[* Taken from S.G.A.T. publication.]




Zechariah 12:10


By  Adolph Saphir


(This article is taken from Mr Saphir's book, ‘Christ and Israel,’ written about 140 years ago).


I think there is nothing in the whole range of Scripture more touching than the promise contained in these simple, unadorned words.  And as they touch the heart, they fix themselves on our memory.  Who can ever forget them? “They shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced.”


A whole nation is here brought before us - and what a nation!  Venerable for their antiquity, remarkable on account of their marvellous history, their wonderful preservation, their world-influencing literature, their mysterious future; a nation separate from all other peoples, chosen by the sovereign grace of God, educated by His wisdom and love, chastised and scattered by His righteous wrath and holy severity, and reserved for the sake of One - Whom, alas, they know not - to be yet more highly favoured than ever, and to become a blessing to all the world!


After the greatest manifestation of Divine love and condescension, their sin reached the highest, the culminating point.  Prophets had been stoned, Divine messengers had been killed; yet Divine patience and forgiveness, not exhausted, sent the Son.  Peradventure they will reverence Him.  But they, with cruel hands, nailed Him to the cross. And rejecting the testimony of the Holy Ghost and the message of the apostles, they filled up the measure of their sin, and judgment came upon them to the uttermost.  Jerusalem was destroyed, and they were scattered among all nations of the earth.  Persecuted and oppressed, in suffering and in tears, they survive every trial, and while they preserve the Scriptures, which testify of the Messiah, the veil rests upon their hearts, and they continue in darkness and unbelief, until at last the Lord appears.  The Holy Ghost, like a stream of fire, is sent into their hearts, the spirit of grace touches them, and stirs within them the longing after Divine light and help: they repent, and looking upward, they behold none other but Him, against Whom they had sinned, Whom they had put to death. They look with astonishment, with contrition, but also with hope, with trust.  For a magnetic attraction, a tender, sweet, yet irresistible influence, proceeds from the Lord Jehovah, Who rivets now their gaze.  He Whom they have pierced has no other desire but that they should look and live; He is Joseph, Whom they sold into Egypt - their Brother, their Saviour.


The words are simple, and in their luminous simplicity admit no other interpretation.  The expression ‘look’ is used of that intense, expectant gaze which is characteristic of the attitude of humble, astonished, helpless, anxious faith. The word ‘pierced’ can only mean thrust through with sword or spear.  No other man in Jewish history stands out Whose death was the deed of the whole nation, and the remembrance of Whose death, brought home by the Spirit, causes such bitter sorrow and blessed hope.  Israel cherishes with the greatest veneration and affection the memory and names of other prophets and saints; they build and ornament their sepulchres, they regard them with almost superstitious reverence; Jesus, Who is their true Glory, is the only One Whom the nation rejects.


See how, centuries after the prophecy, John, the beloved disciple, stands near the cross of Golgotha.  Soldiers approach; and when they came to Jesus they brake not His legs, for they saw He was dead already.  But one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side.  For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled.  A bone of Him (the true Paschal Lamb) shall not be broken’. And again, another Scripture saith, ‘They shall look upon Him Whom they pierced.’  That same disciple testifies, ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him.’


But let us return from the bright light of fulfilment to the light of prophecy, and see how clear and great it was. Zechariah, one of the three prophets who lived after the return of the Jews from their captivity, is, next to Isaiah, the clearest evangelist of the old dispensation.


It was natural that the Jews should expect the immediate advent of the Messiah after each crisis in their history.  By renewed revelations they had to be taught that the ultimate fulfilment of the promise was not yet.  Daniel, reading the prophet Jeremiah, expected that after the end of the seventy years the Christ would come; hence the prophecy is sent to him, that again seventy times seven periods had to elapse ere the kingdom would come.  As in a long and winding river, often when we expect to see its termination we discover that a new turn of the stream opens to us another vista, and a protracted course, so did the advent of the Messiah recede from time to time, and partial fulfilment of prophecy became the starting-point of new and fuller disclosures.


Was not David the promised King?  No; for to him is promised a son.  Was Solomon, then, the Prince of Peace?  No; he was but a new type of the King of Israel.  Thus the return from Babylon, and rebuilding of Jerusalem, were only new commencements of waiting.


Starting with Jerusalem’s renovation under Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the prince - Zechariah predicts the Messianic time; and in the second portion of his prophecy he sees (without type, and directly) the ultimate glory of his nation, and the reign of Messiah over all the earth.  In no prophecy do we find such comprehensive and evangelical statements, and such minute and graphic predictions.  Zechariah sums up the whole prophecy of Isaiah when he calls Messiah the Branch, Jehovah’s Servant.  He sums up, almost as clearly as the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Levitical and the Davidic types, when he speaks of “the Priest on the throne” and “the counsel of peace” between him and the Lord.  The prediction here ascends from earth heavenwards.  Growing up out of Israel, the Branch; obeying perfectly the will of God, the Servant - this mysterious Man builds the temple, and combining what never was combined, Aaron and David in one person, He is a Priest enthroned, He is a King mediating as a Priest.


But still more marvellous is the subsequent prediction.  The rulers of Israel are false shepherds.  They do not feed the flock; they heal not that which is broken.  But there is one Who is a Good Shepherd.  He is among Israel, but God calls Him “My Shepherd.”  In a mysterious way He belongs to God.  He is Man; but in this prophecy He is called in words as brief as they are startling, “the Man that is My fellow (equal), saith the LORD of hosts.”


This Shepherd is despised and rejected by the rulers; only the poor, the common people hear Him gladly.  The great and mighty of the land reject Him.  They weigh for His price, as if He was a common slave, thirty pieces of silver; and in contempt the price is cast to the potter.


Rejected by His nation, betrayed and sold and set at nought, this Shepherd, Whom God calls His Shepherd, nay, the Man Who is His equal, enters into still deeper suffering.  The sword awakes.  The sword is the emblem of Divine punitive justice.  And this Divine judgment awakes against the only Good and Holy One, against Him Who is Man and yet more than man.  It smites the Shepherd.  And this, both according to God’s will and appointment, and according to Israel’s sinful will and hatred.  God gives Him up to death; Israel pierces Him.  This is the Man Who descends from heaven, Whose feet are seen standing upon the Mount of Olives, Who sends forth the Holy Ghost, Who saves and glorifies His repentant and believing nation.  They shall look upon Me, Whom they have pierced.”


I have been reminding you exclusively of Zechariah’s predictions, nearly six centuries before our era; and yet it is as if I had quoted the Gospel of Matthew, and the Nicene Creed.  The Branch, My Servant, - behold the genealogy of Jesus, the Son of David; behold His holy and spotless life.  The Shepherd, My Shepherd; Whom the common people heard gladly, Whom Pharisees and Scribes hated and rejected.  Thirty pieces of silver they paid, because they wished to show that Jesus in their estimation was simply a common man, neither more nor less than a common slave.  And yet such was the voice of conscience, they hesitated to put the money into the temple treasury.  The Shepherd is smitten; the sheep scattered - the disciples and believers are dismayed and bewildered by the dark night of sorrow and agony which bursts upon their Master.  Jesus is pierced; thrust through.  As Psalm 22 describes it more fully: He dies on the cross.  He dies by the hand of man; but the sword that smites Him is, as the prophet foretells, unsheathed by God Himself, for God made Him to be sin for us.  Yet is He the Man Who is God’s equal; or, as the Creed says, “God of God, Light of light, begotten, not made.”  He liveth, and shall come again with the clouds of heaven, and “they shall look upon Him Whom they pierced.”  I pause here to impress on you some obvious and important lessons.


Do you believe the Scripture?  Do you believe that holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost?  Do you believe that the prophets spake not out of their own depths of insight, knowledge, and feeling, but out of the depths of God, disclosed to them by the Spirit, Who searched the deep things of God?  Do you believe the Scripture? I know that you believe; but oh! I wish you to believe with a firm, assured, joyous, unwavering and exuberant faith. I wish the measure of your faith not to be scanty, but full and pressed together by flowing over.  I wish you to confess with a simple and clear voice, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  Whence this prediction of Zechariah, if not by God’s Spirit?  Take the ideas in their general, grand, massive character.  David’s Son, perfect and holy, Priest and King; Shepherd, chosen of God and rejected by the rulers; despised and put to death, descending from heaven a Prince and a Saviour.  Who could have imagined such a person, such a history?


Take the details.  The ass and the ass’s colt, the thirty pieces of silver and the potter's field, the death by piercing! Whence these marvellous photographic pictures?


Prophecy is miracle stereotyped.  If seeing were believing, who could doubt after reading prophecy?  But, alas! in order to believe we do not need evidence merely, but a new heart.  Notice, secondly, the great facts of our Christian faith in this prophecy of Zechariah.  Here is the Incarnation, Jehovah's equal - a Man; here is Golgotha, “Me, Whom they pierced;” here is the Ascension, the Priest upon the throne; here is justification by faith: “They shall look.”  For nothing else brings to them salvation and glory but the look of repentance and trust.  Here is the work of the Holy Ghost: “And I will pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication.”


But, thirdly, what is it in the gospel that appears to Israel so foolish, so revolting - and not to Israel only, but to all human beings in their natural state?  Two doctrines.  The first, the Incarnation, God manifest in the flesh; Jesus the Son of God, the Man that is My equal.  The second, the doctrine of Substitution, that Jesus died, because the Father laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.


And yet these two doctrines, or, rather, these two facts, are the very essence and life of the gospel.  It is because man cannot believe the exceeding great and abounding love of God that he cannot believe the Son of God became man and died for us.  I do not wonder that man hesitates; that he stands amazed, awed; that love so transcendent, so Divine, overwhelms him.  Thus did the love of God appear unto Paul.  He beheld Jesus, Whom he had persecuted. And he believed in the Son of God, “Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”


And thus every Jew who, by the grace of God since the Day of Pentecost, has been brought to Christ, fulfils this prediction; he looks unto Him Whom he has pierced.  It is the look of repentance; for only a sight of the crucified Jesus shows us our sin and grief.  It is the look of supplication and faith; for He only can bless and save, and He saves all who believe.  It is the look of peace and adoration; for His love is infinite, unchanging, and omnipotent.  It is the look which never ceases and never ends; for now the veil is taken away, and we with open face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.


While we are still looking and longing for the true and ultimate fulfilment of the promise, when Christ shall appear in His glory to the nation, and “all Israel” shall be saved, let us thank God that there is, and always has been, in Israel “a remnant according to the election of grace.”  Let us be thankful that, through the preaching of the Gospel, some sheep of the House of Israel are brought to the fold of the Lord Jesus.  Our Mission to the Jews may be as yet a feeble, as it is certainly a difficult, work; but it is the Lord’s work, according to His will, founded on His Word, protected and prospered by His grace, and bringing forth fruit, precious in itself, and precious as confirming our faith and our hope.


I ask this day, as I ask every Lord’s day, Remember, consider the Lord Jesus.  By faith, and with a loving heart, realise Him Who came from heaven, Israel’s Messiah, your Saviour; see Him as the Prophet Zechariah brings Him before us, and as Jesus manifested Himself to His disciples – “pierced,” wounded, bearing the marks of His death in His hands and feet.  And, as we know, He liveth now and will come again to melt the hearts of His brethren, and restore them to faith and blessedness; so for His sake, and in sympathy with Him, let us love Israel.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” and out of a loving and praying heart give whatever help you can to the work of God among His ancient people.








(Zechariah 14)




[Additional comments are added throughout]


It has been too much the habit of believers to value only such knowledge as has, in their judgment, a direct tendency to minister to the strength or comfort of their own souls.  They rightly feel that they need strength, and therefore the great truths of redemption are those to which they naturally recur for comfort and sustainment.  True, indeed, we need to be sustained and comforted.  We need to be reminded every day that “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We need to remember continually, that the Lord Jesus is our Life, that He is ever acting in the presence of God for us - that He preserves our peace and reconciliation.  He never fails to act; He never fails to make intercession for us.  We need indeed to recur continually to these and kindred truths for the food and comfort of our souls.  But, at the same time, there are other things in the Word of God which are needful to the man of God who desires to “be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16).


Who is there that is not in danger of clinging to the things of this present evil world?  Who is there who has not the flesh? - and the flesh loves to cleave to the things which the eye sees.  In order to meet this tendency there is abundant testimony in the Word of God respecting things soon to come to pass; respecting “the day of the Lord,” when every eye shall see, and every heart feel, that “all flesh is grass, and all the godliness thereof is as the flower of the field” (Isaiah 40:6); and that it withereth when the breath of the Lord bloweth upon it.  This is a truth sharp and piercing - our hearts shrink from it; we do not like that the things which our nature loves should be given up.  And therefore it is that such parts of the Word of God as this are brought to bear on the conscience.


Therefore it is that such parts are found profitable even to the most established saints of God; for they reveal truth whereby God judges the flesh.  And, remember, it is a more blessed thing to have the flesh in us judged by the power of the testimony of the Word of God, than by chastisement or rebuke from Him.  It is a happy and blessed thing to see the flesh judged in any way; but it is most blessed when the Word of God does it.  When our hearts have been bruised by His Word being brought, by His grace, to bear upon us as the sword, it saves many a sorrow, and many a trial.


Yet there is a place more blessed even than this.  For what does God desire for us - us whom He has loved and cleansed, and made priests and kings, and to whom He has given His own Spirit?  What does He desire but to fill us with the knowledge of His own love; to lead us to know what He is about to do; to show us His relation to us; and His relation to things in this world, in order that we might rest in His love, and not in the world’s vanities?  Was it not a blessed thing to be such a prophet as Zechariah?  Was it not a blessed thing to stand like Jeremiah or Isaiah - witnesses for God’s Truth in the midst of a “disobedient and gainsaying people”?  Is there no honour in such a place?  Would you not desire it?  Well, although we are not prophets, yet we may speak the things that the prophets speak. Their testimonies may be revived in our lips.  Men may be caused to hear through us what the prophets, and the Lord, and the apostles, have spoken respecting the things about to be.


And it is no little matter whether our hearts are filled with our own thoughts - our own vain imaginations which Satan rules (for Satan gains the mastery of our thoughts when they do not flow from the source of God’s own truth); it is no little matter whether we have the false suggestions of Satan in our hearts, or the knowledge of the truth of God.  So that there is nothing that I could desire more for you, than first to see you simple in your thoughts respecting redemption, holding fast those blessed words – “sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus once,” and then to see you standing forth in the strength of that redemption, maintaining the truths of His holy Word.  So would you every day more and more feel the importance of having your thoughts filled with the knowledge of what God has revealed to us in His Word, in order that we might lead others to the well-springs of Truth, where they may be at once sanctified and comforted as the separated people of the Lord; for it is Truth that sanctifies.


Now this passage respecting things to come (Zechariah 14), is so plain, so simple, that who is there that can fail of understanding it?  It is a word addressed to Jerusalem, the place which God has loved - the place on earth where He has chosen to set His Name - the place where He intends by-and-bye to make His Name known, and whence He will publish His saving truth unto all nations.  For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62: 1).


The Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem; He said days of vengeance were coming on it, and that they should long continue - even until “the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled.”  So it is up to this present hour.  On Jerusalem the days of vengeance are still resting.  The curse of God is still resting on that land and city.  And yet, who recognises it?  Few know - few think that it is so.  Nothing is more plainly stated in the Word of God, and yet there is nothing of which men are more unconscious.  And this is one of the signs of the times - one of the signs of the present hour.


Human events have now gone on so as to cause the thoughts of men again to be frequently turned towards Jerusalem.  Men of this world, men great in power, are now fixing their thoughts on that stricken city.  They think that it would be well to establish power and greatness there again.  They think it would be a very good and desirable thing to gather the scattered Jews again to Jerusalem: and finally they will do it (This was spoken about 1840 - Ed.). And now if you wish to know what God says to the Jews then - that He says to that city and people when they shall again have wandered back into their own land, you must read this chapter.  It is the address of the Lord to that city and people.


Verses 1-2: The first words of this chapter are, “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.”  These are solemn words. “The day of the Lord” is a solemn word; and it is well we should understand its meaning.  The word ‘Behold’ calls our most solemn attention.  The Lord speaks to Jerusalem; He speaks of her spoil: for there will be riches and greatness there: Jerusalem will be one of the earth’s greatest cities.  But its greatness will be unhallowed greatness, and on it ‘the day of the Lord’ will come.  But observe how it comes: “I will gather all nations” - and who will be aroused by this?  There will be no visible interference of Divine power.  All that men will discern will be the assembling of mighty armies: but this they will have seen often before. They will see in it no sign.  If there was something done by the Lord palpably and outwardly, man might be able then to trace the hand of the Lord in it.  But how often have armies threatened cities?


Very recently our own hosts have been assailing the Land of Israel (referring to the operations of the English forces on the coast of Syria in 1840 - Ed.). Mount Carmel, and Tyre, and Sidon have witnessed the triumph of the armies of England.  And when again the Western nations go up against Jerusalem, it will only be regarded as a repetition of what has often before been.  None will think or care about it, excepting, indeed, those distinctly taught these things by the Spirit of the Lord; because God conceals His hand, and works silently when He intends to surprise the world in its wickedness.  Accordingly, He says, that that day will come as a thief in the night.  When men are saying, “Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh (shall come) upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).


But those who know the truth will see that it is the Lord who will gather the nations.  He says, “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”  It will be the Lord’s hand that will do it.  He will prosper their ways; He will gather those nations - this nation among the rest; for this nation, as coming within the Roman World, will share in the triumph, and also in the destruction of that day.  And they will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle, and they will subdue it; they will take it and divide the spoil; they will triumph and congratulate one another on it.  God in judgment sends prosperity on the wicked.  But their triumph shall be short.


Verse 3: Observe what the next verse declares, “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.”  How few believe that!  How few believe the Lord will really interpose, as of old, in the things of this earth!  Very few, even of God’s own people, believe it.  They have been so much accustomed to have their thoughts directed to their rest in heaven - their hope, and the blessedness they expect there, that they have quite forgotten other parts of truth such as this.  They have forgotten what God has revealed touching the destinies of Jerusalem, His earthly city; how He has said that He will interfere for it, and fight for it, “as when He fought in the day of battle.”


In other words, His mighty power shall visibly be put forth on behalf of Israel, even as when of old He overthrew Pharaoh and the hosts of Egypt, or smote the hosts of Midian.  Many times we read of His fighting for Israel; His presence was manifested - no one doubted it.  It was known that the Lord was with them.  And so will it be again, and far more marvellously.  Indeed, the history of the past to Israel is not merely the record of what has been; it is also the type - the pledge - the forerunner of what is again to be.  The Scripture teems with references to that great coming interference of God, when He shall shake all things in order to establish the manifested [millennial] kingdom of His Son.  For did God create the earth that Adam might ruin it, or that man, since him, might fill it with wickedness, and mar and destroy it to the end?  No, He will fill it with the glory of Christ; He will again bring “the firstbegotten into the world,” and say, “Let all the angels of God worship Him” (Hebrews 1:6).


Such is God’s intention as to the earth [in the age to come].  It is that Christ should be brought into it - the King of Glory, in order that He might reign until He has subdued every enemy.  And you who believe,* will share with Christ in that hour.  It is the great and all-important hour - the hour foreordained or ever the world was.  And therefore it is no wonder that the Scripture teems with reference to it: no wonder that we have to read the Song of Moses, and many a record of Israel’s past history, as looking on to that coming day.


[* That is, if we are “considered worthy of taking part in that age, and in the resurrection from the dead”, (Luke 20: 35).  It is difficult for me to comprehend how any regenerate believer, who openly rejects much of Christ’s teaching and His conditional promises, could be judged (by the righteous Judge) as ‘considered worthy’ to rule with Him at this time!]


Verse 4: But to return to the chapter before us. “His feet,” it is said, i.e., the feet of the Lord, “shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives.”  Can any words be more plain than these?  Is it then a matter of distinct faith to yourselves?  You know where the Mount of Olives is.  It stands, at this moment, close to Jerusalem.  It was the mountain in which the Lord Jesus passed most of His nights when near Jerusalem.  He was in the city teaching by day, but in the evening He was wont to go out to the Mount of Olives.  And there He spent His nights - His nights of bitter sorrow.  There it was that He held the conversation with His disciples respecting these very things.  There too was Gethsemane.


Thence He ascended up into heaven, when the angels came and said to the disciples who were looking after Him: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.  The Mount of Olives, therefore, was the last place on which His feet rested when here.  It was the place that peculiarly witnessed His sorrows and humiliation.  Now, it is on this place on this Mount, that His feet will first rest again.  The very first place on which His feet will stand, will be the Mount of Olives; but no longer in sorrow - no longer in humiliation.  No; it will be in glory - the glory of God as Jehovah - as the One that is bringing in His own day.  It is called the “day of Jehovah.”


Then, too, it is said, “The Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west.” The moment His feet touch it, the earth will bear witness to the presence of its God.  The Mount of Olives will instantly cleave asunder.  It stands, at present, just as when Jesus was there - olives still growing on it.  There it is, one undivided mountain; in pattern and shape as when He left it; thereby bearing witness that the glory of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, is not yet manifested.


Does any one say it has come?  Yes, Christians have said so.  They have said that Jesus has come as this chapter speaks.  But the Mount of Olives may rebuke them.  There it stands, a witness that Jesus has not returned.  And the moment that He does return, it will bear witness to His presence.  It will cleave in twain - it will be no more one mountain – “There shall be a very great valley.”  It will be nature bearing witness to the presence of nature’s God.


Read that passage in Luke 11 which speaks of the signs of the times; and this will be one of these signs.  And now, observe, besides this, it is not only said that Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives, but it is also said, “the LORD my God (i.e., Jesus, Jehovah) shall come, and all* the saints with thee.”  When formerly He stood there, it was as “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53: 1).  But when He stands there again, it will be in glory, with all His holy angels (for they will accompany Him from heaven when He descends into the air), and with all* His glorified saints, for they will be changed and caught up to meet Him in the air.  There will not be one absent; not one from Abel, to the last saint that falls asleep: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, and every believer in Jesus, will really surround Him then.


[* It is apparent in this paragraph that Mr. Newton does not believe ‘the First Resurrection’ is one of reward.  He interprets the word ‘all’ in its fullest sense to include everybeliever in Jesus,’ irrespective of how they have lived and behaved after  regeneration.  See "Seventeenth Centuary Witness" at the end of this writing.]


Now I wish this to be received by you as a tangible, certain fact.  I wish it to be realised by your faith.  It is of no little moment to connect our own prospects of glory with the day of Jesus.  And now I would ask you what will you feel at that hour respecting everything that is of the earth?  The glory of the kingdoms of this world - all the pomp and pride of this life - everything that man has - what will it all seem to you in that hour, when the glory of God, the glory of angels, the glory of Jesus, and your own glory as connected with Him standing there in the majesty of His power, shall be manifested?  What will the glory of earth then seem to you when the earth shall tremble at the presence of His glory, and yet you be safe with and like the Lord; strong in the power of God, without any of the feelings or habits of nature remaining - all that gone, and you really standing in the strength, majesty, and power of God?


Such is your prospect respecting the Mount of Olives, and therefore, when you read of it, and hear of it, take care that you remember that it is the place where you are soon to be found around your Lord.  Do not think of it with mere earthly thoughts, but think of what He has told you respecting it.  To believe what the Lord has said is part of the walk of faith, otherwise we walk in the light of our own thoughts.  [If] We are not expecting what God has told us to expect,* and therefore we cannot expect to have the effects of faith produced in our souls.


[* That is, a “just recompense of reward”.]


Verse 5: But where is Israel at that moment?  Are they, as a people, prepared to meet the Lord their God?  No.  It is said of them that they shall flee like as they “fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah King of Judah.”  The earthquake came and found them unprepared; they fled in terror and dismay, and so shall it be again.  All that will have passed upon them will not have subdued their hearts.  As a nation they will be found impenitent; though a remnant in the midst of them will have their hearts softened and be spared.  Think of the words of the Lord to His servant Isaiah: “For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet (only) a remnant of them shall return; the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness” (Isaiah 10:22).


And as for the Gentile nations - the ten proud kingdoms of the Roman World that will be gathered there, confederate against Jerusalem and against Israel, saying: “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psalm 83:4), - the day of their doom will have come.  The Day of the Lord will suddenly break upon them in all the destructive power of its glory, and their place shall be no more found; except, indeed, in Tophet, prepared for them and for their king: “for Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for THE KING* it is prepared’ (Isaiah 30:33).


(*Antichrist, who shall head this last gathering against Jerusalem).


Verses 6-7: This awful day of visitation shall, it is said, be ONE day. “It shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.”  It shall be a day that shall not have the accustomed light of day; for all the natural sources of light shall be withdrawn.  The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (Isaiah 13: 10).  Hence there will not be the ordinary light of day.  Neither on the other hand will there be the darkness of night.  The earth indeed will be, as it were, hidden in the womb of darkness - darkness that may be felt - such darkness as rested on the formless void before God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3); yet in the midst of this black intensity of darkness will be present the brightness of heaven’s own glory.


He Whose feet shall then stand on the Mount of Olives, “shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).  Risen saints, also, bright in all the risen glory of their Lord, will meet Him in the air.  A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about.  His lightnings enlightened the world; the earth saw, and trembled” (Psalm 97:34).  He shall be “revealed in flaming fire.”  Hence here cannot be darkness, even though there be no natural light.  There will not be the light of day, neither will there be the darkness of night.  It will be a day that will suddenly break in upon the ordinary course of nature - its characteristics will be as peculiar as itself.


Yet this awful interruption, in the course of nature shall not be so extended as to break the appointed succession of day and night: for God made a covenant with Noah, and said, “While the earth remaineth ... day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).  Accordingly the day appointed for this act of visitation shall be strictly a day, duly preceded by night, and duly followed by night.  Indeed, the intervention of wrath shall have ceased before the evening has run its course: for it is said, “At evening time it shall be light.”  At evening time the natural sources of light shall be restored; the moon and the stars shall again shine peacefully on the stricken earth.  It shall be an evening of rest - the first commencement in the earth of the peace of the millennial day.*  The spared in Israel will know how to welcome - how to appreciate it.  To them sorrow and sighing will have fled away.


[* See Heb. 4: 1]


But how will their hearts have been instructed?  They will have been brought through all the terrors and darkness of that awful day.  They will have seen countless multitudes smitten, whilst they were spared.  They will have been spared in grace - undeserved grace - simply because God has been pleased to have pity on them - having mercy upon whom He will have mercy (Romans 10: 15).  They will recognise that it is grace then, ‘Not unto us, 0 LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give the glory, for Thy mercy (loving kindness), and Thy truth’s sake’ (Psalm 115:1).  Such will be the language of their lips, and of their hearts then.


And will not such persons, after their hearts shall have been bruised and broken by the terrors of that day, and by the remembrance of all the past history of themselves and of their people, and after that they shall have looked to Him Whom they pierced and have mourned, and after they shall have received the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, will they not be peculiarly constituted fit messengers of God - messengers of grace?  Will they not, like so many Pauls, be ready to bear witness to the abounding grace of God?  It will be the same gospel as that in which we now rejoice; but it shall go forth in brightness then.


And their message shall be blest.  It will be no longer said, “Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53: 1) - for their message will be welcomed, and all Israel and many peoples shall be ready to say, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publish peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publish salvation; that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).  As they sow, and wherever they sow, God will command His blessing.  Satan will be bound; and therefore, will no longer be able to pluck away the seed; and the course of this present evil age will have ended, so that “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches” will no longer choke the seed, and make it unfruitful.  It will be the hour of the supremacy of Truth.  Jerusalem shall be its centre (see Isaiah 13), and thence it shall flow forth as a mighty river.


Verse 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.”  No doubt this will be literally fulfilled.  A river, the same that Ezekiel saw (see Ezekiel 47), shall issue from Jerusalem, with power to heal the bitter waters of the deep (the waters of the Dead Sea and of the Mediterranean Sea are specifically mentioned), for who now could continuously drink of those waters, or any waters of the bitter deep, and live?  There will be therefore an actual healing of the waters of the great deep; and they will be relieved from the curse which now rests on them in common with the rest of the groaning earth.


But these waters of healing, blessed in themselves, will be yet more blessed in respect of that which they symbolise - for they are the symbol of that river of truth - that stream of spiritual health which through the gospel shall go forth from Jerusalem over all nations.  The Land of Israel in the millennium will be a sphere of living types.  The wolf and the lamb will feed together.  It will be a reality - a fact, but a typical fact, indicating the dominance of universal peace: when strength shall no longer devour weakness, and when weakness shall no longer fear the proximity of strength.  So also as to the waters that shall go forth from Jerusalem; it will be blessed to see them change by their transforming efficacy, waters of bitterness and death into waters of sweetness and life.


But what is this physical change in comparison with the moral transformation that shall be found in millions of changed hearts that shall no longer be fountains of poison and death, but become first recipients and then communicators of spiritual healthfulness and life?  He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).  Such will be the relation of converted Israel to the nations in that day.


Verses 20-21: Jerusalem shall be marked by holiness then.  See how full the description in the concluding verses of this chapter. “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.  Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts ... and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite (Trafficker) in the house of the LORD of hosts;” - that is external life as seen in the streets of the city - religious life and domestic life shall be alike marked with holiness; and covetousness shall no longer penetrate the courts of God’s house.  Such will be Jerusalem when established under the covenant of grace - a fit city then to be the home of Truth and the source of testimony.


May we learn a lesson from this.  We are indeed poor sinners of the Gentiles; yet we are brought nigh through faith in the Blood of Jesus, and forestall all the spiritual blessings of converted Israel, and rest now under the shelter of that new Covenant which will be the ground of all their blessing and glory.  Will they be washed in the Blood of the Lamb?  So are we.  Will they be one with Christ risen?  So are we.  Will they receive the outpouring of that Spirit that shall lead into all Truth?  So do we.  Will Christ in all His fulness be theirs?  So is He ours.  Are they to wait for the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness?  We wait for the same thing.  The truth for which we now testify, and for which they will testify, is the same, though they will testify in the hour of the Truth’s triumph - we [now] in the hour of its reproach and suffering.


Yet if the darkness be great, and the power of falsehood mighty - if in this season of night many monsters have gone forth from their dens - if Ritualism crouches on the one hand, and Latitudinarian Infidelity ravins on the other, the more need that we should grasp the banner of Truth firmly, and that we should seek steadily to hold forth the Word of life.  We are indeed commanded to be as a city set on a hill.  Once the Church collectively was this: it was once the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15); but it is scattered now, and the falsehood and worldliness of Ritualism reigns, and will be supplanted by nothing till it bows to antichrist.


Nevertheless, there yet remains individual testimony - the more honourable and precious because of the abounding evil.  Individuals may yet show that they are the servants of the Truth - that they are not quite as salt that has lost its savour.  There is still the gospel of the grace of God - the everlasting gospel.  We may declare it; we may say to all men, that God is ready to receive sinners, not in their own names, not in the value of their own characters, but in the value of the Name of Jesus, and as a covenant God to know them in the preciousness of that Name for evermore.  We may say to every one who saith, What must I do to be saved?  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).  We may say to those who have cast themselves with the feeblest faith on God through the Blood of Jesus, that they shall never be confounded.  We may tell them that they already have a representative existence in heaven, even while personally on earth; for that Christ is their risen Head, and in Him they are already seated in heavenly places.


We may encourage one another to add to our “faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience,” and the like (2 Peter 1:5-7), knowing that so an abundant entrance shall be ministered into the everlasting kingdom.  We may mark the place of believers as being apart from the greatness, whether ecclesiastical, or secular, of man’s city - our place is “without the camp (gate), bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come’ (Hebrews 13:13-14).


We cannot be too careful to view the advancing natural greatness of the earth in the light of this chapter.  The power of the nations is being greatly increased; their resources enlarged, their strength consolidated. But all this power, finally, and perhaps very soon, is to be brought to bear on Jerusalem, to prostrate it, to blot it out, to extinguish the name of Israel.  But there the gathered hosts of earth will meet God.


Verse 19: God will consume them. “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.”  This is no cunningly devised fable.  It is the Word of God.  The withering hand of God will be really laid on living men - men great in power and military prowess - the flower of our fleets and of our armies - men great in all that the world is seeking after.


Come,” it is said to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, “come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great” (Revelation 19:17-18).  Ah! how little men think as they grasp so proudly the helm of their mighty vessel, that it is fast speeding onward to this point of overwhelming ruin!  May human progress (as men now vaunt of it) be ever viewed by us in the light of these testimonies.*  Then they will separate us from unclean things, and teach us to wait for God’s Son from heaven.


(*This truth affords matter of solemn and affecting warning to Christian parents and others.  BY connecting their offspring with the powers of this world - with its military or naval greatness, they will place them in the very current of affairs which may ultimately bear them onward to the scenes of Armageddon, and the Valley of Decision, in the great Day of the Lord!  They may be brought into direct collision with the Lamb, in the great day of His wrath)


It will be otherwise with the spared in Israel.  They, as having rejected the gospel during the time that it was preached to them in patient grace, will be caused to pass through the fiery terrors of that day of visitation.  I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My Name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God” (Zechariah 13:9).  These, the spared in the land, and others of their brethren gathered from all corners of the earth and converted, shall people Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.


But Jerusalem on earth will be connected with another Jerusalem that is above - where all is heavenly and not earthly; where their brethren, “the Church of the first-born,” will have preceded them, who thence, perfect not only in glory but in their sympathies, and actions, and in power of caring for others, will watch over Jerusalem and the earth, and minister continually to them.  As Moses and Elijah once visited the earth in glory, so during the millennial reign, the glorified saints will from time to time visit the earth, to minister to the heirs of salvation in it, until the imperfect millennial state shall have passed away, and be succeeded by those “new heavens and new earth” in which all the redeemed of every dispensation shall form one glorified Church, perfected for evermore.


But what, it may be asked, will be the portion of believers when the day of the Lord comes?  Will they be involved in its terrors, and be made to pass through its fires?  No. The first act of the Lord when He descends into the air and reveals His glory, is to take them, changed and glorified, to Himself.  Before* He sends forth any of His judgments, the trumpet shall sound, and the saints who sleep shall rise glorified, and they who are yet alive shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and both together be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and to come with Him, for He will descend from the air to the Mount of Olives, and there His saints shall surround Him.


[* The author teaches two future advents of Christ; the first ‘to the air’ for ‘believers’; and the second for ‘the saints who sleep’ (the dead) at the time of ‘the resurrection of the dead,’ at the end of the Great Tribulation - (only for Israel)!  How strange and non-scriptural this popular theory appears to me!]


They will therefore be in the same circle of light and glory that surrounds their Lord.  And they will be like Him.  No traces of their natural selves will remain.  They will no longer bear the image of the earthy, but the image of the heavenly.  Whether called to behold death or life - judgment or glory - darkness or light, they will behold all as, and with their Lord.  Terror will be no terror to them; darkness will be no darkness in the light of the presence of their glory; they will be strong according to the strength of Christ: “they will follow Him whithersoever He goeth.”


Let us not then despise the facts of this chapter.  Let us place them before our children - let us seek to teach them to all.  The solemnity of these future facts, and the simplicity with which they are revealed, may arrest the attention even of the careless heart, and show it the delusion under which Christendom slumbers as to these things. What a difference, whether we view the future of the earth according to men’s present thoughts respecting human progress, or according to the testimonies of such a chapter as this!  May it not be said unto us, that the prophets have prophesied to us in vain.




Seventeenth-Century Witnesses*


[* Taken from the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony magazine, ‘Watching and Waiting,’ July/August, 2003.]


(The following is an extract from the Baptists’ Confession of Faith, 1660, which was presented to King Charles II.  These good men said ‘we are not only resolved to suffer persecution to the loss of our goods, but also life itself rather than decline from the same.’ The Confession was ‘subscribed by certain elders, deacons, and brethren, met in London, in the behalf of themselves and many others unto whom they belong, in London, and in several counties of this nation, who are of the same faith with us.’ Forty ones names were written, followed by the statement, ‘owned and approved by more than twenty thousand’.)


We believe that the same Lord Jesus, Who showed Himself alive after His Passion, by many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3), Which was taken up from His disciples and carried up into heaven (Luke 24: 51), shall so come in like manner as He was seen to go into heaven (Acts 1: 9- 11).  And when Christ, Who is our life shall appear, we also shall appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3: 4).  For then shall He be King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).  For the kingdom is His, and He is the Governor among the nations (Psalm 22:28), and King over all the earth (Zechariah 14: 9), and we shall reign with Him on the earth (Revelation 5:10).  The kingdoms of this world (which men so mightily strive after here to enjoy) shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ (Revelation 11: 15).  For all is yours (ye that overcome this world)*, for ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3: 22-23).  For unto the saints shall be given the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven (Daniel 7: 27).  Though now many men be scarce content that the saints should have so much as a being among them; but when Christ shall appear, then shall be their day, then shall be given unto them power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 2 :26-27).  Then shall they receive a crown of life, which no man shall take from them, nor they be by any means turned or overturned from it, for the oppressor shall be broken in pieces (Psalm 72: 4), and his vain rejoicings turned into mourning and bitter lamentations, as it is written (Job 20: 5-7).


[* Note the condition.  The promise is to overcomers only.]


(Hence, Baptists had once the honour of contending for the personal reign of Christ over the earth, and of suffering for professing the same).