Behold there came four chariots out from between two mountains
1. That the history of the world is all arranged and conducted in reference to the destinies of the Church, and the agencies that control that history go forth from the seat of the Church's great head, the unseen, temple.
2. God has in operation every species of agency, human and angelic, animate and inanimate, needful for the accomplishment of His purposes, and will send these forth at the proper time. Political changes and revolutions are only the moving of the shadow on the earthly dial plate that marks the mightier motions going forward in the heavens.
(T. V. Moore, D D.)
(Ralph Wardlaw, D. D.)
Homilist.This is the last in the series of visions, which amount in all to seven, during that one night. This is not more easy of interpretation than the preceding ones. The objects which were now revealed to the prophet's vision are various and strange.(1) He sees four chariots. It does not say whether they were chariots of war bearing the warrior out to battle, or home in triumph, or whether they were chariots used for private or public conveyances.(2) He saw these four chariots proceeding from two mountains. These were not mountains of earth or stone, but mountains of brass; mountains, therefore, having peculiar solidity and strength.(3) He saw these chariots drawn by horses of different colour. I take the vision to illustrate God's government of the world, and it illustrates four facts concerning that government.
I. VARIETY. This is suggested by the colour of the steeds that bear on the chariots of His plans. The "red horses," emblem of war and bloodshed. The "black," emblem of calamity, distress, and mourning. The white, emblem of gladness and prosperity. The "grisled" and "bay," or piebald, a mixture of events, prosperity and adversity, friendship and bereavement, sorrow and joy, etc. Has not this variety characterised the providence that is over man from the beginning until this hour? It is not only seen in every page of the history of nations and Churches and families, but in the history of individuals. The experience of every man is more changeable than the weather. There is a constant alternation, — the red, the black, the white, the mixed. These changes are useful
1. They break the monotony of life. They tend to keep the heart of humanity on the alert. There is but little opportunity for moral sleep.
2. They create a desire for a state of certainty. They prompt a search for a "city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This is not our rest.
II. IMMUTABILITY. These chariots move between two "mountains of brass." Though they are borne by a variety of steeds, and move rapidly towards every point of the compass, and bear a variety of events wherever they go, they are overshadowed and hedged in by the immutable in mountains of brass. God's immutable counsels of decrees keep all the motions and commotions, all the convulsions and revolutions of the world in their place. As the ocean amidst all its ebbings and flowings, rage and fury, is bound to obey the moon, which remains serenely settled in her orbit, so all the agitations of the earth are bound to obey the immutable decrees of Heaven. Thank God! that in this changing world of ours there are mountains of brass, things that cannot be shaken. "All flesh is grass, but the word of our God shall stand forever."
III. UNIVERSALITY. These chariots, borne by these varied coloured steeds, rolled towards every point of the globe, some to the north and some to the south. They walked "to and fro through the earth." Not a spot unvisited or ignored. God's providence embraces all, matter and mind, great and small, good and evil. Hence we should bow with resignation under all our sorrows, and shout with gratitude in all our enjoyments.
IV. SUPREMACY. "These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth." He is at the head of all. No evil spirit moves without His permission and control; no good spirit without His inspiration and guidance. He is the Lord of all the earth. How great must He be who manages all things!
These are the four spirits of the heavensRevelation 7:1). Here we have "four angels." But we at once see why they are four. They are, in the vision, employed in "holding the four winds of the earth." Now the four winds, from the four cardinal points — understood as representing and embracing all the intermediate points, and thus signifying the winds in general — was a style of expression familiar to the ancients as ourselves. The word rendered "spirits," as most if not all of you are aware, signifies also winds. The question then is, whether what are called "the four winds of the earth," in the Book of Revelation, be not the same as what are here called the "four spirits," or winds, "of the heavens." I am strongly tempted to think that we have, in this vision, one symbol, or emblem, explained by another. "The four winds" are an emblem — a most natural and appropriate one — of all the powers and agencies by which the earth can be affected; especially agencies of judgment — of wars and desolations, arising from the contending elements of human passions and Satanic malignity.
(Ralph Wardlaw, D. D.)
And set them upon the head of Joshua
Homilist.The crowning, the work, and the position of Joshua spoken of in these verses, are obviously employed to symbolise some coming man who would be matchless in all history. Concerning this matchless man, we are taught —
I. THAT HE IS ONE WHOM HEAVEN COMMANDS THE PEOPLE TO HONOUR. The prophet is commanded to go to certain men of the more distinguished who had returned from Babylon, representative men it may be. tie was to take these men, whose names are here given, to the house of another distinguished man, here called Josiah, the son of Zephaniah. From that house silver and gold were to be taken, with which crowns were to be made, and placed upon the head of Joshua, the son of the high priest. By general consent of expositors, this was a mere symbolical transaction — a transaction pointing to some great man whom heaven will require all men to crown with the highest dignity. Here is a character symbolised by the name of Joshua, to whom the people are called upon by God Himself to render honour. Who is this man? The man Christ Jesus! "When He bringeth in the first-begotten into the world He saith, Let all the angels of God worship Him."
II. THAT HIS PEDIGREE WAS STRIKINGLY SINGULAR. "Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, 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." He came down from heaven and tabernacled on this earth, which was not His place. A great soul, dominated by a supreme sympathy with the Supremely Good, can grow anywhere, in its place or out of it. It can subordinate the most hostile external elements and forces for its own will and interests.
III. THAT HE IS ONE WHOSE MISSION IS SUBLIMELY GLORIOUS. "He shall build the temple of the Lord," etc. Zerubbabel was now engaged in the work of rearing the material temple at Jerusalem; and a more glorious work than this is not given to man, viz. to promote the public worship of God.
IV. THAT HE IS ONE WHOSE POSITION AND FUNCTIONS ARE TRANSCENDENTLY EXALTED. He is on a throne.
1. As a priestly King.
2. As a glorious Reconciler.The Mediator between God and man. The reconciliation, the atonement.
V. THAT HE IS ONE WHOSE POWER TO ATTRACT OTHERS TO HIS ENTERPRISE IS IMMENSELY GREAT. The Gentiles were to be themselves stones in the building, and agents in the rearing of it.
The man whose name is the Branch
1. Some observations upon the occasion and reason of this name. the Branch, given to the promised Messiah, before His coming in the flesh.(1) The original word, "tsemach," does not signify "the East," as some have imagined, but always, "the Branch." There are also other Hebrew words expressing Jesus Christ by this His name, the Branch.(2) A man's offspring are, by a very just metaphor, called his branches, because they proceed from him, as branches or sprouts from a root. Jesus Christ is said, in Isaiah 11:1, to be a "Branch out of the root of Jesse."(3) Jesus Christ is metaphorically called a Branch, respecting some family He was to spring from in His human nature, and this was the family of David, the son of Jesse.(4) When the kings of David's family, and their kingdom, which was then the Church of God, were greatly declined, sore oppressed and much weakened, this promise to David, that Christ was to come as a Branch from him, was presented to their faith, that they might expect the greatest blessings to themselves, and to the Church of God, by the means of this Branch of David's family.(5) After the return from captivity, the encouragement and hope of the Church were founded upon the coming of this Branch of David.
2. Scriptures of the New Testament where He is designed the Branch (Luke 1:78). For "day spring" the margin has sun rising or branch (Matthew 2:23). Nazareth had its name from a branch, which, though not the same word as in our text, yet is of the same signification.
3. The Scripture account of Jesus Christ, under the name and designation of the Branch.(1) He was to be the true and eternal God. "The Lord our Righteousness."(2) The Branch of the Lord (Isaiah 4:2). Son of God the Father, by an eternal, incomprehensible, and incommunicable generation.(3) Really and truly man, and of the lineage and posterity of David.(4) Both God and man, without any change of one nature into another, or confusion of the one with the other, and all this in one person.(5) He was to be Jehovah's servant for the redemption of lost sinners. "He took upon Him the form of a servant." He came, "not to be ministered unto, but to minister."(6) This Branch was, in a peculiar manner, of God's bringing forth and raising up. God the Father found Him out, and called Him to the work of saving sinners.(7) He was for a time to be very low and contemptible, to be cut down, and to grow up to the greatest height. This was to be specially true of His birth.(8) The Branch was to sustain and execute offices for the building of the temple of the Lord, both as Prince and Saviour.(9) It was to be a righteous Branch, a Branch of righteousness. Application —
1. Learn the advantage of studying the Old Testament.
2. Be restless in your endeavours, until this Branch, this man, be excellent, desirably glorious and precious to you, and in your esteem.
3. Behold the man whose name is the Branch. Behold Him in His person, in His natures.
4. Come and take up your dwelling under the shadow of this man whose name is the Branch.
(James Robe, M. A.)
I. THE BEAUTY OF THIS "BRANCH." What is it that most especially constitutes the beauty of the Divine character? Not justice by itself; not mercy by itself; but the marvellous union of both, the harmony between these Divine attributes, by which God can be "a just God and a Saviour." That union has been discovered perfect and complete in the person of the Lord Jesus, the God-man-mediator, so in Him is the very perfection of beauty. It is indeed said of Him, "There is no beauty that we should desire Him"; but these expressions refer to the meanness of His birth, and to the prejudices of His nation.
II. THE SHADINESS OF THIS BRANCH. The term brings to our minds the exposed state of the sinner, in the "weary land" of this world. He stands exposed to the wrath of God. He wants "shade" —something that will interpose between him and the intense heat from above, and afford him a protection from it. By whatever emblem the precious blood and perfect righteousness of Christ are represented to us in Scripture, the idea always conveyed is that of security against the effects of Divine wrath, consequent on human transgression. The shade of the "righteous Branch" is the interposing mediation of our exalted Redeemer. The shade of this Branch is extending itself every day.
III. THE FRUITFULNESS OF THIS BRANCH. The two figures are united in Canticles. "I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste." In Revelation is described the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruit, and whose leaves were not for shade only, but also for healing.
IV. THE STRENGTH OF THIS BRANCH. "He shall bear the glory." He shall bear the weight of all the cares and concerns of His whole Church, both small and great, even of every individual, however important or insignificant; and He shall be found both able and willing to support them all. And He "bare our sins in His own body on the tree."
I. THE EMPHATIC APPELLATION GIVEN TO THE MESSIAH, — THE BRANCH. The verb whence the word is derived signifies "to grow," "to sprout." It is specially applied to trees, some of which in part decayed, and that to the very roots, will often send forth new shoots, which shall surpass, in greatness and fruitfulness, the original stock. This expression, as applied to Christ, is —
1. Eminently prophetical (Isaiah 11:1). The stem of Jesse was decayed. At the time of its lowest depression, the Branch, the Messiah, shot forth.
2. As descriptive of His Personal progress to glory and dominion. Of the progress of His religion in the world. And of the work of Christ in the heart.
3. As indicating the secret and mysterious mode of His operations. The metaphor is taken from vegetation, the process of invisible influence which out of rude elements frames the stately tree, and from a bud develops the goodly branch. There is an unseen principle at work, and that principle is the working of God Himself. We see this m the progress of our Saviour from sufferings to glory. And in the progress of His religion in our world.
II. THE GREAT WORK TO WHICH THE MESSIAH WAS APPOINTED. "He shall build the temple of the Lord." A parallel may be presented between the material temple and the spiritual house. In conclusion notice — the union of the kingly and priestly offices in Christ.
I. THE PERSON HERE SPOKEN OF. Who is this wondrous, mysterious man? Not certainly Joshua, the high priest, on whose head the crowns were to be placed. For the message is addressed to Joshua, as concerning some one else. Joshua, the crowned high priest, is the type of another, greater than himself, to whom he and all others are to look for blessing. These words seem to point to one already known, to one whose name is familiar. And so it is. Isaiah had borne testimony regarding Him (Isaiah 11:2-9; Isaiah 23:5, 6; Isaiah 33:15, 16). Is not this the substance of the Lord's message to every generation of the sons of men? Is not this the great central message of the Book of God, and of every faithful messenger of His? Must not this be the keynote of our preaching? The Branch is none other than the Messiah, our blessed Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. It tells of one who has taken our nature. Our Redeemer is man. But not man alone. He is the God-man. Son of God and Son of Man, a Divine, and therefore an all-sufficient Saviour.
II. HIS WORK. "He shall build up the temple of the Lord." This work was entrusted to Zerubbabel, but he was only a type of the true temple builder. For the true temple is the spiritual temple, the temple into which all believers are built, and of which Jesus Christ is the foundation stone. And this Builder is also the Owner, the Ruler, a Priest, a Royal Priest. The headship of Christ is a personal matter; the great question for each one is, Am I a loyal subject of the Church's Head and King? Is He the ruler of my life? It is also said, "He shall be a Priest upon His throne." What you and I need is a priest to remove guilt, to make atonement for sin, to satisfy Divine justice, and reconcile us to God. "Him hath God exalted, a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."
(William Findley, M. A.)
He shall build the temple of the Lord, and He shall bear the glory
I. THE TEMPLE. It is the Church of God. All Christians constitute the Church. I mean all them that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, for these make up the one universal Church. This Church is called the "temple" of God, and Christ is said to be its builder. The temple was the place where God specially dwelt. It is true that God is everywhere, but in a special manner He dwelt in the temple. If you would find God, He is everywhere in creation. If you would know what is the secret place of the Most High, you must go where you find the Church of true believers, for it is here He makes His continual residence known. The temple was the place of clearest manifestation. He who would see God the best of all, must see Him in His temple. The Church is like the temple in that it is a place of worship. As there was only one temple, so there is only one Church.
II. CHRIST IS THE CHURCH'S ONLY BUILDER. Make a parallel between Christ's building the Church, and Solomon's building the first temple. In this Solomon fails to be a type of Christ. Christ builds the temple Himself. And Jesus Christ excels Solomon, for He provides all the materials.
III. GLORIFY CHRIST. The glory which He shall have will be a weighty glory, an undivided glory. He shall have all the glory. Practical application — Are we built up upon Christ? Then let us evermore honour Him.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE BUILDING.
1. The ruinous state of the temple.
2. Whose temple it is. "The Lord's."
3. The builder of this temple is Christ.
4. The agent employed is the Holy Ghost.
II. THE GLORY OF OUR SALVATION BELONGS UNTO THE LORD. In redeeming us from sin; in justifying our souls; and in preserving us for glory.
III. THE NATURE OF HIS GOVERNMENT. He rules in heaven, having accomplished His work. He rules over the world generally. He rules over the Church collectively. And over each believer in particular. He rules in the Word, in the Gospel, and in every Christian duty.
IV. HIS PRIESTLY OFFICE. He lives as a priest to make intercession. By appearing in the presence of God for us. By presenting His sacrifice and righteousness. By declaring His will of our final glory.
V. THE NATURE OF THE COUNSEL THERE SPOKEN OF. Some explain it as between the Father and the Son; or between the altar and the throne; or between Christ and His Church; or between Jew and Gentile; or between the soul and God.
(T. B. Baker.)
I. THE TEMPLE.
1. Because the Church is consecrated to the service of God.
2. Is hallowed by His residence.
3. Is honoured by His self-manifestation.
II. THE BUILDER. Because He —
1. Prepares the materials.
2. Employs the workmen.
3. Superintends the workmanship.
III. THE GLORY.
1. From the unlikelihood of the materials.
2. From the magnitude of the obstacles.
3. From the diversity of the workmen.
4. From the perfection of the work.
man here spoken of it is affirmed that "His name is the Branch, and that He shall grow up out of His place." The Branch that was to grow out of the root of Jesse was to be more than man; for who could bear that wondrous name, "The Lord our Righteousness," but the Lord Himself? The text refers to One who should combine in His own person the fulness of Divinity with all that is essential to the constitution of our nature.
I. THE WORK HERE ASCRIBED TO CHRIST. "He shall build the temple of the Lord." The prophet was commanded to make two crowns, and set them on the head of Joshua. Under the Levitical economy the high priest wore a crown, and in ancient times the crown was the badge of royalty. Joshua was thus a striking type of Him who is at once the High Priest and the King of Zion. As the person of Joshua typified that of Christ, so the work to which Joshua was called was typical of that which Christ was to accomplish. The temple Christ was to build is the Church universal, consisting of all who in every age and nation are washed and justified and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Why the Church is called a temple is not difficult to perceive. It is so called in allusion to the sacred edifice which, by Divine command, was erected in Jerusalem. That edifice was dedicated to the service of God, and so are all who believe in Jesus. In the Jewish temple the Lord was pleased to reveal His glory; and so He does in the Church, but more spiritually and more fully. He manifests Himself to all that love and serve Him. The Jewish temple was regarded as God's residence, for the visible emblem of His glory dwelt between the cherubims. And is not His life-giving presence with His Church on earth? Has He not promised to be always with His people? In the one temple were observed the rites which He was pleased to institute; in the other, He is worshipped in spirit and truth. Of this temple Jesus is the builder. Before a structure can be reared the foundation must be laid; and Christ has laid the foundation of His Church, virtually, in the counsels of eternity, when He undertook to accomplish the work of our redemption; actually, in the fulness of time, when He obeyed and suffered in our stead. He is Himself the rock on which His Church is built. On Himself as foundation God rears the spiritual temple. This He does by the instrumentality of His Word, and by the agency of His Spirit. The soul, when united to the Saviour, undergoes a thorough change of character as well as of condition. Christ imparts His virtues to the soul that rests on Him as the foundation of its hope. Christ sanctifies it by His Word and Spirit, and thus it becomes a living stone, reflecting the glory of Christ Himself. Such is the way in which Christ carries on the work that is here ascribed to Him. As one sinner after another is converted, one living stone after another is added to the temple which He is building. Amid all the uproar and turmoil of this ungodly world, this work is silently but surely going on. How glorious shall the temple be, when the last living stone shall complete the harmony of its vast proportions! Then, purified from every soil, and resplendent with the beauties of righteousness and holiness, it shall stand out before the universe the noblest monument of the Divine perfections. What a signal honour to be fellow workers with Christ in speeding on this blessed consummation!
II. CHRIST BEARS THE GLORY AS THE RULER IN THE TEMPLE. It is to His glory in this respect that the text more especially refers. There is a very obvious and important distinction between His government of the universe, and His headship over the Church. The Church is a society of a special nature, requiring special laws and institutions for its government and guidance. It is a kingdom not of this world, though in this world. The glory which Christ bears as ruler in the temple is represented in Scripture as the fruit of His sufferings. This honour was secured to Him in the covenant of redemption, as the stipulated reward of obedience unto death. Application —
1. Relating to the duty of individuals. To yield submission to Christ's authority.
2. Relating to the duty of a Church — or any particular society of professing Christians. Is it not a Church's duty to have respect in all things to Christ's authority — to regulate its procedure by the principles and the precepts of His Holy Word?
I. THE PERSON SPOKEN OF. Observe the circumstances of the prophecy, and see how undeniably they all point to Christ, the High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle.
II. THE WORK ASSIGNED HIM. "To build the temple of the Lord." The true and spiritual Church of God, which is spread over all ages and all nations, which consists of all believers, all faithful men and sanctified persons throughout the world, gathered out of the vast multitudes of mankind, and brought into one mystical body. It is the glory of the Son of God to be the builder of this temple. The Redeemer builds the temple of the Lord try the virtue going forth continually from His kingly and priestly offices.
III. AN APPROPRIATE REWARD. Two particulars are mentioned, possessing each a deep interest in connection with the missionary work; the one holding forth our encouragement, and the other our duty. He whom we serve is invested with the government; and He shall bear the glory. Then let us —
1. Beware of building without Christ.
2. Give all the glory to Christ.
3. Contribute with a self-denying liberality of our labour and our substance for the work of building the temple of the Lord.
(J. Scholefield, M. A.)
e: — Our text is a prophecy set forth and highly adorned with metaphor. The text —
1. Announces the Saviour by a singular yet significant title. "Behold the man whose name is the Branch."
2. It predicts — the allotment to Him, and the accomplishment by Him of a most important and magnificent work. "He shall build the temple of the Lord."
3. It recognises — the great Builder's right to have all the praise, whilst it assigns to Him a well-deserved reward. "He shall bear the glory." Two inferences —(1) The cause of real religion is in the hands of Jesus Christ.(2) All success in the prosecution of any important part of the glorious work of building up the temple of the Lord must be looked for and derived from the great Master-Builder.
I. EVERY TRUE BELIEVER IS A TEMPLE OF GOD.
1. A temple is the residence of Jehovah; and in this view every true believer is a temple of the living God. It is the prominent design of the Gospel to enthrone Jehovah in the affections, dispositions, and habits of men.
2. A temple is consecrated to the service, the worship, and the glory of God. In this sense every true believer is a spiritual temple of the Lord. Christian believers are represented in Scripture as renewed in the spirit of their minds, as built up spiritual houses, as consecrated in every part to the service and glory of God.
3. A temple is the scene of Divine manifestation; and in this sense also every true believer is a spiritual temple of the Lord. Every true believer exhibits in his own person, in his principles, in his habits, in his privileges, and in his bright hopes, a manifestation of God, a practical exemplification of the Saviour's work, a public and accredited testimony of the truth of the doctrines of Scripture, as imprinted on his mind, as brought to bear with powerful effect on his life.
II. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN BUILDING, BEAUTIFYING, AND COMPLETING THIS TEMPLE.
1. Christ, by His mediatorial interposition, has paved the way for the erection of the temple of God.
2. The glory of building the temples by His Holy Spirit belongs also to Him. Christ, by the Holy Spirit, begins, carries forward, and completes the building of the spiritual edifice. It is the glory of the Gospel dispensation that it is complete in all its parts. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the process of sanctification is carried forward.
3. The glory belongs to Christ because He has provided those means by which, under the ministry of grace, the temple is built.
4. The glory belongs to Christ, inasmuch as He constantly superintends the Churches, takes a tender interest in all their concerns, sympathises with them in all their vicissitudes, and completes the purposes of God ultimately in regard to them. This subject displays(1) In a very interesting and pleasing manner the glory of our great Redeemer.(2) It tends also to elevate our conceptions of the Christian character. There is something in the very idea of a temple that is associated with holy and sacred pursuits, with holy and hallowed enjoyments.
(Robert Burns, D. D.)
I. CONSIDER EVERY REAL CHRISTIAN AS THE LIVING TEMPLE OF THE LORD. Observe this dignified and distinguished character here ascribed to the righteous: each one of them is a temple of the Lord. A soul, the temple of the Lord, suggests the sublime ideas of solemn consecration to His honour of worship and sacrifice, of the Divine residence, and of peculiar manifestations; such manifestations as discover a present Deity, and render His glory in us evident to our souls.
1. Believers in Jesus are temples of the Lord, because they are separated from idolatry and impurity, are consecrated to sacred purposes, and are dedicated to the honour of Him whom they worship.
2. Believers in Christ are the temples of God, because they offer up to Him dutiful worship and acceptable sacrifice. Not sacrifices of propitiation or atonement, but sacrifices of daily thankoffering for the mercies of God, and the blessings of His great salvation. Every faculty and affection of the Christian soul may ye considered as engaged in the service of this living temple.
3. Believers in Christ are the temples of the Lord, because in them He resides to manifest His glory; and them He blesses with all the satisfying consolations of His presence. In every renewed person much of the image of God is displayed; the power of God in forming, from such unlikely materials, a new creature, or a new creation, the holiness of God, in stamping upon every child of the family some lineaments of their Father's image; and the sovereign mercy of God, in rescuing from deepest ruin, and imparting the noblest hopes and happiness, to the praise of the glory of His grace. In all saints, so far as they are sanctified, we may trace some resemblance of God. God is said to dwell in His people as His temple, when He manifests His glory to them, and admits them to delightful intercourse with Himself. This honour have all the saints; but it is enjoyed by them in very different degrees, according to the measure of their faith.
II. THIS TEMPLE IS, IN ALL RESPECTS, THE WORKMANSHIP OF THE ADORABLE REDEEMER. He who is the Branch, builds the temple —
1. In His mediation between God and man.
2. He lays the foundation of that living temple by bestowing that living faith which unites us to Himself, and interests us in all the blessings of His mediation.
3. He not only lays the foundation of the spiritual temple, but He rears the superstructure by His grace and Spirit. Every grace and duty of religion is a living stone in that temple which every believer is rearing unto God on earth. All these graces and duties are intimately connected, and by their union the spiritual building is rendered fair and useful.
4. The Almighty Builder carries on to perfection the good work which He has begun. By His dispensations He carries forward the perfections of His people. He carries on to perfection by the ordinances of His grace. By the powerful energy and gracious influences of His Holy Spirit, working in them to will and do of His good pleasure.
III. THE CHEERING AND ANIMATING PROMISE, "HE SHALL BEAR THE GLORY." This is now fulfilling on earth, and shall be fulfilled forever in heaven. Amidst meditations on God's gracious ways with them, at every new survey, saints feel their hearts warmed with gratitude, and they say, "Not unto us, not unto us." "He hath built the temple, and He shall bear the glory."
I. THE CHURCH IS GOD'S TEMPLE. By the Church is meant all that the word imports in its highest and its widest sense — all God's real servants, all His believing and pardoned and sanctified people of all ages and places. When God builds, His habitation shall have a name and character of its own — it is a temple. View the Church simply as God's house, then we look on it as something which God dwells in, and rests in, and delights in. View it as God's temple, then a sacredness comes over it. The house becomes —
1. A consecrated place, a place appropriated and set apart for holy purposes.
2. The idea of worship and devotion is connected with this term. It implies not only that God designs His people to show forth His praise in heaven, but that they do show it forth there; they answer there the end for which they are taken there: God is served, and worshipped, and magnified by them.
II. THE LORD JESUS IS THE BUILDER OF THIS TEMPLE. Elsewhere spoken of as the foundation or chief cornerstone, He is here described as the great Builder. No one figure can suffice to set forth His importance. Therefore they apply figure after figure to Him. They do not heed what we deem incongruities and contradictions. Three things the builder of a temple has to do.
1. To form the plan of it. He has to settle in his mind what its form and size shall be, and of what materials it shall consist.
2. A builder has to prepare his materials. At least the builder of a temple has. He does not find them prepared for him by nature, the wrought stone in the quarry, and the carved beam in the forest. Nor can they prepare themselves. And we, brethren, are not naturally fit for heaven, nor can we make ourselves or one another fit for it.
3. A builder has to join his materials together, to put each one of them into the place for which it is prepared. And this also is the work of Christ.
III. THE TEXT BEARS US OUT IN ASSERTING THAT IT REALLY IS A VERY GLORIOUS BUILDING. It does not expressly say this, but it implies it. There is to be a glory result to Christ from it, and this glory is doubtless to proceed in part from something excellent and magnificent in the building itself. What a subject opens itself to us here! Does beauty make a building glorious, a noble plan and excellent workmanship? Oh, what so beautiful as the Church of the firstborn? Bear in mind two facts in reference to the glory of this temple.
1. It is such that it satisfies Christ Himself.
2. This temple has occupied the Mighty Jehovah far longer than any of His works. From this fact also we infer its gloriousness.
IV. THE LORD JESUS WILL HAVE ALL GLORY OF THIS TEMPLE. Two reasons why Christ is so little honoured on earth as the author of His people's salvation. The greatness of the salvation is not known, and we do not see how entirely the work is His. God's design in this building was His own honour. Is Christ the Builder of God's temple? Then this text calls on all of us really to regard Him as such. And if the Church is the temple of the Lord, then we should cherish in our minds a high reverence and love for it.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
A Priest upon His throne
I. THE TRUE HOPE OF THE WORLD IS A PRIEST. The idea of priesthood is universal. It has been distorted and abused; it has been made the foundation of spiritual tyranny. The priest has not been the teacher nor the elevator of the people. Yet there the office stands, and wherever men go, by some strange perversity they take with them this idea, and choose from among themselves some who shall discharge for their brethren the double office of representing them before God, and of representing God to them. That is what the world means, with absolute and entire unanimity, by a priest — one who shall be Sacrificer, intercessor, representative; bearer of man's worship, channel of God's blessing. This is the result of the universal consciousness of sin. Men feel that there is a gulf between them and God. The Jewish people, who have at all events taught the world the purest theism, and led men up to the most spiritual religion, had this same institution of a priesthood for the very centre of its worship. What is the priest whom men crave? The first requisite is oneness with those whom he represents. We have a Priest "in all things made like unto His brethren." The next requisite is that the priests should possess, at all events, a symbolic purity — expression of the conviction that a priest must be cleaner and closer than his fellows. And we have a Priest; who is "holy, harmless, undefiled." And again, as in nature and character, so in function, Christ corresponds to the widely expressed wants of men, as shown in their priesthoods. They sought for one who should offer gifts and sacrifices on their behalf. They sought for one who should pass into the awful Presence, and plead for them while they stood without. They sought for a man who should be the medium of Divine blessings bestowed upon the worshippers, and we know who hath gone within the veil for us. "We have great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God."
II. THE PRIEST OF THE WORLD IS THE KING OF MEN. "He shall be a Priest upon His throne." In Israel these two offices were jealously kept apart. The history of the world is full of instances in which the struggles of the temporal and spiritual power have caused calamities only less intolerable than those which flowed from that alliance of priests and kings which has so often made monarchy a grinding tyranny, and religion a mere instrument of statecraft. Our Priest does rule. The "kingdom of Christ" is no unreal fanciful phrase. The foundation of His rule is His sacrifice. Men will do anything for him who does that for them. His rule is wielded in gentleness. Priestly dominion has ever been fierce, suspicious, tyrannous. The sway of this merciful and faithful High Priest is full of tenderness. The end of His rule is, that His subjects may be made free in obedience.
III. THE PRIEST-KING OF MEN BUILDS AMONG MEN THE TEMPLE OF GOD. Christ is Himself the true temple of God. Christ builds the temple. Christ builds this temple because He is the temple. By His incarnation and work He makes our communion with God and God's dwelling in us possible. Christ builds the temple, and uses us as His servants in the work. Christ builds on through all the ages, and the prophecy of the text is yet unfulfilled. Its fulfilment is the meaning and end of all history. In one of the mosques of Damascus, which has been a Christian Church, and before that was a heathen temple, the portal bears, deep cut in Greek characters, the inscription, "Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations." Those words are graven over the temple which Christ rears.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. NOTICE THIS SIGNIFICANT DESIGNATION OF THE LORD JESUS — "The Branch." The family of David was like a decayed tree, the stump of which alone remains; but from so lowly and unlikely an origin, a shoot or scion would emanate, which would again become a noble forest tree, and perpetuate the memory and influence of the royal line. Certainly David's race had reached a low ebb when Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, because they were of the house and lineage of David. Through a branch the fulness of the root is carried to the fruit, which swells in ruddy beauty on its extremity, and presently falls into the hand of the wayfarer: so Jesus is the blessed channel of communication between the fulness of God and the thirsty wastes of human need.
II. THE COMBINATION IN CHRIST OF THE PRIESTLY AND KINGLY OFFICES. "He shall be a Priest upon His throne." Man's nature demands a priest. Conscious of sin and defilement, he rears an altar wherever he pitches his tent; and, selecting one of his fellows, he separates him from the ordinary duties of life, and bids him stand as mediator and priest between God and himself. It was thus that Micah addressed the young man, the Levite of Bethlehem-Judah, when he said, "Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and priest; and I will give thee ten pieces of silver by the year, and thine apparel, and thy victuals." If an argument were needed to prove the unity of the human family, it surely would be suggested by the universal distribution of temples and altars over the world, as though men were everywhere alike in this — that they know themselves to be sinful, and desire to find some way of propitiating and approaching the Almighty. In the Levitical system, and, above all, in Jesus Christ, God has met this universal craving of the human heart. Man also requires a king. God had designed to meet this need by Him self being Israel's King, that they should not be "like other nations," but a peculiar people unto Him. How remarkable it is that the Kingship of Jesus should have been so accentuated in His trial! It was the centre around which the storm raged. Pilate challenged His claims: "Art Thou a king, then?" and Jesus asseverated them: "Thou sayest that I am — a king." The faded purple robe flung over His shoulders, the reed in His hand, the mocking bending of the knee, the crown of thorns on His brow, were but the grotesque and heartless mockery of His claims. And since He has passed into the glory, He is still the Priest-King. Not Aaron, but Melchizedek, is the true type of our Saviour now. As Aaron, He made atonement and propitiation for sin; but as Melchizedek, He has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. "This Melchizedek was king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God." As priest, Jesus pleads the merit of His blood; as king, He exerts power on our behalf. As priest, He pacifies the guilty conscience; as king, He sends thrills of His own victorious life into our spirits. As priest, He brings us nigh to God; as king, He treads our enemies under His feet. It is of great importance to us all to think of our Saviour in this dual aspect. On the one hand, we get all the benefit of His cross and passion; on the other, all the benefit of His resurrection and session at the right hand of God. May it not be that the weakness of thy Christian life is due to the fact that thou hast viewed Him only in the light of Calvary, and hast not, with Stephen, seen Him seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High — a prince as well as a Saviour — a Saviour because a prince? He accounts Himself absolutely responsible to achieve the uttermost salvation of those who trust in Him. If there is some sin which defies thee, at least it shall not be too strong for Him. And if the outflow of His delivering power towards thee seems restrained and ineffective, be sure that, in some one particular, which He will be quick to show thee, if only thou art willing to be informed, there has been a failure to yield Him the obedience which is due to Him as thy king.
III. AS THE PRIEST-KING, CHRIST BUILDS THE TEMPLE OF GOD. Twice over this is affirmed; but what untold comfort the assurance must have brought when first addressed to that little band of exiles! Their temple site was strewn with ruins: it seemed almost hopeless to contend with those heaps of rubbish, impossible to rear a fabric worthy of the past and adequate for the future; but these words must have greatly heartened them. As the hand of inspiration drew aside the vail, they beheld another and greater than either Joshua or Zerubbabel, working with them and for them, and bearing the chief responsibility in all the toils and labours of their new erection — He; not they. They would work with new energy and courage, knowing, as they did, that they were fellow workers with God. What difficulty could daunt, what enemies thwart or frustrate, the work of His right hand? If these words should be read by any who are losing heart because of the difficulties presented by their parish, their church, or the souls of their charge, let them be reassured, as they behold the trowel in the hands of the Priest-King; and let them be sure that He will succeed.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
(G. Body, M. A.)
1. The office of a prophet. He builds the Church by the Word of the Gospel, which it is His work to promulgate as a prophet.
2. The office of a priest. To expiate the sins of His people, to purchase peace for them, and to manage their cause with God.
3. That of a king: for He has a throne, which denotes His kingly office. He is "a priest upon His throne," denoting the reward of His sufferings. In Him the glory of all these offices is to meet. The text affords foundation for the following doctrine — Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of prophet, priest, and king, both in His estate of humiliation and exaltation.
I. THE VERITY OR REALITY OF THESE OFFICES IN CHRIST.
1. From plain scripture testimony.
(1) (2) 2. From His name Christ, or Messiah, the anointed one. The unction signified — (1) (2) II. THE NECESSITY OF HIS EXERCISING THESE OFFICES. This will be clear if we — 1. Consider our misery by sin, ignorance, guilt, and bondage. We were ignorant of the way of returning to God again; and therefore Christ as our prophet must teach us; our priest must make atonement for us; our king must bring us back again, leading captivity captive. 2. Consider the salvation which the elect were to be made partakers of. 3. Consider Christ as mediator of the covenant, who behoved to deal with both parties, in order to bring them together. 4. Consider the work of conversion; what the soul needs. 5. Consider our daily necessities. 6. Consider the promises, which are the stay and staff of the Christian's life, without which they could never bear up. III. WHEN DID CHRIST EXECUTE THESE OFFICES? As He was the Redeemer of the Church in all ages so did He execute these offices in all ages of the Church. But more especially after His incarnation, and that in His twofold state of humiliation and exaltation. These three offices are not to be divided, especially when they are executed in a way that is effectual for the salvation of the subjects thereof. Wherever He executes one of these offices in a saving way, He executes them all. Inferences — 1. How great and glorious is our Lord Jesus Christ, who was meet to bear all these offices at once, and exercise them at once, so as one does not mar or clash with another! 2. Let this commend Christ to you as a full and a suitable Saviour. 3. You cannot take Christ as a Redeemer, if you take Him not in all His offices. 4. Employ this mighty Redeemer in all the offices wherewith He is invested, and which, as mediator, He exercises for the benefit of the ruined race of mankind. (T. Boston, D. D.).
(2) 2. From His name Christ, or Messiah, the anointed one. The unction signified — (1) (2) II. THE NECESSITY OF HIS EXERCISING THESE OFFICES. This will be clear if we — 1. Consider our misery by sin, ignorance, guilt, and bondage. We were ignorant of the way of returning to God again; and therefore Christ as our prophet must teach us; our priest must make atonement for us; our king must bring us back again, leading captivity captive. 2. Consider the salvation which the elect were to be made partakers of. 3. Consider Christ as mediator of the covenant, who behoved to deal with both parties, in order to bring them together. 4. Consider the work of conversion; what the soul needs. 5. Consider our daily necessities. 6. Consider the promises, which are the stay and staff of the Christian's life, without which they could never bear up. III. WHEN DID CHRIST EXECUTE THESE OFFICES? As He was the Redeemer of the Church in all ages so did He execute these offices in all ages of the Church. But more especially after His incarnation, and that in His twofold state of humiliation and exaltation. These three offices are not to be divided, especially when they are executed in a way that is effectual for the salvation of the subjects thereof. Wherever He executes one of these offices in a saving way, He executes them all. Inferences — 1. How great and glorious is our Lord Jesus Christ, who was meet to bear all these offices at once, and exercise them at once, so as one does not mar or clash with another! 2. Let this commend Christ to you as a full and a suitable Saviour. 3. You cannot take Christ as a Redeemer, if you take Him not in all His offices. 4. Employ this mighty Redeemer in all the offices wherewith He is invested, and which, as mediator, He exercises for the benefit of the ruined race of mankind. (T. Boston, D. D.).
2. From His name Christ, or Messiah, the anointed one. The unction signified —
(1) (2) II. THE NECESSITY OF HIS EXERCISING THESE OFFICES. This will be clear if we — 1. Consider our misery by sin, ignorance, guilt, and bondage. We were ignorant of the way of returning to God again; and therefore Christ as our prophet must teach us; our priest must make atonement for us; our king must bring us back again, leading captivity captive. 2. Consider the salvation which the elect were to be made partakers of. 3. Consider Christ as mediator of the covenant, who behoved to deal with both parties, in order to bring them together. 4. Consider the work of conversion; what the soul needs. 5. Consider our daily necessities. 6. Consider the promises, which are the stay and staff of the Christian's life, without which they could never bear up. III. WHEN DID CHRIST EXECUTE THESE OFFICES? As He was the Redeemer of the Church in all ages so did He execute these offices in all ages of the Church. But more especially after His incarnation, and that in His twofold state of humiliation and exaltation. These three offices are not to be divided, especially when they are executed in a way that is effectual for the salvation of the subjects thereof. Wherever He executes one of these offices in a saving way, He executes them all. Inferences — 1. How great and glorious is our Lord Jesus Christ, who was meet to bear all these offices at once, and exercise them at once, so as one does not mar or clash with another! 2. Let this commend Christ to you as a full and a suitable Saviour. 3. You cannot take Christ as a Redeemer, if you take Him not in all His offices. 4. Employ this mighty Redeemer in all the offices wherewith He is invested, and which, as mediator, He exercises for the benefit of the ruined race of mankind. (T. Boston, D. D.).
II. THE NECESSITY OF HIS EXERCISING THESE OFFICES. This will be clear if we — 2. Consider the salvation which the elect were to be made partakers of. 4. Consider the work of conversion; what the soul needs. 5. Consider our daily necessities. 2. Let this commend Christ to you as a full and a suitable Saviour. 3. You cannot take Christ as a Redeemer, if you take Him not in all His offices. (T. Boston, D. D.).
II. THE NECESSITY OF HIS EXERCISING THESE OFFICES. This will be clear if we —
2. Consider the salvation which the elect were to be made partakers of.
4. Consider the work of conversion; what the soul needs.
5. Consider our daily necessities.
2. Let this commend Christ to you as a full and a suitable Saviour.
3. You cannot take Christ as a Redeemer, if you take Him not in all His offices.
(T. Boston, D. D.).