The preceding chapter reports that a deputation from Bethel came to Jerusalem to enquire whether the fast that had been instituted seventy years previous to commemorate the destruction of the holy city had still to be observed. In replying the prophet rebukes the formalism of the Jews and sets forth the dire consequences of disobedience. He reminds them of the troubles that overwhelmed their apostate fathers. Jehovah had scattered them with a whirlwind among the nations that they knew not. In chapter VIII, now to be treated, the prophet depicts the great good that Jehovah has in store for His people, the true Israel that love Him and keep His commandments. 

The Lord will return to the city and she shall become known for her spiritual goodness, Verses 1-3—Wonderful peace and prosperity, verses 4-6—The Lord will save His people from every quarter, verses 7, 8—General fertility and peace in place of former want and affliction, verses 9-13—The certainty of Jehovah’s promises, verses 14, 15—The obligation to keep Jehovah’s commandments, verses 16, 17—Fasts shall become joy and gladness, verses 18, 19—Wonderful extension of Christ’s kingdom: many nations shall seek Jehovah, verses 20-23. 

1. Again the word of Jehovah of hosts came, saying, 2 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and with great fury was I jealous for her

The introductory formula of verse 1 does not mark the beginning of a new discourse; it introduces a new line of thought in the prophecy that commences in 7:4.Jehovah of hosts—This name characterizes God as king full of glory who, as surrounded by the angelic hosts, rules in the whole earth, so that by the utteranceThus saith the Lord of Hosts, which occurs ten times in this chapter, the Lord assures His people in their hearts first that the prophet speaks the promises of God and not his own words and second that God’s promises cannot fail. Jealousy—The Lord’s zeal for Zion, His vehement love of His people as His spouse. He was zealous for Zion with a great zeal and with great fury toward the nations because of their ill-treatment of Zion. He was but a little displeased with. His people and the heathen had helped for evil (see on 1:13). Therefore He had cast out the horns of the gentiles, destroyed the world power that had been holding Israel captive and had thereby delivered His people, so that they were back in God’s country. And He shall continue to overturn the world-powers successively, one after the other, until finally, at the second coming of Christ, the last of them to make its appearance and to establish itself in the earth shall be made to pass away. And there shall be new heavens and a new earth on which righteousness shall dwell. 

Zion—One of the mountains upon which Jerusalem was built and the sight of the palace of the king. There was also Moriah the temple mountain. It is sometimes called Zion, which indicates that the two must be thought of as one. And Zion is Jerusalem. She was the only city of her kind in all the earth. For here reigned Jehovah of hosts over all the powers in heaven and in the earth. And here He dwelled in His holy temple. Here the saints, therefore, entered His presence and beheld His glory in the face of Christ as foreshadowed by priest and sacrifice and the blood of sprinkling on the horns of the altar and on the mercy seat of the Ark of the covenant in the holiest place. Jerusalem’s inhabitants must be thought of as including the whole of Israel. For the whole of Israel and not merely the Jews that actually dwelt in the holy city, was covered by the blood that was shed at her altar. Jerusalem, therefore, is also Israel, the whole nation, the church of the Old Dispensation in the first instance. In Isaiah 49:14, where Israel in exile complains that the Lord has forsaken her, Israel is called Zion, Jerusalem.

However, here all was shadow—Jerusalem, Israel, the temple, priest, sacrifice, blood, the ark of the covenant in the holiest place, the mercy seat, the glory of the pillar of cloud that filled the temple, the candlestick, table of shewbread and altar of incense—all was shadow. The body foreshadowed is the church in glory, the new Jerusalem that John in his vision saw coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, thus the church as God eternally beheld her in Christ in His counsel. 

Now it is of the church in glory that in the final instance the prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures are always speaking when they make mention of Zion, Jerusalem for which God was so zealous and this of necessity seeing that she foreshadowed, was a prophetic type of the heavenly. We must not end with the promise as set forth by the prophets of the Old Testament Bible in the earthly Jerusalem and in the Israel of that day. Jerusalem in the last analysis is not Israel as limited to the Jews but the church in glory as including both Jews and Gentiles according to the election of grace. Nothing could be plainer from the Scriptures than this. 

3. Thus saith the Lord: I shall return unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem and Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 

I shall return—Not, “I am returned,” as the versions have it. For the tense is perfect and places the action in the future and thereby expresses absolute confidence in the fulfillment of the promise. The Lord shall return unto Zion. This also looks back to what the Lord had done unto Zion. He had poured out on her His fury like a fire, covered her with the cloud of His anger, and had swallowed up Israel. He had swallowed up her palaces, violently taken away her tabernacle, destroyed the-places of the assembly, caused the solemn feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, destroyed in the indignation of His anger the king and the priests, cast off His altar, abhorred His sanctuary, and scattered Israel among the gentiles. The law was no more, and the prophets found no vision from the Lord (Jer. 2:4ff). Sin was no longer being atoned, the priest was not blessing any more, the temple where God had been throning lay in ruins. The ark of the covenant had been carried away by the heathen. They had come into the Lord’s inheritance, defiled His temple and laid Jerusalem in ruins (Ps. 79:1). The glory of Israel departed. 

But why had the Lord thus dealt with Zion? Because the city, once faithful, had become a harlot. Because the city was full of murderers—the city that once was full of judgment (Isa. 1:21). A sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters, having forsaken the Lord, provoked the holy One of Israel to anger, having gone away backward—that was Zion, Israel (Isa. 1:5ff). For the law had entered in and sin had abounded. 

But the Lord shall return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Amazing news. But why will the Lord return to Zion? The city is sinful, ill-deserving, astonishingly so. The Lord has chosen Zion in Christ. He cannot forget her, cast her off utterly. She is engraved on the palms of His hands. And this answers the question how the righteous and holy God, whose eyes are to pure to behold sin, can return to Zion. He will return to her through Christ in whom He has chosen her and, therefore, her eternal righteousness. Through Him He will return to Zion, through the blood of His atonement, the blood of the Lamb, that was slain from before the foundations of the world. 

That this is here the promise is plain. Let us consider that it is Jehovah who promises, the triune Jehovah, the God and Father of Christ. How could He return to Zion as Savior, if He returned not to her through the blood of the atonement of the Christ. That this is here the promise is also plain from its fulfillment on the typical level. On this level the Lord was already returned to Zion. He had turned the captivity of Zion, so that His people were back in His country. The breaches in Jerusalem’s walls were mended and her gates repaired. And what is most significant is that the Lord had restored to His people His altar. For the altar was the meeting place between Jehovah and His people. And on the temple-mountain His altar again burned, and the blood of sprinkling was again upon its horns as a covering for all of Zion’s sins. That blood was Christ (typically). And, therefore, though the temple that was rising on the ruins of the old was not yet completed, the Lord was already returned, to His people and dwelling in their midst. For He had restored to them His altar. What it means is that through Christ He had returned to them. Truly the promise has already been fulfilled. 

However here all was again but shadow. It was the blood of bulls and of goats that was here again being shed. It could not take away sin. And therefore, from the vantage point of the church of that day, the promise had still to be fulfilled. But from our vantage point the promise has been fulfilled, though, seeing that the church has not yet appeared with Christ in glory, there still remaineth for us a promise. Nevertheless the promise has been fulfilled essentially in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. And God laid all Zion’s sins upon Him, her whole vast accumulation of sins. And He brought His only begotten under the burden of His wrath by smiting Him for Zion’s transgression, crushing Him for Zion’s iniquities. In that black hour of His sufferings on the cross He was heard to utter substantially that very cry that came from Zion’s lips in that dark hour of her suffering.” My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Then was He suffering for Zion the hellish agonies, Then when by His agonies He had fully satisfied God’s wrath and fulfilled all the requirements of the law, He cried out with a loud voice jubilantly, “It is finished,” gave up the ghost and committed His spirit into the hands of the Father. Then the Father returned to Christ, who centrally is Zion. He raised Him from the dead, set Him in the highest Heavens at the right hand of the throne and poured out of His Spirit on Him when the day of Pentecost was fully come. Then, too, Jehovah returned to Zion though His Spirit-filled Christ. Through Christ He poured out Christ’s Spirit on the church in Heaven and on the church on earth. 

Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth. For that is what she is. For God through Christ in His Spirit dwells in her midst, and in the hearts of all Her inhabitants,—in His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ that He merited for His church and therefore the life-giving Spirit, the sanctifying and beautifying Spirit, the Spirit that imparts unto the church the fullness of life and blessings—the fullness of the godhead—of which the Father is the fountain and that dwells bodily in Christ. 

Truth—What is truth? The original word used for truth means: that which is firm, faithful, the amen. Truth is light. Truth frees. By truth iniquity is purged. Truth is a shield and a buckler. It reaches to the clouds and endureth forever. For truth is out of God. He is the truth. The lie is out of the devil. It is darkness, unrighteousness. It deceives, puts to shame, leads to destruction. They that speak the lie shall lie down, never to arise. 

That is Jerusalem—a city of truth. Her inhabitants have the truth in their inward parts, love the truth, seek the truth, walk in the light of the truth, speak the truth every one with his neighbor before the face of God and are blessed of God. 

Jerusalem is the mountain of Jehovah of hosts. Here He chose to dwell, not because Jerusalem’s inhabitants had first chosen Him and were seeking after God but because it pleased Him. 

Being the city of truth and the mountain of Jehovah, Jerusalem is the mountain of holiness. Her inhabitants with all that they are and possess are wholly consecrated unto their redeemer God in love. And she is the only city of truth, holy mountain. All other cities are cities of ungodliness. For God does not dwell in them. He dwells in Zion only. 

What Jerusalem is she shall also be called—city of truth, Mountain of Jehovah of hosts, the holy mountain. So she shall be known. All men shall call her blessed. She shall be the joy of the whole earth. 

Such will be the blessedness of Jerusalem in glory. But Jerusalem, though in heaven with Christ, is not yet in glory. There are citizens of Jerusalem on this earth, in this world; in which they have many afflictions. For the world is Babylon and these citizens are in principle children of the light, sons of God, seekers of the heavenly city. And therefore the world knows them not. As Jerusalem is not yet in glory, Jehovah shall once more return to Jerusalem, Zion. Once more He shall be jealous for Zion with great fury toward her enemies. They shall be destroyed. The whole earth shall be cleansed of them so thoroughly this time that not one of them shall survive to plagues God’s people. The devil shall be cast into the bottomless pit. The heavens and the earth shall pass away and there shall be a new earth where the tabernacle of God will be with His people forever. That will be the final returning of Jehovah unto Zion. For never again shall He cover her with a cloud of His anger on account of her sins. For she will be wholly pure, the bride without spot or wrinkle, the city of truth, the holy mountain. If there was a time when she was full of murderers, there now will not be found a murderer in her. And Christ is her eternal righteousness, sanctification, wisdom and redemption. And in Him she is grafted by a faith that is living and cannot cease because He her eternal mediator will never cease to pray for her. For this final return of Jehovah unto Zion all the saints both in heaven and on earth cry day and night. And unto the promise of His final return to Zion they take heed as unto a light that shineth in our darkness. They take heed unto this promise until the day dawn and the day star rises in their hearts (II Peter 1:19). 

4. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; there shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for every age. 5. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof

Old men and old women—Jerusalem shall be inhabited by men and women who attain to a ripe age.Staff . . . for very age—Because of extreme old age they must lean upon staves. Boys and girls playing—There will be a wealth of children. Wives will be as fruitful vines by the side of their husband’s houses. In the streets the children will be playing. The old men will be dwelling in the streets. Here they will spend most of their time, visiting together. Jerusalem, therefore, will be a good place to dwell. Surrounded by peace and prosperity her inhabitant will be without care. Also these promises may be said to have been fulfilled on the typical level. At the time that they were spoken Jerusalem’s inhabitants were few in number. For only a few of the exiles had returned. But they were fruitful and multiplied until the territory formerly occupied by the tribe of Judah was filled with them. And during the reign of the Maccabean princes they dwelt safely in the land. But this, too, was but shadow so that also with these promises we must end in the heavenly city, which, of course, does not mean that there are going to be old men in heaven. 

A right understanding of the matter requires that we have respect to the following: When the people of Israel as a nation served God, they were blessed of the lath and then earthly prosperity and physical well-being was their portion. But when Israel forsook God, they were cursed of the law, and then the nation was made to experience all manner of physical calamities (See Deut. 27, 28). For it was the dispensation of shadows and Israel was under the law. And so the blessings and cursings of the law worked themselves out in that day in the existence of the people of Israel. Both the earthly prosperity and the physical, earthly calamities were typical. The former foreshadowed the blessings of the church in glory, and the latter the nameless sufferings and miseries of the damned in hell. This earthly prosperity was a token of God’s favor toward the elect. It was a blessing only for them. For the reprobated in Israel it was a curse and also meant as such. As to this earthly calamity, it was a revelation of God’s anger, of the anger of His love, with regard to the elect, and of the anger of His hatred with regard to the reprobated. For the Israel according to the reprobation it was punishment; for the elect it was not punishment but chastisement and here the purpose was to lead to repentance and to drive into the arms of Christ. And, therefore, though they suffered all these typical workings of the law, when in times of national apostasy and decay God would lay His strokes upon the nation, the law, God, did not curse them, their persons, for they were hidden in Christ by virtue of their being chosen of God before the foundations of the world. 

Now these calamities included also barrenness of the womb. They included Israel’s being cut off by death from Canaan and its temple and altars—Canaan, the land that the Lord had given His people. Accordingly the blessings of the law included living long in Canaan and a numerous offspring. For how could Israel continue in the possession of Canaan without offspring, seed?

We now perceive the Gospel of our text. The inhabitants of the new Jerusalem shall live long in Canaan, the new earth. They shall never die. For Christ, who fulfilled all the requirement of the law, shall raise them up unto an unending life, life everlasting. And the new Jerusalem shall be full of children, seed, offspring of God out of whom they are born, seed, offspring of Christ by whose Spirit they are brought into being as new creatures, and to whom it was said that, when He should have made His soul an offering for sin, He should see His seed (Isa. 53:10), and seed of Abraham to whom God said that unto him and his seed God would give this land, and, finally, seed of the totality of believers to whom God said that unto them and their seed was the promise. And there they shall securely dwell as free from every care and want and fear—carnal fear of God and fear of the enemy. For there the-enemy cannot kill and spoil and devastate.