22. Thus says the Lord God, I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent.
Here the Prophet begins to treat of the restoration of the nation and kingdom. Thus this prophecy without doubt refers to Christ, because although in some sense God had pity on the people when they enjoyed the liberty of returning under Cyrus and Darius, yet what is here written was never fully exhibited except under Christ. It is indeed true, as I have elsewhere expressed, that when the prophets promise restoration to the Church, that they do not restrict their discourse to the person of Christ, but begin with the return of the people for that was the beginning of the full and solid liberty which was at length made manifest in Christ. And Christian writers have erred in urging so precisely that anything said about the restitution of the Church must be understood of the person of Christ, and thus they make themselves ridiculous to the Jews. But, as it has been said already, as often as the Prophets hold out the hope of liberty to the elect and the faithful, they embrace the whole of the time from the return of the people, or from the end of their exile to the end of the kingdom of Christ. When, therefore, the reign of Christ is treated, we must date its commencement from the period of the building of the temple after the people's return from their seventy years captivity: and then we must take its boundary, not at the ascension of Christ, nor yet in the first or second centuries, but through the whole progress of his kingdom, until he shall appear at the last day. Now let us come to the Prophet's words, thus says the Lord Jehovah, I will take from the top of the lofty (or tall) cedar. God pursues the allegory which we saw: for as he said that the top was torn off, or that the highest branch was plucked from the cedar of Lebanon, so he now says, that he would take from the top of the cedar, and after he had plucked or wrenched off a bough, and planted it, such would be the increase, that all the trees would acknowledge that to be a wonderful work. Now this restoration is described to us variously, because after God had spoken of a lofty bough, he descends to a low and abject one; he then pronounces that such should be the beginning of the new kingdom, that he would make the dry tree to bud and humble the lofty one. These things at first sight seem to be opposite to each other, but they agree very well, because God took from the top of a lofty cedar when he planted a new king. For Christ, as respects God's eternal decree, was always more excellent than heaven and earth; at the same time God afterwards says that he was humble, as he certainly was. But let us follow up the words, I will take, says he, from the top of a lofty cedar, and I will set it: from the top of its twigs I will pluck a tender one, and I will plant it upon a lofty and elevated mountain. Here, as I have said, he speaks of a tall and lofty cedar, and then he speaks of a high branch, but he adds afterwards, I will pluck a tender one from it, by which he means that the twig which he should pluck and plant would be without strength. Here, therefore, is shown the contemptible beginning of the reign of Christ, as the Prophet afterwards more clearly explains himself.
1 "The copula is redundant." -- Calvin.
2 Or, "of a tall." -- Calvin.
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