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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 12:6

6. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.

6. In die illa ponam duces Iehudah quasi fornacem (vel, catinum fusorium) ignis inter ligna, et quasi facem (vel, lampadem) ignis in manipulo (hoc est, inter manipulos;) et comedent ad dextram et ad sinistram cunctos populos in circuitu; et habitabitur (vel, manebit) Ierusalem adhuc sub se (hoc est, in loco suo) in Ierusalem.

He adds another metaphor for the sake of a further confirmation; for he says, that the chiefs of Judah would be like a melting pot: some render it a hearth, but improperly and without meaning. He afterwards compares them to a flaming torch, and heathen nations to wood and stubble or chaff. The Spirit speaks thus also in other places; and the reason is to be noticed; for when the ungodly assail the Church of God, all things seem to threaten its ruin; but God declares that they shall be like chaff or wood. |The house of Israel,| says Isaiah, |shall be a flaming fire, and shall consume all the wood of the forest:| so also in this place, |There shall be indeed a great host of enemies, assembled against Israel; but the Lord will consume them, for he will be like fire in the midst of his people, and his people also shall be through the secret power of the Spirit like a burning pot or a torch, which shall consume the chaff, in which there is nothing substantial.|

But the Prophet shows again that the deliverance of the Church is ever wonderful: and hence foolishly do they act who rely on human and earthly instrumentality, and wilfully bind God to their own ways; for whenever God promises to be their deliverer, their inquiry is, |But how can this be? whence will come this aid to us? how will the hand of the Lord be stretched forth to us? whence will he gather his army?| Inasmuch then as we are wont thus anxiously to inquire, and thus drive away from us the aid of God, let this truth, taught by the Prophet, be borne in mind, -- that though enemies in great numbers may come upon us, they shall yet be like a heap of wood, and we like fire; for though we have no strength, yet the Lord by his hidden favor will cause that our enemies shall even, by coming nigh us, be consumed.

To the same purpose is the next similitude, -- that they would be a torch in handfuls of chaff; for here also the singular number is used for the plural. Then follows an explanation, Consume shall they on the right hand, and on the left, all nations around. Zechariah seems here to ascribe an insatiable cruelty, and a revengeful passion to the faithful, who yet are to be influenced by a meek spirit, so that they may imitate their heavenly Father. But here he speaks not of their disposition and feeling, but only shows, that all the ungodly shall be frustrated in their expectation of success, and not only so, but that they shall also be destroyed. The more furiously then they assail the Church, the more sudden shall be their destruction; for though the faithful may wish to spare them, yet God, the righteous judge, will not spare them. In short, the work of God himself, as in other places, is ascribed to the Church.

In the last place he declares, that Jerusalem shall stand in its own place, where it was. There is here a sort of repetition; and it was made, because enemies thought, as we have already stated, that they could destroy Jerusalem so as wholly to obliterate it: but the Prophet on the other hand says, that it would be established in its own place, because God had chosen it as the place where he purposed to be worshipped, and he had chosen it, as it is often said by Moses, to commemorate his own name. In a word, he intimates, that the Church would be perpetually established: though all mortals conspired for its ruin and assailed it on every side, yet the sanctuary of God, as he had promised, would continue there still, even to the advent of Christ; for then, we know, Jerusalem was to be wholly destroyed, together with the temple, as an end was to come on all these things, and the world was to be renewed.

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