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These are the demands of God. They are the requisite of our moral life and health ; they are simple, obvious, and approved by all intelligence.

This passage is well judged by Dr. Smith to be "the greatest saying of the Old Testament" concerning the duty which God requires of man.

The third section, vi:9-VII, is composed of several short sermons, sharply rebuking the sins and iniquities of his time, especially their dishonesty and falsehood in business, corruption and bribery in official life, and greed and cruelty on every hand.

“The prince asketh, and the judge is ready for a reward. The great man, he uttereth the mischief of his soul; thus they weave it together. The best of them is as a brier; the most upright as a hedge of thorns."

Against this evil he denounces the judgment of God. Nevertheless, he is not discouraged, for, looking beyond the chastisement which should come, he sees the dawning of a brighter day, and closes his book with a psalm of hope,—“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardonest iniquity, and passeth by transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again and have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot, and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

ZECHARIAH

The prophecies of Zechariah voice the hopes of the nation restored to their own land, and yet restrain them by the wholesome admonition that they can be realized only by obedience to the righteous law of God. He sings the sweet songs of a glad new day, and depicts its glory in the brilliant colors and the oriental imagery of the land in which he grew to manhood.

His prophecy is a veritable picture-book, full of delightful

scenes that tell in parable of the new life of peace and righteousness and joy. The first of these gives a striking picture of the place and office of Israel in the world.

“I saw by night and behold a man riding upon a red horse stood among the myrtle trees of the grove," and behind him others on sorrel and bay and white horses. These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. They report to the angel that they have gone through the earth, "and behold all the earth sitteth still and is at rest.”

The world was making no progress it was stagnant and inert.

This the prophet conceives to be the reason why "the Lord is sore displeased with the heathen at ease. Therefore thus saith the Lord I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies, my house shall be built in it saith the Lord." Here, as always it is God's concern for the world that moves him to his gracious purposes. Here as always Israel is called to service, to an office that was indeed her honor, but only because it was an opportunity to bless the world; distinction indeed, but more especially a privilege and responsibility.

Such is Zechariah's notion of the purpose of Israel's restoration.

From this springs naturally the consideration of the duties of such an office, and the means of their accomplishment. These are set forth in a series of parables and figures beautiful in their form and profound in their contents.

1. He sees a man with a measuring line in his hand—the engineer going forth to lay out the plans of the new city, which should need no wall for it should embrace the whole earth.

2. The Proclamation, calling the people from the "four winds of heaven" to return with joy and hope.

“Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion, for, lo, I come and will dwell in thee in the midst of thee, saith the Lord."

The purification of the church presented in the parable of the high priest stripped of his filthy garments and clothed with a

change of raiment and crowned with a "fair mitre."

4. The vision of the golden candlesticks and the two olive trees symbolizes the restored spiritual and temporal power.

5. The flying roll is the curse, or penalty, that shall of itself—in the very nature of things, come upon the thief and the liar.

6. The woman in the ephah carried to the land of Babylon, personifying the guilt of Israel removed to the land of their captivity but not restored.

7. The four chariots, God's avenging army to execute his judgment on the various nations.

In connection with these figures of Israel's restoration and reform are frequent warnings and exhortations. Each of these visions is indeed a text from which the prophet preaches righteousness and promises blessing, conditioned always on the faithfulness and zeal of the people in the way of holiness.

The seventh and eighth chapters give historic incidents, and further exhortation suggested by the incidents and predictions of the messianic kingdom.

Thus far the prophecies of Zechariah are very simple and easily interpreted. They present in clear and beautiful pictures the essential principles of true religion and pure morality. And taking these as texts preach a hopeful but trenchant gospel. Two great thoughts recur so frequently as to be almost a refrain, though not recurring in the same words.

First, "I will save you, and ye shall be a blessing." Second, remember justice and mercy, speak truth and seek peace, for because they refused to hear these commandments your fathers “were scattered with the whirlwind among the nations."

The other chapters of the book of Zechariah are so different from these that they are generally held to be by some other author.

Whether the critics be right or wrong in this is really a matter of very small importance. Whether the voice is the voice of

Zechariah or some other, the message is consistent and harmonious.

But as the vision of the future penetrates to more remote and later years, the view grows darker and more complex. The fine ideals of the zealous band who returned with joy grew dim, and the people fell away from their enthusiastic aspirations. The shadows gather; storms are forecast, and the terrors of a darkness that shall test the faith of the saints. The future foreseen by the prophet is tragic and awful, and some of it shameful and sad; but through it all, the star of hope shines with an undimmed luster, and now and then the bright sunshine of God's favor bursts upon the scene. Not for a moment does the prophet doubt the final triumph of the hope of Israel “At evening time it shall be light.

“The time shall come when the Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Lord and his name one.” And the spirit of common life shall be religious. In that day shall there be upon the bridles of the horses 'Holiness unto the Lord'

The whole prophecy of the book of Zechariah, by whatever authors, is a magnificent drama, setting forth the awful purposes of God, depicting the agony of the ages to come, with their trouble and anguish, their splendid heroism and their sad defections, their heartbreaking failures and their sublime successes.

Sometimes we liken it to the sweet swan song of dying prophecy; at other times, it seems rather the trumpet call to battle or the great shout of those who march to victory; but, at all times, the undertone is confidence in the divine and solemn destiny of Israel as the servant of Jehovah. The motif of it all is

"I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is

my God.

MALACHI

The abounding hope which filled the hearts of that little band of exiles who returned from Babylon soon died, when the difficulties of their task were realized. The visions that they cherished of a new kingdom, more glorious than the old, gave place to very serious doubt as to whether they could exist at all in the land of their fathers.

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick," and the sickness is severe in proportion to the brightness of the hope.

The hopes of the returning exiles had been very high, based, as they were, upon the promises made to their fathers and the oath which he swore to Abraham.

Like the disciples of Jesus, who thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear, and, because it did not, went back and walked no more with him, so these disappointed ones fell away from their high ideals, and a spirit of bitter carelessness prevailed; and many openly expressed contempt for the faith of their fathers.

There are always some who are impatient with the slow processes of evolution, who demand fruit the next day after the seed is sown. There is a form of skepticism which cries, “Let him make speed, let him hasten his work that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!” The conditions of the time after the return were such as to produce this state of mind. It was a condition that demanded more faith and patience than is given to most men. It was a crisis in the history of redemption.

To meet the need of such a time, God sent the prophet who is known as Malachi—though the critics tell us that this is probably not the name of the man, but a title meaning “My Messenger." This, however, is all we care to know that he was God's Messenger.

His message is important. It is addressed to the needs of the

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