by George H. Morrison

The Young Man with the Measuring Line
George H. Morrison (1866-1928)
Zechariah 2:1-2

This is one of the visions of the prophet in the place where he regularly went to pray. It is one of the most suggestive of them all. Zechariah had come back from Babylon in the company of the returning exiles. There was no glory about that return, such as Isaiah had pictured so magnificently. They were despondent and they were spiritless. They were leaving a land of sunshine and of wealth. With dragging footsteps they made their weary way to a desolate city and a ruined temple. It is in such hours that great men show themselves. Like pillars of fire they burn amid the shadows. Others are hopeless and let the hands hang down, but the heroic heart still has its visions. And so these Jewish patriots and heroes, whom we disguise under the name of prophets, roused the people, kept hope aflame, and urged them to the rebuilding of the ruins.

And so one night while his compatriots slept, Zechariah stole out to the valley to pray. And there, as he prayed among the myrtle trees, he saw the shadowy figure of a man. In his right hand he held a measuring line; he was a fellow of the great Society of Measurers. And being such, we learn without surprise that to the watching prophet he seemed young. Had he been old and limping through the valley with the moonlight shining upon his silvered hair, it is not a measuring line he would have carried but a line of pity and of ignorance. Ripe old age ceases to measure things. It leaves all that to an omniscient God. It has found there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. But youth, with that supreme audacity which is one of the choicest fruits of lack of wisdom, will measure everything and everybody and in half an hour will pigeonhole the universe. That is why, if I am not mistaken, the prophet saw a young man in this vision. Every exact measurer is young, which is to say that he is inexperienced. As the ye ...

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