Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
City of God: Chapter 35
Chapter 35.—Of the Prophecy of the Three Prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
There remain three minor prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who prophesied at the close of the captivity. Of these Haggai more openly prophesies of Christ and the Church thus briefly: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet one little while, and I will shake the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will move all nations, and the desired of all nations shall come.” 1201 The fulfillment of this prophecy is in part already seen, and in part hoped for in the end. For He moved the heaven by the testimony of the angels and the stars, when Christ became incarnate. He moved the earth by the great miracle of His birth of the virgin. He moved the sea and the dry land, when Christ was p. 381 proclaimed both in the isles and in the whole world. So we see all nations moved to the faith; and the fulfillment of what follows, “And the desired of all nations shall come,” is looked for at His last coming. For ere men can desire and and wait for Him, they must believe and love Him.
Zechariah says of Christ and the Church, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; shout joyfully, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King shall come unto thee, just and the Saviour; Himself poor, and mounting an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass: and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” 1202 How this was done, when the Lord Christ on His journey used a beast of burden of this kind, we read in the Gospel, where, also, as much of this prophecy is quoted as appears sufficient for the context. In another place, speaking in the Spirit of prophecy to Christ Himself of the remission of sins through His blood, he says, “Thou also, by the blood of Thy testament, hast sent forth Thy prisoners from the lake wherein is no water.” 1203 Different opinions may be held, consistently with right belief, as to what he meant by this lake. Yet it seems to me that no meaning suits better than that of the depth of human misery, which is, as it were, dry and barren, where there are no streams of righteousness, but only the mire of iniquity. For it is said of it in the Psalms, “And He led me forth out of the lake of misery, and from the miry clay.” 1204
Malachi, foretelling the Church which we now behold propagated through Christ, says most openly to the Jews, in the person of God, “I have no pleasure in you, and I will not accept a gift at your hand. For from the rising even to the going down of the sun, my name is great among the nations; and in every place sacrifice shall be made, and a pure oblation shall be offered unto my name: for my name shall be great among the nations, saith the Lord.” 1205 Since we can already see this sacrifice offered to God in every place, from the rising of the sun to his going down, through Christs priesthood after the order of Melchisedec, while the Jews, to whom it was said, “I have no pleasure in you, neither will I accept a gift at your hand,” cannot deny that their sacrifice has ceased, why do they still look for another Christ, when they read this in the prophecy, and see it fulfilled, which could not be fulfilled except through Him? And a little after he says of Him, in the person of God, “My covenant was with Him of life and peace: and I gave to Him that He might fear me with fear, and be afraid before my name. The law of truth was in His mouth: directing in peace He hath walked with me, and hath turned many away from iniquity. For the Priests lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at His mouth: for He is the Angel of the Lord Almighty.” 1206 Nor is it to be wondered at that Christ Jesus is called the Angel of the Almighty God. For just as He is called a servant on account of the form of a servant in which He came to men, so He is called an angel on account of the evangel which He proclaimed to men. For if we interpret these Greek words, evangel is “good news,” and angel is “messenger.” Again he says of Him, “Behold I will send mine angel, and He will look out the way before my face: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into His temple, even the Angel of the testament, whom ye desire. Behold, He cometh, saith the Lord Almighty, and who shall abide the day of His entry, or who shall stand at His appearing?” 1207 In this place he has foretold both the first and second advent of Christ: the first, to wit, of which he says, “And He shall come suddenly into His temple;” that is, into His flesh, of which He said in the Gospel, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 1208 And of the second advent he says, “Behold, He cometh, saith the Lord Almighty, and who shall abide the day of His entry, or who shall stand at His appearing?” But what he says, “The Lord whom ye seek, and the Angel of the testament whom ye desire,” just means that even the Jews, according to the Scriptures which they read, shall seek and desire Christ. But many of them did not acknowledge that He whom they sought and desired had come, being blinded in their hearts, which were preoccupied with their own merits. Now what he here calls the testament, either above, where he says, “My testament had been with Him,” or here, where he has called Him the Angel of the testament, we ought, beyond a doubt, to take to be the new testament, in which the things promised are eternal, and not the old, in which they are only temporal. Yet many who are weak are troubled when they see the wicked abound in such temporal things, because they value them greatly, and serve the true God to be rewarded with them. On this account, to distinguish the eternal blessedness of the new testament, which shall be given only to the good, from the earthly felicity of the old, which for the most part is given to the bad as well, the same prophet p. 382 says, “Ye have made your words burdensome to me: yet ye have said, In what have we spoken ill of Thee? Ye have said, Foolish is every one who serves God; and what profit is it that we have kept His observances, and that we have walked as suppliants before the face of the Lord Almighty? And now we call the aliens blessed; yea, all that do wicked things are built up again; yea, they are opposed to God and are saved. They that feared the Lord uttered these reproaches every one to his neighbor: and the Lord hearkened and heard; and He wrote a book of remembrance before Him, for them that fear the Lord and that revere His name.” 1209 By that book is meant the New Testament. Finally, let us hear what follows: “And they shall be an acquisition for me, saith the Lord Almighty, in the day which I make; and I will choose them as a man chooseth his son that serveth him. And ye shall return, and shall discern between the just and the unjust, and between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. For, behold, the day cometh burning as an oven, and it shall burn them up; and all the aliens and all that do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that shall come will set them on fire, saith the Lord Almighty, and shall leave neither root nor branch. And unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, and health shall be in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and exult as calves let loose from bonds. And ye shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be ashes under your feet, in the day in which I shall do [this], saith the Lord Almighty.” 1210 This day is the day of judgment, of which, if God will, we shall speak more fully in its own place.
Zech. 9:9, 10.381:1203
Mal. 1:10, 11.381:1206
Mal. 3:1, 2.381:1208
Mal. 3:17, Mal. 4:3.
Next: Chapter 36
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