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.
1. 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 apostles’ times, which was promised them as a blessing in the prophets’ times—that 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.
2. 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 (Zech. 2:10), and it is repeated (Zech. 2:11), because it was to have a double accomplishment, 1. In the dedication of the temple, in their regularly observing all God’s institutions there and God’s 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 God’s 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 (Zech. 2:11), 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.
3. They shall have all their ancient dignities and privileges restored to them again, Zech. 2:12. 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 God’s 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 Lord’s 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, Zech. 2:13. The daughter of Zion must sing, but all flesh must be silent. Observe here, 1. A very awful description of God’s 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 people’s cause, wh 854 ich had long seemed neglected. 2. A seasonable caution and direction at such a time: Be silent, O all flesh! before the Lord—before Christ and his grace (let not flesh object against the methods he takes)--before 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; Zeph. 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.