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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Zechariah 4

Verse 6


Zechariah 4:6. This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.

MANY parts of the prophetic writings are extremely dark: but many, which appear dark, would become clear, if we were contented to explain their main scope, without descending to every particular contained in them. Indeed they are, for the most part, explained by God himself; so far, at least, as to leave us in no doubt respecting their general import. The vision before us appears to be of difficult interpretation: to the Jews, methinks, it was altogether inexplicable; but the design of it was plainly declared in the words which we have just read: and, indeed, the declaration of its chief design reflects no inconsiderable light on every part of it. Perhaps we may say, that the lamps are the Church of God; the oil which feeds them is the Holy Spirit; the pipes conveying it are the ordinances; the bowl which supplies those pipes is the Gospel; and the olive-trees, which pour continually their sacred stores into the bowl, are the Lord Jesus Christ, in his offices of Priest and Prophet [Note: See this more fully treated, in the Discourse on ver. 11–14.]. But, supposing we are mistaken in the precise meaning which we have assigned to these several parts, the import of the whole together is perfectly clear. You perceive that these lamps are kept alight, not by human agency, in any respect: the oil is secretly conveyed, from God himself, to every lamp, through the means of his own appointment: and this is the precise meaning which God himself, by his angel, annexes to the vision: “Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, asying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

Let us consider these words,


In reference to the work which was then in hand—

Zechariah was sent to encourage the Jews to rebuild their city and temple. Great opposition was made to them; so that they despaired of ever accomplishing so great a work. But God, by this vision, instructed the prophet what to say unto them. He was to shew them,


That they needed not to desire the aid of men, nor to fear their opposition—

[Men are only what God is pleased to make them. They can do neither good nor evil, any further than he for his own glory enables them to do it. He had not sent armies to deliver them from Egypt: nor could all the power of Pharaoh detain them there. Nor had he brought them out of Babylon by human might or power. Mighty as the Chaldean empire was, and powerful as were the Medo-Persian conquerors of that empire, he had brought them forth, without force, to their native land: and therefore they should bear in mind how impotent the creature was, either to effect or prevent any thing, but in perfect accordance with his purpose, and in subserviency to his will.]


That they needed only to trust in Him alone—

[Nothing in the vision could either promote or obstruct the supplies of oil from the olives to the lamp: yet not a lamp was left destitute, or ceased to exhibit a splendid light. The Spirit of God did all; and kept alive the lamps, by a secret, continued, and effectual communication. It was the Spirit, that, by operating on the hearts of men, supplied every part of the furniture belonging to the tabernacle [Note: Exodus 35:21-22; Exodus 35:26.]. It was the Spirit alone that moved the heart of Cyrus to issue his proclamation for their return from Babylon [Note: 2 Chronicles 36:22-23.]. And it was the same Spirit that raised up Zerubbabel, and inspired them with a zeal to forward the great work which they had in hand [Note: Haggai 1:14.]. And was He not still as able as ever to accomplish his own gracious purposes? or did they need to indulge either hope or fear with respect to man, when they had the Almighty God for their help?]

But, as the words are spoken generally, let us consider them more at large,


In reference to the work which was therein typified—

The whole work of redemption from Babylon was typical; and had respect to,


1. The establishment of Christianity in the world—

[What was then done for the Lord in the erection of a material temple, was done by Jesus Christ in the formation of a spiritual temple, “of which the Prophets and Apostles were the foundation, and he himself the Chief Corner-stone; and the whole being fitly framed together, is continually growing up a holy temple to the Lord [Note: Ephesians 2:19-22.].” But how has this been built? or how is it carried on? Is it, or has it at any time been, by might or by power? Who instructed the Prophets and Apostles? Who gave effect to their word? Who digs out the stones from the quarry, if I may so speak, and fits them for their places in this spiritual building [Note: 1 Peter 2:5-6.]? It is the Spirit of God altogether. The powers of the world have been exerted to the uttermost against it: yea, men and devils have been confederate against it from the very beginning: but “it is founded on a rock; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”]


The maintenance of religion in the souls of men—

[The soul of every individual believer is a temple of the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:16.]. But every such temple is “the workmanship of Jehovah” altogether [Note: Ephesians 2:10.]: it is a new creation. In the natural man there is not any thing of which such a building can be formed: there is not in him either power or inclination to serve God: it is the Spirit of God alone that “gives him either to will or to do, and that altogether of his own good pleasure.” Human power has no part in effecting it: “We are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [Note: John 1:13.].” “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy [Note: Romans 9:16.]:” and, in the bestowment of his blessings, “the Spirit divideth to every man severally as he will [Note: 1 Corinthians 12:11.].”]


The future restoration of the Jews—

[The restoration from Babylon was but a partial accomplishment of what is to be more completely fulfilled at a future period. If we look into the prophecies of Zechariah, we shall find that he peculiarly and pre-eminently delights to dwell on this subject [Note: Compare chap. 1:16, 17 and 2:10–12 and 6:12–15 and especially the whole 8th chapter.]. And how shall this future restoration be effected? Not by human might or power; for all the power of man will be exerted to prevent it [Note: Micah 4:11-13.]; but by the power of the Holy Ghost: for the Prophet Hosea, speaking of the time when “the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall he gathered together and appoint themselves one head, and shall come out of the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel,” says expressly, “I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God; and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen [Note: Hosea 1:7; Hosea 1:11.].”]

Thus we have ascertained the import of the declaration before us. Now let us proceed to the improvement of it.

It is clear, that when Almighty God saw fit to give a special vision to his servant, for the express purpose of fixing more deeply on his mind, and on the minds of the Jewish people, this particular truth, it must deserve at our hands the strictest attention. Learn then from it,


On whom alone to depend—

[We are prone to creature-confidence, and to place our reliance on an arm of flesh. But God denounces a curse on all who indulge this propensity: “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, or that maketh flesh his arm; and whose heart departeth from the Lord [Note: Jeremiah 17:5.].” And the truly godly arc particularly distinguished by their victory over this sin: “We are the circumcision, who have no confidence in the flesh [Note: Philippians 3:3.].” It is not possible to divest ourselves of this propensity in too great a degree: for not even so small a matter as the falling of a sparrow takes place without the special direction of the Almighty. We see how dependent a little infant is on its mother; and such must we be in the arms of God. We must undertake nothing in our own strength: in no circumstances whatever may we lean to our own understanding: whatever is devised, or whatever is done, the creature must be nothing; but God must be all in all.]


To whom alone to give the glory of all that is done—

[We must not “sacrifice to our own net, or burn incense to our own drag [Note: Habakkuk 1:16.].” God is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another. When Herod was pleased with the adulation of his courtiers, and took honour to himself, instead of giving it to the Lord, he was smitten and eaten up with worms [Note: Acts 12:21-23.]. And we also shall be made monuments of his displeasure, if we ascribe not to Him the glory due unto his name. Whereinsoever our success has been, whether in temporal or spiritual concerns, this must be our invariable acknowledgment, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name, be the praise [Note: Psalms 115:1.].”]


In what light to view the very beginnings of grace—

[Were we left to accomplish any thing by our own might or power, we might well despond. But when we recollect that “all is of God,” and that “He is a Being that changeth not,” we may take comfort in the slightest expressions of his love, and in the smallest tokens of his grace. This is a very particular lesson to be learned from our text. We are “not to despise the day of small things [Note: ver. 10.]:” but to believe, that “He who has laid the foundation of good within us will also finish it [Note: ver. 9.].” And, if any enemy vaunt himself as sure to prevail against us, we should address him in that triumphant language, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain [Note: ver. 7.].” The communication between the olives and the lamps could not be intercepted by mortal man; nor can the effectual aids of the Holy Spirit be kept from us. These lessons, well learned, are worth a vision: for in the practice of them shall all imaginable good flow down unto us, and God eternally be glorified.]

Verse 7


Zechariah 4:7. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.

OUR eyes are generally fixed more on the creature than on God. Hence we are apt to entertain many unnecessary fears. Nor are we unfrequently diverted by them from the path of duty. This was the case with the Jews when rebuilding their temple. Cyrus had given them permission to rebuild it. But they met with opposition from their envious neighbours. And through this they were intimidated and disheartened. But God encouraged them with an assurance of success [Note: ver. 6, 7.]—

We may notice,


The difficulties that obstruct the building of God’s spiritual temple—

The temple at Jerusalem was typical of that, which God erects visibly in the world, and invisibly in the hearts of men [Note: In proof of this, see Eph 2:21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16.]—


The visible temple of the Church has much to obstruct its erection in the world—

[With what inconceivable difficulty are men hewn from the quarry, where they by nature lie! What an impenetrable hardness is there in their hearts! They pay little, if any, attention to the word of God. They set themselves against what is spoken to them in God’s name. Their state seems almost to destroy all hope that the Gospel should ever operate effectually among them. There is also much opposition made to them by all descriptions of people. Many pretended friends, as well as open enemies, strove to impede the building of the material temple [Note: Ezra 4:1-4.]. They sought to prevent it even by means of a legal process [Note: Ezra 4:5.]. Thus both force and stratagem are used to stop the progress of the Gospel, and the united opposition of all ranks of men seems like an impassable mountain in its way. Those too who are employed in erecting this spiritual temple, are weak and insufficient. The work might call forth all the wisdom and energy of angels; but God has put his “treasure into earthen vessels.” Even St. Paul cried, “Who is sufficient for these things?” Much more may inferior ministers adopt his language. Whoever knows his own insufficiency for so great a work, must often have felt it a source of discouragement, and almost of despondency.]


The invisible temple also which God is erecting in men’s hearts, is retarded by many difficulties and obstructions—

[The Christian finds many outward impediments. The terrors and allurements of the world have great influence, and every Christian is, more or less, beset with these. Many, after running well for a season, are turned aside by them: yea, all find them obstacles very difficult to be surmounted. He has also many inward difficulties to encounter. The believer still feels sad remains of corruption within him. These are ever counteracting the efforts of his better principle [Note: Galatians 5:17.], and he is often apprehensive that sin will regain its dominion. Above all, he finds his strength to he perfect weakness. He has learned by bitter experience, how weak he is. He has found, how his strongest resolutions have failed him. Hence he is led to fear, that he shall not persevere to the end.]

But whatever obstructions there be to God’s work, God will manifest,


Their utter inefficacy to arrest its progress—

God enabled Zerubbabel to proceed in spite of all opposition. Nor will He suffer any obstacles to counteract his designs—


The visible temple of his Church shall still be carried on—

[In the first ages of Christianity the Gospel was victorious. Neither the lusts nor prejudices of men could withstand its power. The very persecutions raised against it were overruled by Him to promote its progress [Note: Acts 8:1; Act 8:4 and Philippians 1:12-14.]: nor did the weakness of those who preached it prevent its success. That promise had then a glorious accomplishment [Note: Psalms 72:16.]—. So now neither open nor secret assaults shall prevail against the Church. Of this we are assured by Him who governs all [Note: Matthew 16:18.].]


The invisible temple also shall be advanced in our hearts—

[The work has hitherto been maintained, notwithstanding the most unpromising appearances. It has often been advanced by the very things which seemed most likely to counteract it. There is an invisible and Almighty Agent engaged to carry it on [Note: Isaiah 54:17. Psalms 138:8.]. He will fulfil what he has spoken by the prophet [Note: Luke 3:5.]—. Of this comforting truth we may be confidently assured [Note: Philippians 1:6.].]


In what manner we should regard difficulties—

[We are apt to exaggerate the difficulties that lie in our way; but, if we inspected them more narrowly, they would often appear contemptible. “Who art thou, O great mountain?” Art thou a fiery furnace, or a den of lions? I am ready to encounter thee: for, great as thou art, “thou art not worthy to be compared with the sufferings I shall escape, or the glory that shall follow [Note: Romans 8:18. Acts 21:13.].” However great they be, we should not be afraid to address them in the exulting language of the text. They will always, in the issue, be the means of glorifying Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.]. Let us therefore go forward in dependence on that promise [Note: “Fear not, thou worm Jacob.…Thou shalt thresh the mountains.” Isaiah 41:14-16. The whole passage is replete with beauty.]—.]


In what manner we may overcome difficulties—

[Remember who the Builder is: it is Zerubbabel, the Lord Jesus Christ; and is there any thing too hard for him? The greatest mountains before him will become a plain: he therefore must be viewed as our all-sufficient helper. If we trust in him, we shall never be disappointed. We shall surely experience the truth of that declaration [Note: Zechariah 4:9.]—. To him then let us commit ourselves with thankful adoration [Note: Jude, ver. 24, 25.].]

Verse 10


Zechariah 4:10. For who hath despised the day of small things?

IT is observable in the dispensations both of nature and of providence, that the greatest things take their rise from very small beginnings. From a view of a new-born infant we might be ready to imagine that it would never be capable of any exertions: but, when its faculties are strengthened and matured, it may astonish the world with its profound wisdom, or its heroic exploits. Thus in the dealings of God towards the Jewish nation, they were frequently so reduced, as to be, to all appearance, incapable of attaining that state, which their prophets had given them reason to expect. After their restoration from the Babylonish captivity, their difficulties seemed absolutely insurmountable: but God, in the passage before us, assured them, that the very person, who had laid the foundation of their temple, should live to finish it; and exhorted them not to despise the present small beginnings; for that, in spite of every obstacle, they should have a favourable termination; the temple and city should be rebuilt, and the nation be restored, in a measure at least, to its pristine grandeur. Thus in the literal sense this promise refers to the material temple at Jerusalem; but it may well be applied,


To the mystical temple which God has erected in the world—

The very names of “Zion” and “Jerusalem” are often given to the Church of Christ. Nor can there be a doubt, but that the history to which the text relates was a typical representation of Christ’s Church, which is brought out of bondage, and erected in the midst of unnumbered difficulties—
There have been many seasons when it has been “a day of small things” with the Church of God—
[If we look back to the days of Noah, Abraham, Elijah, and the prophets, we shall find that the true worshippers of God were so few as to be “for signs and wonders” in the age and nation where they lived [Note: Isaiah 8:18.]. After our Lord had preached for three or four years, the number of his disciples was no more than a hundred and twenty: and even at this day the are very few in comparison of those who serve mammon: they are “a little flock,” who walk in a “narrow and unfrequented way [Note: Matthew 7:14.].”]

But we must not “despise” the Church, however low it may appear—
[God has promised that his Church shall one day fill the world; that “all shall be righteous;” that “all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest;” and that “Christ shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost ends of the earth for his possession [Note: Psalms 2:8.].” True it is that there is very little prospect of such an event at present; but “faithful is he who hath promised: who also will do it [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:24.].” “Before our Zerubbabel the mountains shall become a plain [Note: ver. 7.];” he shall “ride on. in the chariots of the everlasting Gospel, conquering, and to conquer [Note: Revelation 6:2.];” and “the knowledge of him shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea [Note: Isaiah 11:9.]” Instead therefore of despising the present low appearances, we must regard them as an earnest and pledge of that universal empire of Christ which shall in due season be erected in the world.]

The text is yet further applicable,


To the spiritual temple which is founded by God in the hearts of his people—

Believers are often called the Temple of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.]: but so imperfect is their present state that it may well be said to be with them only as “a day of small things”—

[In some sense the most established believer is but in a low and despicable condition. What are any man’s attainments when compared with the law, which is our rule, or with Christ, who is our pattern, or even with Paul, who was a man of like passions with ourselves? But to weak believers the text may be more properly applied. They have indeed been liberated from their sore bondage, and have had the foundations of grace laid in their hearts; but alas! how slowly has the work advanced! and how many obstacles do they meet with, that weaken their hands, and discourage their hearts! often are they ready to question, whether the work have been begun in them or not? and to say in despair, “There is no hope.”]

But they should not despise the operations of grace, however small—
[The mode in which this part of the promise is conveyed, is worthy of notice. The interrogatory form of it puts the desponding soul, as it were, upon an inquiry, that by finding how important the day of small things is in the eyes of those who are competent to judge, it may not yield to its disquieting fears. Let the inquiry then be made; Who hath despised the day of small things? Did the Father, when he ran to meet the yet distant prodigal, and fell on his neck and kissed him? Does Christ, who “carries the lambs in his bosom,” and has promised never to “break the bruised reed,” though it be so unfit for his use, nor to “quench the smoking flax,” notwithstanding there is so much in it to disgust, and so little to please, him? Do the angels, who, instead of waiting till the penitent becomes established, shout for joy at the very first appearances of his conversion? Does Satan? Does he not act precisely like the kings of Canaan, who, the very instant they found the Gibeonites had made a league with Joshua, confederated to destroy them [Note: Joshua 10:1-5. This seems to have been a typical event.]? Yes; the moment we submit to Jesus, that roaring lion seeks, if possible, to devour us. If then they who best know the worth of true grace do not despise the very smallest portion of it, shall we? Shall we not rather value it, rejoice in it, adore our God for it, and take occasion from it to seek for more? Consider the author of it, God; his design in it, to make us his habitation; the benefits resulting from it, present peace and everlasting glory; and shall we despise it; especially when God himself has assured us, that, “wheresoever he has begun the good work, he will carry it on, and perfect it to the day of Christ [Note: Philippians 1:6.]?” Did he notice “some good thing” in the heart of young Abijah [Note: 1 Kings 14:13.], and will he forget you? Let not the thought be entertained one moment; but let the weak be strong, and the faint-hearted dissipate their fears; for behold, “the temple shall be built, though in troublous times [Note: Daniel 9:25.];” and “the head-stone thereof shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it!”]

To this encouraging subject we should subjoin a word or two of caution:

Do not mistake the day of small things—

[As the wheat and the tares may be mistaken for each other in the early stage of their growth, so may good purposes and good desires be easily mistaken for the operations of saving grace. Religion may be counterfeited so well, as, in some instances, to deceive an apostle [Note: Acts 8:13; Acts 8:21.]; and in ten thousand instances are men led from very false or equivocal appearances to fancy themselves possessed of the reality. To guard against so fatal an error, we should inquire whether the foundation be laid deep in humility and contrition; for, where this is not done, the superstructure, how beautiful soever it may appear, will inevitably fall, and bury us in its ruins.]


Do not think too highly of the day of small things—

[If we have solid grounds for believing that God has begun a good work in our hearts, we must still remember that much remains to be done: many conflicts must be sustained before we can get the victory; and “it ill becomes him who girds on the armour, to boast as one that puts it off [Note: 1 Kings 20:11.].” The difficulties which the builders of the material temple experienced, were shadows of those which we must expect in the divine life. Numberless are the devices of our subtle enemy; nor can we defeat his purposes, unless, while we build with one hand, we hold our sword in the other [Note: Nehemiah 4:17.]. Be not then high-minded, but fear; and, while you rejoice in what God has done for your souls, “rejoice with trembling.”]

Verses 11-14


Zechariah 4:11-14. Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive-branches, which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me, and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

VISIONS, under the Old Testament dispensation, were like parables under the New: they gave a shadowy representation of some important truths. They are frequently very obscure: yet there is almost invariably a clew given us, whereby to discover their real import; and not unfrequently an explanation of them is given by God himself. As in the parables, there will be sometimes found circumstances, the precise drift of which is not easy to be explained: but an attention to the main scope of the whole will keep us from ever deviating far from the true interpretation.
The vision which we are about to consider is certainly not very obvious at first sight; and it requires to be investigated with great sobriety of mind: but, when properly understood, it will richly repay the care we have used in the investigation of it. The prophet’s solicitude to understand it, shews us the propriety of inquiring into it with care and diligence. Let us therefore endeavour to ascertain,


The import of the vision—

The general scope of it is declared by God himself—

[The Prophet Zechariah was commissioned to encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua to proceed with the re-building of the temple, which had been long neglected. The Jews who had returned from Babylon were poor and feeble; whilst their adversaries were numerous and powerful. Hence they despaired of accomplishing, under such unfavourable circumstances, so great a work. But in this vision they were taught to look to God, who, if they confided in him, would assuredly crown their labours with success. With him on their side, they needed not either to regret the want of power in themselves, or to dread the existence of it in their adversaries, since he was almighty and all-sufficient for them. This was the construction which the prophet himself was taught to put upon the vision: “Knowest thou not what these be?” said the angel unto him: “And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts [Note: ver. 5, 6.].”]

The particular parts of it will be found to bear upon this point with much beauty and exactness—

[In the second and third verses we have the vision: “What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold, a candle-stick, all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which are upon the top thereof; and two olive-trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof.” In our text there is an additional circumstance mentioned, namely, that “the olive-branches empty out of themselves golden oil through the two golden pipes.” What the import of all this was, the prophet was very anxious to know; and therefore repeated his inquiries with a kind of holy impatience [Note: Mark the repetition, ver. 11, 12.]: and the answer given him was, “The two olive-trees are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” From this answer we may gather both the literal and mystical interpretation of the whole.

The literal import then was this. Zerubbabel and Joshua were the two persons anointed of God to superintend, the one the civil, and the other the ecclesiastical, affairs of the Jews at that time. They had but little power in themselves, yet were they ordained of God to effect great things: and God engaged through them to impart unto the people such supplies of wisdom and strength, as should enable the whole nation to shine with their former splendour. However weak therefore they were in themselves, they must not despair; for every mountain should, before Zerubbabel, become a plain.

The mystical import must be more minutely explained. It must never be forgotten that that whole dispensation was typical. The return of the Jews from Babylon, and the restoration of their civil and ecclesiastical polity, were typical of the deliverance of sinners from their spiritual bondage, and the establishment of the Redeemer’s kingdom in the world. Bearing this in mind, we shall see how this vision illustrates the purposes of God, in relation to the Church of Christ. The lamps are emblems of his Church, which shines as a light in a dark world. The pipes are the ordinances of religion, by means of which continual supplies of oil are imparted to them, that their light may never be extinguished. The bowl is the Gospel, which abounds with blessings for all, according to their several necessities. The oil is the Holy Spirit, by whom alone the light that has been set up can be kept alive. And the two olive-trees, from whence that oil spontaneously flows into the bowl, are the kingly and priestly offices of Christ, who, like Zerubbabel and Joshua, is appointed of God to establish Jerusalem, and to build the spiritual temple of the Lord. He is exalted to the right hand of God, and “stands by the Lord of the whole earth,” that he may carry on every thing in conformity with the Divine will, and accomplish, in due season, the work that has been committed to him. He himself, as the Messiah, the Christ, is the Anointed of the Lord; (the words Messiah and Christ both mean Anointed;) and from him flows “the unction of the Holy One,” by which all spiritual light and life are communicated to the Church [Note: 1 John 2:20-27.].]

The proof of these several points will be more advantageously adduced under the next head of our discourse, in which we propose to point out the proper improvement of the vision, or,


The instruction to be derived from it—

To ascertain this, we must bear in mind the scope of the vision: for, if we forget that, the whole interpretation of it may be thought fanciful: but, if we duly regard that, the whole instruction derived from the vision will appear sober, just, and pertinent. It teaches us, then,


That Christ is, by his offices, qualified to support and perfect his Church—

[The offices filled by Zerubbabel and Joshua both unite in Christ. He is the High Priest of his Church; and in that capacity he is now officiating at the right hand of God. He offered himself a sacrifice for us at the appointed time; and he is now entered with his own blood into the Holy of Holies, to plead the merit of that blood, and to make intercession for us before the mercy-seat of Jehovah. Hence he is called “The Apostle and High-Priest of our profession [Note: Hebrews 3:1.];” and it is from the consideration that we have such an High-Priest, that we are encouraged to hold fast our profession [Note: Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 9:11-12; Hebrews 10:21-22.]. Moreover he is a King; God has “set him as his King upon the holy hill of Zion [Note: Psalms 2:6.]” And to this the Apostle Peter bore witness on the day of Pentecost, saying, “God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ [Note: Acts 2:36.].” From the union of these two offices in him arises his ability to build his Church. Were either of them wanting, he would fail; but, by the concentration of infinite merit and almighty power in his sacred person, he is fully qualified for the work assigned him. This is particularly marked by Zechariah in a following chapter, where he says, “Behold the Man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord: even He shall build the Temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both [Note: Zechariah 6:12-13. It is remarkable, that in this passage, where our Lord is called a King and a Priest, he is particularly designated as The Branch.].” Thus standing by the Lord of the whole earth, and sustaining in himself the united offices of Zerubbabel and Joshua, he is really to the Church what they were in a shadow, the source of all that is necessary for her spiritual edification.”]


That the fulness which is in him is expressly committed to him, for the use and benefit of his Church—

[“It has pleased the Lord that in Him should all fulness dwell [Note: Colossians 1:19.].” But for whose sake is it committed to him? His own? No; but ours. He appears in heaven, not in a private, but public capacity, even as the Head of his Church. At his ascension thither he received gifts; and received them in order to impart them to rebellious man [Note: Compare Psalms 68:18. with Ephesians 4:8. “received,” “gave.”]. He ascended, on purpose “that he might fill all things [Note: Ephesians 4:10.].” He is the Head; and “the Church is his body, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all [Note: Ephesians 1:20-23.].” Hence we find, that when the Holy Ghost was poured forth on the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter confidently traced the gift to him, even to that very Jesus who had so recently been crucified as a malefactor: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses: therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear [Note: Acts 2:32-33.].” And to the same effect St. Paul also says, that God “saves us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour [Note: Titus 3:5-6.].” These passages reflect great light upon our text, inasmuch as they shew that Christ is the true source of all spiritual blessings to the Church; and that the Holy Spirit, with all his graces and consolations, flows from him according to the Father’s will, just as the oil in the vision dropped from the olive-trees into the bowl, for the continual supply of the lamps dependent on it.]


That in the use of his ordinances, we may expect all needful supplies—

[It was through the pipes only that the lumps received the oil; and it is through the ordinances only that we can receive “supplies of the Spirit from Jesus Christ [Note: Philippians 1:19.]”. He will be inquired of for all that he has promised us [Note: Ezekiel 36:37.]. “If we ask not, we cannot have [Note: James 4:2.].” We must wait upon him in private, reading his word, meditating upon it, and praying over it. We must wait upon him also in public, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” but expecting more particular manifestations of his love, and richer communications of his grace, through the medium of his preached Gospel. “Where two or three are met together in his name,“there it is that he sheds forth his Spirit in a more abundant measure [Note: Matthew 18:20.]. Verily, if we watch unto prayer, and abound therein with thanksgiving, we shall never be disappointed of our hope. We shall have just reason to say, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” “The hungry he will fill with good things: it is the rich only,” and the self-sufficient, “that he ever sends empty away.” “The diligent soul shall be made fat.”

And here let me observe, that, in the vision, the lamps, the pipes, the bowl, the oil, were all of gold. Those who wait upon the Lord in sincerity and truth are in themselves as superior to unregenerate men as gold is to the baser metals? And what is there of such value as the grace of which they have been made partakers? in comparison of it, all else is but as dung and dross. And are there not in the Gospel “unsearchable riches?” And may we not well say, that under the ordinances, whether public or private, we have enjoyed many golden opportunities? Yes indeed: and if we be careful to keep up the communication between Christ and our souls, we shall have all our wants abundantly supplied [Note: Philippians 4:19.], and the “salvation ministered unto us shall be as a lamp that burneth [Note: Isaiah 62:1.].”]


That however low our state may be, or powerful our enemies, His grace shall be sufficient for us—

[Of this were Zerubbabel and Joshua assured: and the event corresponded with the vision. Of this too may we be assured; for to us, no less than to St. Paul, does the Lord Jesus say, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Is that grace at present imparted in but a low degree? Still God says to us, “Who hath despised the day of small things [Note: ver. 10.]?” ‘I do not: and therefore let not any of you do it.’ Are our enemies exceeding powerful? God teaches us again to say, “Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain [Note: ver. 7.].” Have we an evidence in ourselves that the Lord Jesus Christ has begun a work of grace within us? God again teaches us to say, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house: his hands also shall finish it [Note: ver. 9.].” Shall it be thought that these passages relate only to that particular occasion? Look then to the New Testament, and there you will find all the same assurances and triumphs. We are told that “He, who has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith [Note: Hebrews 12:2.].” We may be confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in us, will perform it “until the day of Christ [Note: Philippians 1:10.].” And even now, whilst yet conflicting with our enemies, we may say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? Who is he that shall condemn? Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No: I am persuaded, that neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Note: Romans 8:31-39.].” “The plummet is in the hands of our Zerubbabel, with those seven” attendant spirits, “who are the eyes of the Lord, and run to and fro through the whole earth;” and he will see that the work is perfected in us according to his will [Note: ver. 10. with Zechariah 1:8-11.].

Look ye then, beloved, to our adorable Lord and Saviour, and let nothing interrupt your communication with him. It is your privilege to be daily and hourly “receiving, out of his fulness, grace,” according to the grace that is in him, and sufficient for all your necessities [Note: John 1:16.]. Do you feel your need of repentance, or pardon, or any blessing whatsoever? Know that “he is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins [Note: Acts 5:31.]:” and though you are not to expect the Holy Ghost to be imparted to you in his miraculous powers, you may in his gracious influences: yes, “ye shall receive the Holy Ghost; for the promise is to you, and to your children, and to as many as are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call [Note: Acts 2:38-39.].” And though you may still have many conflicts, the time is not far distant, when, the work being completed in you, “the head-stone thereof shall be brought forth with shouting;” and to all eternity you shall cry, “Grace, grace unto it! [Note: ver. 7.]”]

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Zechariah 4". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.