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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 14:9

9. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.

9. Et erit Iehova in regem super totam terram; die illo erit Iehova unus, et nomen ejus unum.

Here the prophet shows more clearly, and without using a figurative language, what might otherwise be more obscure: he says, that Jehovah would be king. Here Zechariah compares the kingdom of Christ with those periods of misery and calamities which had preceded, and which had continued till the coming of Christ. We indeed know that there had been the most dreadful scattering through the whole land, since the time the ten tribes separated from the family of David; for since the body of the people ceased to be one, they wilfully contrived ruin for themselves. When therefore the Israelites fought against Judah, the wrath of God appeared, the fruit of their defection. We indeed know that David was not made king by the suffrages of men, but was chosen by the decree of God. Hence when the kingdom of Israel departed from the son of David, it was the same as though they had refused to bear the authority of God himself, according to what he said to Samuel,

|Thee have they not despised, but me,
that I should not reign over them.| (1 Samuel 8:7.)

And yet Samuel was only a governor for a time over the people; but when the people through a foolish zeal wished a king to be given then, God complains that he was despised in not being allowed to reign over them alone. This was more fully completed, when the ten tribes separated themselves from the lawful kingdom which God himself had established and had commanded to be inviolable. From that time then God was not their king. This is one thing.

Afterwards we know that the kings of Israel joined themselves with the kings of Syria to overthrow the kingdom of Judah, and that the Jews also sent for aid to the Assyrians, and afterwards had recourse to the Egyptians. At length the kingdom of Israel was cut off; then the kingdom of Judah, and the city was destroyed and the temple burnt, so that the worship of God for a time ceased. They afterwards returned; but we know they were ever oppressed by hard and cruel tyranny: when they perceived that they were unprotected, because they had refused to take shelter under the wings of God. Though he had so often told them that they would be safe and secure under his protection, they yet refused that favor. Therefore the Jews then found to their great loss that God was not their king.

Hence when Zechariah now speaks of the restoration of the Church, he rightly says, that Jehovah would be king; that is, though the Jews had been torn asunder and pillaged by tyrants, though they had suffered many reproaches and wrongs, yet God would become again their king, that He might defend them against all unjust violence and keep them under His protection. Nothing indeed can be more blessed than to live under the reigns of God; and this highest happiness is ever promised to the faithful.

We now understand the Prophet's meaning as to this part; but he shows immediately after that this cannot be hoped for, except the Jews really attended to true religion and worshipped God aright and cast away their superstitions. Hence he joins together these two things, -- that the condition of the people would be a happy one, because God would undertake the care of them and perform the office of a king, -- and then, that God would be their king, in order that he might be rightly and sincerely worshipped by them: there shall be, he says, one Jehovah. Here the Prophet briefly shows that the legitimate worship of God cannot be set up, unless superstition be abolished. We indeed know that God is jealous, as he calls himself, so that he cannot bear rivals: for when we devise for ourselves any sort of deity, we instantly take from God what is his own. The Prophet then teaches us, that God cannot be truly worshipped, except he shines alone as the supreme, so that our religion may be pure and sound. In short, he indirectly condemns here those superstitions by which the earth had been corrupted and polluted, and also the superstitions by which true religion had been adulterated and the worship under the law had been violated. For this reason he says, that Jehovah would be one

He expresses this still clearer by saying, that his name would be one. This second clause may indeed appear useless; for whatever can be said of God is comprehended in his oneness. But as we are wont by various artifices to cover superstitions, and ever devise new excuses and new disguises, by which our impiety may seem specious and plausible, the Prophet expressly adds here, that God's name is one; as though he had said, |It is not enough for men to declare that they acknowledge one true God or one supreme deity, except also they agree in some true and simple faith, so that the name of this one true God may be celebrated on the earth.| But the idea of the Prophet will become more clear if we notice the difference between the one true God and the name of the only true God, or the one name of God. All the philosophers with one mouth teach, that there are not many gods, but some supreme deity, who is the source of divinity: and this is what has been believed by all heathen nations. But in course of time they began to imagine that from this source many gods have emanated; and hence has come a multitude of false gods, so that some worshipped Jupiter, others Mercury, others Apollo; not because they thought that there are many gods partaking of original divinity; but because they imagined that gods have proceeded from the supreme fountain. As then the Jews might have sought subterfuges, and excused themselves by saying that they did not in heart worship many gods, the Prophet adds the second clause, -- that the name of God is one; which means, that there is a certain way in which God is to be worshipped, that there is a certain fixed rule, so that no one is to follow what he himself may imagine to be right, and that the majesty of God ought not to be profaned by various errors, nor should men be lost each in his own notion, but that all ought to attend to the voice of God, and to hear what he testifies of himself.

We now then understand what the Prophet means: he says first, that things would be in a happy state in Judea, when God would be regarded as one, that is, when the whole land had been cleansed from its defilements, and when true religion again prevailed: but as this purity would not easily obtain footing in the world, and as men easily decline from it, he adds, that the name of God would be one, in order that the Jews might understand that God cannot be rightly worshipped except he be alone worshipped; and that it cannot be one, unless there be one faith, prescribed and certain, and not alternating between diverse opinions, like that of the heathens, whose religion is no other than to follow what they themselves imagine or what they have derived from their ancestors.

Now this is a remarkable passage: God distinguishes himself from all idols and his worship from all superstitions; and the more attentively we ought to consider what the Prophet teaches us, because our inclinations, as I have said, to vanity, is so great, and this is what experience itself sufficiently shows, and we also see how easily superstition, like a whirlwind, carries us away, and not only one superstition, but innumerable kinds of superstition. The more then it behaves us to notice this truth, so that the one name of God may prevail among us, and that no one may allow himself the liberty of imagining anything he pleases; but that we may know what God ought to be worshipped by us. And Christ also condemns for this reason all the forms of worship which prevailed in the world, by saying to the woman of Samaria,

|Ye know not what ye worship, we Jews alone,| he says, |know this.| (John 4:22.)

We hence see that this one thing is sufficient to condemn all superstitions, that is, when men follow their own fancies, and observe not a fixed and unchangeable rule, which cannot deceive. It follows --

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