victorious over their enemies, that would draw them from either their duty to God or their comfort in God (Zech. 10:5): They shall be as mighty men, that are both strong in body and bold in spirit, men of vigour, men of valour, effective men. Those of Ephraim, as well as those of Judah, shall be like a mighty man (Zech. 10:7), that dares to go about a difficult enterprise and is able to go through with it. They shall, as mighty men, tread down their enemies in the battle, as the dirt that is thrown out of the houses is trodden with other dirt in the mire of the streets. And they shall therefore fight, because the Lord is with them. Some would argue that they may therefore sit still, and do nothing, because the Lord is with them, who can and will do all. No; God’s gracious presence with us to help us must not supersede, but quicken and animate, our endeavours to help ourselves; and we must therefore work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God that works in us both to will and to do. They shall fight with readiness and resolution because, if God be with them, they are sure to be conquerors, more than conquerors. For then the riders on horses shall be confounded. The cavalry of the enemies shall be routed, and put into disorder, by the infantry of the Jews. The preachers of the gospel of Christ went forth to war a good warfare; they charged bravely, because God was with them; and the riders on horses that opposed them were confounded, for God chose the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the wise and mighty. But whence have they all this might? How come they to be so able, so active? It is in the Lord, and in the power of his might, that they are so (Zech. 10:6): I will strengthen the house of Judah, and so I will save the house of Joseph. Note, God saves us by strengthening us, and works out our happiness by working in us to do our duty. And thus we are engaged to the utmost diligence in using the strength God gives us; and yet, when all is done, God must have the glory of all. God is our strength, and so becomes both our song and our salvation.
III. Those of them that are dispersed shall be gathered together into one body (Zech. 10:6): I will bring them again to place them, bring them from other lands to place them in their own land. This was a token of their being perfectly restored to all their other ancient privileges—they shall be restored to the possession of their own land. This was fulfilled when the children of God that were scattered abroad were by faith in Christ incorporated in the gospel-church, and Jews and Gentiles became one fold, John 10:16. In order to this (Zech. 10:8) I will hiss for them, or, rather, whistle for them, as the shepherd with his pipe calls his sheep together, that know his voice; and so I will gather them. The preaching of the gospel was, as it were, God’s hissing for souls to come to Jesus Christ, his calling in his scattered sheep to the green pastures. I will gather them, for I have redeemed them. Note, Those whom Christ has redeemed by his blood God will gather by his grace, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. This promise is enlarged upon Zech. 10:10; I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt. Some think this was literally fulfilled when Ptolemaeus Philadelphus king of Egypt sent 120,000 Jews out of his country into their own land, as was the promise of gathering them out of Assyria by Alexander the son of Antiochus Epiphanes. But it has its spiritual accomplishment in the gathering in of precious souls out of a bondage worse than that in Egypt or Assyria, and the bringing of them into the glorious liberties of the children of God and their enjoyments, which are as the beautiful fruitful pastures in the land of Gilead and Lebanon. All the land of promise is theirs, even Gilead, the utmost border of it eastward, and Lebanon, the utmost border northward. But how shall this be? How shall a people so dispersed be got together? How shall those that are set at such a distance from their own country be brought to it again? It is true the difficulties seem insuperable, but they shall be got over as easily, as effectually as those that lay in the way of their deliverance out of Egypt and their entrance into Canaan: He shall pass through the sea with affliction, as of old through the Red Sea, to the sore affliction of Pharaoh and his hosts, or to the sore affliction of the sea, the waves whereof he shall smite, so that it shall be driven back, as when the sea saw and fled, Ps. 114:3. And all the deeps of the river (all the rivers, though ever so deep) shall dry up, as Jordan did, to make way for Israel’s passage into that good land which God had given them. Does the pride of Assyria stand in the way of their deliverance? He shall give check to it who sets bounds to the proud waves of the sea, and it shall be brought down. Does the sceptre of Egypt oppose it? That shall depart away, so that it shall not be able to obstruct the gathering in of God’s Israel when his time shall come for the doing of it. When the gospel-church was to be gathered out of all nations by the preaching of the gospel great opposition was given to it by the enraged combined powers of earth and hell. Insuperable difficulties seemed to be in the way of it. But, by a divine power going along with the doctrine of Christ, it became mighty to the pulling down of strong holds, and the conversion and salvation of thousands. Then the sea fled, and Jordan was driven back at the presence of the Lord.
IV. They shall greatly multiply, and the church, that new world, shall be replenished (Zech. 10:8): They shall increase as they have increased formerly in Egypt, and great additions shall be made to their numbers, as in the days of David and Solomon. When God gathers his redeemed ones to himself they shall help to gather in others with them, and their motion homeward shall be like that of a snow-ball. Crescit eundo—The further it goes the larger it grows by accretion. I will gather them, and they shall increase. Note, The church of Christ is a growing body, as long as it is in the present state of minority, till it comes to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. There are added to it daily such as shall be saved. 1. It shall spread to distant places. It shall fill Canaan, even to the lands of Gilead and Lebanon, so that no more place, no more room, shall be found for it there, Zech. 10:10. In Judah only God had been known, and his name was great in Israel only; here only he revealed his statutes and judgments. But in gospel-times that place shall be much too strait; the church’s tent must be enlarged, and its cords lengthened: Then I will sow them among the people, Zech. 10:9. Their scattering shall be like the scattering of seed in the ground, not to bury it, but to increase it, that it may bring forth much fruit. The Jews are said to be dispersed into every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5); and, as it was their troubles that dispersed some of them, so perhaps others transplanted themselves into colonies because the land of Israel was too strait for them; and many were natives of other nations, but proselyted to the Jewish religion. Now these were sown among the people, Hos. 2:23. And this contributed very much to the spreading of the gospel. The Jews that came from all parts to worship at Jerusalem fetched thence the gospel light and fire to their own countries, as those Acts 2:1-47, and the eunuch, Acts 8:26-40 And their own synagogues in the several cities of the Gentiles were the first receptacles of the apostles and their preaching, wherever they came. Thus when God sowed them among the people, that they might not get hurt by the Gentiles, but do good to them, he took care that they should remember him, and make mention of his name in far countries; and, by keeping up the knowledge of God among them as he had revealed himself in the Old Testament, they would be the more ready to admit the knowledge of Christ as he has revealed himself in the New Testament. 2. It shall last to future ages. The church shall not be res unius aetatis—a temporary thing, but a seed in it shall serve the Lord, Zech. 10:7. Yea, their children shall see it and be glad; and they shall live with their children, and turn again, Zech. 10:9. Converts to Christ shall have their children about them, whom they shall teach the knowledge of the Lord, and bring with them when they turn again to the holy land and the way of holiness. It was said to those to whom the gospel was first preached, The promise is to you and to your children, Acts 2:39. They shall be so sown among the people as never to be extirpated. Christ’s family upon earth shall never be extinct, nor his purchased possession lost for want of heirs.
V. God himself will be both their strength and their song. 1. In him they shall be comforted, and shall have abundant satisfaction (Zech. 10:7): Their heart shall rejoice as through wine; for Christ’s love, which is their joy, is better than wine. They shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice. When we resolutely resist, and so overcome, our spiritual enemies, then our hearts shall rejoice. But we ruin our own joy if our resistance be feeble and we yield to the temptations of Satan. Their heart shall rejoice, and then they shall be as a mighty man; for the joy of the Lord will be our strength. And with their graces their joys shall be propagated: Their children shall see it and be glad, and their hearts also shall rejoice in the Lord. It is good to acquaint children betimes with the delights of religion, and to make the services of it as pleasant as may be to them, that, learning betimes to rejoice in the Lord, they may with purpose of heart cleave to him. 2. By him they shall be carried on with vigour, and enlargement of heart, in his service (Zech. 10:12): I will strengthen them in the Lord, strengthen them for their walk and work, as well as for their warfare. It is the God of Israel that gives strength and power unto his people, that strengthens all their powers and faculties for spiritual performances, above what they are by nature and against what they are by the corruption of nature. Now observe, (1.) How they are thus enabled and invigorated for their duty: I the Lord will strengthen them in the Lord, in the Messiah, who is Jehovah our strength, as well as Jehovah our righteousness. Strength is treasured up for us in Christ, and from him it is communicated to us. It is through Christ strengthening us that we can do all things, and without him we can do nothing. His strength is commanded him for this purpose, Ps. 68:28. (2.) What good use they shall make of this strength given unto them: They shall walk up and down in his name. If God strengthen us, we must bestir ourselves, must walk up and down in all the duties of the Christian life, must be active and busy in the work of God, must walk up and down as industrious men do, losing no time, and letting slip no opportunity. But still we must walk up and down in the name of Christ, must do all by warrant from him and in dependence on him, with an eye to his word as our rule and his glory as our end. To us to live must be Christ; and, whatever we do in word or deed, we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, that we receive not the strengthening grace of God in vain. See Ps. 80:17, 18.