For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

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.”

This continues the description of Israel’s millennial blessings. As always, when His people are walking in obedience, they will have but to ask in order to receive, that same assurance being no less true for us, the only difference being that we, His spiritual people, are to ask for spiritual blessings rather than the temporal good things promised His earthly people Israel.

In the present context the Lord’s being described as the maker of the thunder and lightening is good, meaning simply that He is the One Who makes the thunder and lightning which frequently precede the refreshing showers, and are meant to remind us that those showers come from Him. 

It is a sad commentary on the spiritual state of the world today that virtually all natural phenomena are attributed, not to God, but to “mother nature.”  The same hatred that impelled religious Israel to crucify the Lord, still governs the heart of every unconverted man, and would continue to expel the Creator from His Own creation, but with such devilish cunning as to make it imperceptible to all but the eye of faith.  That same world, however, is about to hear the thunder, and see the lightning of that same omnipotent God, as He pours down judgment in the now imminent Tribulation.

10:2.  “For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.”

The pronouncements of those professing to be the spokesmen of the imaginary gods represented by idols, spoke sheer nonsense.  Those professing to receive communications from God through dreams, were equally deceptive, their visions, like their so called interpretations, being for their own aggrandizement and glory.  In spite of all their professed nearness to God, they were Satan’s agents, and the result was that in all their religious activity there was no comfort for the people.  Nor is it any different today.  The counterpart of the false religious system that governed Israel then, now governs apostate Christendom through a largely unconverted clergy, who because they are unconverted, don’t and can’t understand Scripture, but nevertheless profess to be God’s representatives, and expositors of His Word.  Like their OT counterparts, they too speak nonsense, and give empty consolation.  They say “peace, peace” when there is no peace, and present a God “Who is too loving to send anyone to hell,” even though their false words make God Himself a liar.

Because of the false shepherds in Israel, the people had wandered and been afflicted, like a flock of sheep without a shepherd; and the fact that that condition is exactly the same as that which governs apostate Christendom today, is further proof that the world’s experience is foreshadowed in that of Israel.  In spite of past warnings and partial recoveries, the tendency in Israel was steadily downward, and culminated in the Diaspora which finds her still scattered amongst the nations, except for the relative few who have been returning to Palestine since 1948.  It will take the impending Tribulation judgments to bring her to genuine repentant faith in Christ, and the enjoyment of millennial blessings.

And so is it with apostate Christendom.  She too has had numerous warnings from God, but in spite of them, she is more blatantly apostate than ever, and will only be brought to genuine repentant faith in Christ by means of the Tribulation judgments, following which a repentant remnant of each nation will also enjoy millennial blessings.

10:3.  “Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the Lord of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.”

The Assyrian captivity of Israel (the ten northern tribes), and the later Babylonian captivity of Judah (Judah and Benjamin), were expressions of God’s anger against the sin into which their evil shepherds had led them.  “Goats” as used here, means leaders, and is probably meant to distinguish between their spiritual, and their political leaders, both of whom, for the most part, led the people astray.

Relative to “goats” the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary makes the following interesting remark here, “As ‘shepherds’ described what they ought to have been, so ‘he-goats’ describes what they were, the emblem of headstrong wantonness and offensive lust.”

The Lord’s having “visited his flock the house of Judah” is generally understood to refer to His having brought them back from the Babylonian captivity; while His having “made them as his goodly horse in the battle” may refer to the success He later granted them against Greece in the days of the Maccabees; but clearly the ultimate application must be to His endowing them with power against their Gentile enemies at the end of the Tribulation, and their promotion to dominion in the Millennium.

10:4.  “Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, and out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.”

Judah is here declared to be the tribe from which Messiah would come, for it is Christ Who is portrayed in other Scriptures as “the corner stone, the nail, the battle bow, and the omnipotent ruler (oppressor as used here means ruler).”  Relative to Christ as “the stone,” Cyril Hocking has written very instructively, “When the term stands alone as here, or in a context containing the word ‘stone’, it refers to the foundational work of the Messiah laid in Zion at His first advent, which represents also the messianic means of joining together two distinct ‘house’ walls, Isa.28:16; Rom.9:33.  The rejection of the One who was ‘for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel’, Isa 8:14, is Himself the only sure foundation for the re-united nation in the future.  However, when the word ‘head’ appears with the word ‘corner’, it refers to a ‘key’ or ‘crowning’ stone by which a building is completed architecturally, Ps.118.22; cf. Matt.21.42; Mark 12.10; Luke 20.17; Acts 4.11; 1 Pet.2.7, and points on to the finalizing of God’s messianic promises for the nation by the coming in glory of Israel’s Messiah.”

The nail was a strong peg or beam fastened or built into the wall of a house, or placed in a tent, and was that upon which anything (especially the more valuable) was usually hung.  It was also used metaphorically of a strong, stable, safe dwelling, and also of a prince or ruler upon whom hung the responsibility for the well-being of the state.  For Scriptural references to Christ as “the nail” upon which hang the hope and the glory, not only of Israel, but of the Church and of every individual believer, see Ezra 9:8; Isa 22:23-24,.  (Note that the correct rendering of Isa 22:25 is, “In that day ... shall the other nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall....” the “other nail” being the Tribulation age Beast ruler).

The battle bow as a figure or type of Christ is so clear as to need no explanation.

“Oppressor” as used here is literally a ruler or king, good or bad, the context making clear which is meant, and clearly here the primary reference is to Christ, but including also the truth that from Judah every other ruler in the Millennium will proceed.  This is not to imply that every millennial official will be of the tribe of Judah, but rather, that all government will be under the control of the descendant of David who will then occupy the throne in Jerusalem as regent, while Christ will be reigning from the throne in heaven.

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.”

Because every millennial government official will be God-appointed they will be mighty men empowered by Him for their work, so that none will be able to resist them.  Those described here as “riders on horses” represent any (the very few) in the Millennium who will dare to openly defy Christ’s rule.  They will be summarily put to death, for no rebellion will be tolerated in that halcyon era when Christ will be ruling, not as the Lamb, but as the mighty Lion of Judah.

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.”

In this present context “the house of Judah” appears to refer to Israel as the agent of Divine government on the millennial earth; but “the house of Joseph,” to them as a redeemed people who had once been despised by the nations, but who will then be the object of the admiration of those same nations.  Their being brought back and placed, no longer divided, but as a united nation again, clearly refers to their being brought back from among the Gentiles, and settled in Palestine in the Millennium.  All their former misery will be forgotten as though it had never been, for their being in a right relationship with God will bring them every blessing that Divine love and grace can bestow.  As noted in our study of verse 1, they will but have to ask for what they desire, and it will be given them.

Relative to God’s saving “the house of Joseph (the ten northern tribes),” many believe that their regathering will be later than that of the house of Judah, i.e., it will be after the destruction of the Gentile armies in the Armageddon conflict, and just prior to Christ’s judgment of Israel, and of the remainder of the nations prior to the inauguration of His millennial kingdom.

Believers of this present age are in the same position, the only difference being that their blessings are spiritual rather than temporal.  Sadly, however, carnality has blinded the eyes of the majority of Christians, so that they value the temporal more than the spiritual, and by asking for the worthless things which God must deny - or grant in chastisement - rob themselves of true riches having eternal value.

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.”

There is a peculiar propriety in God’s using Ephraim here as a synonym for the whole nation, for the name has too seemingly contradictory, but very instructive meanings: double ash-heap: I shall be doubly fruitful.  There is, however, no contradiction, but rather, the declaration of a truth every Christian would do well to grasp. 

The wealth of a city is declared by the size of its ash-heap, that of the wealthy city being large; and that of the poor city being small.  The spiritual lesson therefore being taught in the linking together of the two names is that the more of the worthless things of this world we throw on the ash-heap, the wealthier we make ourselves spiritually, and therefore eternally.  Paul was the personification of this wisdom, and his attitude to earthly riches as compared to heavenly, is recorded in Php 3:7-8, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

It is the wisdom to rightly evaluate the worth of earthly things, and to disregard them as did Paul, that makes a man mighty, the scarcity of spiritually mighty men today declaring the sad truth that the great majority of professing Christians have set their hearts on earthly things rather than heavenly, hence their spiritual weakness.

Wine is one of the biblical symbols of joy, and its being said that the hearts of the obedient “shall rejoice as through wine” is the further assurance that the pursuit of heavenly things rather than temporal, goes hand in hand with true happiness.

The further statement that “their children shall see it, and be glad: their heart shall rejoice in the Lord,” points to another spiritual truth.  Children speak of fruitfulness, large families being one of the signs of God’s blessing in Israel, and the spiritual counterpart applies to believers today, not necessarily in many children literally, but spiritually, i.e., many led to the Savior as a result of our witness in the Gospel, each man led to Christ being a spiritual son; and each woman, a spiritual daughter.

10:8.  “I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased.”

Hiss is used here to indicate a shrill piercing sound like that made by a whistle, a sound that can’t be ignored, and clearly the reference is to God’s call to His scattered people at the end of the Tribulation, gathering them back to millennial Canaan to enjoy its blessings.

“... for I have redeemed them” assures us that these will be Jewish believers, who will have been converted in the Tribulation, and who will have physically survived the horrors of that awful period, and the Lord’s judgment of Israel and the nations that will result in the banishment of all unbelievers from the earth.

“... and they shall increase as they have increased,” means that they will then multiply in the Millennium, as they have in the past during periods of blessing resulting from their obedience.

10:9.  “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.”

This has reference largely to the past and the present, not to the Millennium, for this sowing “among the people” refers to the Diaspora which finds the vast majority of them still scattered “in far countries,” i.e., among the nations, where they and generations of their children have lived, “remembering” the Lord in their loveless ritualistic observance of the empty forms of an earlier time.  It is from that scattering and that ritualistic worship that God will yet, through the Tribulation judgments, cause them to “turn again” to Him through faith in the Messiah Whom they rejected and crucified two thousand years ago.

10:10.  “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.”

Typologically Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in independence of God, just as Babylon does the world of false religion; and clearly that is the sense in which it is to be understood here, for there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Israel will be again in literal bondage in Egypt.  The propriety of the metaphor, however, is apparent in view of what Egypt represents, for the world’s business organizations, and very lucrative entertainment industry are largely controlled by Jews.

Assyria appears to portray the Gentile nations as the antagonists and oppressors of Israel, so that their being brought from that land is the symbolic announcement of God’s delivering them from Gentile enmity and oppression, while He promotes them to dominion over those nations in the Millennium.

Since Gilead (east of Jordan) and Lebanon (west of Jordan) were renowned for their fertility, and since it seems that they are being used here to represent the whole land of Canaan, the truth being declared is that God will bring His people back to the land burgeoning with millennial fruitfulness.

“... and place shall not be found for them” is another way of saying that they will multiply so abundantly that, figuratively speaking, the land will scarcely be able to hold them

10:11.  “And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deep of the river shall dry up; and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away.”

Since the sea is used as a biblical metaphor for the world’s masses in their restless rebellion against God, see Isa 57:20, what is being stated here is that Israel, because of disobedience, would have to pass through deep affliction at the hand of the Gentiles during the long years of their dispersion from Canaan.

God’s smiting “the waves of the sea,” however, is the symbolic assurance that God in His Own good time would smite the nations, not for having been His instruments of chastisement against rebel Israel, but for the delight they have taken in afflicting His people, and for the cruelty they have used against them.

The river here is the Nile, but since it represents the wealth that accrues from the world’s commerce, the statement being made is that the Tribulation judgments will see that great river dried up, i.e., brought to nothing, for the terrible destruction of the final half of that seven year era will leave the world and all its great institutions - financial, military, political, economic, academic, artistic, religious - in ruins.

As already discussed, Assyria appears to represent the nations as the antagonists and oppressors of Israel, but the Tribulation judgments will bring the nations to ruin; wile the departure of the scepter of Egypt emphasizes what we have already discussed, i.e., power of the world’s great financial and economic institutions will also be brought to nothing during that same three and a half year period.

10:12.  “And I will strengthen them in the Lord; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord.”

When Israel’s chastisement is complete, the Tribulation judgments having brought a remnant of Israel, and of the Gentile nations, to repentant faith in Christ, then God will take up His once rebellious people and set them in dominion (a position of strength) over all the nations; and their walking “up and down in his name” means that they will exercise that governmental power as His agents amongst the nations.

[Zechariah 11]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough