Jerusalem and its Royal Owner (As seen by Zechariah)

To those who belong to the assembly of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head it is declared, “Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother”; and our character is now being formed by God according to that of the heavenly city. It is revealed in its symbolic splendour at the close of the inspired volume. It is “free,” and it has “the glory of God.” Freedom or liberty is the birthright of this city’s children in contrast to bondage, and glory is their heritage.

In a spiritual sense we are being transformed from glory to glory now, as we look on the glory of the Lord in holy liberty, for, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty for this. In 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 we are shown the present line of progress in our moral transformation. “Liberty,” “looking,” and “glory” are brought together; the image of the glory of the Lord being revealed as the divine objective. We look in liberty on His glory, and the transforming work is carried on by the Holy Spirit.

It is said to the earthly city, Jerusalem, “Break forth into singing; … thy Maker is thine Husband; … My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on thee. I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy battlements rubies, and thy gates carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression” (Isa. 54:1-14). The same in principle applies to the heavenly Jerusalem’s children. It is because of this, we find the Spirit citing the above passage twice in the New Testament (John 6:45 and Gal. 4:27). Indeed, just as the tabernacle is spoken of as a figurative representation of the things in the heavens (Heb. 9:23), so the earthly city has much to teach concerning the heavenly; and though it may be said truly, “The heavens are higher than the earth”; nevertheless, the Creator of the one is the Creator of the other; the Owner of the one is the Owner of the other.

That which was written aforetime was written for our learning; and we may gather much valuable instruction in what is said concerning the earthly city and her Messiah. Just as face answers to face as we gaze into a clear well of water, so in the pure word of God we see the reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem in the delineations of the earthly traced therein (compare Ezek. 40:2; 43:1, 5; 47:1, 12; 48:31, 35, and Rev. 21:10-22, 2).

Zechariah might well be called the prophet of the city, which he names over forty times. The three post captivity prophets have each distinct and interesting features. Haggai is the prophet of the temple or the house, which he mentions ten times. His great message is concerning the latter glory of the temple (2:7-9). Malachi is the prophet of the Name. He refers to this ten times also. He foretells the time when that Name shall be honoured from the rising to the setting of the sun (1:11); and that to those who fear His Name the sun of righteousness shall shine forth (4:2).

The Lord has chosen Jerusalem

The outstanding features of Zechariah’s prophecy are: (1) that Jerusalem is chosen by the Lord (3:2); (2) that He will yet be her glory (2:5); (3) that He, the King over all the earth, shall be worshipped by all nations at Jerusalem (14:9, 16, 17). In chapters 1 to 6 nine symbolic visions make up the first of the three divisions of the book; and these visions instruct us as to the world powers, and Jerusalem, and its Royal Owner. The last six chapters make up the third division; and show us the King coming to the city; sold for the price of a slave (11:12-13); but on His return they grieve and repent; and He, saving the city, reigns in it in great glory. The two centre chapters (7 and 8) form the second division; and show how Israel’s fasts will be turned into cheerful feasts of joy and gladness (7:3, 5; 8:9).

The great foundation upon which Jerusalem’s coming felicity rests is the fact of the Lord’s own choice. It is the same with ourselves, who are members of the body of Christ, the assembly, today. We read, He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). This being so, nothing that has happened since the world was founded shall hinder Him from bringing to pass the eternal glory and blessing for which He chose us. Blessed be His Name, everything is secured already in Christ glorified.

Zechariah, however, shows that there is serious opposition to God’s purpose (chap. 3). Satan appears as an adversary to Joshua, who is seen in the fifth symbolic vision as representing the city; but Satan is rebuked, as it is said, “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” In the first five books of the Bible we see how God had set His heart on Jerusalem. He had chosen it as the place of His Name, and gave Israel most exact instructions as to it. Melchisedec was King of Salem in Abraham’s day; but when Israel entered the land Adoni-zedec was King of Jerusalem (Josh. 10:3). Later, in Judges 1:4-8, we are told of the defeat in Bezek of Adoni-bezek, who was punished, and died at Jerusalem; but, Israel, instead of establishing the city as God’s chosen centre, fired it, and went off to settle on the good land for themselves! This is ever the tendency. It is so with believers today. Nor was it established until the King of God’s choice was raised up—David the son of Jesse, the great grandson of Ruth the Moabitess, and the great-great-grandson of Rahab the harlot. Sovereign grace provided him, as also Solomon his son, who builded the temple at Jerusalem. Man fails; but God never fails. He had chosen Jerusalem, and that for which he had chosen it must be gloriously brought to pass.

We see opposition also to David; but when he had slain the giant, he “took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem” (1 Sam. 17:54); and, though the Jebusites withstood him long, upon the ground of victory over these foes, God’s earthly centre was set up. It will be so finally when David’s greater Son, “THE BRANCH” (3:8), is brought forth. The city of God’s choice shall then fall no more. It will be “a brand plucked out of the fire.” David saved it thus: so it will be again. Sodom and Gomorrah were not plucked out of the fire: they stand a witness to God’s holy judgment upon wickedness: Jerusalem, guilty Jerusalem, will ever stand a witness to the wonderful mercy of God: just as the heavenly city shall shine in His glory as a witness to the exceeding richness of His grace.

The sinful state of Jerusalem is represented in the vision by Joshua’s “filthy garments”; but God’s mercy over-abounds! Jerusalem is cleansed, clothed, crowned, and charged with the care of the house and courts of the Lord. Through the atoning work of Christ, cleansing shall yet be hers; clothed too, in His beauty, she shall be honoured with the priestly crown, and have the charge of the glorious temple yet to be reared up. What a triumph of divine mercy she will then bear witness to! All-sinful once; all-glorious then! Fit for the fire: but fit city for the King of glory through His own work! Once opposed by Satan: now possessed and blessed by its Royal Owner! Happy city!

The fifth and central vision of the nine given to Zechariah teaches this. The previous four relate to the world powers and Jerusalem: (1) A man on a red horse (1:8), speaking of energy in government in relation to the nations. Jehovah was displeased with them for being at ease and Jerusalem still desolate (1:15-16). (2) The four horns (1:18), which speak of the world powers that “have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” (3) The four carpenters (1:20), sent to fray the powers. This is a matter of deep interest. The word is not “carpenters.” Some translate “workmasters,” and yet point out that they are not masters in the ordinary sense, but men over the workmen. It is just such who are breaking up the powers today, though the full fulfilment is future. (4) The man with the measuring line (2:1), speaks of the taking possession of the city, by the One who has chosen it for Himself, by its Royal Owner.

Following these four visions we have that of which we have spoken—(5) Joshua representing the city (3:1); then four further symbols which are full of instruction and interest, though we only indicate them here. (6) The candlestick of gold (4:1), which sets forth the fact that light for the world is yet to shine from the city chosen by “the Lord of the whole earth” (4:14). (7) The flying roll (5:1), having sanctuary measurements, it carries God’s judgment to the man who sins against God and his neighbour (chap. 4). It has reference therefore to the law, which shall “go forth” from Zion (Isa. 2:3). (8) The ephah (5:6) which is carried to Shinar, the source of the “wickedness” and idolatry which brought ruin to Jerusalem before. It is set upon its “own base,” in the land of Babylon, to be judged there. (9) The four chariots (6:1), these speak of God’s governmental energies in the earth; and their activities cease not until “the Man whose Name is the BRANCH” comes forth and establishes the royal city, the holy temple, and the throne of glory, bringing in governmental peace and blessing (6:12-13). He Himself will sit upon that throne, not simply in the right of Kingship, and in the dignity of Lordship, but also in all the grace of Priesthood; as it says: “He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and He shall be a priest upon His throne” (13). We who know somewhat of His grace and love and glory now can say with Spirit-given intelligence, and with adoring homage—HE IS WORTHY.

As KING He will rightly represent God in the government which He exercises: as LORD He will rule for God’s glory and man’s benefit in His dominion over the earth: and as PRIEST He will truly represent man before God in unfailing grace and consideration. Such an One has never yet filled a throne on this earth. The only One who could have done so, they crowned with thorns and hung upon a cross; but God raised Him from among the dead, and exalted Him to His right hand. In due time, thank God, He will return; and then, let it be repeated, “He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and He shall be A PRIEST UPON HIS THRONE.” Better things than the most extreme democrat ever thought of shall obtain then; higher authority than the most zealous autocrat ever strove after shall be maintained then; and glory beyond the ambition of the most devoted royalist shall surround the throne, when the King of kings, who is also Lord of lords and the Priest of the most High God, fills that throne, and rules with dignity and grace.

Jerusalem’s Glory

 “Come, Lord, and reign o’er all supreme,
    Lord Jesus, come.”

When the time arrives for the fulfilment of God’s promises concerning the city, it will be said to her, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee … Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Isa. 60:1, 20). John was allowed to see her glory, according to God’s Word which is settled in heaven; and “there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1). That day, however, is not yet come, and a higher and greater work of God is proceeding on the earth; the assembly is being called out by the preaching of Christ; and is being built up by the teaching of Christ; and in divine love the assembly is growing up to Christ, Who is its glorified Head, and shall soon be translated to heaven, to shine as the heavenly Jerusalem, having the glory of God, with the throne of God and the Lamb in her midst. Meanwhile, the earthly city is still desolate, and not yet returned to the possession of her Royal Owner, and to her regal splendour.

He is not, however, indifferent as to her condition. He says, “I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy, and I am very sore displeased with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction” (Zech. 1:14-5). Overturnings amongst the nations have in view the restoration of this city and the return of her Messiah. God will not be indifferent to those who treat her well; it is said, “He that touches you touches the apple of His eye” (2:8). If the Jerusalem which is above be the bride, the Lamb’s wife, nevertheless the earthly city is very precious to Him. He set His heart upon her for His earthly metropolis. He created her, chose her and exalted her. True, she fell very low; but that becomes the occasion to manifest the unchangeableness of His love for her. He will save her, deliver her, redeem and restore her to greater glory than in the days of Solomon; coming Himself to dwell within her walls and to be the “glory in the midst of her” (2:5).

All will be changed for her then. It is with this in view that the second division of Zechariah is given—the two centre chapters, 7 and 8. Just like the central division of Isaiah (chaps. 36 to 39), this is also based on an historical incident. Messengers come from Babylon to pray, and to inquire concerning a certain fast. The answer shows that they were not fasting to the Lord (7:5); nevertheless, the days shall come when Jerusalem shall be a city of truth (8:3) the people shall be saved; brought to dwell in the midst of the city; and the Lord says—“They shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and in righteousness” (8:8). Their fasts shall be to them “joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts” (8:19). Many people and strong nations, shall then come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem (8:22); and “in those days ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you, (8:23). What a change! Both city and people, will then have been cleansed by God’s mercy through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and have been clothed with His beauty. They reject Him now: they will have repented and returned to Him in that day.

The third and last division of Zechariah gives the history of this. In the first of these final six chapters the prophet foretells the first coming of the King to His city (9:9), and passes right on to the time of Jerusalem’s blessing, for he omits in chapters 9 and 10 His rejection. This is often the way even with a single verse in the prophets. For instance, Isaiah 9:6, “a Child is born”’—that speaks of Christ’s first coming: “the government” on His shoulder—that speaks of His second coming; not a word is said about His rejection, which has lasted for nearly twenty centuries. It is the same in Zechariah 9 and 10, “The King comes; His dominion is from sea to sea; they say, How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! He is the Lord their God.”

In chapters 11, 12 and 13, however, His rejection is plainly stated. He is sold for the price of a slave—for thirty pieces of silver (11:12; Ex. 21:32). The city refuses her true Lover, her royal Lord: He is pierced and wounded. Trouble then comes upon her. She is a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone to all peoples. They gather together against her, and this calls out the unchanging love of her Lord. He seeks “to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (12:9). He saves Judah first, then the house of David, and Jerusalem (12:7). Their eyes are opened, and they look upon Him whom they pierced. They mourn for Him. They are in bitterness for Him. “What are these wounds in thine hands” (13:6)? they ask. They had been inflicted by His friends, by those of the royal city. They learn, however, a deeper lesson, as we see in the next verse. For their salvation He had received at Calvary the smitings of the sword of divine justice. Through human injustice He suffered: also by divine justice; and He, Jehovah’s equal, had suffered in this latter way for them, that they might be blessed. His sufferings from man could not have secured this.

Like Thomas, when they see the wounds they will believe. Like Him, too, they will say, “The Lord, my God” (13:9). Like him also, they miss the present and more precious portion, even as the Lord indicated, when He said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” The Jews will not be converted by the preaching of today, which speaks to faith and not to sight: they will repent and turn to the Lord when He shows Himself to them again—when they see. We cannot enough praise the grace that has called us to trust in Him now; which has given us a place in the assembly, of which He is the unseen Head in heavenly glory at God’s right hand.

It is nevertheless a great joy to our hearts to know, our beloved Lord shall yet be owned by Israel; and that He will yet be the glory of the earthly city. Who else can claim Jerusalem? Is David’s Son the appointed heir? As the Offspring of David then the honour is His. Has David’s Lord the prior claim? He is David’s Root as well as his Offspring, his Lord as well as his Son; therefore the glory falls to Him thus also. Yea, it is Jehovah Himself who is speaking when it is said, “They weighed for My price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto Me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them!” and again, “They shall look upon Me whom they pierced.” This brings them to own Him as their Lord and God. He is the Royal Owner of the city; and here lies the explanation of that wonderful verse in the last chapter of Zechariah: “The Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His Name one” (13:9). Jerusalem will be His royal city, and all nations will do homage to Him there.

Then indeed will be fulfilled that word of His, I will be the glory in the midst of her (2:5). Christ is the glory of Jerusalem. Who else could be? He created her, cared for her, saved her from her sins, redeemed her when she fell, delivered her from all her foes, restored her to a higher position than she had lost, and established her throne. He alone can be her glory! for He is her Creator, her Protector, her Saviour, her Redeemer, her Deliverer, her Restorer, her King, her Priest, her Lord, her God—her all.

They may well say, “How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty!” (9:17). His Name shall then be named upon her, as Jeremiah shows, “This is the Name whereby He shall be called, JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU” (Jer. 23:6); and “this is the Name wherewith she shall be called, JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU” (Jer. 33:16).

What a welcome awaits Him inside those gates, outside of which they once put Him to death. With what joy and triumph shall He enter, where He was once led out in sorrow and shame. He shall be her glory then. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is THE KING OF GLORY.”

The King Worshipped at Jerusalem

The return of our Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem will effect vast changes, not only for the city, for Judah, and for Israel, but for all the nations and peoples of the earth. His first coming and the teachings He left behind have wrought great moral results in some parts of the world, but Scripture never said that the whole world would be converted through these. It is at His second coming that the foretold world-wide changes will take place. He will first deal with Jerusalem, and from that centre blessing and order will radiate throughout the earth, and all nations will own the King whose throne will be established there.

In the very city, where, at His first coming, He suffered so much indignity, honour and glory shall be rendered unto Him. In the place where they mocked Him, there shall His praise resound. At Jerusalem, where He was the song of the drunkard and the scoff of the scholar, there shall He be reverenced and esteemed. Yea, where they scourged Him, smote Him, spat upon Him, plucked the hair from his cheek, and cried, “Away with Him! Crucify Him! crucify Him!” there shall they render obedience, service, thanksgiving and homage to Him; while they cry, “Blessed be His holy name for ever and ever!” Where once they condemned Him to death, they shall say, “Let the King live for ever!” Where they delivered Him to the nations to crucify, there shall all nations come to worship Him. Once despised and rejected, then glorified and acclaimed by all.

The last chapter of Zechariah vividly depicts the return of the Lord Jesus in power and majesty, naming the very spot where His feet will first touch the earth again—“the Mount of Olives,” the place they last stood upon, when He was about to leave the world nearly two thousand years ago. As we pointed out—chapter 9—the first chapter of the last division of this prophecy presents the King as coming to Jerusalem, linking the first and second comings together, without speaking of Christ’s sufferings and rejection. This He does in chapters 11, 12, 13, as we have seen.

The coming of the King rises before his vision in chapter 9:9; and he calls for great rejoicings, saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King comes unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Both the first and second comings of Christ are in this verse; and the next verse passes right on to the results: “He shall speak peace to the nations: and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” Matthew, who was used to give us the gospel of “the King,” cites part of this passage (21:5), when the Lord rode from Mount Olives into Jerusalem, as Zechariah foretold. He omits the words “having salvation”; so also does John 12:15; for, although indeed “salvation” was alone with Him for the nation, yet He must come in power and majesty to bring it to pass for Israel, as Zechariah 14 shows.

Matthew, however, tells us the spirit of this gracious and lowly King—so different from that of the great ones of the world—he says, He is meek! What did a proud, hard, pharisaic set of religious politicians want with such a King? A strong, haughty monarch was the man they desired, indeed, a sort of superman! When in Babylon they submitted to the mighty Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke; and it was God’s mind that they should do so; but here was One different from others. He was meek and lowly; and though He invited men to take His yoke upon them, yet He proposed something they were unaccustomed to. The leaders could not very well be ignorant of the fact that He was the lineal descendant of David, and the heir to Israel’s throne; but He spoke in quite the opposite way to another of David’s sons, who said: “My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke.” Now they heard Christ saying, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light!’’ What was the meaning of this? What reason can be given for this easy yoke? The answer is found in Himself. The reason lies in the fact that He is different in Himself from the best, if we may so speak, of the sons of fallen Adam; for His own words explain the matter, when He makes known not only what characterizes His spirit, but also what He is in heart, as He said: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls.”

Those who belong to the assembly, which He loved and gave Himself for, learn today, before Israel turns to Him as King, not only the lowliness of His heart, but also its deep love. They are taught by the Spirit the preciousness of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge. He devotes Himself to the assembly. He gave Himself for it; and now He is building it, nourishing it, and caring for it continually. Soon He will present it to Himself all glorious, to be His bride in heavenly splendour. He is not spoken of as King of the assembly. He is Bridegroom and Head: but by Israel and the nations He will be owned as King. The assembly is not national, but is called out of the nations: she will doubtless delight to see Him owned as King, as a true wife rejoices to see due honour shown to her husband. What deep joy it will give to the assembly to see her own Bridegroom honoured as King, and worshipped by all the earth at Jerusalem.

Then it must be remembered that He is just, as well as meek and lowly and loving, as Zechariah says: “He is just, and having salvation.” When He returns to bring that salvation to the city which once despised and rejected Him; when He comes to deliver her from the raging nations that seek her destruction; when He hastens to overthrow those who would swallow her up; we are told: “In righteousness doth He judge and make war,” for “He is just.” Men are wise who now submit to His easy yoke: they are fools who refuse to do so. Well is it said, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”

The apostate nations, who gather against Jerusalem after the assembly has been taken to heaven, will fall under His just judgment. A terrible plague will smite them (Zech. 14:3, 12), and when the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ again touch the Mount of Olives, it will cleave asunder; all His saints shall be with Him (14:5); the light shall continue to serve Him even at eventide on that day of days (14:7); living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem then, carrying healing, health and refreshment to east and west (14:8); the very land itself, for the new earthly city, is lifted up; there are changes in the land, changes in the people; changes in the mountain and in the valley; changes in the sea and in the sky, when the Lord of glory comes again to Jerusalem, “the city of the great King.” “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” (14:16).

This verse shows the divine glory of the King. He is none less than Jehovah of hosts Himself. Chapter 6:12-13, speaking of His human perfection, tells us that “the Man,” the BRANCH, shall sit upon the throne. It has been pointed out that the gospel of Luke presents this perfect man. Chapter 3:8 shows Him in the Mark character, “My servant the BRANCH”. In Jeremiah 23:5 we have the King as Matthew traces Him, raised up “unto David a righteous BRANCH”; while in Isaiah 4 we see Him more in the John character; “the BRANCH of Jehovah shall be beautiful and glorious.” How suitable is the fivefold Name given to this glorious King, who shall be rightly honoured in the royal city; for “the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Neither pen nor tongue can tell all the vast and varied glories that centre in Him; but the hearts of those who know His love can worship and adore Him.

When He fills the throne of the earthly city, and the righteousness, peace and joy of God’s kingdom spread over the earth; when He orders and establishes that throne with judgment and with justice; when He shall have delivered the needy and the poor, and brought them satisfaction; when the city flourishes as the grass, and men are blessed in its gracious King; then “all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him.” Jerusalem will be the place to which they then go up from year to year to worship its Royal Owner, “the King of all the Earth.” It will be the divinely appointed and sanctified place of worship. There is no such place now, as John 4:20-24 and Acts 17:24-25 instructs us. The true worshippers worship “THE FATHER” now “in spirit and in truth.” Then the very bells on the horses will be as holy to the Lord as the high priests garments (Zech. 14:20 and Ex. 28:36); “Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts” there shall He be worshipped by all nations.

The carrying out of this divinely arranged order will secure for the different countries the fruitful rains that water the earth; but if any fail to do so, then “even upon them shall be no rain” (14:17). This will be a serious matter for a nation. Christ reigns as a King then, in righteousness; and the homage due to Him must be rendered. Although worship in the assembly today partakes of a different character, and is a response to the great love of God; yet, the principle that worship secures the outpouring of showers of blessing abides. Many seek the showers in the wrong way. Malachi 3:10 confirms the truth; bring in, and He will pour out! Yea, He will “pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Let our worship flow to Him, then blessing will flow from Him. There are many withholding the rain, for they are withholding their worship. Let there be a deeper appreciation of divine grace and love and glory in our hearts, then the worship will flow freely, and the showers of blessing will flow freely also.