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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 14:8

8. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

8. Et accidet die illo, Exibunt aquae vivae e Ierusalem; medium earum ad mare Orientale, et medium earum ad mare novissimum, (vel, posterius,) aestate et hyeme erunt.

Here is subjoined a more cheering prophecy, -- that the grace of God would yet prevail. Whatever evils, and troubles, and dangers, and fears, and diseases awaited the faithful, he yet says that in such miseries they would still be made happy. And this ought to be carefully observed, for nothing can be more suitably found to alleviate our sorrows than to put in the balance God's benefits on one side, and on the other the punishments and chastisements which he brings on us; for as God's mercy and kindness always greatly preponderate, it cannot be but that we shall be able to say with holy Job,

|If good things have we received from the Lord's hand, why should we refuse evil things?| (Job 2:10.)

This then is what Zechariah sets before us, -- that though the Church may be harassed by many cares, and subject to many fears, and terrified by many dangers, and be as it were in trepidation, yet the grace of God, if rightly viewed, is sufficient to administer invaluable comfort, for go forth shall living waters from Jerusalem

This prophecy no doubt refers to the kingdom of Christ, and this may be sufficiently proved by other passages. The Prophet then has hitherto spoken of the many afflictions, which were nigh at hand, in order that the Jews might not faint or entirely fail; but he now directs their minds to the kingdom of Christ, from whence they were to look for not only a deliverance from all evils, but also the full restitution of the Church, and as it were the renovation of the world.

There is here no doubt an implied contrast between living waters and those which soon dry up: hence he says, that they would flow continually summer and winter. Judea, we know, was subject to want of water, and there were no waters around Jerusalem, except the spring of Siloam, which had waters in abundance, and supplied the wants of the citizens. But the Prophet promises living waters, which would not be like occasional streams, but flow continually. At the same time he seems to regard something higher. As by living waters he understands those which are spiritual, so he compares these waters with all those streams which are earthly; as though he had said, |the fountain from which the two streams arise is inexhaustible, so that its exuberance shall never fail, but shall send forth streams from one sea to the opposite sea, and shall water the farthest regions of the earth.|

By the eastern sea many understand the Lake Asphaltes, but it seems to me more probable that the Prophet speaks of the Persian Sea; for if he had said that the waters would go forth to that lake, the distance would be very short; but he meant on the contrary to show, that the copiousness of the waters would be so large and abundant that though they would pass through the whole earth, yet their flow would never cease. By the hinder sea he no doubt meant the Mediterranean. The import of the whole is, -- that thong the earth were previously dry, yet such would be the abundance of waters as to be sufficient for all, not only as in former times to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but also to all the Jews in whatever part of the country they might dwell.

Now, since the language is metaphorical, we must bear in mind what I have lately said, -- that here is set forth the spiritual grace of God; nor is it a new thing to apply the word waters to the Spirit of God:

|I will pour forth waters on the dry land
and rivers on the thirsty land| (Isaiah 44:3;)

and again,

|I will give clean waters.| (Ezekiel 36:25.)

There is a twofold reason why Scripture gives the name of waters to the Holy Spirit, -- because he performs the two offices of cleansing and of watering: for we are like barren and dry land, except the Lord by his Spirit from heaven gives us new vigor and conveys moisture to us. As then the earth derives moisture from heaven, that it may produce fruit, so also we must have conferred on us by the hidden power of the Spirit whatever vigor we may possess. Since then Zechariah promises a fountain of living waters, he understands that God's grace would be offered to all the Jews, so that they might drink and be satisfied, and no more be exposed as formerly to the want of water.

If any one objects and says, that this interpretation seems forced, the answer is ready at hand, which is this, -- that as it is certain that the prophet here speaks of the kingdom of Christ, this rule is to be remembered, -- That whatever is foretold of Christ's kingdom, must correspond with its nature and character. Since then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, there is no doubt but that when Scripture, as we have seen, promises a large produce of corn and wine, an abundance of all good things, tranquillity and peace, and bright days, it intends by all these things to set forth the character of Christ's kingdom. We hence see what the prophet means by living waters; and then, why he says that they would go forth to the east and to the west; and lastly, why he adds, that they would flow in winter as well as in summer. It now follows --

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