This is what the LORD of Hosts says: "Peoples will yet come--the residents of many cities--
I. THE ESSENTIAL PREREQUISITES. We discover in these verses four prerequisites or preparatories for a universal revival of genuine religion.
1. There must be truthfulness in speech. "These are the things which ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour." Truthful speech is somewhat rare in all social circles, and in all departments of life. Fallacious statements abound in markets, senates, courts, and even families. Men are constantly deceiving one another by words. It is not so easy a matter to speak truthfully as one might think. To speak is easy enough; but to speak truthfully is often very difficult. Truthful speaking involves two things.
(1) Sincerity. To speak a true thing insincerely is not to speak truthfully. A man must conscientiously believe that what he speaks is true, before he can be credited with veracity. There is more truthful speaking in the man who is telling a falsehood sincerely than there is in the man who is telling the truth in insincerity.
(2) Accuracy. A man may speak with sincerity, and yet, from ignorance or mistake, may not speak according to fact; and unless he speaks according to fact, he can scarcely be said to speak truthfully. His speech unintentionally conveys falsehood. Hence, truthful speaking requires a strong sense of right, - and an adequate acquaintance with the subjects of the speech. Considerable effort is herein demanded - effort to discipline the conscience and to enlighten the judgment. But difficult as truth speaking is, it is incumbent. "Every man should be swift to hear, but slow to speak.
2. There must be rectitude in conduct. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates." In the East the courts of justice were held at the gates of the city; and perhaps the primary reference here is to the pronouncing of judgment on cases that were righteous and tended to peace. But rectitude of life is even more important and urgent than rectitude in judgment. In fact, scarcely can a man be morally qualified to sit as a judge in a court of justice who is not righteous in all his life and conduct; and yet, alas! it is not uncommon, even here in England, to have men of the lowest morality enthroned on the bench of justice. The great law of social life is, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
3. There must be benevolence in feeling. "Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour." We must not only keep our hands from evil, but we must watch over our hearts that they imagine not any evil against our neighbour. Mischief must be crushed in the embryo. "Charity thinketh no evil," and this charity must be cultivated.
4. There must be abhorrence of falsehood. "Love no false oath" If the oath is false, whether sworn by others or yourself, do not bind yourself to it, recoil from it with horror and abomination. Don't espouse a falsehood because it is sworn to; nay, repudiate it the more resolutely and indignantly. A strong reason is here assigned for a practical respect to all these injunctions; it is this - God abhors the opposites. "For all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord" (see Proverbs 6:19). Whatever God hates, we should hate.
II. THE SIGNAL MANIFESTATIONS. It is suggested that where these prerequisites are found, i.e. where a revival takes place, three things are manifest.
1. An increased pleasure in religious ordinances. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts." "The fast of the fourth month was on account of the taking of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:5-7); that of the tenth was in commemoration of the commencement of the siege (Jeremiah 52:4). The Jews are distinctly informed that these fasts should be turned into festivals of joy" (Henderson). The idea is, perhaps, that these fast days are no longer seasons of mourning and penitential confession, but seasons of rejoicing. The first sign of a true revival of religion, in an individual or a community, is a new and happy interest in the ordinances of religion.
2. A deep practical concern for the spiritual interests of the race. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also." There will be a mutual excitation amongst the people to seek the one true and living God. Not only shall the inhabitants of one house go to another house, but the inhabitants of one city shall go to another city and say, "Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord." "Speedily;" there is no time to be lost; religion is for all, and for all an urgent duty.
3. A universal desire to be identified with the people of God. "In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men [a definite number for an indefinite multitude, indicating many rather than a few] shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew." The Jew (the representative of the people of God), to him men shall go, they shall lay hold of the "skirt" of his garment - an expression conveying the idea either of anxious entreaty or conscious inferiority. Dr. Henderson says, in relation to this, "The prophecy is generally regarded as having respect to something yet future, and is often interpreted of the instrumentality of the Jews when converted in effecting the conversion of the world. I can find no such reference in the passage. 'Jerusalem ' cannot be understood otherwise than literally, just as the term 'Jew' is to be so understood; but according to our Lord's doctrine respecting the new dispensation, that city is no longer the place where men are exclusively to worship the Father (John 4:21-23). Incense and a pure offering are now presented to his Name in every place where his people assemble in the name of Jesus and with a view to his glory (Malachi 1:10, 11). it was otherwise before the advent of Christ. Jerusalem was the place which Jehovah had chosen to put his Name there; and thither all his true worshippers were expected to come to the great festivals, in whatever country they might reside. Thus the treasurer of Candace went all the way from Abyssinia (Acts 8:27), and thus numbers from all parts of the Roman empire assembled in that city at the first Pentecost after our Saviour's resurrection. As the Hellenistic Jews and the Gentile proselytes travelled along in companies, they could not but excite the curiosity of the pagans through whose countries and cities they passed; and, celebrated as the metropolis of Judaea had become for the favours conferred upon it by some of the greatest monarchs of the times immediately gone by, and for the prosperity and warlike prowess of the Jewish people, it was impossible that it should not attract the attention of the surrounding nations to the character and claims of the God who was there adored, and who accorded such blessings to his worshippers. Men, for ages, had to go to the Jew for the true religion; the Gentiles in the apostolic times received it from the Jew; Christ and his apostles were Jews; but in these times the Jews have to come to the Gentiles for the true religion. Still, inasmuch as the Bible is a book of the Jews, Jewish histories, poetries, moralities, etc., and inasmuch as the grand Hero of the book was a Jew, it will, perhaps, ever be true that all nations shall take hold of the Jew in order to 'seek the Lord' with success."
CONCLUSION. When will this universal revival of religion take place? The signs are scarcely visible anywhere. We can only hasten it by attending to the prerequisites - truthfulness in speech, rectitude in conduct, benevolence in feeling, and abhorrence of falsehood. - D.T.
Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord
Evangelical Preacher.A scene like this has never yet been witnessed upon the earth. The prophecy was partially fulfilled when, from the time of the rebuilding of the temple to the coming of the Saviour, a more than usual number of Gentile proselytes from the nations around sought admission into the Jewish Church, and attended the annual festivals.
I. THE OBJECT OF THIS GATHERING OF THE NATIONS. "To pray." The time is coming when the nations will crowd to the feast of devotion. The result of the awakening of the nations will be a universal movement for concentrated prayer.
II. THE UNIVERSALITY OF THIS GATHERING OF THE NATIONS FOR PRAYER. They are described as many cities, strong nations, and all languages. Isaiah, wrapt in the vision of the future, beholds all the tribes of mankind, instigated by one common and irresistible impulse, flocking along the road to Zion, panting to be within its holy walls, and to pour out their prayers in her courts.
III. THE PROMPTITUDE OF THEIR DECISION. This heaven-originated movement for universal prayer will be felt to be a matter demanding immediate attention. "Let us go speedily." When the Spirit is poured out from on high, all the speed and promptitude with which men pursue inferior ends will be consecrated to religion. Universal man will feel it his first duty to serve God.
IV. THE PERSONAL CHARACTER OF THIS MOVEMENT. No mighty movement takes place among masses of mankind until individuals have been moved. The world is but the aggregate of single individuals. Every individual must act his part. If men smother the enkindled fires of ardent devotion in their own breasts, till they see the zeal of others manifested, that day of prayer for all nations will never dawn. Every man is to invite to prayer, and at the same time resolve for himself. Then seek to be distinguished as a devotional Christian — a man of prayer. Then you will seek the society of men like-minded with yourself, and thus the holy flame will be borne onward, till every soul is enkindled, the Church revived, and the world saved.
(Evangelical Preacher.)1. We are here reminded of our high and distinguishing privileges, as subjects of the Christian economy, in relation to the outward institutions of religion, and all that is commanded in the worship and service of God. When we would offer our devotions in His presence, we need no longer travel from one city to another, ascending to the house of the Lord. Wherever we seek Him, He is equally near, and equally accessible. Great and important purposes were once attained by the selection of a definite abode, wherein to place the sensible demonstrations of His majesty. It was in accordance with the infantile condition of the human mind on the great subject of religion. It repressed the tendency to mingle with the idol worship of the surrounding nations. It secured the permanency of the ordinances of the true God, till the coming of Messiah. By the final cessation of such services, soon after the death of Jesus, it marked that the Messiah had appeared, that the fulness of the times had been accomplished.
2. We are led to reflect upon that singular and elevated relation we now personally sustain to Him who was once known and worshipped only under the appellation of the God of Abraham. We have come to the family and household of the saints. This incorporation of the idolatrous heathen with the seed of the promise — this accession of the Gentiles to the Church — while it presents a subject of gratitude and wonder, is fitted also to expand our sentiments and to confirm our faith; and it leads us to anticipate a day when the Gospel shall universally prevail.
3. An interesting and attractive picture of a period of spiritual prosperity.(1) The period thus described is marked by the diffusion of the spirit of prayer.(2) Under the aspect of unity and mutual cooperation.(3) Signalised by the prevalence of activity, energy, and zeal. "Let us go speedily. Let us go to seek the Lord of hosts."(4) The last characteristic of the period so depicted is the inseparable and intimate connection of all its other features with the decisiveness of individual piety. "I will go also."
4. Apply these reflections to purposes of immediate and practical utility.
(R. S. M'All, LL. D.)
Christian World Pulpit.The text is part of the answer given to the question asked in Zechariah 7:2, 3.
1. There are many false notions abroad respecting religious prosperity — crowded Churches — forms in the aisles — full exchequer; such things are taken by some as a sure sign of a Church's vitality. Flying here and there — doing this, that, and the other in three minutes, and making a great noise, are looked upon by some as signs of saintship, and indications of true religious prosperity. And they may be, but not necessarily so; because outward manifestation is not always a sign of true strength. But we have true signs, unmistakable signs, described in the text.
I. DELIGHT IN PRAYER. "Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord."
1. Thus there is a gathering together. It is a regular prayer meeting, and it is in answer to united prayer that blessings come. Illustrations: Day of Pentecost. Liberation of Peter. And it is only when Churches feel the importance of this that a true revival comes.
2. Not only must we pray, hut we must seek the Lord as well — give God no rest until He answers prayer.
II. HARMONY AND COOPERATION. "And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying," etc. When will the different Churches of the different denominations learn the importance of united prayer? When shall we have done with our little differences and distinctions, and kneel as one family round the throne? God speed the day.
III. A SPIRIT OF ZEAL. "Let us go speedily."
1. There will be no lagging behind. It is not, Let us have a prayer meeting tomorrow; let us turn unto the Lord soon; but, Let us do it now.
IV. PERSONAL DEDICATION. "I will go also."
1. It is no uncommon thing for people to ask others to do what they don't like to engage in themselves. How inspiring it is to hear the exhortation, "Do this, and I will do it, too" "You go and pray before the Lord; I will accompany you." When this spirit is actuating the members of a Church, the result will be surely seen — in the earnestness and goodwill which exist — sinners saved — church roll increasing — joy in heaven — comment of the world. "Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
(Christian World Pulpit.)
1. That the possession of religious life awakens interest in others. "And the inhabitants, etc., shall go," etc.
2. That a revived religious life sets value on prayer. "Let us go to pray before the Lord."
3. This revived life realises the importance and value of time. "Let us go speedily."
4. Revived life constrains us to seek companionship. "Let us go." Christians are gregarious.
5. Revived spiritual life ensures a powerful influence over our companions. They said, "We will go with you."
(J. H. Snell.)
TopicsArmies, Cities, Hosts, Inhabitants, Pass, Peoples, Says, Thus, Towns, Yet
Outline1. The restoration of Jerusalem.
9. They are encouraged to build the temple by God's favor to them.
16. Good works are required of them.
18. Joy and blessing are promised.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesZechariah 8:20-22
LibrarySad Fasts Changed to Glad Feasts
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace."--Zechariah 8:19 MY time for discourse upon this subject will be limited, as we shall gather around the communion-table immediately afterwards. So in the former part of my sermon I shall give you an outline of what might be said upon the text if we had …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892
The Temptation of Jesus
Healing the Centurion's Servant.
The Ninth Commandment
Appendix ix. List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings
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