Zechariah 6:15
And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.
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6:9-15 Some Jews from Babylon brought an offering to the house of God. Those who cannot forward a good work by their persons, must, as they are able, forward it by their purses: if some find hands, let others fill them. Crowns are to be made, and put upon the head of Joshua. The sign was used, to make the promise more noticed, that God will, in the fulness of time, raise up a great High Priest, like Joshua, who is but the figure of one that is to come. Christ is not only the Foundation, but the Founder of this temple, by his Spirit and grace. Glory is a burden, but not too heavy for Him to bear who upholds all things. The cross was His glory, and he bore that; so is the crown an exceeding weight of glory, and he bears that. The counsel of peace should be between the priest and the throne, between the priestly and kingly offices of Jesus Christ. The peace and welfare of the gospel church, and of all believers, shall be wrought, though not by two several persons, yet by two several offices meeting in one; Christ, purchasing all peace by his priesthood, maintaining and defending it by his kingdom. The crowns used in this solemnity must be kept in the temple, as evidence of this promise of the Messiah. Let us not think of separating what God has joined in his counsel of peace. We cannot come to God by Christ as our Priest, if we refuse to have him rule over us as our King. We have no real ground to think our peace is made with God, unless we try to keep his commandments.And they who are far off shall come - They who came from Babylon with offerings to God, became types of the Gentiles, of whom the Apostle says, "Now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off have become nigh through the blood of Christ" Ephesians 2:13; and, "He came and preached peace to you which were far off and to them that were nigh" Ephesians 2:17; and "the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call" Acts 2:39.

And build in - or upon, the temple of the Lord (Nehemiah 4:4, Nehemiah 4:11 (Nehemiah 4:10, Nehemiah 4:17 in English).) Not "build it" for it was to be built by "the Branch," but "build on," labor on, it. It was a building, which should continually be enlarged; of which Paul says, "I, as a wise master-builder, according to the grace given unto me, laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon; let every man take heed how, he buildeth thereupon" 1 Corinthians 3:10. Cyril: "What shall they build? Themselves, compacting themselves with the saints, and joining together in faith to oneness with those of Israel, Jesus Christ Himself being the head cornerstone and uniting together in harmony through Himself, what was of old divided. For He united "the two peoples into one new man, making peace, and reconciling in His own body all things unto the Father" Ephesians 2:15-16, which being accomplished, we shall own the truth of the holy prophets, and know clearly that it was God who spake in them and declared to us beforehand the mystery of Christ."

And this shall be - Not as though the coming of Christ depended upon their faithfulness, but their share in it. "Ye shall know (he had said) that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you;" but whether this knowledge should reach to individuals, depends upon their obedience and their willingness to know; "it shall be, , if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God. For none of the wicked," Daniel says, "shall understand" Daniel 12:10; and Hosea, "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them and the transgressors shall stumble at them" ; and the wise man, "he that keepeth the law of the Lord getteth the understanding thereof" (Ecclesiasticus 21:11). So our Lord said, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of Myself" John 7:17; "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God: John 8:47 : Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice" John 18:37. Osorius: "Because he had said, And ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me unto you, he warns them, that the fruit of that coming will reach to those only, who should hear God and with ardent mind join themselves to His name. For as many as believed in Him were made sons of God; but the rest were cast into outer darkness. But they receive Christ, who hear His voice and do not refuse His rule. For He was made the cause of eternal salvation to tell who obey Him."

15. they … far off shall … build—The reason why the crowns were made of gold received from afar, namely, from the Jews of Babylon, was to typify the conversion of the Gentiles to Messiah, King of Israel. This, too, was included in the "peace" spoken of in Zec 6:13 (Ac 2:39; Eph 2:12-17). Primarily, however, the return of the dispersed Israelites "from afar" (Isa 60:9) to the king of the Jews at Jerusalem is intended, to be followed, secondly, by the conversion of the Gentiles from "far off" (Zec 2:11; 8:2-2, 23; Isa 60:10; 57:19).

build in the temple—Christ "builds the temple" (Zec 6:12, 13; Heb 3:3, 4): His people "build in the temple." Compare Heb 3:2, "Moses in His house."

ye shall know, &c.—when the event corresponds to the prediction (Zec 2:9; 4:9).

this shall come to pass, if ye … obey, &c.—To the Jews of Zechariah's day a stimulus is given to diligent prosecution of the temple building, the work which it was meanwhile their duty to fulfil, relying on the hope of the Messiah afterwards to glorify it. The completion of the temple shall "come to pass," if ye diligently on your part "obey the Lord." It is not meant that their unbelief could set aside God's gracious purpose as to Messiah's coming. But there is, secondarily, meant, that Messiah's glory as priest-king of Israel shall not be manifested to the Jews till they turn to Him with obedient penitence. They meanwhile are cast away "branches" until they be grafted in again on the Branch and their own olive tree (Zec 3:8; 12:10-12; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:16-24).

This verse hath certainly a double reference, one to the Jews, and the building of the material temple, which is the literal and historical sense; the other mystical, and refers to the bringing in of the Gentiles.

They that are far off; such Jews as do now abide in Babylon and Persia, or other remote parts. It is also the character of the Gentiles, Acts 2:39 Ephesians 2:13,17.

Shall come and build in the temple; the Jews did so with their gifts, came to Jerusalem and built with their brethren; the Gentiles are come in and build the spiritual temple.

Ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you; the accomplishment of this shall prove my words to be God’s word, and that I am sent of him.

This shall come to pass; the literal part shall come to pass in your day,

if ye will obey the voice of the Lord your God speaking by me. The mystical part shall come to pass also; and, if you will believe and obey, the Gentiles shall come in and be your brethren, make up one church with you, and help to build the temple, the spiritual temple; but if you obey not, you shall be cast out, and the Gentiles be taken in, to be God’s people, and to build his temple. And they that are afar off shall come,..... Into the temple; not the material temple; nor is this a prophecy which was fulfilled in Herod, a stranger, repairing that, as Kimchi suggests; but into the spiritual temple, the church; and is a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles, who are said to be "afar off", Ephesians 2:12, from God; from having his image on them; from subjection to his law; from the knowledge and fear of him; and from communion with him: from Christ; from the knowledge of his person, righteousness, and salvation by him; from love to him, faith in him, and fellowship with him; from the Spirit of God, and from the people of God, and from any solid hope of eternal life: now these being called by grace, and brought to Christ under the drawings of the Father's love, shall come to his church, and join themselves to his people:

and build in the temple of the Lord; upon the foundation Christ; and be useful in building up others, either by private conversation, or by public preaching the word; it is not said, they shall "build the temple of the Lord"; that is Christ's work; but "build in" it:

and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you; that is, the Prophet Zechariah, who was sent to the Jews to declare these things to them; or, as the Targum adds, "to prophesy unto you": which they would fully know, and be assured of, when these things should have their accomplishment:

and this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God; not that the fulfilment of the above predictions depended upon their obedience; but when they should in the latter day obey the Gospel of Christ, or "the word of the Lord" their "God", as the Targum paraphrases it; then this would come to pass, that they should know that the prophet had his mission from the Lord.

And they that are {x} far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently {y} obey the voice of the LORD your God.

(x) That is, the Gentiles by the preaching of the Gospel, will help toward the building of the spiritual temple.

(y) If you will believe and remain in the obedience of faith.

15. they that are far off] Comp. Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:17, where there is perhaps a reminiscence of the οἱ μακρὰν of the LXX. here. “The counsel of peace,” and the “building in the temple of the Lord,” may also have been in St Paul’s mind when he wrote that passage.

if ye will diligently obey] The meaning is not, that the coming and work of Messiah, but that their share in it depended on their obedience. 2 Timothy 2:13; Malachi 4:1-2; Hebrews 4:9; Hebrews 4:11.

The Deputation from Bethel. Chaps. 7, 8. After the lapse of nearly two years, Zechariah is again called to prophesy, the occasion of his doing so being the arrival at Jerusalem of a deputation, sent from Bethel to enquire whether they ought still to observe a national fast, which had been instituted in the time of the captivity, Zechariah 7:1-3. The answer of Almighty God by the prophet falls into four sections (marked by separate paragraphs in R. V.), each of which is introduced by the same formula, Zechariah 7:4; Zechariah 7:8; Zechariah 8:1; Zechariah 8:18. The return in the last of these sections (Zechariah 8:19) to the question out of which the whole arose, shews that the prophecy is really one. In the first section the people are reminded that their fasting and feasting had alike been observances terminating upon themselves and devoid of religious motive and spiritual aim, and consequently unacceptable to God; in accordance with the teaching of the earlier prophets, in the times of Jerusalem’s prosperity, Zechariah 7:4-7. In the next section the substance of this teaching, as insisting on moral reformation and not on outward observances, is given; and to the neglect of it are traced the rejection by God of His people, and the calamities that had come upon them in their captivity and dispersion, Zechariah 7:8-14. Passing now to a happier strain of hope and promise, the prophetic word tells of the bright days of holiness and prosperity in store for Jerusalem, in contrast with her earlier condition of distress and discord, and urges the people, on the strength of these promises, to holy obedience, Zechariah 8:1-17. The concluding section predicts that the question from Bethel shall be solved, by the transformation of the fasts of their captivity into joyful feasts, to which willing multitudes shall throng from all parts of the land; heathen nations joining also in their celebration, and counting it an honour and protection to be associated with a Jew, Zechariah 8:18-23.Verse 15. - They that are far off; οἱ μακράν, (Septuagint); comp. Ephesians 2:13, 17. The Jews who had come from Babylon to Jerusalem are a figure of the conversion of distant nations and their offerings to the Church (see Haggai 2:7, and note there). Build in the temple of the Lord. They shall join in building up the spiritual temple, the universal Church of Christ. Ye shall know, etc. (Zechariah 2:9, 11; Zechariah 4:9). The Angel of Jehovah is speaking in Jehovah's name (ver. 9). What takes place in the case of this material temple shall be a token and a prelude of the great fulfilment in Messianic times. If ye will diligently obey. Neither the restoration of the temple nor the advent of Messiah's kingdom was in itself doubtful; but the people's share in the former, and their participation in the blessings of the latter, depended on the preparation of the heart, obedience, zeal, and holiness (Daniel 12:10; Malachi 4:1, 2; John 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:11, 12).

The judgment upon Joab and Ammon. - Zephaniah 2:8. "I have heard the abuse of Moab, and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, who have abused my nation, and boasted against its boundary. Zephaniah 2:9. Therefore, as I live, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Yea, Moab shall become like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrha, an inheritance of nettles and salt-pits, and desert for ever. The remnant of my nation will plunder them, the residue of my nation will inherit them. Zephaniah 2:10. Such to them for their pride, that they have despised and boasted against the nation of Jehovah of hosts." The threat now turns from the Philistines in the west to the two tribes to the east, viz., the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descended from Lot, and therefore blood-relations, and who manifested hostility to Israel on every possible occasion. Even in the time of Moses, the Moabitish king Balak sought to destroy Israel by means of Balaam's curses (Numbers 22), for which the Moabites were threatened with extermination (Numbers 24:17). In the time of the judges they both attempted to oppress Israel (Judges 3:12. and Judges 10:7.; cf. 1 Samuel 11:1-5 and 2 Samuel 10-12), for which they were severely punished by Saul and David (1 Samuel 14:47, and 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 12:30-31). The reproach of Moab and the revilings of the Ammonites, which Jehovah had heard, cannot be taken, as Jerome, Rashi, and others suppose, as referring to the hostilities of those tribes towards the Judaeans during the Chaldaean catastrophe; nor restricted, as v. Clln imagines, to the reproaches heaped upon the ten tribes when they were carried away by the Assyrians, since nothing is know of any such reproaches. The charge refers to the hostile attitude assumed by both tribes at all times towards the nation of God, which they manifested both in word and deed, as often as the latter was brought into trouble and distress. Compare Jeremiah 48:26-27; and for giddēph, to revile or blaspheme by actions, Numbers 15:30; Ezekiel 20:27; also for the fact itself, the remarks on Amos 1:13-2:3. יגדּילוּ על גב, they did great things against their (the Israelites') border (the suffix in gebhūlâm, their border, refers to ‛ammı̄, my people). This great doing consisted in their proudly violating the boundary of Israel, and endeavouring to seize upon Israelitish territory (cf. Amos 1:13). Pride and haughtiness, or high-minded self-exaltation above Israel as the nation of God, is charged against the Moabites and Ammonites by Isaiah and Jeremiah also, as a leading feature in their character (cf. Isaiah 16:6; Isaiah 25:11; Jeremiah 48:29-30). Moab and Ammon are to be utterly exterminated in consequence. The threat of punishment is announced in Zephaniah 2:8 as irrevocable by a solemn oath. It shall happen to them as to Sodom and Gomorrha. This simile was rendered a very natural one by the situation of the two lands in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea. It affirms the utter destruction of the two tribes, as the appositional description shows. Their land is to become the possession of nettles, i.e., a place where nettles grow. Mimshâq, hap leg., from the root mâshaq, which was not used, but from which mesheq in Genesis 15:2 is derived. Chârūl: the stinging nettle (see at Job 30:7), which only flourishes in waste places. Mikhrēh melach: a place of salt-pits, like the southern coast of the Dead Sea, which abounds in rock-salt, and to which there is an allusion in the threat of Moses in Deuteronomy 29:22. "A desert for ever:" the emphasis lies upon ‛ad ‛ōlâm (for ever) here. The people, however, i.e., the Moabites and Ammonites themselves, will be taken by the people of Jehovah, and be made their possession. The suffixes attached to יבזּוּם and ינחלוּם can only refer to the people of Moab and Ammon, because a land turned into an eternal desert and salt-steppe would not be adapted for a nachălâh (possession) for the people of God. The meaning is not, they will be their heirs through the medium of plunder, but they will make them into their own property, or slaves (cf. Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 61:5). גּויי is גּוי with the suffix of the first person, only one of the two י being written. In Zephaniah 2:10 the threat concludes with a repetition of the statement of the guilt which is followed by such a judgment.

The fulfilment or realization of the threat pronounced upon Philistia, Moab, and Ammon, we have not to look for in the particular historical occurrences through which these tribes were conquered and subjugated by the Chaldaeans, and to some extent by the Jews after the captivity, until they eventually vanished from the stage of history, and their lands became desolate, as they still are. These events can only come into consideration as preliminary stages of the fulfilment, which Zephaniah completely passes by, since he only views the judgment in its ultimate fulfilment. We are precluded, moreover, from taking the words as relating to that event by the circumstance, that neither Philistia on the one hand, nor Moabites and Ammonites on the other, were ever taken permanent possession of by the Jews; and still less were they ever taken by Judah, as the nation of God, for His own property. Judah is not to enter into such possession as this till the Lord turns the captivity of Judah (Zephaniah 2:7); that is to say, not immediately after the return from the Babylonish captivity, but when the dispersion of Israel among the Gentiles, which lasts till this day, shall come to an end, and Israel, through its conversion to Christ, be reinstated in the privileges of the people of God. It follows from this, that the fulfilment is still in the future, and that it will be accomplished not literally, but spiritually, in the utter destruction of the nations referred to as heathen nations, and opponents of the kingdom of God, and in the incorporation of those who are converted to the living God at the time of the judgment, into the citizenship of the spiritual Israel. Until the eventual restoration of Israel, Philistia will remain an uninhabited shepherds' pasture, and the land of the Moabites and Ammonites the possession of nettles, a place of salt-pits and a desert; just as the land of Israel will for the very same time be trodden down by the Gentiles. The curse resting upon these lands will not be entirely removed till the completion of the kingdom of God on earth. This view is proved to be correct by the contents of Zephaniah 2:11, with which the prophet passes to the announcement of the judgment upon the nations of the south and north.

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