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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 1:16

16. Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.

16. Propterea sic dicit Iehovah, Reversus sum ad Ierusalem in miserationibus; domus mea aedificabitur in ea, dicit Iehovah exercituum; et linea extendetur super Ierusalem.

This is a confirmation of the last prophecy, -- that God purposed to put an end to his chastisement, as it is said by Isaiah, |They have received at Jehovah's hand double for all their sins.| For in these words God reminds us that he was satisfied with the punishment he had inflicted on his people, like a father, who thinks that he had been sufficiently severe and rigid in punishing his son. So now, Thus saith Jehovah, I have returned to Jerusalem in mercies: for it was necessary to give the people the hope of pardon and reconciliation, that they might look forward with confidence. Hypocrites very quickly raise up their crests as soon as a kind word is addressed to them; but the faithful, being conscious of what is wrong, and having their sins before their eyes, do not so easily take courage; nor can they do so, until they are convinced that their sins are buried, and that they themselves are freed from guilt. Hence the Prophet says, that God had turned to Jerusalem, that the Jews might know that the punishment with which God had visited them was to be only for a time.

But in the meantime he exhorts them to humility: for the people could not from this prophecy entertain any hope, except they duly considered that they had suffered justly, because they had provoked God's wrath. Hence the Prophet reminds them that what they had hitherto endured was to be imputed to their sins; but that God yet intended to treat them in a paternal manner; for, as I have already stated, he had promised that his mercy towards his elect and faithful would be perpetual. Hence he says, that he had returned in mercies to Jerusalem

He then adds, My house shall be built in it; and over Jerusalem shall a line be stretched forth. Line, qvh, kue, is to be taken for a perpendicular line, as in Isaiah 28:17, and in other places. There is here an addition of h, he, for as it has been elsewhere said, the language had become somewhat degenerated. The import of the whole is, that there was a hope of the temple and of the city being built, because God had returned into favor with the people. There are then two things to be noticed, -- that God was now pacified towards Jerusalem, -- and that the fruit of reconciliation would be the building of the temple, the establishment of divine worship and of the dignity of the kingdom. The Prophet teaches us at the same time, that the building of the temple was not to be expected but as an instance of God's gratuitous favor, so that the Jews might know that every hope would have been cut off, had not God been pleased to abolish their guilt.

This doctrine ought also to be extended to the state of the Church at all times: for whence comes it that the Church remains safe in the world? Nay, how is it that it sometimes increases, except that God indulges us according to his infinite goodness? For we cease not daily to provoke him, and deserve to be wholly exterminated from the world. There would then be no Church, were not God to preserve it in a wonderful manner through his goodness and mercies, and also to restore it when it seems to have wholly fallen. He at length adds --

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