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NOTIONS CONCERNING GOD CONTAINED IN THE BOOKS OF LATER
The Books of the Prophets Zechariah, Malachi,
and Haggai. THERE are two striking distinctions between the writings of the earlier, and the later Prophets. 1st. In the Books of those Prophets who wrote before, or during the exile, no mention is made of angels: they form no part of their theology ;* whereas, in the Books of those who wrote after the exile, angels are more frequently introduced, and occupy a more prominent position in the administrations of the divine providence, than in any other of the writings of the Old Testament. 2nd. In the Books of the later Prophets, we find no farther traces of polytheism among the Jews. The religious notions of the Jewish people had become purified and elevated by their intercourse with the Persians; and though they never discarded their national prejudices, respecting their own election, and the peculiar and exclusive relation in which they stood to God,—yet, after their return from captivity, they never again relapsed into idolatry.
Representations of God.
Jehovah is represented as the God of the whole earth, and as the Creator and Father of all men. He is also the
great King” of his people, whom he treats with favour and partiality.
* The angel of Jehovah is mentioned in the Book of Isaiah, chap. xxxvii. On this portion of Isaiah see note at page 103. TR.
“Before Jehovah of all the earth,” &c.—Zech. vi. 5.
Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us ?"-Mal. ii. 10.
“ I have loved you, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us ? was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith Jehovah : yet ye say, I loved Jacob, and hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste, for the dragons of the wilderness.”Mal. i. 2, 3.
“I am a great King, saith Jehovah of hosts.”—Mal. i. 14.
Character and Attributes of God.
Jehovah knows everything. He keeps a book of remembrance in which the names of those who fear him are written. The seven lamps described by Zechariah are the eyes of Jehovah which run to and fro through the whole earth.
Then they that feared Jehovah spake often one to another : and Jehovah hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name."-Mal. iii. 16.
• They are the eyes of Jehovah which run to and fro through the whole earth."-Zech, iv. 10. We do not imagine that these metaphorical representations were intended by their authors to be literally understood. Jehovah is unchangeable.
“ For I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacoo are not consumed.”—Mal. iii. 6. Jehovah is revengeful, and curses those who bring imperfect sacrifices.
“ But cursed be the deceiver," &c.—Mal. i. 14.
"Ye are cursed with a curse : for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation."-Mal. iii, 9.
Government and Providence of God.
Jehovah is jealous for Jerusalem. He will comfort Zion, and choose Jerusalem, and his house shall be built there; and he will dwell among his people, and will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
“ Thus saith Jehovah of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great jealousy.
“I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies : my house shall be built in it, saith Jehovah of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth
upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and Jehovah shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.”—Zech. i. 14, 16, 17.
“Thus saith Jehovah of hosts ; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith Jehovah ; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem : and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth: and the mountain of Jehovah of hosts the holy mountain.
“Thus saith Jehovah of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem : and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth
and in righteousness."— Zech. viii. 2, 3, 7, 8. The name of Jehovah shall be great among the heathen, and incense shall be offered unto his name in every place.
"For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith Jehovah of hosts."-Mal. i. 11. And yet in the prophet Haggai the total overthrow of the heathen kingdoms is predicted.
“ And again the word of Jehovah came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth ; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.”-Haggai ii. 20-22. Jehovah rewards those who fear and honour him, but they who are negligent of God's service cannot expect to be favoured with the divine blessing. The principal subject of the Book of the Prophet Haggai, is the rebuilding of the temple of Jehovah. Jehovah calls a drought upon the land because the people said, “ The time is not yet come that Jehovah's house should be built." From the day that they lay the foundation of the temple Jehovah gives them fruitful seasons and plenteous harvests. See Haggai i. 11.
“ Is the seed yet in the barn ? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth : from this day will I bless you. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of Jehovah. Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith Jehovah. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of Jehovah's temple was laid, consider it.”—Haggai ii. 15-19.
The Prophet Malachi is as intent on enforcing the observance of tithes and offerings, as the Prophet Haggai is on urging the building of the temple. When disabled and imperfect cattle are offered as sacrifices the priests are very angry, and Malachi says that God is, by this means, robbed in tithes and offerings. The belief that God will be gratified by the building of a magnificent temple, and by the offering of sacrifice, is quite in accordance with the religious notions of this period.
· Ye said also, Behold what a wearinèss is it! And ye snuffed at it, saith Jehovah of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand ? saith Jehovah. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto Jehovah a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith Jehovah of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.”-Mal. i. 13, 14.
Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith Jehovah of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God ? yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye
all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts ; if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground ; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith Jehovah of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed : for ye shall be a delight
some land, saith Jehovah of hosts.”-Mal. iii. 7-12. The Prophet Zechariah sees many angels in visions.
They are in the form of men : some ride upon red, speckled, and white horses, and go to and fro through the earth, to see what goes forward. The angel of Jehovah, who, in the first of the eight visions seen by Zechariah, stands among myrtle-trees, appears many times to the Prophet, talks with him, and gives him the interpretation of the allegorial representations, seen by him in the visions.
“I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom Jehovah hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of Jehovah that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest."- Zech. i. 8-11.
“ And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man,” &c.-Zech. ii. 3, 4. The four winds are personified. They are the four spirits of the heavens, who go forth, from standing before Jehovah of all the earth, into the north and south countries, in four chariots drawn by different-coloured horses.
“And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains ; and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before Jehovah of all the earth. The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go
forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth. Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country
have quieted my spirit in the north country.”—Zeck. vi. 1-8. Satan, the accuser of men, is opposed to these good angels.