Zechariah 14:20
In that day shall there be on the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD's house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Exodus

THREE INSCRIPTIONS WITH ONE MEANING

HOLINESS TO THE LORD.’ - Exodus 28:36.

HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD.’ - Zechariah 14:20.

‘His name shall be in their foreheads.’ - Revelation 22:4.

You will have perceived my purpose in putting these three widely separated texts together. They all speak of inscriptions, and they are all obviously connected with each other. The first of them comes from the ancient times of the institution of the ceremonial ritual, and describes a part of the high priest’s official dress. In his mitre was a thin plate of gold on which was written, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ The second of them comes from almost the last portion recorded of the history of Israel in the Old Testament, and is from the words of the great Prophet of the Restoration-his ideal presentation of the Messianic period, in which he recognises as one feature, that the inscription on the mitre of the high priest shall be written on ‘the bells of the horses.’ And the last of them is from the closing vision of the celestial kingdom, the heavenly and perfected form of the Christian Church. John, probably remembering the high priest and his mitre, with its inscription upon the forehead, says: ‘His servants shall do Him priestly service’-for that is the meaning of the word inadequately translated ‘serve Him’-’and see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads.’

These three things, then-the high priest’s mitre, the horses’ bells, the foreheads of the perfected saints-present three aspects of the Christian thought of holiness. Take them one by one.

I. The high priest’s mitre.

The high priest was the official representative of the nation. He stood before God as the embodied and personified Israel. For the purposes of worship Israel was the high priest, and the high priest was Israel. And so, on his forehead, not to distinguish him from the rest of the people, but to include all the people in his consecration, shone a golden plate with the motto, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ So, at the very beginning of Jewish ritual there stands a protest against all notions that make ‘saint’ the designation of any abnormal or exceptional sanctity, and confine the name to the members of any selected aristocracy of devoutness and goodness. All Christian men, ex officio, by the very fact of their Christianity, are saints, in the true sense of the word. And the representative of the whole of Israel stood there before God, with this inscription blazing on his forehead, as a witness that, whatsoever holiness may be, it belongs to every member of the true Israel.

And what is it? It is a very unfortunate thing-indicating superficiality of thought-that the modern popular notion of ‘holiness’ identifies it with purity, righteousness, moral perfection. Now that idea is in it, but is not the whole of it. For, not to spend time upon mere remarks on words, the meaning of the word thus rendered is in Hebrew, as well as in Greek and in our own English, one and the same. The root-meaning is ‘separated,’ ‘set apart,’ and the word expresses primarily, not moral character, but relation to God. That makes all the difference; and it incalculably deepens the conception, as well as puts us on the right track for understanding the only possible means by which there can ever be realised that moral perfection and excellence which has unfortunately monopolised the meaning of the word in most people’s minds. The first thought is ‘set apart to God.’ That is holiness, in its root and germ.

And how can we be set apart for God? You may devote a dead thing for certain uses easily enough. How can a man be separated and laid aside?

Well, there is only one way, brethren, and that is by self-surrender. ‘Yield yourselves to God’ is but the other side, or, rather, the practical shape, of the Old and the New Testament doctrine of holiness. A man becomes God’s when he says, ‘Lord, take me and mould me, and fill me and cleanse me, and do with me what Thou wilt.’ In that self-surrender, which is the tap-root of all holiness, the first and foremost thing to be offered is that most obstinate of all, the will that is in us. And when we yield our wills in submission both to commandments and providences, both to gifts and to withdrawals, both to gains and to losses, both to joys and to sorrows, then we begin to write upon our foreheads ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ And when we go on to yield our hearts to Him, by enshrining Him sole and sovereign in their innermost chamber, and turning to Him the whole current of our lives and desires, and hopes and confidences, which we are so apt to allow to run to waste and be sucked up in the desert sands of the world, then we write more of that inscription. And when we fill our minds with joyful submission to His truth, and occupy our thoughts with His mighty Name and His great revelation, and carry Him with us in the hidden corners of our consciousness, even whilst we are busy about daily work, then we add further letters to it. And when the submissive will, and the devoted heart, and the occupied thoughts are fully expressed in daily life and its various external duties, then the writing is complete. ‘Holiness to the Lord’ is self-surrender of will and heart and mind and everything. And that surrender is of the very essence of Christianity.

What is a saint? Some man or woman that has practised unheard-of austerities? Somebody that has lived an isolated and self-regarding life in convent or monastery or desert? No! a man or woman in the world who, moved by the mercies of God, yields self to God as ‘a living sacrifice.’

So the New Testament writers never hesitate to speak even of such very imperfect Christians as were found in abundance in churches like Corinth and Galatia as being all ‘saints,’ every man of them. That is not because the writers were minimising their defects, or idealising their persons, but because, if they are Christians at all, they are saints; seeing that no man is a Christian who has not been drawn by Christ’s great sacrifice for him to yield himself a sacrifice for Christ.

Of course that intrusive idea which has, in popular apprehension, so swallowed up the notion of holiness-viz. that of perfection of moral character or conduct-is included in this other, or rather is developed from it. For the true way to conquer self is to surrender self; and the more entire our giving up of ourselves, the more certainly shall we receive ourselves back again from His hands. ‘By the mercies of God, I beseech you, yield yourselves living sacrifices.’

II. I come to my next text-the horses’ bells.

Zechariah has a vision of the ideal Messianic times, and, of course, as must necessarily be the case, his picture is painted with colours laid upon his palette by his experience, and he depicts that distant future in the guise suggested to him by what he saw around him. So we have to disentangle from his words the sentiment which he expresses, and to recognise the symbolic way in which he puts it. His thought is this,-the inscription on the high priest’s mitre will be written on the bells which ornament the harness of the horses, which in Israel were never used as with us, but only either for war or for pomp and display, and the use of which was always regarded with a certain kind of doubt and suspicion. Even these shall be consecrated in that far-off day.

And then he goes on with variations on the same air, ‘In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, "Holiness unto the Lord,"‘ and adds that ‘the pots in the Lord’s house’-the humble vessels that were used for the most ordinary parts of the Temple services-’shall be like the bowls before the altar,’ into which the sacred blood of the offerings was poured. The most external and secular thing bearing upon religion shall be as sacred as the sacredest. But that is not all. ‘Yea! every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts, and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them,’ and put their offerings therein. That is to say, the coarse pottery vessels that were in every poverty-stricken house in the city shall be elevated to the rank of the sacred vessels of the Temple. Domestic life with all its secularities shall be hallowed. The kitchens of Jerusalem shall be as truly places of worship as is the inner shrine of the Most High.

On the whole, the prophet’s teaching is that, in the ideal state of man upon earth, there will be an entire abolition of the distinction between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’; a distinction that has wrought infinite mischief in the world, and in the lives of Christian people.

Let me translate these words of our prophet into English equivalents. Every cup and tumbler in a poor man’s kitchen may be as sacred as the communion chalice that passes from lip to lip with the ‘blood of Jesus Christ’ in it. Every common piece of service that we do, down among the vulgarities and the secularities and the meannesses of daily life, may be lifted up to stand upon precisely the same level as the sacredest office that we undertake. The bells of the horses may jingle to the same tune as the trumpets of the priests sounded within the shrine, and on all, great and small, may be written, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’

But let us remember that that universally diffused sanctity will need to have a centre of diffusion, else there will be no diffusion, and that all life will become sacred when the man that lives it has ‘Holiness to the Lord’ written on his forehead, and not else. If that be the inscription on the driver’s heart, the horses that he drives will have it written on their bells, but they will not have it unless it be. Holy men make all things holy. ‘To the pure all things are pure,’ but unto them that are unclean and disobedient there is nothing pure. Hallow thyself, and all things are clean unto thee.

III. And so I come to my third text-the perfected saints’ foreheads.

The connection between the first and the last of these texts is as plain and close as between the first and the second. For John in his closing vision gives emphasis to the priestly idea as designating in its deepest relations the redeemed and perfected Christian Church. Therefore he says, as I have already explained, ‘His servants shall do Him priestly service, and His name shall be in their foreheads.’ The old official dress of the high priest comes into his mind, and he paints the future, just as Zechariah did, under the forms of the past, and sees before the throne the perfected saints, each man of them with that inscription clear and conspicuous.

But there is an advance in his words which I think it is not fanciful to note. It is only the name that is written in the perfected saint’s forehead. Not the ‘Holiness unto the Lord,’ but just the bare name. What does that mean? Well, it means the same as your writing your name in one of your books does, or as when a man puts his initials on the back of his oxen, or as the old practice of branding the master’s mark upon the slave did. It means absolute ownership.

But it means something more. The name is the manifested personality, the revealed God, or, as we say in an abstract way, the character of God. That Name is to be in the foreheads of His perfected people. How does it come to be there? Read also the clause before the text-’His servants shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads.’ That is to say, the perfected condition is not reached by surrender only, but by assimilation; and that assimilation comes by contemplation. The faces that are turned to Him, and behold Him, are smitten with the light and shine, and those that look upon them see ‘as it had been the face of an angel,’ as the Sanhedrim saw that of Stephen, when he beheld the Son of Man ‘standing at the right hand of God.’

My last text is but a picturesque way of saying what the writer of it says in plain words when he declares, ‘We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’ The name is to be ‘in their foreheads,’ where every eye can see it. Alas! alas! it is so hard for us to live out our best selves, and to show to the world what is in us. Cowardice, sheepishness, and a hundred other reasons prevent it. In this poor imperfect state no emotion ever takes shape and visibility without losing more or less of its beauty. But yonder the obstructions to self-manifestation will be done away; and ‘when He shall be manifested, we also shall be manifested with Him in glory.’

‘Then shall the righteous blaze forth like the sun in My heavenly Father’s Kingdom.’ But the beginning of it all is ‘Holiness to the Lord’ written on our hearts; and the end of that is the vision which is impossible without holiness, and which leads on to the beholder’s perfect likeness to his Lord.Zechariah 14:20-21. In that day — When the nations are converted to God, as is foretold Zechariah 14:16; shall there be upon the bells of the horses — Written, as it were, on every common thing; HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD — This was the inscription on the mitre of the Jewish high-priest, denoting the great holiness of his office, and how he ought to conduct himself in a holy manner in all things, especially in those relating to divine worship. Now in these days of the gospel, when the Jews shall be converted to Christ, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in, and made a holy nation, a royal priesthood, the grace of God shall be so abundant and efficacious, that common ordinary things in the hands of Christians, much more their persons, shall bear the dedicating inscription of HOLINESS TO THE LORD, and by their study and practice of holiness they shall make good their motto; they shall honour and glorify God in all circumstances and situations, times and places, and use every thing in a holy manner. And the pots in the Lord’s house — The meanest utensil employed in his service; shall be like the bowls before the altar — Shall be as the vessels of silver and gold used in the solemn sacrifices. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem shall be holiness unto the Lord — The utensils of private houses shall all be dedicated to God’s service, and employed in his fear and to his glory; with such sobriety and temperance, such devotedness to God, and such a mixture of pious thoughts and expressions, that even their meals shall look like sacrifices; they shall not eat and drink to themselves, but to Him that spreads their tables and fills their cups. And all they that sacrifice — In allusion to sacrifices, the prophet expresses all religious affections, practice, and worship, which shall be as pleasing to God as were the sacrifices of his people, offered up with divine warrant and approbation. Shall come and take of them — Of those pots and vessels, freely and without scruple; and seethe therein — The ceremonial distinction between holy and unholy places and things shall cease with the ritual law on which it was founded. One place shall be as acceptable to God as another, and one vessel or instrument of divine service as holy as another. For the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, and men shall pray and give thanks everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. Little regard shall be had to the circumstance, provided there be nothing indecent or disorderly, while the life, and soul, and substance of divine worship and service are religiously preserved and adhered to. And there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord — There shall be no more a profane or impious person in the societies of the faithful. For though persons that were Canaanites, strangers, and foreigners, should be brought into the house of the Lord, yet they should cease to be Canaanites; they should have nothing of the spirit or disposition of Canaanites, or heathen, in them. And though in gospel times people should be indifferent as to holy vessels and holy places, yet they should be very strict with respect to church discipline, and careful not to admit the profane to sacred ordinances, or to Christian fellowship with them, but should separate between the precious and the vile, between Israelites and Canaanites. Yet this will not have its perfect accomplishment short of the heavenly Jerusalem, that house of the Lord of hosts into which no unclean thing shall enter. For at the end of time, and not before, Christ shall gather out of his kingdom every thing that offends; and the tares and wheat shall be perfectly and eternally separated. 14:16-21 As it is impossible for all nations literally to come to Jerusalem once a year, to keep a feast, it is evident that a figurative meaning must here be applied. Gospel worship is represented by the keeping of the feast of tabernacles. Every day of a Christian's life is a day of the feast of tabernacles; every Lord's day especially is the great day of the feast; therefore every day let us worship the Lord of hosts, and keep every Lord's day with peculiar solemnity. It is just for God to withhold the blessings of grace from those who do not attend the means of grace. It is a sin that is its own punishment; those who forsake the duty, forfeit the privilege of communion with God. A time of complete peace and purity of the church will arrive. Men will carry on their common affairs, and their sacred services, upon the same holy principles of faith, love and obedience. Real holiness shall be more diffused, because there shall be a more plentiful pouring forth of the Spirit of holiness than ever before. There shall be holiness even in common things. Every action and every enjoyment of the believer, should be so regulated according to the will of God, that it may be directed to his glory. Our whole lives should be as one constant sacrifice, or act of devotion; no selfish motive should prevail in any of our actions. But how far is the Christian church from this state of purity! Other times, however, are at hand, and the Lord will reform and enlarge his church, as he has promised. Yet in heaven alone will perfect holiness and happiness be found.In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord - He does not say only, that they should be consecrated to God, as Isaiah says of Tyre, "Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord" Isaiah 23:18; he says that, "the bells of the horses," things simply secular, should bear the same inscription as the plate on the high priest's forehead. Perhaps the comparison was suggested by the bells on the high priest's dress ; not the lamina only on his forehead, but bells (not as his, which were part of his sacred dress), bells, altogether secular, should be inscribed with the self-same title, whereby he himself was dedicated to God.

Holiness to the Lord - He does not bring down what is sacred to a level with common things, but he uplifts ordinary things, that they too, should be sacred, as Paul says, "whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31.

And the pots of the Lord's house shall be like bowls before the altar - The pots are mentioned, together with other vessels of the Lord's house Ezekiel 38:3; 1 Kings 7:45; 2 Kings 25:14; 2 Chronicles 4:11, 2 Chronicles 4:16; Jeremiah 52:18-19, but not in regard to any sacred use. They were used, with other vessels, for dressing the victims 2 Chronicles 35:13 for the partakers of the sacrifices. These were to be sacred, like those made for the most sacred use of all, "the bowls for sprinkling," whence, that sacrificial blood was taken, which was to make the typical atonement.

20. shall there be upon the bells—namely, this inscription, "Holiness to the Lord," the same as was on the miter of the high priest (Ex 28:36). This implies that all things, even the most common, shall be sacred to Jehovah, and not merely the things which under the law had peculiar sanctity attached to them. The "bells" were metal plates hanging from the necks of horses and camels as ornaments, which tinkled (as the Hebrew root means) by striking against each other. Bells attached to horses are found represented on the walls of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik.

pots … like … bowls—the vessels used for boiling, for receiving ashes, &c., shall be as holy as the bowls used for catching the blood of the sacrificial victims (see on [1191]Zec 9:15; 1Sa 2:14). The priesthood of Christ will be explained more fully both by the Mosaic types and by the New Testament in that temple of which Ezekiel speaks. Then the Song of Solomon, now obscure, will be understood, for the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated in heaven (Re 19:1-21), and on earth it will be a Solomonic period, peaceful, glorious, and nuptial. There will be no king but a prince; the sabbatic period of the judges will return, but not with the Old Testament, but New Testament glory (Isa 1:26; Eze 45:1-25) [Roos].

In that day; when the nations are converted to God, as it is Zechariah 14:16.

Shall there be upon the bells of the horses; written as it were on every common thing; such as the bells, bridles. or collars, or stables of horses; in these very things, i.e. the use of them, they should make it appear they were for God and for his worship, wheresoever these things may serve or promote it.

Holiness unto the Lord: this was the inscription on the rich mitre of the Jewish high priest, denoting the great holiness of his office, and how lie was dedicated to God, and that he ought to keep himself holy in all things, especially in things of Divine worship. Now in these days of the gospel, when Gentiles are converted to Christ, made priests unto God, are made holy nations, a royal priesthood, the grace of God shall so abound and prevail, that common, ordinary things in the hands of Christians, much more their persons, shall hear the dedicating inscription of

Holiness to the Lord, and by their study of holiness they shall make good their motto.

The pots; which were used in the kitchens of the temple, for the use of the priest, and were not accounted so sacred as the utensils nearer to the sacrifices and altar.

Shall be like the bowls; which received the blood of the sacrifices, and retained it, until the ministering priest had finished his service, and sprinkled it as commanded: now these, as appropriated to be used nearer to the altar, were more esteemed as more holy; so should holiness in these days spoken of exceed the holiness of those former days.

MALACHI

THE ARGUMENT

Concerning this prophet, some have thought (but without good and sufficient ground) that he was an angel in the form of a man; others think him to be Ezra; but as it is the plainer, so the surer, opinion that he was a prophet of that name, and a man distinct from Ezra, and sent the last of all the prophets. His time of appearing among the Jews cannot be determined precisely, but it is best guessed to have been about the times of Nehemiah’s reforming the strange marriages, Nehemiah 13:23,28, with Malachi 2:11, and when he reformed the sacrilegious detaining of tithes, Nehemiah 13:10,11, with Malachi 3:8, as Doctor Lightfoot observeth. Now this reformation of Nehemiah was about A.M. 3519, as Doctor Lightfoot, or 3545, as Helvicus, or 3589, as Archbishop Usher’s Annals. Whatever was his time of appearing, it is certain he lived in a very vicious age, in which priests as well as people were leavened with either perverse thoughts of the Divine Providence, or brutish atheism, denying the Deity and Providence, contemptuous thoughts of the worship of God, sacrilegious practices, robbing God of tithes and offerings, shameless justifying these their practices, boundless or monstrous unfaithfulness to their wives, casting off Jewish to marry Gentile wives, or else superinducing the Gentile women, and enslaving the Jewish to them; casting off the law of God, or, which is equally bad, if not worse, wresting it to their own sinful sentiments. All which he doth severely reprove, and requires them to reform, and foretells the day of the Messiah’s coming to sit as a refiner and purifier; whose appearing such sinners and sins would not be able to bear; and tells them of his forerunner, who in the spirit and power of Elias should come, and prepare a people for the Messiah: till then, (as their duty was,) he commands them in the name and by authority from God, that they remember the law of Moses, which God commanded in Horeb; hereby intimating some great change in the law at the coming of the Messiah; and intimating also, that they should expect no more prophet till the Great Prophet himself should come unto them.

MALACHI CHAPTER 1

God by Malachi complaineth of Israel’s ingratitude, Malachi 1:1-5 and of the profane disrespect shown to God’s worship, Malachi 1:6-13. The curse of corrupt offerings; Malachi 1:14.

The burden: see Zechariah 9:1 Nahum 1:1. Usually it imports sad threats against those concerned in it, though sometimes it may be no more than the message of God.

Of the word of the Lord: the authority was Divine on which this prophet spake.

Malachi: my messenger, (saith the Lord,) so the Hebrew sounds. My angel, as some, though they err who take him to be an angel conversing with Jews in the form of a man; but angel, taken in the grammatical sense, i.e. messenger, he was, and God’s messenger, the last of the prophets sent to Israel before the great Prophet Messiah came. That he was Mordecai, or Ezra, as some conjecture without good ground, or who he was, of what tribe or family, the Scripture gives us no account, and we make no guess. His prophecy is of Divine authority, and so cited by three of the four evangelists, Matthew 11:10 Mark 1:2 Luke 1:16; and by St. Paul, Romans 9:13.

MALACHI

THE ARGUMENT

Concerning this prophet, some have thought (but without good and sufficient ground) that he was an angel in the form of a man; others think him to be Ezra; but as it is the plainer, so the surer, opinion that he was a prophet of that name, and a man distinct from Ezra, and sent the last of all the prophets. His time of appearing among the Jews cannot be determined precisely, but it is best guessed to have been about the times of Nehemiah’s reforming the strange marriages, Nehemiah 13:23,28, with Malachi 2:11, and when he reformed the sacrilegious detaining of tithes, Nehemiah 13:10,11, with Malachi 3:8, as Doctor Lightfoot observeth. Now this reformation of Nehemiah was about A.M. 3519, as Doctor Lightfoot, or 3545, as Helvicus, or 3589, as Archbishop Usher’s Annals. Whatever was his time of appearing, it is certain he lived in a very vicious age, in which priests as well as people were leavened with either perverse thoughts of the Divine Providence, or brutish atheism, denying the Deity and Providence, contemptuous thoughts of the worship of God, sacrilegious practices, robbing God of tithes and offerings, shameless justifying these their practices, boundless or monstrous unfaithfulness to their wives, casting off Jewish to marry Gentile wives, or else superinducing the Gentile women, and enslaving the Jewish to them; casting off the law of God, or, which is equally bad, if not worse, wresting it to their own sinful sentiments. All which he doth severely reprove, and requires them to reform, and foretells the day of the Messiah’s coming to sit as a refiner and purifier; whose appearing such sinners and sins would not be able to bear; and tells them of his forerunner, who in the spirit and power of Elias should come, and prepare a people for the Messiah: till then, (as their duty was,) he commands them in the name and by authority from God, that they remember the law of Moses, which God commanded in Horeb; hereby intimating some great change in the law at the coming of the Messiah; and intimating also, that they should expect no more prophet till the Great Prophet himself should come unto them.

MALACHI CHAPTER 1

God by Malachi complaineth of Israel’s ingratitude, Malachi 1:1-5 and of the profane disrespect shown to God’s worship, Malachi 1:6-13. The curse of corrupt offerings; Malachi 1:14.

The burden: see Zechariah 9:1 Nahum 1:1. Usually it imports sad threats against those concerned in it, though sometimes it may be no more than the message of God.

Of the word of the Lord: the authority was Divine on which this prophet spake.

Malachi: my messenger, (saith the Lord,) so the Hebrew sounds. My angel, as some, though they err who take him to be an angel conversing with Jews in the form of a man; but angel, taken in the grammatical sense, i.e. messenger, he was, and God’s messenger, the last of the prophets sent to Israel before the great Prophet Messiah came. That he was Mordecai, or Ezra, as some conjecture without good ground, or who he was, of what tribe or family, the Scripture gives us no account, and we make no guess. His prophecy is of Divine authority, and so cited by three of the four evangelists, Matthew 11:10 Mark 1:2 Luke 1:16; and by St. Paul, Romans 9:13. In that day,.... After the destruction of antichrist and all the antichristian party, and a new state of things will take place, either the spiritual or personal reign of Christ:

shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS TO THE LORD; as was upon the mitre of the high priest, Exodus 28:36 to which there seems to be an allusion here: or, "upon the trappings of the horses" (e), as the Targum renders it; and this intends either the horses slain in war, whose bells or trappings should be devoted and applied to holy uses; or the horses that carried the people up to Jerusalem to worship there, or horses in common. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it, "on the bridle of the horse shall be Holiness to the Lord"; that is, they should be devoted to his service, which sometimes were very richly adorned; yea, were of gold; as those described by Virgil (f); nay, they were adorned with precious stones, with pearls, emeralds, and jacinths, insomuch that the Romans were obliged to restrain this luxury by a law (g). The conceit of some of the fathers, that this refers to one of the nails in the cross of Christ, which Constantine put into his horse's bridle, is justly ridiculed and exploded by most commentators. It seems best to render the word as we do, "bells", as Kimchi and Jarchi interpret it; since it is used of cymbals made of brass, which were to make a sound to be heard, 1 Chronicles 15:19 and of the same metal were the horses' bells made; though those which the mules at the funeral of Alexander had at each jaw were made of gold (h); as were those Aaron had at the hem of his robe. The use of these bells on horses, according to Gussetius (i), in the eastern countries, where they travelled through deserts, and had no beaten track, was to keep them together, and that they might be known where they were when parted; and of like use are they now to horses of burden or packhorses with us; though in common use they seem to serve to give horses a pleasure, and quicken them in their work: but the original of them seems to be for the training of horses for war, and therefore they hung bells to their bridles, to use them to a noise, and to try if they could bear a noise, and the tumult of war, so as not to throw their riders, or expose them to danger (k); hence one that has not been tried or trained up to anything is called by the Greeks one not used to the noise of a bell, by a metaphor taken from horses, that have never been tried by the sound of bells, whether they can bear the noise of war without fear (l): and so it may signify, that these, and all the apparatus of war, all kind of armour, should no more be made use of for such purposes, there being now universal peace in the kingdom of Christ; wherefore these, and the like, should be converted to sacred uses, just as swords, at the same time, shall be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks, for civil uses, Isaiah 2:4 or, since Holiness to the Lord is said to be upon them, the sense may be, that holiness will be very general among all men; all professing people will be righteous; it will appear in all their actions, civil as well as religious; it will be as visible as the bells upon the horses, by their frequent going to the house of God; their constant attendance on public worship; their walking in the ways of the Lord, and their love to one another.

And the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar; the "pots" in which they boiled the sacrifices shall be like "the bowls before the altar", which held the blood of the sacrifices to be sprinkled; either like them for number; they shall be many, like them, as the Targum paraphrases it; or for goodness, being made of the same metal: and the whole denotes the number, holiness, and excellency of the saints in the latter day, who will direct all their actions to the glory of God, whether in eating or drinking, or in whatever they do.

(e) "in phaleris", Tigurine version. (f) "Aurea pectoribus demissa monilia pendent, Tecti auro, fulvum mandunt sub dentibus aurum." Virgil. Aeneid. l. 7. "Fraenaque bina meus, quae nunc habet aurea Pallas." Aeneid. l. 3.((g) Vid. Salmuth in Pancirol. Rer. Memorab. par. 1. tit. 48. p. 231. (h) See Calmet's Dictionary, in the word "Bella". (i) Ebr. Comment. p. 715. (k) Scholiast. Aristophan. in Ranis, Acts 1. Sc. 2. p. 214. Salmuth in Pancirol. par. 2. tit. 9. De Campanis, p. 161. Hospinian. de Templis, l. 2. c. 26. p. 333. (l) Vid. Scapulae Lexic. in voce "et alios lexicograph".

In that day there shall be upon the {r} bells of the horses, HOLINESS TO THE LORD; and the {s} pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.

(r) Signifying to whatever service they were put now

(whether to labour, or to serve in war), they were now holy, because the Lord had sanctified them.

(s) The one as precious as the other, because they will be sanctified.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Holiness unto the Lord] Holy unto the Lord, R. V., and so in Zechariah 14:21; Exodus 28:36.

pots in the Lord’s house] 1 Samuel 2:14; 2 Chronicles 35:13.

bowls before the altar] chap. Zechariah 9:15, note.

20, 21. The perfect and crowning holiness of Jerusalem and Judah

The ornaments of worldly pomp and warlike power shall be as truly consecrated as the very mitre of the High Priest, and every vessel used in the meanest service of the Temple as holy as the vessels of the altar itself, Zechariah 14:20. Nay every common vessel throughout the city and the whole land shall be so holy as to be meet for the service of the sanctuary, and every profane person shall be for ever banished from the house of the Lord, Zechariah 14:21.Verses 20, 21. - § 10. Then everything alike shall be holy, and the ungodly shall be altogether excluded from the house of the Lord. Verse 20. - Upon the bells of the horses. The prophet, describing the holiness of the theocracy, uses imagery drawn from the ritual customs of the Law. "The bells," says Henderson, "were small metallic plates, suspended from the necks or heads of horses and camels, for the sake of ornament, and making a tinkling noise by striking against each other like cymbals." Probably these plates had the names of the owners engraven on them. The Septuagint gives "bridle," which possibly the unusual word metzilloth may mean. HOLINESS (holy) UNTO THE LORD; Sanctum Domino (Vulgate); Ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ παντοκράτορι (Septuagint). This was the inscription upon the golden plate on the mitre of the high priest (Exodus 28:36). The affixing of this inscription on the trappings of horses signifies that the commonest things shall become holy, all things that men use for work, profit, or ornament shall be consecrated to God's service. The pots in the Lord's house. The "pots" are vessels of inferior sanctity used for boiling the meat of the sacrifice (1 Samuel 2:14; 2 Chronicles 35:13). The bowls before the altar. These held the blood of the victims for sprinkling on the altar, and the sacred libations, and were considered of superior sanctity. The prophet announces that now all shall be holy, the lower equal to the highest. The interpretation of this vision must therefore be founded upon the meaning of the golden candlestick in the symbolism of the tabernacle, and be in harmony with it. The prophet receives, first of all, the following explanation, in reply to his question on this point: Zechariah 4:4. "And I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? Zechariah 4:5. And the angel that talked with me answered and said to me, Knowest thou not what these are? And I said, No, my lord. Zechariah 4:6. Then he answered and spake to me thus: This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, and not by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts. Zechariah 4:7. Who art thou, O great mountain before Zerubbabel? Into a plain! And He will bring out the top-stone amidst shoutings, Grace, grace unto it!" The question addressed by the prophet to the mediating angel, "What are these?" (mâh 'ēlleh, as in Zechariah 2:2) does not refer to the two olive trees only (Umbreit, Kliefoth), but to everything described in Zechariah 4:2 and Zechariah 4:3. We are not warranted in assuming that the prophet, like every other Israelite, knew what the candlestick with its seven lamps signified; and even if Zechariah had been perfectly acquainted with the meaning of the golden candlestick in the holy place, the candlestick seen by him had other things beside the two olive trees which were not to be found in the candlestick of the temple, viz., the gullâh and the pipes for the lamps, which might easily make the meaning of the visionary candlestick a doubtful thing. And the counter-question of the angel, in which astonishment is expressed, is not at variance with this. For that simply presupposes that the object of these additions is so clear, that their meaning might be discovered from the meaning of the candlestick itself. The angel then gives him the answer in Zechariah 4:6 : "This (the vision as a symbolical prophecy) is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might," etc. That is to say, through this vision Zerubbabel is informed that it - namely, the work which Zerubbabel has taken in hand or has to carry out - will not be effected by human strength, but by the Spirit of God. The work itself is not mentioned by the angel, but is referred to for the first time in Zechariah 4:7 in the words, "He will bring out the top-stone," and then still more clearly described in the word of Jehovah in Zechariah 4:9 : "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house (the temple), and his hands will finish it." It by no means follows from this that the candlestick, with its seven lamps, represented Zerubbabel's temple (Grotius, Hofmann); for whilst it is impossible that the candlestick, as one article of furniture in the temple, should be a figurative representation of the whole temple, what could the two olive trees, which supplied the candlestick with oil, signify with such an interpretation? Still less can the seven lamps represent the seven eyes of God (Zechariah 4:10), according to which the candlestick would be a symbol of God or of the Spirit (Hitzig, Maurer, Schegg). The significance of the candlestick in the holy place centred, as I have shown in my biblische Archologie (i. p. 107), in its seven lamps, which were lighted every evening, and burned through the night. The burning lamps were a symbol of the church or of the nation of God, which causes the light of its spirit, or of its knowledge of God, to shine before the Lord, and lets it stream out into the night of a world estranged from God. As the disciples of Christ were called, as lights of the world (Matthew 5:14), to let their lamps burn and shine, or, as candlesticks in the world (Luke 12:35; Philippians 2:15), to shine with their light before men (Matthew 5:16), so as the church of the Old Testament also. The correctness of this explanation of the meaning of the candlestick is placed beyond all doubt by Revelation 1:20, where the seven λυχνίαι, which John saw before the throne of God, are explained as being the seven ἐκκλησίαι, which represent the new people of God, viz., the Christian church. The candlestick itself merely comes into consideration here as the stand which carried the lamps, in order that they might shine, and as such was the divinely appointed form for the realization of the purpose of the shining lamps. In this respect it might be taken as a symbol of the kingdom of God on its formal side, i.e., of the divinely appointed organism for the perpetuation and life of the church. But the lamps received their power to burn from the oil, with which they had to be filled before they could possibly burn.

Oil, regarded according to its capacity to invigorate the body and increase the energy of the vital spirits, is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the Spirit of God, not in its transcendent essence, but so far as it works in the world, and is indwelling in the church; and not merely the anointing oil, as Kliefoth supposes, but also the lamp oil, since the Israelites had no other oil than olive oil even for burning, and this was used for anointing also.

(Note: The distinction between lamp oil and anointing oil, upon which Kliefoth founds his interpretation of the visionary candlestick, and which he tries to uphold from the language itself, by the assertion that the anointing oil is always called shemen, whereas the lamp oil is called yitshâr, is shown to be untenable by the simple fact that, in the minute description of the preparation of the lamp oil for the sacred candlestick, and the repeated allusion to this oil in the Pentateuch, the term yitshâr is never used, but always shemen, although the word yitshâr is by no means foreign to the Pentateuch, but occurs in Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 12:17, and other passages. According to Exodus 27:20, the lamp oil for the candlestick was to be prepared from shemen zayith zâkh kâthı̄th, pure, beaten olive oil (so also according to Leviticus 24:2); and according to Exodus 30:24, shemen zayith, olive oil, was to be used for anointing oil. Accordingly the lamp oil for the candlestick is called shemen lammâ'ōr in Exodus 25:6; Exodus 35:8, Exodus 35:28, and shemen hammâ'ōr in Exodus 35:14; Exodus 39:37, and Numbers 4:16; and the anointing oil is called shemen hammishchâh in Exodus 29:7; Exodus 31:11; Exodus 35:15; Exodus 39:38; Exodus 40:9; Leviticus 8:20, Leviticus 8:10, and other passages; and shemen miwshchath-qōdesh in Exodus 30:25. Apart from Zechariah 4:14 of the chapter before us, yitshâr is never used for the lamp oil as such, but simply in the enumeration of the productions of the land, or of the tithes and first-fruits, when it occurs in connection with tı̄rōsh, must or new wine (Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 18:4; Deuteronomy 28:51; 2 Chronicles 31:5; 2 Chronicles 32:28; Nehemiah 5:11; Nehemiah 10:39; Nehemiah 13:12; Hosea 2:9, Hosea 2:22; Joel 1:10; Joel 2:19, Joel 2:24; Jeremiah 31:12; Haggai 1:11), but never in connection with yayin (wine), with which shemen is connected (1 Chronicles 12:40; 2 Chronicles 2:14; 2 Chronicles 11:11; Proverbs 21:17; Jeremiah 40:10). It is evident from this that yitshâr, the shining, bears the same relation to shemen, fatness, as tı̄rōsh, must, to yayin, wine, - namely, that yitshâr is applied to oil as the juice of the olive, i.e., as the produce of the land, from its shining colour, whilst shemen is the name given to it when its strength and use are considered. Hengstenberg's opinion, that yitshâr is the rhetorical or poetical name for oil, has no real foundation in the circumstance that yitshâr only occurs once in the first four books of the Pentateuch (Numbers 18:12) and shemen occurs very frequently; whereas in Deuteronomy yitshâr is used more frequently than shemen, viz., the former six times, and the latter four.)

And in the case of the candlestick, the oil comes into consideration as a symbol of the Spirit of God. There is no force in Kliefoth's objection - namely, that inasmuch as the oil of the candlestick was to be presented by the people, it could not represent the Holy Spirit with its power and grace, as coming from God to man, but must rather represent something human, which being given up to God, is cleansed by God through the fire of His word and Spirit; and being quickened thereby, is made into a shining light. For, apart from the fact that the assumption upon which this argument is founded - namely, that in the oil of the candlestick the Spirit of God was symbolized by the altar fire with which it was lighted - is destitute of all scriptural support, since it is not mentioned anywhere that the lamps of the candlestick were lighted with fire taken from the altar of burnt-offering, but it is left quite indefinite where the light or fire for kindling the lamps was to be taken from; apart, I say, from this, such an argument proves too much (nimium, ergo nihil), because the anointing oil did not come directly from God, but was also presented by the people. Supposing, therefore, that this circumstance was opposed to the symbolical meaning of the lamp oil, it would also be impossible that the anointing oil should be a symbol of the Holy Ghost, since not only the oil, but the spices also, which were used in preparing the anointing oil, were given by the people (Exodus 25:6). We might indeed say, with Kliefoth, that "the oil, as the fatness of the fruit of the olive tree, is the last pure result of the whole of the vital process of the olive tree, and therefore the quintessence of its nature; and that man also grows, and flourishes, and bears fruit like an olive tree; and therefore the fruit of his life's fruit, the produce of his personality and of the unfolding of his life, may be compared to oil." But it must also be added (and this Kliefoth has overlooked), that the olive tree could not grow, flourish, and bear fruit, unless God first of all implanted or communicated the power to grow and bear fruit, and then gave it rain and sunshine and the suitable soil for a prosperous growth. And so man also requires, for the production of spiritual fruits of life, not only the kindling of this fruit by the fire of the word and Spirit of God, but also the continued nourishment and invigoration of this fruit through God's word and Spirit, just as the lighting and burning of the lamps are not effected simply by the kindling of the flame, but it is also requisite that the oil should possess the power to burn and shine. In this double respect the candlestick, with its burning and shining lamps, was a symbol of the church of God, which lets the fruit of its life, which is not only kindled but also nourished by the Holy Spirit, shine before God. And the additions made to the visionary candlestick indicate generally, that the church of the Lord will be supplied with the conditions and requirements necessary to enable it to burn and shine perpetually, i.e., that the daughter of Zion will never fail to have the Spirit of God, to make its candlestick bright. (See at Zechariah 4:14.)

There is no difficulty whatever in reconciling the answer of the angel in Zechariah 4:6 with the meaning of the candlestick, as thus unfolded according to its leading features, without having to resort to what looks like a subterfuge, viz., the idea that Zechariah 4:6 does not contain an exposition, but passes on to something new, or without there being any necessity to account, as Koehler does, for the introduction of the candlestick, which he has quite correctly explained (though he weakens the explanation by saying that it applies primarily to Zerubbabel), namely, by assuming that "it was intended, on the one hand, to remind him what the calling of Israel was; and, on the other hand, to admonish him that Israel could never reach this calling by the increase of its might and the exaltation of its strength, but solely by suffering itself to be filled with the Spirit of Jehovah." For the candlestick does not set forth the object after which Israel is to strive, but symbolizes the church of God, as it will shine in the splendour of the light received through the Spirit of God. It therefore symbolizes the future glory of the people of God. Israel will not acquire this through human power and might, but through the Spirit of the Lord, in whose power Zerubbabel will accomplish the work he has begun. Zechariah 4:7 does not contain a new promise for Zerubbabel, that if he lays to heart the calling of Israel, and acts accordingly, i.e., if he resists the temptation to bring Israel into a free and independent position by strengthening its external power, the difficulties which have lain in the way of the completion of the building of the temple will clear away of themselves by the command of Jehovah (Koehler). For there is not the slightest intimation of any such temptation as that supposed to have presented itself to Zerubbabel, either in the vision itself or in the historical and prophetical writings of that time. Moreover, Zechariah 4:7 has not at all the form of a promise, founded upon the laying to heart of what has been previously mentioned. The contents of the verse are not set forth as anything new either by נאם יהוה (saith Jehovah), or by any other introductory formula. It can only be a further explanation of the word of Jehovah, which is still covered by the words "saith Jehovah of hosts" at the close of Zechariah 4:6. The contents of the verse, when properly understood, clearly lead to this. The great mountain before Zerubbabel is to become a plain, not by human power, but by the Spirit of Jehovah. The meaning is given in the second hemistich: He (Zerubbabel) will bring out the top-stone. והוציא (is not a simple preterite, "he has brought out the foundation-stone" (viz., at the laying of the foundation of the temple), as Hengstenberg supposes, but a future, "he will bring out," as is evident from the Vav consec., through which הוציא is attached to the preceding command as a consequence to which it leads. Moreover, אבן הראשׁה does not mean the foundation-stone, which is called אבן פּנּה, lit., corner-stone (Job 38:6; Isaiah 28:16; Jeremiah 51:26), or ראשׁ פּנּה, the head-stone of the corner (Psalm 118:22), but the stone of the top, i.e., the finishing or gable stone (הראשׁה with raphe as a feminine form of ראשׁ, and in apposition to האבן). הוציא, to bring out, namely out of the workshop in which it had been cut, to set it in its proper place in the wall. That these words refer to the finishing of the building of the temple which Zerubbabel had begun, is placed beyond all doubt by Zechariah 4:9.

The great mountain, therefore, is apparently "a figure denoting the colossal difficulties, which rose up mountain high at the continuation and completion of the building of the temple." Koehler adopts this explanation in common with "the majority of commentators." But, notwithstanding this appearance, we must adhere to the view adopted by the Chald., Jerome, Theod. Mops., Theodoret, Kimchi, Luther, and others, that the great mountain is a symbol of the power of the world, or the imperial power, and see no difficulty in the "unwarrantable consequence" spoken of by Koehler, viz., that in that case the plain must be a symbol of the kingdom of God (see, on the contrary, Isaiah 40:4). For it is evident from what follows, that the passage refers to something greater than this, namely to the finishing of the building of the temple that has already begun, or to express it briefly and clearly, that the building of the temple of stone and wood is simply regarded as a type of the building of the kingdom of God, as Zechariah 4:9 clearly shows. There was a great mountain standing in the way of this building of Zerubbabel's - namely the power of the world, or the imperial power - and this God would level to a plain. Just as, in the previous vision, Joshua is introduced as the representative of the high-priesthood, so here Zerubbabel, the prince of Judah, springing from the family of David, comes into consideration not as an individual, but according to his official rank as the representative of the government of Israel, which is now so deeply humbled by the imperial power. But the government of Israel has no reality or existence, except in the government of Jehovah. The family of David will rise up into a new royal power and glory in the Tsemach, whom Jehovah will bring forth as His servant (Zechariah 3:8). This servant of Jehovah will fill the house of God, which Zerubbabel has built, with glory. In order that this may be done, Zerubbabel must build the temple, because the temple is the house in which Jehovah dwells in the midst of His people. On account of this importance of the temple in relation to Israel, the opponents of Judah sought to throw obstacles in the way of its being built; and these obstacles were a sign and prelude of the opposition which the imperial power of the world, standing before Zerubbabel as a great mountain, will offer to the kingdom of God. This mountain is to become a plain. What Zerubbabel the governor of Judah has begun, he will bring to completion; and as he will finish the building of the earthly temple, so will the true Zerubbabel, the Messiah, Tsemach, the servant of Jehovah, build the spiritual temple, and make Israel into a candlestick, which is supplied with oil by two olive trees, so that its lamps may shine brightly in the world. In this sense the angel's reply gives an explanation of the meaning of the visionary candlestick. Just as, according to the economy of the Old Testament, the golden candlestick stood in the holy place of the temple before the face of Jehovah, and could only shine there, so does the congregation, which is symbolized by the candlestick, need a house of God, that it may be able to cause its light to shine. This house is the kingdom of God symbolized by the temple, which was to be built by Zerubbabel, not by human might and power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. In this building the words "He will bring forth the top-stone" find their complete and final fulfilment. The finishing of this building will take place תּשׁאות חן חן להּ, i.e., amidst loud cries of the people, "Grace, grace unto it." תּשׁאות is an accusative of more precise definition, or of the attendant circumstances (cf. Ewald, 204, a), and signifies noise, tumult, from שׁוא equals שׁאה, a loud cry (Job 39:7; Isaiah 22:2). The suffix לּהּ refers, so far as the form is concerned, to האבן הראשׁה, but actually to habbayith, the temple which is finished with the gable-stone. To this stone (so the words mean) may God direct His favour or grace, that the temple may stand for ever, and never be destroyed again.

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