The Corner, the Nail, the Battle Bow and the Oppressor
“Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.” (Zechariah 10:4)
With these words the Lord God tells us that his saving grace is sure, describing our Lord Jesus Christ as that One who came forth out of Judah to save his people from their sins. He has made himself our Safety and our Shield, our Rock and our Fortress, our High Tower and our Refuge, our Hope and our Hiding Place.
Out of Judah
The phrase “out of him” refers back to the house of Judah in verse 3. Judah had been ruled for many years by her enemies. She had been oppressed, not so much by her Babylonian captors, as by her false shepherds. But when the Lord of hosts brought Judah out of Babylon and established his kingdom again in Zion, he brought forth from Judah itself the Prince Zerubbabel (Called Sheshbazzar in Ezra 1:8-11) to rule over them and build his house.
As we have seen, Zerubbabel was raised up by God as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. His deliverance of Judah and his building of the temple were but pictures of our Savior’s great work, of which the Book of Zechariah is a prophecy. You will remember in Ezra 4:1-6, “When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him.” Zerubbabel refused their help, saying, “Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel.” When he refused their help, they were enraged and did everything they could to stop the work, even hiring “counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose.” But the opposition of all his foes could not prevent Zerubbabel’s work (Zechariah 4:6-9).
The Deliverer spoken of here (Zechariah 10:4) is not Zerubbabel. This great Deliverer, who was portrayed by Zerubbabel, is our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came from the house of Judah. The Scriptures identify him as the all-prevailing, ever-prevailing Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5; Genesis 49:10). As if to make certain that we do not fail to understand that this passage is a prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit tells us plainly that he was born in Bethlehem of Judah (Matthew 2:1; Micah 5:2). And the Spirit of God asserts in Hebrews 7:14, “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda.” Let’s see what Zechariah 10:4 tells us about the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Deliverer. — “Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.”
Here the Spirit of God sets before us three portraits of our Savior’s character that are commonly used in the Old Testament Scriptures to describe his person and work as our Redeemer and Savior: (1.) The Corner, (2.) The Nail, and (3.) The Battle Bow. Then he tells us a fourth thing. And this fourth thing seems to be rather unusual. He declares, “out of him” (our mighty Judah who rules over all) comes “every oppressor.”
First, our Lord Jesus Christ is called “The Corner.” Certainly, the Spirit of God here reminds us that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of his Temple, the Church, the Cornerstone of our souls (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:12; Romans 9:32-10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:5-8). To the unbelieving he is a Stumbling Stone and a Rock of Offense; but for his elect, he is the Cornerstone and Foundation Stone upon which we are built.
Like Zerubbabel who typified him, the Son of God insists upon doing his work alone. He says to all, “Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel.” — “Upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” At that unbelieving men and women are enraged and stumble, because, like the Jews of old, all the fallen descendants of Adam insist upon establishing righteousness for themselves and refuse to submit to Christ, who is the Righteousness of God. None will build upon Christ, trusting him alone for righteousness, until they are built on Christ by God the Holy Spirit in the new birth and given faith in him.
Blessed be God, the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, has come to Zion! He has visited and redeemed his people. He has turned away iniquity from us. He came into the world to save his people from their sins; and he has done it! This is the foundation upon which we are built (Ephesians 2:19-22).
This title well describes our blessed Savior — “The Corner.” The cornerstone is not a mere ornament in a building. The cornerstone is that upon which the whole building depends. The cornerstone is the strength and support of the building. As the cornerstone is the principal foundation of a building and gives stability to its adjoining walls, Christ is the Cornerstone upon which we rest our souls, by whom we are cemented together as his holy temple. It is Christ the Cornerstone who holds everything together.
And, unlike all other cornerstones, our Lord Jesus Christ is all the Ornament, Luster, and Beauty of his Church. He is the Foundation Stone laid by God in his eternal decree. The Foundation Stone was laid low, as our crucified Substitute, that we might be built upon him. He is the Chief Cornerstone exalted high, that he might give eternal life to his redeemed. He is the Foundation Stone laid in our hearts and the Chief Cornerstone exalted high in our souls by God the Spirit. Christ Jesus, crucified and risen again, is the Foundation Stone, upon which we must be built. And he is a tried, tested, and proven Cornerstone. He is “the Corner,” the only one there is. Build upon him. Rest upon him. Glorify him. And glory in him.
Second, our Lord Jesus Christ is called “the Nail.” He is “the Nail,” upon which we hang our souls. The Lord God declared, “I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons” (Isaiah 22:23-24).
The triune God fixed “the Nail” in a sure place in his eternal covenant (Ephesians 1:3-6), as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This is the Nail fastened by God in the sure place, in his Word (Ecclesiastes 12:11). This Nail is fastened forever in Heaven itself.
God hung on him all his purpose of grace, trusting him with the salvation of his people and the glory of his own great name (Ephesians 1:12).
We hang our souls and all our hope upon this Nail, trusting Christ alone as our Savior (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). And, as the Builder of his Temple, Christ the Nail bears all the glory of it (Zechariah 6:13). In a word, everything hangs on the Nail, Christ Jesus, the Nail God has fixed.
In the previous chapter I showed that the word “Nail” refers to two kinds of nails. One was a tent stake, like those used to hold the tabernacle in place. As John Gill tells us, the Church of God’s elect is the tent and “Christ is the nail to which its cords are fastened, which denotes the stability and security of it.”
The other was a nail or peg driven into the center pole of a tent or the wall of a house. Utensils and valuables were hung on it. As we hang works of art on our walls, in ancient times men would hang jewels and other emblems of wealth on a nail in some conspicuous place in their dwellings, to be admired by all who came in. That is what the triune God has done. He has hung everything on Christ, to let us see and admire the exceeding riches of his grace and glory in him! All the vessels of the Father’s house hang upon this one nail, Christ Jesus (Isaiah 23-24). The Triune God has hung on Christ all the vessels of mercy, all the covenant of grace, all his promises, and all his blessings. God has hung on him all our Salvation. All the glory of his Father’s house hangs on him!
Has God enabled me, by his matchless free grace, to hang all the concerns of my souls for eternity upon the Lord Jesus? Indeed, he has, and I do. I have no other hope. “Christ is All” to me, because he has made himself all to me. How eternally firm and secure I rest, unshaken and unchangeable, upon him! “The Nail” upon which I hang all is “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”
He is the Source, Origin, Fountain and Support of all my salvation. Indeed, he is “all my salvation.” Every purpose of God is founded on Christ. Every promise of God is made, confirmed, and fulfilled in Christ. Every dispensation of God’s providence in all the realms of nature, grace, and glory comes from Christ (Romans 11:36).
All things hang on Christ, “the Nail” God has fixed in a sure place. Are we blessed with the graces of his Spirit in life? It is from him that we derive all our spiritual strength, gifts, and graces. We depend upon him and him alone for life, ability, power, and every inclination and disposition to believe him, worship him, and serve him. Every inclination and disposition to honor him comes from him. Everything in the house of God and everything in our regenerate souls hangs upon “the Nail.” The whole glory is his! Let us return to him an endless revenue of praise.
“Above all,” Robert Hawker wrote, “behold the hand of God thy Father, both fixing him there, and proclaiming it to the souls of his people. — ‘I will fasten him,’ saith Jehovah, ‘as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his Father’s house.’ — Hail! thou glorious almighty Mediator! Founded on such authority, and possessing in thyself such eternal principles, evermore will I hang my soul, and body, and spirit, with all I have, and all I am or hope to be, in time and to all eternity, on thee. Never can too great a stress be laid upon Jesus, nor too full a confidence be placed in him. How can a soul perish that hangs on God’s Christ?”
The Battle Bow
Third, the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Battle Bow,” by which his Church shall triumph over her enemies in the end (Isaiah 63:1; 2 Corinthians 10:4). It is written, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you” (2 Chronicles 20:17). — Christ is the Warrior who has fought and fights all our battles. He is the Captain of the Lord’s hosts (Joshua 5:14-15) and the Captain of our Salvation (Hebrews 2:10), our Man of War (Exodus 15:3).
All our armor is from him. We are armed by him with perfect armor, armor that can never fail us or be penetrated by our foes (Ephesians 6:10-18). He has wrapped about us the girdle of truth to strengthen our souls. He has put upon us the breastplate of his righteousness as armor for our hearts. He has put on our feet the strong, gripping boots of the gospel of peace that hold us firm. It is the Son of God, our Savior, who supplies us with faith by his Spirit, and enables us, with the shield of faith, “to quench the fiery darts of the wicked.” He has given us the helmet of salvation, which we take from his gracious hands. Christ has given and continually causes us to take for our souls’ defense the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. And it is this same blessed Christ, “the Battle Bow,” our great Man of War, who puts prayer in our hearts, causing and enabling us to seek his mercy, grace, and help in time of need.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Christ, “the Battle Bow,” makes us “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Revelation 19:11-16).
Now, look at the apparently strange statement at the end of Zechariah 10:4, — “out of him every oppressor together.” It seems strange, at first glance, to read that “every oppressor” comes from (out of) our great Deliverer, but that statement assures us of something that makes the promise of deliverance even sweeter. Zechariah tells us that “every oppressor” comes out of him by whom he shall be conquered. Did he not stir up Satan against his servant Job? Did he not raise up Pharaoh to overthrow him? Did he not put a lying spirit in the mouth of false prophets? In the days of the judges did he not raise up one nation after another to afflict his people? Did he not choose his own betrayer? Does he not send a strong delusion upon the reprobate?
All those things he plainly tells us are his works, works as much performed by him as the creation of the world, works performed for the salvation of his elect and the glory of his own great name. Yes, even those who oppress and seek to destroy Christ and his Church do nothing but serve his will and pleasure. All are the vassals of our sovereign God and Savior, vassals he uses for his own purpose and glory to the saving of his elect. — “Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Psalm 76:10; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; Psalm 124:1-3; Genesis 50:19-20; Acts 2:23)
This great Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the God we trust, the God and Savior we ought to trust confidently. He is “the Corner” upon whom we are built, “the Nail” fixed in a sure place, and “the Battle Bow” by whom we triumph. And he is the Sovereign God who raises up, uses, and overthrows every oppressor for the everlasting salvation of our souls and the eternal praise of his own great name!
“Keep silence all created things,
And wait Your Maker’s nod;
My soul stands trembling while she (speaks)
The honors of her God.
Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown,
Hang on His firm decree;
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be.
Chained to His throne a volume lies,
With all the fates of men,
With every angels form and size
Drawn by the eternal pen.
His providence unfolds the book
And makes His counsels shine;
Each opening leaf and every stroke
Fulfil some bright design.
Here He exalts neglected worms,
To scepters and crown;
(And then,) the following page He turns,
And treads the monarch down.
Not Gabriel asks the reason why,
Nor God the reason gives,
Nor dares the favorite angel pry
Between the folded leaves.
My God, I would not long to see
My fate with curious eyes,
What gloomy lines are writ for me,
Or what bright scenes may rise.
In Thy fair book of life and grace
May I but find my name
Recorded by electing grace
Beneath my Lord the Lamb!”
– Isaac Watts
“Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded…They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end...Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” (Isaiah 45:8-12, 16-17, 20-25)
Oh, may God the Holy Spirit enable you to trust our Savior. Build upon “the Corner.” Hang your soul upon “the Nail.” And you shall triumph over every oppressor by “the Battle Bow” God has raised up to save. Trust him! Trust Christ! He is God, and there is none else! He is the just God and our Savior!
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