Blessings Promised to the Church; Judgments Threatened.
B. C. 500.
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. 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. 10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s wine-presses. 11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. 12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; 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. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. 14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. 15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.
Here are, I. Blessings promised to Jerusalem, the gospel-Jerusalem, in the day of the Messiah, and to all the earth, by virtue of the blessings poured out on Jerusalem, especially to the land of Israel.
1. Jerusalem shall be a spring of living waters to the world; it was made so when there the Spirit was poured out upon the apostles, and thence the word of the Lord diffused itself to the nations about (v. 8): Living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; for there they began, and thence those set out who were to preach repentance and remission of sins unto all nations, Luke xxiv. 47. Note, Where the gospel goes, and the graces of God’s Spirit go along with it, there living waters go; those streams that make glad the city of our God make glad the country also, and make it like paradise, like the garden of the Lord, which was well watered. It was the honour of Jerusalem that thence the word of the Lord went forth (Isa. ii. 3); and thus far, even in its worst and most degenerate age, for old acquaintance-sake, it was made a blessing, and to be so is to be blessed. Half of these waters shall go towards the former sea and half towards the hinder sea, as all rivers bend their course towards some sea or other, some eastward, others westward. The gospel shall spread into all parts of the world, into some that lie remote from Jerusalem one way and others that lie as far off another way; for the dominion of the Redeemer, which was thereby to be set up, must be from sea to sea (Ps. lxxii. 8), and the earth must be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, and as the waters that in various channels run to the sea. The knowledge of God shall diffuse itself,
(1.) Every way. These living waters shall produce both eastern churches and western churches, that shall each of them in its turn be illustrious.
(2.) Every day: In summer and in winter it shall be. Note, Those who are employed in spreading the gospel may find themselves work both winter and summer, and are to serve the Lord therein at all seasons, Acts xx. 18. And such a divine power goes along with these living waters that they shall not be dried up, nor the course of them be obstructed, either by the droughts in summer or by the frosts in winter.
2. The kingdom of God among men shall be a universal and united kingdom, v. 9.
(1.) It shall be a universal kingdom: The Lord shall be King over all the earth. He is, and ever was, so of right, and in the sovereign disposals of his providence his kingdom does rule over all and none are exempt from his jurisdiction; but it is here promised that he shall be so by actual possession of the hearts of his subjects; he shall be acknowledged King by all in all places; his authority shall be owned and submitted to, and allegiance sworn to him. This will have its accomplishment with that word (Rev. xi. 15), The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
(2.) It shall be a united kingdom: There shall be one Lord, and his name one. All shall worship one God only, and not idols, and shall be unanimous in the worship of him. All false gods shall be abandoned, and all false ways of worship abolished; and as God shall be the centre of their unity, in whom they shall all meet, so the scripture shall be the rule of their unity, by which they shall all walk.
3. The land of Judea, and Jerusalem, its mother-city, shall be repaired and replenished, and taken under the special protection of Heaven, v. 10, 11. Some think this denotes particular favour to the people of the Jews, and points at their conversion and restoration in the latter days; but it is rather to be understood figuratively of the gospel-church, typified by Judah and Jerusalem, and it signifies the abundant graces with which the church shall be crowned, and the fruitfulness of its members, and the vast numbers of them.
(1.) The church shall be like a fruitful country, abounding in all the rich products of the soil. The whole land of Judea, which is naturally uneven and hilly, shall be turned as a plain; it shall become a smooth level valley, from Geba, or Gibeah, its utmost border north, to Rimmon, which lay south of Jerusalem and was the utmost southern limit of Judea. The gospel of Christ, where it comes in its power, levels the ground; mountains and hills are brought low by it, that the Lord alone may be exalted.
(2.) It shall be like a populous city. As the holy land shall be levelled, so the holy city shall be peopled, shall be rebuilt and replenished. Jerusalem shall be lifted up out of its low estate, shall be raised out of its ruins; when the land is turned as a plain, and not only the mount of Olives removed (v. 4), but other mountains too, then Jerusalem shall be lifted up, that is, shall appear the more conspicuous; she shall be inhabited in her place, even in Jerusalem, ch. xii. 6. The whole city shall be inhabited in the utmost extent of it, and no part of it left to lie waste. The utmost limits of it are here mentioned, between which there shall be no ground lost, but all built upon, from Benjamin’s-gate north-east to the corner-gate north-west, and from the tower of Hananeel in the south to the king’s wine-presses in the north; when the churches of Christ in all places are replenished with great numbers of holy, humble, serious Christians, and many such are daily added to it, then this promise is fulfilled.
(3.) This country and this city shall both be safe, both the meat in the country and the mouths in the city: Those that dwell in it shall dwell securely, and there shall be none to make them afraid; there shall be no more of that utter destruction that has laid both town and country waste, no more anathema (as some read it), no more cutting off, no more curse, or separation from God to evil, no more such desolating judgments as you have been groaning under, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited; there shall be no danger, nor any apprehension of it; neither shall its friends be fearful to disquiet themselves nor its enemies formidable to disquiet them. That promise of Christ explains this–that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church; and so do the holy security and serenity of mind which believers enjoy in relying on the divine protection.
II. Here are judgments threatened against the enemies of the church, that have fought, or do fight, against Jerusalem; and the threatening of these judgments is in order to the preservation of the church in safety. Men that read and hear of these plagues will be afraid of fighting against Jerusalem, much more when these threatenings are fulfilled in some will others hear and fear. Those that fight against the city of God, and his people, will be found fighting against God, against whom none ever hardened his heart and prospered (v. 12): This shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; whoever they are, God will punish them for the affront done to him, and avenge Jerusalem upon them.
1. They shall waste away under grievous and languishing diseases: Their flesh shall consume away, and they shall be miserably emaciated, even while they stand on their feet, so that they shall be walking skeletons; nothing shall remain but skin and bones. The flesh which they pampered and indulged, and made provision for, when they were fed to the full with the spoils of God’s people, shall now consume away, that it cannot be seen, and the bones that were not seen shall stick out, Job xxxiii. 21. They keep their feet, and hope to keep their ground, crawling about as long as they can; but they must yield at last. The organs of sight, the outlets of sin, their eyes, shall consume away in their holes, shall sink into their heads or perhaps start out of them; their envious malicious, adulterous eyes, the eyes they had so often fed with spectacles of misery, these shall consume, which shall make not only their countenances ghastly, but their lives wretched. The organs of speech, the outlets of sin, their tongue, shall consume away in their mouth, whereby God will reckon with them for all their blasphemies against himself and invectives against his people. Thus their own tongues shall fall upon them, and their punishment shall be legible in their sin, as his was whose tongue was tormented in hell-flames. Thus Antiochus and Herod consumed away.
2. They shall be dashed in pieces one against another (v. 13): A great tumult from the Lord shall be among them. But are tumults from the Lord, who is the God of order, and not of confusion? As they are the sin of those that raise them they are not from the Lord, but from the wicked one, and from men’s own lusts; but, as they are the punishment of those that suffer by them, they are from the Lord, who serves his own purposes, and carries on his intentions, by the sins, and follies, and restless spirits, of men. It is of themselves that they bite and devour one another, but it is of the Lord, the righteous Judge, that thus they are consumed one of another (Gal. v. 15); as Ahab was deceived by a lying spirit from the Lord, so Abimelech and the men of Shechem were divided, and so destroyed, by an evil spirit from the Lord, Judg. ix. 23. Note, Those that are confederate and combined against the church will justly be separated, and set against one another; and their tumults raised against God will be avenged in tumults among themselves. And they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, to hold him from striking, or to bind him as his prisoner; nay, his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour, to strike and wound him. Note, Those that aim to destroy the church are often made to destroy one another; and every man’s sword is sometimes set against his fellow, by him whose sword they all are. Some think this was fulfilled in the factions and dissensions that were among the Jews, when the Romans were destroying them all; for they had fought against the spiritual Jerusalem, the gospel-church; and to that well enough agrees v. 14, Thou also, O Judah! shalt fight against Jerusalem; the Jewish nation shall be ruined by itself, shall die by its own hands; the city and country shall be at war with each other, and so both shall be destroyed. Suis et ipsa Roma viribus ruit–Rome was urged into ruin by its very strength.
3. The plunder of their camp shall greatly enrich the people of God, or the spoils of their country (v. 14): Judah also shall eat at Jerusalem (so one learned interpreter reads it); people shall come from all parts to share in the prey; as when Sennacherib’s army was routed before Jerusalem there was the prey of a great spoil divided (Isa. xxxiii. 23), so it shall be now; the wealth of all the heathen round about, that had spoiled Jerusalem, shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance, that an equal dividend may be made among all the parties entitled to a share of the prize. Note, The wealth of the sinner is often laid up for the just, and the Israel of God enriched with the spoil of the Egyptians.
4. The very cattle shall share in the plague with which the enemies of God’s church shall be cut off, as they did in divers of the plagues of Egypt (v. 15): All the beasts that shall be in the tents of these wicked men, when God comes to contend with them, shall perish with them, not only beasts used in war, as the horse, but those used for travel, or in the plough, as the mule, the camel, and the ass. Note, The inferior creatures often suffer for the sin of man and in his plagues. Thus God will show his indignation against sin, and will make the creature that is thus subject to vanity groan to be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God, Rom. viii. 21, 22.
– Matthew Henry Commentary