Zec_10:1. Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
The atheistic philosopher of the present day laughs at such a verse as this, and sneeringly asks, “ What possible connection can there be between men and women praying to God and the showers of rain which fall upon the earth?” “Why!” saith he, “according to the laws of nature, showers fall at such-and-such seasons; and if the atmosphere should not happen to be in such-and-such a state, all the praying in the world cannot produce a single drop of rain.” But faith can clearly see where reason is blind; and the prayer of faith moves the arm of God, and the arm of God controls what the philosopher calls the laws of nature, and so the rain descends. Let us learn, from this precept and promise, the power of believing prayer. Prayer hath the key of nature as well as the key of heaven hanging at her girds. Observe also that, when we have received one mercy from the Lord, we are to go on to pray for another. These people must have had “the former rain”, yet they were to ask for “the latter rain” also; and if you, dear friends, have had “the former rain” of conversion, go on to ask the Lord for “the latter rain” of sanctification. If, in our church-fellowship, we have had “the former rain” of gracious additions to our numbers, we must ask for “the latter rain” by praying that God would continue thus to bless us. When we cease to pray for blessings, God has already ceased to bless us, but when our souls pour out floods of prayer, God is certain temporary floods of mercy.
Zec_10:2. For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners how seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain:
Observe the readiness of man to forsake the great fountain of living waters and to make unto himself broken cisterns which can hold no water. Notice too, that some sort of comfort may, for a time, be derived from a false trust, but it is “comfort in vain.” As a dream yields no comfort when a man wakes up, and finds himself to be not rich, as he had vainly dreamed that he was, but miserably poor, so all confidence in the flesh, all reliance upon anything except the almighty arm of God, even if it should yield us temporary hope and consolation, will only make our grief the greater when its utter failure is discovered.
Zec_10:2. Therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.
The sheep that belong to Christ’s flock will never find any true shepherd except him who is “the good Shepherd.” If, for a time, they should so lose their spiritual wits as to follow strangers, which, indeed is not a natural thing for them to do, for “a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers;”-they will meet with a thousand troubles because they have no shepherd.
Zec_10:3. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats:
Whenever people are afflicted with unfaithful ministers, when God comes to visit these people, be will not only punish the ministers, but the religious leaders, the false professors in those churches, the he-goats who led the flock astray. Oh, what a plague and a curse will an unfaithful minister be found to have been at the last day! A well which only yields bitter water like that of Marah, merely mocks a temporary thirst; but a minister who does not preach the gospel, and who does not live the gospel, mocks the soul’s eternal thirst. Whatever I may be, God grant that I may never be an unfaithful preacher of his Word! Surely, if there be an innermost hell, a place where the soul’s feet shall be made more feet in the stocks of the pit than anywhere else, it shall be reserved for the man who, professing to be an instructor of the ignorant, and a leader of the flock, taught them falsehood, and led them out of the way. Pray the Lord save us from shepherd against whom his anger must be kindled!
Zec_10:3. For the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.
As an expert horseman skillfully controls his caparisoned steel, and turns it according to his pleasure in the day of battle, and makes it obey himself alone, so doth the Lord rein in and direct his Church, so that she becomes like a “goodly horse in the battle.”
Zec_10:4. Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.
Let us learn from this verse that everything cometh from the Lord of hosts, the God of providence as well as of grace. Those statesmen, who are the corner-stones of the great building of state, must come from him. Those Christian men and women of experience, who seem to be as the corner-stones of our spiritual building, must come from him. Those who are as nails, upon whom weaker Christians seem to hang, come from him. And whoever is, in the day of battle, like God’s bow, must also come from him; for, apart from the Lord, there is no strength, nor power, nor wit nor wisdom, amongst all his people. We must learn, then, to lift up our eye unto God, and look to his for ail that we need; whether it be political, social, or religious needs that are to be supplied, all must come from him.
Zec_10:5. And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle: and they shall fight, because the LORD is with them, and the riders on horses shall be confounded.
The Jewish infantry often turned to flight the Syrian cavalry, and I may fitly compare the apostles of old to humble fighters upon foot, while heathen and other philosophers were like mighty men on horseback, yet they were turned back by the apparently weaker warriors of the cross, and it is so still. We can well afford to give our adversaries every advantage that they can ask; let them have state patronage, let them have worldly dignity, let them have learning, let them have wealth; yet, in the name of God will we vanquish them, for the truth of God is mightier than all the wisdom of man and the weakness of God is stronger than the greatest strength of man.
Zec_10:6. And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off; for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them
See, beloved, how the everlasting covenant is the great foundation of everything for the saints. “ I and Jehovah their God,” says he. The Lord has taken his people to be his own for ever; and therefore, though he may seem temporarily to reject them, yet permanently and everlastingly he will hold them fast, and own them as his people.
Zec_10:7. And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.
Get a firm hold of this promise, believers, and plead it. Are you dull and heavy, desponding and sad? Then plead this promise, “ Their heart shall rejoice in the Lord.”
Zec_10:8. I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they hare increased.
The word “hiss” is supposed by some to be an allusion to the Eastern custom of men who managed bees making a sound like hissing in order to gather them into the hive. Others, however, translate the word “piping”, as the shepherd pipes to his flock, and they gather round him. In the words, “I will gather them, for I have redeemed them,” we see that particular redemption is the groundwork of effectual calling; those whom Jesus Christ hath bought with his precious blood the Holy Spirit will call by power out from the rest of mankind.
Zec_10:9-11. And I will sow them among the people and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again. I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them. And he shall pass through the sea with affliction,-
In the restoration of Israel, there is to be an even greater triumph than that which was achieved at the Red Sea.
Zec_10:11. And shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away.
For the glory of God in the deliverance of his people is sure to be attended by another form of glory in the destruction of his enemies Christ is a sweet saviour unto God both in them that are saved and in them that perish.
Zec_10:12. And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.
This exposition consisted of readings from Zechariah 9, , 10.