Scripture Notes.

I.

Zechariah 3:9; 2 Timothy 2:19.

There is an evident connection between these two scriptures, widely different as they are in the instruction they afford. "The stone" laid before Joshua, in Zechariah, is the foundation-stone of the temple which was being built by the children of the captivity. The seven eyes - the perfect wisdom or "intelligence" of God should rest upon it; for that foundation-stone was a type of that which God would lay in Zion (1 Peter 2:6), as the foundation on which He would act to secure the full blessing of His people; in other words, it set forth Christ as "the living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious," on which the Church is now being built, and on which Israel will be built, and the government of God in the earth secured, in the coming age. Hence the Lord of hosts would engrave the graving thereof, "stamp it with its true character," and it would thus be the expression of His own perfect thoughts. And, moreover, Jehovah would remove the iniquity of the land in one day; for on the foundation of the death of Christ He is able righteously, consistently with all that He is, and therefore with His ways in government, inasmuch as Christ died for the nation, to cleanse His people and their land from all the guilt of their transgressions. The apostle Paul, as led of the Holy Spirit, has doubtless this scripture in his mind when he writes to Timothy of the foundation of God. He had been speaking of sad departures from the truth, mentioning Hymenaeus and Philetus, "who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless," he adds - and this is his consolation, and ours in like circumstances - "the foundation of God standeth sure." That is immovable, and, whatever the actings of men, or the apparent success of the enemy in perverting souls, cannot be shaken or touched. It has, moreover, been engraved with a graving. It has the writing of God Himself upon it, and the apostle is commissioned to interpret it. It reads, first, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." We may often be deceived as to whether those claiming to be teachers and Christians are His or not. He knows; and though such may delude themselves and others, He is never deceived. We are not called upon to decide the question, and we may therefore leave it to Him whose eyes, whose perfect knowledge, penetrate into the secrets of all hearts. But while this is true, there is another inscription - "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ ["the Lord," it should read] depart from iniquity." It is not here, as in Zechariah, a question of God's removing the guilt of His people, but of the responsibility of His people removing themselves from iniquity, this responsibility springing from the fact of their professing to own the Lordship of Christ. If therefore we do not know, on the one hand, who in all cases are really the Lord's, we do know, on the other, that it is incumbent upon all who profess to be His people to depart from iniquity. He knows who are His; but we know what is suitable in the walk and ways of those who confess Christ as their Lord.

II.

Zechariah 4:7; Matthew 21:21.

As in the above scriptures, so also in these there is doubtless a connection. The prophet says, "Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain." The "great mountain" is clearly a figure to express the totality of all the obstacles and hindrances that lay in the way of building the temple. The difficulties were so many and so great that it seemed impossible that the builders could ever accomplish their design. But all things are possible with God, and all things are possible to him that believeth; and Jehovah, in this message through the prophet, encourages the faith of His people with the assurance that the "great mountain" should become a plain, and that the hands of Zerubbabel, having laid the foundation, should also finish the house. In our Lord's words to His disciples also the mountain is without doubt a symbol of some great hindrance to their work. He had just pronounced the sentence on the fig-tree - "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever." Then we are told, "And presently the fig-tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig-tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig-tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done." Now it is in the context that the key to the meaning of the "mountain" is found. The fig-tree is admittedly the Jewish nation. The Lord had been for three years seeking fruit from it, and had found none. (Luke 13:6-9.) The time of its probation was now ended, and the irreversible sentence was uttered, that it should bear no fruit henceforward for ever; for indeed man in the flesh, although possessing every advantage and under divine culture, could not produce fruit for God. But it was precisely this truth that the Jewish nation would not accept; and in their violent opposition to it, and to the proclamation of grace, as connected with it through the death of Christ, they became the chief adversaries of the gospel. (See 1 Thess. 2:14-16.) Everywhere, and on all occasions, they sought to destroy the first preachers of Christianity. The Lord foresaw this "mountain" in the way of His disciples, and, as in Zechariah, He ministers encouragement to their hearts by telling them that it would utterly disappear before faith in God. They had marvelled at His display of power upon the fig-tree; but if they had faith in the prosecution of the mission on which they should be sent, and doubted not, they should do a greater work than this (see John 14:12), for before the irresistible command of faith this Jewish nation, seemingly a huge mountain of difficulty, should disappear in the sea of the nations; and this, whatever the failure of the apostles, was accomplished. The Lord then added, showing that this pathway of power in service is open to all believers in all ages, "And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Happy are they who have in any measure learnt the lesson.

III.

Philippians 1:6-10; 2 Timothy 1:12-15.

It is only in Philippians that the expression, "The day of Jesus Christ," or the "day of Christ," is found. The nearest to it is "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," in 1 Cor, 1:8. The period referred to is without doubt the same, the difference in the form of the expression being traceable either to the character of the epistle, or to the context in which it is found. Thus in Philippians - the book of experience, as it has been aptly called - where the whole of the Christian life is summed up in the words, "To me to live is Christ," the term in Phil. 1:10 is, "The day of Christ," whereas in Corinthians, where the exercise of gift in responsibility is brought in, we read, "The day of our Lord Jesus Christ." But whatever the variations, and some of these are very instructive, all alike point onward to the period introduced by the appearing of our Lord. His coming is the hope of the Church, as stated in 1 Thess. iv.; but uniformly, when the saints are regarded as under responsibility in service or suffering, or indeed as strangers and pilgrims, the appearing of Christ is always the goal; for inasmuch as earth has been the place of service and testing, it shall be also the scene of the displayed recompense. (See 2 Thess. 1:6, 7; 1 Timothy 6:13, 14; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; 1 Peter 1:6, 7, etc.) This will explain the expressions in 2 Timothy 1. The apostle says, "For which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." (v. 12.) As another has beautifully said, "His happiness, in the glory of that new life, he had committed to Jesus. He laboured meanwhile in affliction, sure of finding again, without being deceived, that which he had committed to the Lord, in the day when he should see Him and all his sorrows ended. It was in the expectation of that day, in order to find it again at that day, that he had committed to Him his happiness and his joy." So in the apostle's prayer for Onesiphorus, he looks onward to the same blessed moment, desiring that the one who, in the midst of general unfaithfulness, and turning away from God's chosen vessel of the truth (v. 15), had often refreshed the weary heart of this devoted servant, was not ashamed of his chain (compare verse 8), and in Rome had sought him out very diligently and found him, might find mercy of the Lord, might then meet with the recompense of his service in the full fruition of "the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 21.) For the mercy here spoken of is not the mercy shown to a sinner in the forgiveness of his sins, but mercy's fruit and crown, entered upon by the saint at the coming of the Lord, and exhibited at His appearing. There may be also a reference in the use of the word to the conduct of Onesiphorus. He had, in the tenderness of his heart, fruit of the Spirit of God, shown mercy, as it were, to the apostle. He had "compassion upon him in his bonds;" and the apostle prays that this may, as it will, be publicly owned "in that day." E. D.

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Christ glorified is the measure of our practical purification.