This prophet was ordered, in God’s name, to assure the people (Zech. 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 (Zech. 2:1, 2): He lifted up his eyes again, and looked. God had shown him that which was very encouraging to him, (Zech. 1:20), and therefore now he lifted up his eyes again and looked. Note, The comfortable sights which by faith we have had of God’s 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 Jerusalem’s 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 carpenter’s 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, Luke 14:22. In the New Jerusalem, my Father’s 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 (Zech. 2:4): 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 God’s 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, Zech. 2:5. (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 (Job 1:10), 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 church’s 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.