"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain." (Zechariah 14:16,17)
THIS prophet, by the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus Christ, saw the Saviour's coming, and that his feet should stand on mount Olivet, (ver. 4) and the removing of the then dispensation and the spread of the gospel--for the mountain was to be removed, half to the north and half to the south; also, before the removing of that dispensation, the death of Christ should take place: he saw also the destruction of Jerusalem and the final coming of Christ to judgment, (ver. 5) with the fears and alarms that should take place, when the earth did quake and the rocks rent at the death of Christ; the earthquakes before the destruction of Jerusalem, and he likens these fears to what happened to them in the days of Uzziah, when they fled before the earthquake. In the sixth verse he saw the day when Christ was crucified, and that the light in that day should not be clear nor dark, but that it should be one day which shall be known to the Lord; not day nor night. We are not only to understand by this that there was a supernatural eclipse and darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth, but, before this took place, the light by John the Baptist's ministry was superior to the law which was about to be abrogated; yet the Sun of righteousness by the gospel was not fully risen, but that, as after three o'clock the darkness did subside, and at evening time it was light; for Christ was dead and an end of sin was made, the vail of the temple rent, and God was gone from it;--the shadow of these good things, come and to come, were now to flee away, and the gospel-day to break. So says Paul; the shadows and ceremonies, when Christ was crucified, were shaken indeed, and, says He, "are waxen old and are ready to vanish away," (Heb. 8:13) and the gospel of the kingdom is come and received by those that believe; and by the grace of the Spirit, and not by ceremonies, we are to serve God acceptably.
There never was such a day before nor since as the day--
"When God the mighty Maker died
For man the creature's sin."
It was known to the Lord indeed; for,
"Well he remembers Calvary,
Nor lets his saints forget."
Jerusalem's destruction was only known by the Lord; neither the day of his last coming by any but him. (ver. 7) In the eighth verse he sees the Spirit of life, at the day of Pentecost, come down and attending the gospel to be preached in all the world, and the continuation of the gospel till the world's end. In the next verse, the kingdom of Christ; "The Lord shall be king over all the earth:" "Ask of me," says God the Father, "and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." (Ps. 2:8) "In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one," and there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) The tenth verse is explained Isa. 40:4, "all the land shall be turned as a plain;" instead of the literal Jerusalem, the spiritual or heavenly Jerusalem is to be "lifted up and inhabited in her place;" "upon this rock will I build my church," or the heavenly Jerusalem, and here she is exalted above the top of the mountains, and all nations are to flow unto it, which, in the eleventh verse, is mentioned thus:--"and men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." The gates of hell, against Jerusalem built on this rock, shall not prevail. "In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell in safely." (Jer. 23:6)
In the twelfth verse he pronounces an awful plague against all the enemies of Christ and the haters and persecutors of his church, in the language of those that fight against her and her munition, represented by the perfect consumption of the body, and it shows that the secret curse of God is preying on those that reject Christ and hate his true members; so says Isaiah: (60:12) "For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted;" which is the same as consumption. In the thirteenth verse he sees the division the gospel shall occasion: "And it shall come to pass in that day that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them," etc., which is what Isaiah saw; (Isa. 9:5) and the words of Christ are the same when he says, "I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword and fire, and what will I if it be already kindled! Thenceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three, a man against his father, etc., and a man's enemies shall be the men of his own house." William Huntington says, love shall burn to Christ and his cause in the child of God, and envy against both Christ and his in the serpent's seed.
In the next verse he has a view of the ministers of Christ and their work in his church: "and Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem, and the wealth of the heathen round about shall be gathered together; gold, silver, and apparel in abundance." Jew inwardly is God's goodly horse in the battle, says William Huntington, and his state equipage is the chariot of his willing people; in this he rides forth conquering and to conquer; his sword is his word, his bow the tongue of his servants, his arrows his reproofs. Paul, who was a servant of Christ, tells us the same: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God," etc., and when he went forth with these, it was to conquer and bring every thought (of poor sinners made sensible of their lost estate) into captivity to the obedience of Christ. And as to the gathering of the wealth of the heathen round about, as the prophet Isaiah, alluding by the Spirit, in whose light he saw, and by whose influence he spoke, says, (Isa 60:9) "surely the isles shall wait for me;" that is, Christ in the gospel to be sent to them; "and the ships of Tarshish first." Paul was the first that ever went to the islands of the Gentiles, and he set sail in a ship, in order to go there, which Isaiah saw; and then the effect--"to bring thy sons," that is, the seed of Christ, from their distant state, not local but spiritual; for they were far from God: but by the blood of Christ, whom Paul preached, were these predestinated sons brought nigh to God; and when once their hearts were conquered, their wealth was at the service of God's cause in the world. God loveth a cheerful giver. "Let no man blame us," says Paul, "in this abundance:" and again, "thanks be unto God [in a large collection] for his unspeakable gift." And if we look a little higher to the experience of these heathens coming into the true church of Christ, and the traffic carried on by such, with the fullness of Christ; not to be laid up, as the rich fool in the gospel, upon the earth, as he laid up earthly treasures; but this sort of merchandise in the unsearchable riches of Christ "shall be for those that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing." (Isa. 23:18) "I counsel thee to buy of me gold and raiment, etc., that thou mayest be rich, eye-salve to see, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed."
The next verse is a repetition of the plague, not only on the persons of the haters of Christ, but also upon their substance; the curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked. This brings me to the text: "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain."
As all the nations around Israel and Jerusalem of old were enemies to them and their God, so all in their natural state are enemies to God and his saints; yet in this general defection there is an elect seed reserved by the Lord for himself, which is the meaning of the first part of verse 16, as is clear from Elijah's days, when the answer of God to him was, in that day of idolatry, yet have I reserved to myself seven thousand who have not bowed to the image of Baal. And Paul's exposition upon this is, "even so also at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace." These are they that are left of the sword, and find grace in this wilderness. They are also called a seed left; "except the Lord had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom and been made like unto Gomorrah." (Rom. 9:29) They are called the children of promise that are counted for the seed, and this is the remnant that shall be saved. (Rom. 9:8) Isaiah 4:3 says, "and it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem;" these are they that are written in the Lamb's book of life. All these shall verily, notwithstanding all obstructions from the world, themselves, the Devil, or sin, go up from year to year to worship the King the Lord of hosts; there shall not only be a succession of these, but when once brought to worship God in truth, they shall continue and never finally fall away.
But we are all, while in a state of nature, ignorant of what the true worship of God is, therefore it is said, "they shall worship," which secures the means as well as the persons, and to this end thus it is written, "I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace and of supplication:" (Zech. 12:10) and his first operation is conviction, He shall convince the world of sin, and this conviction makes way for confession; "he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall find mercy." The Saviour has also set this before us when he said, the "publican stood afar off and smote upon his breast and said, God be merciful to me a sinner;" this was acceptable worship, and is opposed to a dead form, however showy. This right or sensible confession of sin is attended with some hope in the mercy of God, and all trust in one's self or idols is an abomination to God, but he taketh pleasure in those that fear him and hope in his mercy. This worship is called service, which is seen by what the Saviour says in reply to Satan's temptation to fall down and worship; "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Paul makes faith and love that which avails; and Mr. Huntington says, Paul served in both faith and love. Prayer and praise are also parts of this divine worship; but in heaven, love, adoration, and praise, seem to be their employ.
Although I have mentioned heaven, I must go back, because it is said, they shall worship at Jerusalem. Under the law they were not to offer their sacrifices at every place, only where the Lord should put his name: And "wherever I record my name I will come and bless thee." Now, says Paul, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and only in Christ will God be found; and Mr. Hart says--
"Worship God then in his Son,--
There his clemency is such,
We can never trust too much."
God revealed his Son in me, says Paul, that I might preach him among the heathen; and we read, Paul laid him as the foundation of the churches he formed in his day; and that no other foundation can any man lay than that is laid: his foundation is in his holy mountain. "Ye are come to mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem," and Jerusalem signifies the vision or possession of peace. Jireh, seen;--Salem, peace. Christ is our peace-maker; he made peace for us by the blood of his cross, and the glory of God, as a sin-pardoning God, can only be seen in the face of a crucified Christ. "God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6) In no other assembly than that where Christ is preached in the true understanding of him, is that true Jerusalem where the elect shall worship God; all others worship they know not what. "I will take them one of a city, and two of a family, and bring them to Zion, and will give them pastors after my own heart, that shall feed them with knowledge and understanding." (Jer. 3:14,15)
"And to keep the feast of Tabernacles" at three feasts in the year all the males among the Jews were to appear before the Lord: as these were shadows, Christ is said to be the body or substance, and by preaching him are souls gathered to him, which answers to this feast of ingathering; and when sinners come to him, or to this feast of fat things upon Mount Zion, as the spouse, they then sit down under his shadow and find his fruit sweet unto their taste; but this is by faith, for by faith it is we eat his flesh and drink his blood. There is also here a going in and going out; days of fasting as well as feasting; a going from strength to strength till each appear in Zion above before God; then a perpetual feast will take place, for the Lamb will make his own elect sit down with him at his own table.
"But whoso of all the families of the earth that will not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King the Lord of hosts;"--all who reject Christ the King, that do not believe him, and believe in him as Christ the Lord, but hate both him and his truth and those that are of the truth, "upon these shall be no rain." And look which way you will, all that reject him in any one character he sustains as a Saviour; who stumble at his divinity, deny the efficacy of his atonement, or laugh at imputed righteousness, etc., you will find them all sensual men, not having the Spirit, which is meant by rain here. The Spirit is set forth by water, and his influences are compared to rain; dew, showers, rivers, fountains are mentioned, but these waters, showers, dew, etc., come only upon those who are poor and needy, those that are torn and smitten, to whom he comes as a Comforter, to bind up by discovering Christ to such; and then we shall know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his goings forth are prepared as the morning, and by his Spirit he will come to us as the latter and former rain upon the earth; but upon these others, as well as Israel now broken off, and who have had no rain for some hundreds of years, I say upon these shall be no rain, for thus saith the Lord, "I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it."