Conclusion and Beginning
The Lord's Infantry
I have pulled this verse out to comment on individually (and quite briefly) - partly because it seems to need specific treatment, but mainly because the translation, as the RSV runs, seems to be somewhat muddled and needs clarification.
The RSV’s rendering reads
‘Together they shall be like mighty men in battle, trampling the foe in the mud of the streets.
‘They shall fight because the Lord is with them, and they shall confound the riders on horses’
but, it seems best to read the verse as saying
‘They shall be like mighty men, trampling the muddy ways in battle.
‘They shall fight because the Lord is with them and they shall confound the riders on horses’
The RSV’s ‘together’ which begins this verse rightly belongs to the preceding verse as noted under my comments there and the phrase ‘in battle’ rightly belongs to the second half of the first line rather than attaching it to the ‘mighty men’ of the first half.
When the RSV speaks of the mighty men trampling ‘the foe in’ the mud of the streets, it needs to be noted that the quoted phrase doesn’t appear anywhere in the text and has been added solely to give the verse sense, which it seems to have even if the words are not included. The point here is not that they are trampling the foe underfoot but that they are trampling through the mud of the streets as foot soldiers do. Both Baldwin and Smith note that it is probably because of Micah 7:10 that this phrase has been added to the translation though I can’t think how either of them would know that!
Conclusion and Beginning
I noted under my comments on Zech 10:4, that the RSV’s ‘cornerstone’ could mean either the first stone laid at the corner of a building upon which everything else rested or that it was the capstone which was laid as the final block which completed the structure that the Lord was building.
Both meanings give good sense in the context and it is probably not without significance that a word was used there that could - and probably should - be taken to be teaching both.
When Zech 10:3-4 is considered as one unit, we see that out of Judah, God will bring the crowning achievement of all His plans and purposes, the Messiah. As such, Jesus is represented as the capstone, the final conclusion and final word to Israel as a nation, the reason for them being brought into existence through Abraham.
But, contrastingly, Zech 10:4-5, when the word used is taken to mean the cornerstone upon which everything else is founded, teaches that it is out of the Messiah that the new nation of God’s people shall come. That is, Jesus is the foundation of the Church, the new nation, and Zech 10:5 can be seen to go on to speak of that new nation and its achievement under Him.
Just as God’s people in the flesh (Israel) gave birth to the Messiah in the flesh (He was descended from them and came not from the leadership but from the flock as previously noted), so, too, the Messiah in the Spirit gives birth to God’s new people in the spirit (the spiritual birth, creating one new people in place of two). The former of these makes use of the capstone imagery, while the latter of the cornerstone.
Zech 10:5, then, though primarily given to the Jewish nation as descriptive of what was to be their destiny upon the arrival of their King, Messiah, must now be reinterpreted in the light of the Church’s calling to go to the nations to wage war, not with earthly weapons, but with spiritual ones (II Cor 10:4).
In the context of the Lord’s word through Zechariah here, though, this verse is a continuation of the intentions of the Lord and how He was committed to bringing out good from their midst when their leaders and certain of their numbers were putting down those under their charge. It is solely because the Lord ‘cares for His flock’ (Zech 10:3) that He has decided to do these things for the nation of Israel.
The Lord’s Infantry
The inheritance of the Church here presented to us is that they shall be like mighty men - not mighty in themselves and neither literally men of war who terrorise the nations of the earth. How they are like these soldiers is outlined in the phrases which follow.
God’s people are likened to the infantry, trampling the mud of the streets, whereas their enemies are spoken of as being the cavalry, the riders on horses. The contrast used here shows the difference in strength within the battle - cavalry are much to be preferred over and above foot soldiers for their effectiveness and speed with which they can advance and manoeuvre, but it is the latter who gain the upper hand.
Naturally speaking, the Church, too, is at a very great disadvantage, being naturally the weaker of the two forces, but the Church engages the enemy because the Lord is with them. They fight in His strength, not their own. It’s God who makes the difference so that what at first sight appears to be an inevitable defeat is turned into a glorious victory.
Paul realised this phenomenon (II Cor 12:9-10), that God moves in His people when they do not put confidence in their own abilities, when they come to a point where they acknowledge their weaknesses and turn to Him for help.
The word of the Lord to Zerubbabel in Zech 4:6 is also relevant here which states that it is
‘...not by military might, nor in your own strength, but by My Spirit...’
that a successful conclusion in any situation will come about.
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