A. The superiority of the Messiah’s reign.
1. (1) The blessed nature of the Messiah’s reign.
Ask the LORD for rain
In the time of the latter rain.
The LORD will make flashing clouds;
He will give them showers of rain,
Grass in the field for everyone.
a. Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain: Ancient Israel had no irrigation system and relied on rain to water their crops. In a time of drought, nothing grew – so Israel relied on both the former rain (falling in autumn) and the latter rain (falling in spring).
b. He will give them showers of rain: The LORD challenged His people saying, “Be bold enough to ask Me, and I will answer your prayer. I will provide what I alone can provide.”
c. Grass in the field for everyone: In man’s ideas of equality, often everyone ends up equally poor. God’s idea of equality means abundance for everyone.
2. (2-5) Only the people of the true God conquer in the end.
For the idols speak delusion;
The diviners envision lies,
And tell false dreams;
They comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wend their way like sheep;
They are in trouble because there is no shepherd.
“My anger is kindled against the shepherds,
And I will punish the goatherds.
For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock,
The house of Judah,
And will make them as His royal horse in the battle.
From him comes the cornerstone,
From him the tent peg,
From him the battle bow,
From him every ruler together.
They shall be like mighty men,
Who tread down their enemies
In the mire of the streets in the battle.
They shall fight because the LORD is with them,
And the riders on horses shall be put to shame.”
a. For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies: The ancient Hebrew word for idols here is teraphim, meaning common household idols. Diviners consulted the spirits of idols to predict the future. God warns His people that there is no real help from either idols or their representatives (they comfort in vain).
b. They are in trouble because there is no shepherd: The people had listened to false and deceptive leaders, and part of the reason was that there was a lack of godly leadership.
c. Will make them as His royal horse in the battle: In mercy God would transform His people from a flock of sheep to a herd of war horses, ready for battle. All of them shall be like mighty men and defeat their enemies.
d. From him comes the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together:Though God was displeased with Israel’s shepherds, He would raise up the perfect shepherd from Judah and for Judah.
i. Jesus is the cornerstone: the foundation, measure, and standard (Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22-23, Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:4-5).
ii. Jesus is the tent peg: holding all things securely (Isaiah 22:23-24).
iii. Jesus is the battle bow: a strong fighter for good (Isaiah 63:1-4, Revelation 19:11-16).
iv. Jesus is the leader over every ruler of His people (Revelation 19:16).
B. Israel gathered and strengthened.
1. (6-7) Israel strengthened.
“I will strengthen the house of Judah,
And I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back,
Because I have mercy on them.
They shall be as though I had not cast them aside;
For I am the LORD their God,
And I will hear them.
Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man,
And their heart shall rejoice as if with wine.
Yes, their children shall see it and be glad;
Their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.”
a. I will strengthen the house of Judah: The promise from the preceding passage is repeated more intensely. God will save and bless Israel and have mercy on them. This blessing would include all of the tribes of Israel, even the house of Joseph (those of the conquered northern kingdom).
i. God has strength for us also. Ephesians 6:10 tells us that we can draw on His resources for strength: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
ii. The availability of God’s strength means there will be opportunities for us to use it. “The Lord does not say, ‘I will take you away from your labours,’ but ‘I will strengthen you, so that you will be able to perform, them.’” (Spurgeon)
b. Their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD: The LORD will not only return strength to Israel, but also joy. Their sense of defeat and weakness will be replaced with gladness.
2. (8-12) Israel gathered into the land from across the earth.
“I will whistle for them and gather them,
For I will redeem them;
And they shall increase as they once increased.
I will sow them among the peoples,
And they shall remember Me in far countries;
They shall live, together with their children,
And they shall return.
I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt,
And gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon,
Until no more room is found for them.
He shall pass through the sea with affliction,
And strike the waves of the sea:
All the depths of the River shall dry up.
Then the pride of Assyria shall be brought down,
And the scepter of Egypt shall depart.
So I will strengthen them in the LORD,
And they shall walk up and down in His name,”
Says the LORD.
a. I will whistle for them and gather them: The promise to gather Israel is repeated often in the prophecies concerning the new covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-6, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Jeremiah 32:37-41, Ezekiel 11:16-20, Ezekiel 36:16-28). Though Israel was scattered to the nations, they shall remember Me in far countries and come back to the land.
i. In the 20th Century many Jewish people were gathered back to the land of Israel, and in 1948 Israel became a nation again – after more than 2,000 years of not being a nation. Does the 20th Century gathering of Israel fulfill this prophecy? It fulfills it in part, but only in part – because Israel will be gathered again in belief, not in rejection of the LORD and His Savior. The gathering began in unbelief but will end up in belief and trust in Jesus.
b. So I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name: When God gathers Israel and defeats their enemies they shall walk in freedom and liberty again. It will be like a new exodus from Egypt, complete with exodus-like miracles (He shall pass through the sea with affliction, and strike the waves of the sea: All the depths of the River shall dry up).