« AnteriorContinuar »
died, was to restore to guilty man this forfeited peace, by slaying the enmity of his heart and reconciling him to his God. Hence, says the prophet, the chastisement of our peace was upon him. And to the same effect is the declaration of the Apostle Paul, It pleased the Father, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself. But now in Christ Jesus ye, who sometimes were afur off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our Peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us ; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances ; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God, in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afur off, and to them that were nigh. This peace which Christ parchased with his blood, he bequeathed as his last legacy, when he ascended on high, to all of his followers; Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you. Since, then, this peace has been purchased by Christ at the expense of his precious blood, and given as a legacy to his followers, surely it becomes them to cultivate and cherish it; and he can be no true disciple who cherishes a spirit of strife, and kindles up the fires of contention among his brethren. If a blessing is pronounced upon the peace-maker, surely a curse must rest upon him who blows the coals of strife and excites a fierce war of contention in the church of the living God, where nought but peace and harmony should reign. Such a man defeats the great end for which Christ came into the world, and for which he also suffered and died, and is unworthy the Christian name.
The Vision of the Olive-trees.
“ Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof? And I an. swered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive-branches, which through the two golden pipes, empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Kuowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, iny Lord. Then said he, These are the two annointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."-Zechariah iv., 11–14.
VISIONS, under the Old Testament dispensation, were like parables under the New : they gave a shadowy representation of some important truths. They are frequently very obsure ; yet, there is almost invariably, a clue given us, by which we may discover their real import; and not unfrequently, an explanation of them is given by God himself. As in the parables, there will be sometimes
found circumstances, the precise drift of which, is not easy to be explained ; but an attention to the main scope of the whole, will keep us from ever deviating far from the true interpretation.
The vision which we are about to consider, is certainly not very obvious at the first sight; and it requires to be investigated with diligence and great sobriety of mind. But, when it is truly and properly understood, it will richly repay the care we have used in the investigation of this intricate subject. The prophet's solicitude to understand it, shows the propriety of inquiring into it with care and attention.
I. In speaking from this subject, we shall, in the first place, explain the import of the vision. Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive-branches, which through the two golden pipes, empty the golden oil out of themselves ? And he answered me, and suid, Knowest thou not what these be ? And I said, No, my Lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
The great scope of this vision is declared by God himself. The prophet Zechariah, was commissioned to encourage Zerubbable and Joshua to proceed with the rebuilding of the temple, which had been long neglected. The Jews, who had returned from Babylon, were poor and feeble ; whilst their adversaries were numerous and powerful. Hence, they despaired of accomplishing, under such unfavorable circumstances, so great a work. But in this vision, they are taught to look to God for direction and support, and who, if they confided in him and obeyed his word, would crown their labors with success. With the all sustaining and supporting arm of Jehovah on their side, they needed neither to regret the want of power in themselves, nor to dread the existence of it in their adversaries, since he was Almighty and all-sufficient for them. This was the construction which the prophet himself was taught to put upon the vision : Knowest thou not what these be ? said the angel to him, And I said, No, my Lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbable, saying, not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit
, saith the Lord of host. That is, Zerubbable was not to rebuild the temple by his own energy, or by the authority of others, but by the authority, energy, and power, of the Most High, as displayed in that wonderful providence which superintended all their operations. In this way shall the temple be built, in this way shall my church be raised and preserved. No secular arm, no human prudence, no legal power, shall ever be used for the founding, extension, or pre servation of my church. It is by spiritual means, and by spiritual means only, that this great work is to be accomplished.
The particular parts of this vision will be found to illustrate this great truth with much beauty and exactness. In the second and
third verses, we have the vision recorded : What seest thou? And I said, I have lookod, and beheld a candlestick, all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which are upon the top thereof; and two olivetrees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof. In our text, there is an additional circumstance mentioned ; namely, that The olive-branches empty out of themselves golden oil through the golden pipes. What the import of all this was, the prophet was very anxious to know; and, therefore, repeated his inquiries with a kind of holy impatience; and the answer given him was, The two olive-trees are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. From this answer, we may gather both the literal and mystical interpretation of the whole.
The literal import then, was this : Zerubbable and Joshua were the two persons anointed of God to superintend, the one the civil, and the other the ecclesiastical affairs of the Jews at that time. They had but little power in themselves, yet were they ordained of God to accomplish great things; and God engaged, through them, to impart unto the people, such supplies of wisdom and strength, as should enable the whole nation to shine with their former splendor. However weak, therefore, they were in themselves, they must not despair ; for every mountain should, before Zerubbable, become a plain. The most formidable obstacles, by the sovereign power of God, shall be removed out of the way, and all shall be plain and smoothe for the accomplishment of the divine purpose. How encouraging, how invigorating this vision must have been to the discouraged and dispirited Jews on their return from Babylon ; and with what energy it must have enabled them to enter upon the great work assigned them in rebuilding the temple, and in restoring the civil and religious polity of their ancestors.
In the mystical interpretation, we must be more minute in our explanation. It should ever be remembered, that the whole Jew. ish dispensation was typical. The return of the Jews from Babylon, and the restoration of their civil and religious polity, were typical of the deliverance of sinners from their spiritual bondage, and the establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom in the world. Bearing this in mind, we shall see how this vision illustrates the purposes of God, in relation to the church of Christ. The lamps are emblems of his church, which shines as a light in a dark place, and holds forth the light of life to a world sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. The pipes are the institutions of the Christian religion, by means of which, continual supplies of oil are imparted to the sincere followers of Christ, that their light may never be extinguished. The boul is the gospel which abounds with blessings for all, according to their several necessities. The oil is the Holy Spirit, by whom alone, the light which has been set up can be kept alive. And the two olive-trees, from whence that oil
taneously flows into the bowl, are the kingly and priestly offices of Jesus Christ, who, like Zerubbabel and Joshua, is appointed of God to establish Jerusalem, and build the spiritual temple of the Lord. He is exalted at the right hand of God, and stands by the Lord of the whole earth, that he may carry on everything in conformity to the divine will, and accomplish, in due season, the work that has been committed to his charge. He, himself, as the Christ, is the anointed of God, for the Christ means anointed; and from him flows the unction of the Holy One, by which all spiritual life and light are communicated to the church.
II. Having explained the import of the vision, we shall proceed, in the second place, to consider the instruction we are io derire from it. In order that we may derive instruction from this subject, we must bear in mind the scope of the vision ; for, if we forget that, the whole interpretation of it may be thought fanciful ; but, if we duly regard that, the whole instruction derived from the vision will appear sober, just, and pertinent.
1. We are taught by this subject that Christ is, by his offices, qualified to support and perfect his church. The offices filled by Zerubbabel and Joshua both unite in Jesus Christ. He is the High Priest of his church; and in that capacity he is now officiating at the right hand of God. He offered himself a sacrifice for us at the appointed time, and he is now entered by a new and living way into the Holy of Holies, to plead the merit of his blood, and to make intercession for us before the mercy-seat of Jehovah. Hence he is called the Apostle and High Priest of our profession; and it is from the consideration that we have an High Priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, that we are encouraged to hold fast our profession. Having passed through temptations himself, be knows how to succour the tempted, and to impart such inward strength as the condition of his disciples demands. Moreover, he is a king ; God has set him as king upon the holy hill of Zion. And to this the Apostle Peter bore witness on the day of Penticost, saying, God hath made_that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. From the union of these two offices in him arises his ability to build his church. Were either of them wanting, he would fail; but, by the concentration of spotless purity, and of infinite energy, he is fully qualified for the work assigned him. This is particularly marked by Zechariah in a following chapter, where he says, Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord, even He shall build the temple of the Lord ; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne : and he shall be a PRIEST UPON HIS Throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. Thus, standing by the Lord of the whole earth, and sustaining in himself the united offices of Zerubbabel and Joshua, he is really to the church what they were in
shadow, the source of all that is necessary for her spiritual edification.
2. We are also instructed, in this vision, that the fulness which is in him is expressly committed to him, for the use and benefit of his church. We are informed by the apostle, It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. But for whose sake is it committed to him? His own? No; but for ours. He appears in heaven, not in a private, but in a public capacity, even as the head of the church. At his ascension thither he received gifts; and received them for the express purpose of imparting them to rebellious man.
He ascended on high that he might fill all things. He is the head, and the church is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. He lives in us, and we live by him, and without him are unable to think a good thought, or perform a good work. Hence we find, that when the Holy Spirit was poured forth on the day of Penticost, the Apostle Peter confidently traced the gift to him, even to that very Jesus who had so recently been crucified as a malefactor. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses : therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and HAVING RECEIVED of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he HATH shed forth this which ye now see and hear. And to the same effect St. Paul also says, that God saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost which he shed ON US ABUNDANTLY through Jesus Christ our Saviour. sages reflect great light upon the text, inasmuch as they show that Christ is the true source of all spiritual blessings to the church ; and that the Holy Spirit, with all its gifts, graces, and consolations, flows from him according to the will of the Father, just as the oil in the vision dropped from the olive-trees into the bowl, for the continual supply of the lamps dependent on it.
3. We are furthermore taught by this vision, that in the proper use of the institutions of the Christian religion, we may expect to receive supplies adequate to our wants through all the varying and changing scenes in life. It was through the pipes only that the lamps received the oil, and it is only through the medium of the appointed institutions of the gospel, that we can receive supplies of the Spirit from Jesus. God will be enquired of for all he has promised. Hence we are directed to ask, to seek, and to knock, with assurances that all our wants shall be supplied. But if we ask not, we shall receive nothing at the hand of the Lord. We must wait upon him in private, reading his word, meditating upon it, and praying over it. We must also wait upon him in public, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but expecting more particular manifestations of his love, and richer communications of his grace, through the medium of a preached gospel. Where two or three are assembled together in his name, there he sheds forth his Spirit in the most copious effusions. Verily, if we watch unto prayer, and abound therein with thanksgiving, we shall never be