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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 8:6

6. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.

6. Sic dicit Iehovae exercituum, Si mirabile est hoc in oculis reliquiarum populi hujus in diebus illis, etiam in oculis meis mirabile erit? dicit Iehova exercituum.

He sharply reproves here the lack of faith in the people; for as men are wont to measure whatever is promised by their own understanding, the door of entrance for these prophecies was nearly closed up when they saw that the fury of their enemies could by no means be pacified. They had indeed tried in various ways to check them, or at least to conciliate them; and we know that many edicts had been proclaimed in favor of the Jews by the kings of Persia; but such was the common hatred to them, that new enemies arose continually. On this account it is that the Prophet now blames their want of faith; and he points out, as by the finger, the source of their unbelief when he says, that they had no faith in God who spoke to them, because he promised more then what they could conceive to be possible. And this deserves notice, for if we wish to pull up unbelief by the roots from our hearts, we must begin at this point -- to raise up our thoughts above the world; yea, to bid adieu to our own judgment, and simply to embrace what God promises; for his power ought to carry us up to such a height that we may entertain no doubt but that what seems to us impossible will surely be accomplished. What the Prophet calls |wonderful| is the same as impossible; for men often wonder at God's worlds without believing them, and even under the false pretense of wonder deny his power. Hence when God promises anything, doubts immediately creep in -- |Can this be done?| If a reason does not appear, as the thing surpasses our comprehension, we instantly conclude that it cannot be. We thus see how men pretending to wonder at God's power entirely obliterate it.

When therefore the Prophet now says, If this be wonderful in your eyes, shall it be so in mine? it is the same as though he had said, |If you reject what I promise to you, because it is not in accordance with your judgment, is it right that my power should be confined to what you can comprehend?| We hence see that nothing is more preposterous than to seek to measure God's power by our own understanding. But he seems to say at the same time, that it is useful for us to raise upwards our minds, and to be so filled with wonder, while contemplating God's infinite power, that nothing afterwards may appear wonderful to us. We now perceive how it behaves us to wonder at God's works, and yet not to regard anything wonderful in them. There is no work of God so minute, but that it contains something wonderful, when it is considered as it ought to be; but yet when raised up by faith we apprehend the infinite power of God, which seems incredible to the understanding of the flesh, we look down as it were on the things below; for our faith ascends far above this world.

We now see the true source of unbelief and also of faith. The source of unbelief is this -- when men confine God's power to their own understanding; and the source of faith is -- when they ascribe to God the praise due to his infinite power, when they regard not what is easy, but being satisfied with his word alone they are fully persuaded that God is true, and that what he promises is certain, because he is able to fulfill it. So Paul teaches us, who says, that Abraham's faith was founded on this assurance -- that he doubted not but that he who had spoken was able really to accomplish his word. (Romans 4:20.) Hence, that the promises of God may penetrate into our hearts and there strike deep roots, we must bid adieu to our own judgment; for while we are wise in ourselves and rely on earthly means, the power of God vanishes as it were from our sight, and his truth also at the same time disappears. In a word, we must regard, not what is probable, not what nature brings, not what is usual, but what God can do, what his infinite power can effect. We ought then to emerge from the confined compass of our flesh, and by faith, as we have said, ascend above the world.

And he says, In the eyes of the remnant of this people, etc. By this sentence he seems to touch the Jews to the quick, who had already in a measure experienced the power of God in their restoration; for thirty years before their freedom had been given them by Cyrus and Darius, they regarded as a fable what God had promised them; they said that they were in a grave from which no exit could have been expected: they had experienced how great and incredible was God's power; and yet as people astonished, they despaired of their future safety. This ingratitude then is what Zechariah now indirectly reproves by calling them the remnant of his people. They were a small number, they had not raised their banner to go forth against the will of their enemies; but a way had been suddenly opened to them beyond all expectation. Since then they had been taught by experience to know that God was able to do more than they could have imagined, the Prophet here justly condemns them for having formed so unworthy an idea of that power of God which had been found by experience to have been more than sufficient. He afterwards adds --

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