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IT is the ambition of some to be specially distinguished
as " STUDENTS OF PROPHECY." To such a distinction
my revered father made no claim. But as a STUDENT
OF GOD'S WORD the prophetic page was not neglected
by him. He found there a field of pleasant and profit-
able research; and sought to throw light upon it, and
unfold its treasures for the benefit of others.

Of this he has left abundant evidence, not only in
these Lectures on ZECHARTAH, but in numerous other
lectures, on most if not all the prophetic books of the
Old Testament; and in a complete series of expository
discourses on the APOCALYPSE. And of his mode of
handling prophetic questions, he presented to the Public
a specimen or two during his life-time; one, a Dis-
THE SEED OF ABRAHAM;" the other, a Discourse on

These Lectures have been selected, because among
the Author's latest productions having been composed
and delivered when he was in his seventy-second year;
because the portion of Scripture which they seek to
elucidate, while possessing many points of great interest,
is apt to be overlooked; and because it introduces
greater variety into the character of these posthumous
volumes, and shows the Author's facility in giving to
every theme a practical bearing.



In the interpretation of Prophecy there is a twofold
danger the extreme of literalism on the one hand,
and of spiritualism on the other. This the Author
deeply felt; and he made it his aim, to discover the
"happy medium" where he had a full persuasion the
truth lav. How far he has, in this, been successful the


reader must judge. It need be no matter of surprise if
at times there is room for hesitation or dissent.

It will be seen that the return of the Jews to their
own land, and their possession, hereafter, of a distinct
political existence, is regarded as the teaching of this
and other parts of the Sacred Record. This was the
Author's opinion from an early period; and it gained
strength in later years. The question is somewhat fully
discussed in this volume; and the general results of the
discussion are in singular harmony with those at which
Dr. David Brown arrives in his recent work entitled
" The Restoration of the Jews."

While availing himself of the valuable work of Dr.
Henderson on the Minor Prophets, the Author ventures
to differ from his friend on some points of criticism;
and frequently diverges widely from him in his view
of the Prophet's meaning.

This Volume, like those which have preceded it, is
commended to the BLESSING OF GOD.


LONDON, Jan. 25, 1862.


ZECH. i. 16.

" In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the
Lord unto Zechariah the son of Barachiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say thou unto
them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts,
and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. lie ye not as your fathers, unto
whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts,
Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not
hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord. Your fathers, where are they? and
the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words, and my statutes, which I
commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers?
and they returned and said, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us,
according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us."

NEAR the close of the Book of Revelation, and therefore of
the whole Book of God, we have the statement " The testi-
mony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" The meaning
seems to be, that the scheme of redemption, contained in that
testimony, is the great theme of prophecy; that to which,
whether more or less directly, the whole relates; its living
soul; its essential pervading element; bereft of which, it
would lose at once all its zest, all its interest, all its real
value, leaving nothing behind but what was vapid and
worthless. That such should be the case, was what might
reasonably have been anticipated. The fall of man changed
entirely the character, and position, and prospects, of the
race, and the whole aspect of futurity. The race became
apostate, depraved, outcast, accursed. Then came the first
intimation of the plan of mercy ; which had been previously



in the form of a matured purpose, in the mind of the God-
head. The first promise was the first prophecy. It came
from the lips of Jehovah Himself, in terms intentionally
obscure, but of which the full import was to be gradually
unfolded " I will put enmity between thee (the serpent, the
Devil, and Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed
and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt
bruise his heel" This first prophecy was the germ of the
whole scheme. Here was " the testimony of Jesus" in its
original embryo. From that hour, the grand problem of the
divine administration towards our world was, the working
out of this divine plan of salvation; the restoration of an
apostate race, guilty and depraved, to the favour and to
the moral image of God, in a way not merely consistent
with the claims of law and government, and with the honour
of all the attributes of the divine character, but that should
place them all in a brightness of manifestative glory, such
as should fill the intelligent creation with adoring wonder.
This, I repeat, was the problem to be worked out. It be-
came, therefore, the leading star of the whole of the divine
government of our world ; the spirit of providence, as well
as of prophecy. Supposing the plan to exist, it could not
be otherwise, than that everything else should be subordi-
nated to it; all the plans and measures of God's providential
administration so regulated as to be subservient to its suc-
cessful and final completion. Thus it was before " the ful-
ness of the time ;" thus it has been since ; thus it shall be to
the end. We may speculate, and speculate truly, respecting
the designs of providence, in particular courses of events,
towards this or that nation, or this or that section of the in-
habited earth, in regard to their temporal prosperity or de-
clension, weal or woe; but we must not forget that in the
whole of this extensive and complicated administration, there
have been from the first, and there are now, higher ends,
towards which all events are made to converge, and in the
attainment of which they all shall issue. Before " the fulness
of time," the whole was a preparation for the Saviour's first
coming ; and now all is bearing forward toward the promised


universality of His holy and happy reign, as the prelude to
His second coining, and the winding -up of the plans of His
mediatorial grace.

Along with the preparatory course of providence, there
were, from the beginning, two classes of means especially, by
which the nature of the divine scheme of mercy was intimated,
still indeed with comparative obscurity, yet with a gradually
growing clearness ; I mean the typical and the prophetical.
It is with the latter alone we have at present to do. It
began early. Jude tells us, what we should not otherwise
have known, that "Enoch, the seventh" in descent "from
Adam," prophesied of the coming of the Lord to judgment :
and it is impossible to doubt that he who prophesied of
His coming to judge the world, prophesied also of His coming
to save the world ; that he who predicted His second coming
predicted also His first. Nor is there any sufficient reason
to think that Enoch was the only prophet of the antediluvian
age. In what may be called the second opening of the
world's history, the very first man Noah himself is a
partaker of the " spirit of prophecy." And that Spirit, in all
the prophets from Enoch to Malachi is called " the Spirit
of Christ," both as being bestowed by Him, and as testifying
of Him ; and also, perhaps it might be added, as, during His
incarnation, given without measure unto Him. But, in spite
of both type and prophecy, aided too by the manifestations
of God in all creation, ignorance and corruption spread and
prevailed. Men showed the truth of the charge, that they
" did not like to retain God in their knowledge." To prevent
the total loss of that knowledge, including of course the
knowledge of Him in the character and relation in which He
had set himself forth in the first promise, as " the God of
salvation," Abraham was called, and, in due time, amongst
his seed, the nation of Israel, the Theocracy, or Mosaic
Economy, was instituted. Under this economy, the schemes
of type and prophecy, which before had been partial and de-
sultory, were extended, embodied, and more thoroughly sys-
tematized. And although, among the many prophets that
arose in the successive periods of their history, there was


a great variety of predictions, besides those which related
directly to the coming, and work, and kingdom of the
promised Messiah, yet even those which related simply
to the destinies of various nations bore ^directly a relation
to the same great events. Like the entire scheme of miracle,
they were designed to establish the truth of God's word ; and
the accomplishment of the nearer to confirm faith in the
more remote. So it is still

But the prophets in Israel were not mere seers mere
foretellers. They were inspired instructors. They were
commissioned by God to convey His mind to the people ; to
tell them God's truth; to enjoin upon them God's will; to
convey to them God's promises and God's threatenings, His
assurances of blessing to faith and obedience, and His equally
faithful assurances of retributive vengeance to unbelief and
rebellion: by these means, to keep them in the worship
and the ways of Jehovah, and direct the eye of their hopes
to the coming of the promised Deliverer, and to his "great
salvation." That these prophets were, in the proper sense
of the term, inspired men, that they received their messages
to the people directly from God, whether they were mes-
sages of instruction, warning, or prediction, we have the most
unequivocal assurance of the New Testament Scriptures.
What can be more explicit than the words of Peter : " The
prophecy came not, of old time, by the will of man; but
holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost ? " or those of Paul, " GOD, in sundry portions and in
various ways,* spake in time past unto the fathers by the pro-
phets?" Those modern neologians, or anti-supernaturalists,
who would have us to regard the prophets merely as great
thinkers, men of lofty genius, of penetrating intuition, of
calculating sagacity, shrewd guessers at the future from the
aspects of the present, not only utter words which, when
applied to the great scheme of Scripture prophecy, so vast,
so complicated, and reaching onward to the close of time,
are words without meaning; but they would be far more


consistent with themselves, and far less mischievous to others,
would they but avow their unbelief, and cast aside the Bible
altogether, as "old wives' fables," prophets and apostles
alike. The chief period of Old Testament prophecy is from
Moses to Malachi. It embraces ten centuries. And the per-
fect harmony between these "holy men of God," speaking
and writing independently of each other, at different places
in the same time, or at the same place in successive times,
harmony in doctrine, in precept, and in prediction as well as
in the spirit of divine faithfulness, and zeal, and devotion,
and love, by which all their writings are pervaded, is a fact
for which no reasonable account can be given but the admis-
sion of their having spoken and written under the same
influence, and delivered the dictates of one Mind.* The va-
rious modes in which the dictates of that one Mind were
imparted to them and by them, will naturally be considered,
when some of the visions of this prophet Zechariah come
before us.

The Old Testament prophets, whose writings have come
down to us, writings which form so large and important a
part of the canon of ancient Scripture, have been divided
into two classes the greater prophets, and the lesser or
minor prophets. The former are four in number ISAIAH,
JEREMIAH, EZEKIEL, and DANIEL : the latter, twelve HOSEA,
tion is founded, not in any superiority of the former over the
latter in the character, or weight, or credit, of their predic-
tions, or the other contents of their respective writings; but
solely on the comparative size, or extent, of those writings.
They are all alike divine ; and some of the shortest will bear
comparison in importance with the longest.

Neither in the original Hebrew, nor in the Septuagint
Greek, nor in our English Bibles, are the books arranged

* " Whence but from Heaven should men unskilled in arts,
In various ages born, in various parts,
Weave such agreeing truths? or how or why
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie?" ED.


in the order of time. Nor, with regard to all of them at
least, is this chronological order perfectly settled. The
chief difference among critics relates to Joel. By one critic
he is placed fourth among the minor prophets; by another
sixth; and by another first of all. I shall give the arrange-
ment of the whole, that is probably nearest to the truth;
some of the times being settled by the dates prefixed to the
books themselves by their writers, and some by their con-
tents, as presenting allusions to events of which the times
period embraced by these prophets, from Jonah to Malachi,
extends to about four hundred and thirty years, reaching
from 850 before Christ to 420. By much the larger num-
ber, of course, preceded the Babylonish captivity. Daniel's
prophetic career was in Babylon, and during the whole time
of that captivity; Ezekiel's during part of it; and Haggai's,
Zechariah's, and Malachi's after the return from it.

There is an obvious importance in fixing and keeping in
mind the time and circumstances in which such books were
written; or in which their contents, whether prophetic or
of other descriptions, were uttered. With regard to the
former the prophetic portions one thing is instantly set-
tled by ascertaining the date, namely, that nothing, in
the form of prediction, can relate to events preceding that
date. And, with regard to their more miscellaneous con-
tents, there may be allusions, modes of speech, and particular
directions and commands as to conduct, which the time, and
the condition of the people at the time, may contribute
materially to explain. The great importance of fixing time,
is strikingly illustrated by the case of those Prophets who
nourished subsequently to the Babylonish captivity. There
are two restorations of Israel which are the subjects of pro-
phecy, the one at that time, from Babylon ; the other still
future, from their more general and prolonged dispersion.
This, then, makes us sure, that if, in the Prophets that de-
livered their predictions after the first restoration, there are


predictions of a restoration yet to come, they must have ref-
erence, not to the former, but to the latter. Whereas, in
the Prophets that preceded the captivity in Babjdon, one of
the principal difficulties, when a future restoration is spoken
of, is to determine with certainty whether the reference is to
the one or to the other, to the one now past, or to the one
still in prospect.

Zechariah and Harjgai were contemporaries. They lived
and prophesied together, among the returned captives, at
Jerusalem. But Haggai is thought to have begun to pro-
phesy a short time say two, or at least within three months
before Zechariah ; while Zechariah' s course of official duty
continued for a considerably longer period than that of

That Zechariah was a young man when he began his pro-
phetic career, we have his own testimony. He is expressly
so called.t We have in the opening of his Book J the names
of his father and his grandfather the former BerecltiaH, the
latter Iddo. When, therefore, he is called " the son of Id-
do," it is according to a common idiom among the Hebrews,
which, in special cases, and for special reasons, (such as, per-
haps, the greater distinction and notoriety of the grandfather
than the father) admits of the title son signifying son by one
remove, or grandson. It is, indeed, so general, as sometimes
to signify simply a lineal descendant. In the list given in
the twelfth chapter of Nehemiah of those Jews who returned
from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua, we have|| the
name of Iddo. Now, that list is one of "priests and Levites." 5T
If, therefore, this Iddo be the same (as is generally xinder-
stood) with the grandfather of Zechariah, then Zechariah
himself was of priestly lineage, descended of the tribe of Levi.

A question has been started, which it would be wrong to
pass without notice whether the prophet Zechariah be the
same with the " Zacharias, son of Barachias," whom our
Lord mentions when he says, " That upon you may come

* Comp. Hag. i. 1 and Zech. i. 1, 1st of 6th month 24th of 8th.

f Chap. ii. 4. | Chap. i. 1. g Ezra v. 1.

U Verse 4. ^f Verse 1.


all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood
of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias,
whom ye slew between the temple and the altar."* There
is a Zacharias mentioned in the second Book of Chronicles t as
having been slain by the fury of the exasperated populace,
or rather at the instigation of king Joash and his prfnces,
for his faithfulness in denouncing their idolatries. But then
he was the son, not of Barachias, but of "Jehoiada the
priest," who is so specially, honourably, and repeatedly men-
tioned under that name, without the least hint of another
belonging to him, that, although it was common for the
Hebrews to have two names, it seems unlikely that he should
have been mentioned by our Lord under a different one from
that under which he has so honourable a testimony in the
history.^ On the other hand, Zechariah the prophet answers
to our Lord's description, so far as the name and the father's
name are concerned : he is " Zacharias, the son of Bara-
chias;" but we have no record of his having suffered a
violent death. It may be observed, however, that a mere
negation is not enough to disprove the fact of his having so
suffered; and especially a negation in such circumstances.
For, let it be remembered, that its not having been recorded
may arise from the simple fact of there being no inspired
history subsequent to the time in which it could have been
recorded; that circumstances are, in other places, alluded
to which took place subsequently to the date of the last in-
spired historical record, and which, though not recorded, were
well known in the traditionary and apocryphal history of the
Jewish people ; such as some of the cases referred to in the
Epistle to the Hebrews, of " women who received their dead
raised to life again," and of martyrs who were "sawn asunder ; "
and that, although the spirit of the Jewish people at the very
time of the return from Babylon, or even when Zechariah
began his prophetic career, may hardly appear such as to war-

* Matt, xxiii. 35. f Chap. xxiv. 21.

J It is by the supposition of two names that commentators explain
the difficulty which arises from considering the son of Jehoiada as the
persou referred to : which is the general opinion. ED.


rant the supposition of their shedding the blood of one of
the Lord's prophets, yet that Zechariah was, when he began
his career, but a youth ; that he might live long, and pro-
phesy long, and that by a people so proudly capricious and
from first to last so prone to selfish murmurings and rebel-
lions, he might, ere the close of his course, have delivered
such expostulations, and reproofs, and predictions of divine
vengeance, as might stir them up to blood- thirsting and
blood-shedding violence. There is one consideration which
has been regarded, and not, I think, without a good deal of
force, as favouring this supposition. I give it in the words
of Scott : " Especially let it be considered, how far it
might have been previously expected, that the murder of one
who suffered before the persecuting reigns of Ahaz, Manasseh,
and Jehoiakim (during which more innocent blood was shed
and more prophets were slaughtered than in all preceding
ages) should be mentioned as the last of the righteous per-
sons whose blood would be required of the generation which
crucified the Messiah] The blood shed after the death of
Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, especially filled up the measure
of national wickedness, and brought on Judah the Babylon-
ish captivity : yet, on this supposition, it is wholly passed
over by our Lord. But if Zechariah the prophet were meant,
and if he were murdered after the captivity, as the other
Zechariah had been before ; the whole appears natural ; and
probably he might be the last eminent person who thus suf-
fered." This is strong; and I think it is further strength-
ened by remarking, that in taking the sweep of time during
which the blood had been shed for which an avenging God
was to "make inquisition," our Lord must be supposed,
from the very energy of his style of denunciation, to have
given it all its extent ; that in going lack he goes to the
furthest possible point "the blood of righteous Abel;"
and that in coming down he must be conceived also to have
come down to the nearest case on record, which the one in
Chronicles certainly could not be. The mere silence of Jo-
sephus as to the fact is very far from being decisive against
it ; seeing it is by no means the only case in which Josephus


has slurred over what was not to the credit of his country-
men. NOT is it very likely, though possible, that there
was still a later Zechariah, with a father too whose name
was Barachias, who had come to a violent death at the hands
of the unbelieving Jews. Though not, therefore, a matter
of certainty, it seems not without some considerable amount
of probability, that our prophet was the martyr to whom
Jesus refers.

I shall proceed on the assumption that Zechariah was the
writer of the entire Book. By certain critics doubts have
been expressed as to the authorship of the last six chapters.
The doubts with some have rested on the circumstance (of
which notice may be taken when we come to the proper
place) of a passage towards the close of the book being cited
by the Evangelist Matthew as from Jeremiah; and with
others on what they have been pleased to regard as a differ-
ence of style between the latter portion of the book and the
former: a difference which is often to be found in the cri-
tic's imagination, or his fondness for originality and a char-
acter for discrimination; which, so far as it really exists in
the present instance, is not more than may be accounted for
from the difference of subject, and the lapse of some con-
siderable interval of time between the giving out of the
former and the later series of prophecies; and which is
as far as possible from being such as to warrant so bold
and reckless a conclusion. The improbability of an earlier
authorship is not a little strengthened by the fact of the
total absence, in that part of the Book as well as in the for-
mer, of every allusion to the kingly government, or to any

Online LibraryRalph WardlawLectures on the prophecies of Zechariah → online text (page 1 of 38)