The home at Bethany was favoured by the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, this did not grant immunity from the sorrows common to man, neither did it cancel out the traits of character possessed by Martha and Mary, this is evident from Luke 10:40. Again it was the individuals resident in Bethany which made Bethany what it was to the Lord Jesus, there was a place in their hearts for Him, He was a welcome guest, the centre of attraction.
There was nothing artificial in the behaviour of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, in the home in the presence of the Lord, natural dispositions fully displayed. God never intended that we should surrender up our personality, to conform to a man-made ideal, but that learning in the school of grace, would bring a willing submission to His will.
We shall look at the three references to Mary in the Gospels, and see the order and growth and what the ultimate end should be and will be when we see Him face to face.
The Posture of the Pupil (Luke 10:38)—Learning
It is significant to note the place given to this incident in this chapter, following the parable of the Good Samaritan, surely only those who have had the Jericho road experience have the desire to sit at His feet to hear His word.
Martha was cumbered by much serving, would it be right to assume that service apart from sitting will always be cumbersome. The only acceptable service is that which springs from sitting in His presence, we must wait before Him expectantly in private, before we can witness effectively in public. David slew a bear in a private place before he slew Goliath in a public place. Far too many young believers are reversing this order, and see public service as their goal, at the expense of imbibing the teaching of the Master, in the quiet and secret place. There can be no substitute for that which is personally appropriated at His feet, however rich the ministry of the Word at the gatherings of His people, and this is important, but to know as individuals the joy of His presence, being taught of Him, is on a higher plane. It is in this atmosphere that a restful spirit is cultivated, a scarce commodity to-day, “In earing time and harvest thou shalt rest” (Exodus 34:21), the two busiest seasons of the year, and yet the command is given to rest, of course we must distinguish between lethargy and rest. Activity is necessary, is it the product of occupation with Christ? This is by choice not by chance, “Mary hath chosen” may we do likewise!
The Prediction of the Pilgrim (John 11:21)—Leaning
The words of Martha in verse twenty-one, repeated by Mary in verse thirty-two, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” the trust and confidence which emanates from this statement, death could not abide in the presence of the Lord of Life. Without hesitation we have a recognition of the blessing which must accompany His presence, irrespective as to the depth of sorrow through which His people may pass, the bitter waters are made sweet, Marah becomes Elim, when we know His presence with us in the trial.
Again we see perfect submission to His will, no murmur-ings or questionings as to the delay, verse 6. How often we would dictate the time and length of our particular trial. “He knoweth our frame” (Psalm 103:14), and the pressure required to produce fruit for His glory (see Isaiah 28:27). The dealings of God with His people are a proof of His love for us, (Hebrews 12:6), will we faint under it. or despise it, or be exercised by it, the trial producing the desired result, “The sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.”
The Privilege of the Priest (John 12:3)—Loving
There is a climax reached here, the end product of past experience, “They made Him a feast.” The Instruction of Luke 10, the Submission of John 11, is followed by the Appreciation of John 12. The more we learn of Him, the greater our trust becomes, this in turn leads to a touching of the heart’s affection. Would the ‘feast’ suggest that the weaning process had been accomplished, that the fear and dread of death had been removed and answered in resurrection? The spikenard was Precious in terms of cost, it was Personal to Mary no doubt being kept for a special occasion, being Pure in its composition, the word used is ‘genuine,’ again it was Pungent as to its aroma, “and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” Finally, Mary was acting Prophetically in her application of the ointment, “against the day of My burying hath she kept this.”
If there is a lesson to be learned, it is this, that spiritual discernment and intelligence are acquired by communion with Him, consequently leading the child of God to acquiesce in all God's dealings with him, knowing without doubt that our good is in view, and that the consummation will be occupation with Him! May this be more true of all of us, that our ears will be attuned to hear His voice, our minds will be submissive, and lastly our hearts will be affected and that our worship will find expression in our lives for His glory!
In the four Gospels we have—The Foundation of the Gospel In the Book of Acts we have—The Furtherance of the Gospel In the Roman Epistle we have—The Facts of the Gospel
In this Epistle we have the initial and fundamental teaching regarding the believer justified before a Holy God, on the righteous basis of faith in Christ and His finished work and enjoying the liberty and blessings of salvation through the Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit.
v. 1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; The treatment of the slaves by their masters is now considered. This exhortation is to converted masters. They should render (R.V.), lit., hold near to, show on their part what is right and fair. The word ‘render’ is in the middle voice, and suggests what the masters should do as their responsibility; they should deal righteously and equitably with their bondservants. As the servants must do what is right (v. 22), so should the masters give what is right. As the bondservant has a duty to serve his master, so the master equally should show the servants love.
Paul possibly has his own moral here—a message to Philemon as to how he should treat Onesimus. If Onesimus comes back to resume his bondservice, so should Philemon acknowledge Onesimus’ conversion, and treat him as a ‘brother beloved’ (Philemon 16).
knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. The Lord is Master, both of the bondservant and of his owner. The latter should take his pattern from his heavenly Master, in righteous and equitable dealings with his bondservants (3:24).
v. 2 Continue in prayer, Paul now gives some exhortations with regard to holy living, dealing with it both in THE INNER LIFE (vv. 2-4), and THE OUTER LIFE (vv. 5-6). First, he deals with prayer, seven aspects of which are mentioned here.
(A) Perseverance in Prayer. Paul exhorts the Colossians to continue in this exercise, or as the R.V. has it, to ‘continue steadfastly in prayer. It is the same word in the original language as is found in Acts 2:42, where the disciples ‘continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.’ The word translated ‘Continue’ comes from a root meaning, ‘to be strong, to endure’ (Heb. 11:27), and is intensified by a prefix meaning ‘towards,’ that is, to persevere in, to be continually steadfast in prayer.
and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
(B) Thanksgiving in Prayer. They must also watch in prayer, that is, (to be on the alert, to be wide awake in it. Prayer is an exercise that demands thought and fixity of purpose. The believer does well to take this lesson to heart, because of his natural indolence in prayer; he forgets so easily, especially in the matter of thanksgiving.
Paul declares his own example (1:9-12); he did not cease to pray for them, and included in his prayer thanksgiving (1:3, 12). In writing this epistle, thanksgiving is uttermost in Paul’s mind; he refers to it in all four chapters (1:3, 2:7, 3:15, 4:2). Prayer should begin and end with thanksgiving; at the start it is the expression of confidence in God's readiness to answer; at the end it reveals the gratitude for answered prayer. Thanksgiving is the summit of prayer, the gratitude for a joyful communion with God, the expression of final appreciation.
v. 3 Withal praying also for us,
(C) Prayer for Preachers. ‘Withal' is an adverb, suggesting ‘at the same time.’ The apostle infers that whilst they were occupied perseveringly in prayer, they should think particularly of those who preach the gospel. Paul possibly had in mind 'those whom he mentions in the epistle as preachers of the Word—Timothy (1:1), Epaphras (1:7), Paul himself (1:23), and Archippus (4:17). He felt that they had a great honour conferred upon them, but it was also a great responsibility, and one that could not be discharged without the prayer support of the children of God.
Let us remember to bear up before the throne of grace those who are active in seeking the salvation of men, not forgetting the missionaries. They need prayer, for without God's help their preaching would be in vain. May those who preach the gospel be like Paul, who felt greatly the need of the prayers of God’s people, and was not ashamed to ask others for their assistance. Preaching is not a one-man job.
that God would open unto us a door of utterance.
(D) Prayer in Difficulties. Paul realised that there were many hindrances to the preaching of the gospel. Satan is ever active in this respect, but it is comforting for the saints to remember that God can overcome the adversary of His people. Prayer can reach the throne, and move the hand that controls the world. Paul would covet their prayers for the free, unhindered presentation of the Word of God by the preachers of the gospel mentioned in the earlier part of the verse.
Let us appreciate the mighty power of prayer that lies to our hand, to remove the obstructions in our pathway.
to speak the mystery of Christ,
(E) Prayer for Results. The apostle now shows his aim in seeking a door of utterance. ‘To speak’ is the infinitive of purpose, and Paul’s desire was not merely that he should have an opportunity to preach, but that he might present to men the mystery of Christ. This was the stewardship that God had given to him, and to the ministers of the gospel of God’s redeeming love through Christ; it was the divine scheme for man, embodied and revealed in Christ; it was Christ in them, the hope of glory (1:27).
That this result should be accomplished in men, Paul sought the prayers of God’s people. Let us ever keep before us in prayer the great objective of the gospel, that the name of Christ be glorified, and souls saved, to be indwelt by Christ down here, and experience with Him the eternal glory.
for whichIam also in bonds:
(F) Prayer for those in Bondage. That he might fulfil the purpose of his stewardship Paul had suffered affliction. Even then he was bound in chains in a Roman jail, because he had preached the gospel (1:25-27). As he thus suffered his heart went out to the many in like affliction. He asked for the prayers of the Colossian believers for all such. He would1 exhort them, and us to-day, to ‘Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body’ (Heb. 13:3).
v. 4 That l may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
(G) Prayer for Freedom. This request of Paul’s was subordinate to the request for an open door of utterance. Instead of being in bondage, he desired freedom for the public manifestation of the gospel message, as was incumbent on one so called as he had been—-to preach it boldly.
v. 5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without. Paul continues his exhortation to holy living, by dealing with the Christian’s OUTER LIFE, his life as seen by his fellowmen. He divides it into two sections—HIS WALK (v. 5), and HIS TALK (v. 6). Paul is following his Lord in this division of the Christian life. We believers often speak of an ‘out and out’ Christian life, but the Lord spoke of an ‘in and out’ life (John 10:9). So does Paul—IN, to pray, and to commune with God (vv. 2-4); OUT, to preach, and to manifest the new life to men.
The apostle has in mind particularly the impression the Colossians should make on unbelievers—‘toward (in their relation with) them that are without,’ that is, those outside the family of God. Before these the believer ought to walk wisely. ‘Walk’ here implies the whole daily round of life, in all its aspects.
This is a most important matter, especially in regard to the conversion of the unbeliever who is often more convinced by the believer’s life than by his words. Wisdom is needed, in order that the right effect might be produced. How the believer lives before the unsaved has a profound effect in the matter of his salvation; it may be helped or hindered. It is tragic to think that one’s character before men may mean all the difference as to whether a person will spend eternity in heaven or in hell. Love shown to a neighbour, or satisfaction manifested in the countenance, proclaim that in Christ Jesus there is something to be desired. On the other hand, if the believer is churlish, or easily provoked, he does not commend Christ as the Saviour of sinners. Thus we children of God do well to consider our walk, and so live that we present the Lord Jesus Christ as worthy of the sinner’s trust.
redeeming the time. ‘Time’ here means a season, or an opportunity (Gal. 6:10). The word translated redeeming’ is in the middle voice, and implies, ‘buying for oneself,’ or as 'the R.V. marg. has it, ‘buying up the opportunity.’ It means making most of every suitable opportunity, as they present themselves, to bring the unconverted neighbours to the knowledge of salvation. This is wherein real wisdom is evident, for wisdom is that innate ability that senses the true and the good.
v. 6 Let your speech be alway with grace,seasoned with salt, Paul now deals with the second section of the believer’s OUTER LIFE, that is, HIS TALK. It should be marked by grace, or graciousness. Compare the Lord’s words in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:22). The Christian’s words should be spoken in such a way that they will be well-pleasing to those without; it is part of the wise walk; they should appeal, but not offend; they should profit, and not be characterised by vanity.
The believer’s speech should also be seasoned, lit., fitly prepared. This is suggested as right and proper for the preacher, and so for all the children of God. They should seek out acceptable words, upright words, words of truth (Eccl. 12:10). This is done with salt—a figure of that which gives flavour to food, and prevents it from corrupting. So salt is here used metaphorically for words that are gracious, and for communication that is not corrupt foolish talking, jesting (Eph. 5:3), falsehood (Col. 3:8-9). Such prepared words will be good for edification, and will minister grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29).
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. The word ‘know’ is an infinitive, the infinitive of purpose (v. 3)—to know how to answer, lit., to separate out for oneself the reply for EACH MAN (R.V.). Each man should get an answer appropriate to his need and question. This would be the function of the seasoning with salt. It has reference to Lev. 2:13—‘with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.’ The believer’s words to those without should be as an offering to God, to which the salt of gracious wisdom must be added.
by the LATE JAMES SCOTT (written over 50 years ago)
That a time of unparalleled distress will come upon the world is the solemn testimony of the prophetic Scriptures. There are six definite references to it; four of which have to do with the Jews, one with the Gentiles, and one with the Church.
The first of these we will find in Jeremiah 30:7: “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” The reference is unmistakably to the Jews, for they alone, at that time, will represent the seed of Jacob, the ten tribes being still in exile do not come into view until after the coming of the Son of man. This we gather from Psalm 73, which, in its prophetic setting, goes beyond the Jews and takes in all Israel. It is not a question of being received “to glory,” as in the authorised version, for no one will participate in heavenly glory after the Rapture, with the exception of the martyred companies mentioned in the Book of Revelation. What Asaph doubtless wrote was, “Thou wilt guide me by thy counsel, and after the glory, thou wilt receive me” (v. 24, Darby’s Translation—see Zech. 2:8). The Jews will be restored by the glory (Zech. 12:10), whereas Israel, the ten tribes, will be received after the glory.
A TIME OF TROUBLE
The next Scripture we have to consider is in Daniel 12:1, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Daniel being a Jew, there can be no question as to who his pople are; and it is with them that the Spirit of God is occupied in these Scriptures. Nor are we left in doubt as to when this prophecy will have its fulfilment. The previous chapter brings us to the time of the end when the self-willed king will usurp the throne of David (v. 36), and in conjunction with his ally, the Roman prince, will put a stop to the worshp of Jehovah in the temple, and set up idolatry in its stead (chap. 9:27). It was to this our Lord referred when He uttered that solemn warning: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet (chap. 12:11), stand in a holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains ... for there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:15-21). There can be no question but chat the reference is to the same time as Daniel 12:1, for it is impossible to describe two separate occasions in precisely the same words “such as was not ... nor ever shall be.”
It must be clearly understood, if we are to avoid confusion, that the translation of the saints to heaven has taken place some time prior to this; and that many of the Jews have previously been returned to Palestine in unbelief, and with no repentance towards God, for the crime of Calvary. The Zionist movement, as we understand it, is purely political; God is not consulted, ... Even when this movement assumes a national character, and a strong maritime power comes to their assistance (Isa. 18), God is still seen to be outside of it all: “For so Jehovah said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat in sunshine, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest” (v. 4). Men foolishly imagine that they can do without God, so they have to learn their folly by bitter experience, for only disaster awaits them (vv. 5, 6). Instead of the Jewish commonwealth being owned by God we have Him describing them as the people of His wrath: “Ho, Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. 1 will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will 1 give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (Isa. 10:5, 6). Having gone back to Palestine unrepentant and without God they will fall an easy prey to the worse condition predicted by our Lord when the evil spirit of idolatry that characterised them in the past, will return in an intensified form, and their last state be worse than their first (Matt 12:45). Seeing they refused Him Who came in His Fathers name they will the more readily receive him who comes in his own name (John 5:43). “Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders (wonders of falsehood), and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2Thess. 2:9-12). Such is the predicted end that awaits highly favoured Christendom and the Jewish people, notwithstanding their boasted enlightenment and the “assured results of scholarship.” Were it not that men are “willingly ignorant” it would be difficult to account for the slovenly-mindedness that prevails in regard to the coming apostasy and its awful consequences. The day of reckoning is fast drawing near when God will answer men according to their folly: “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:17). Here, again, in Daniel 12:1, we are assured that a remnant will be preserved for Millennial blessing, “every one that shall be found written in the book.”
THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS
The next two Scriptures which deal with the Great Tribulation are found in the account of our Lord’s Olivet discourse as recorded by Matthew and Mark, and for our present purpose may be treated as one. It was the enquiry of the disciples as to the Lord's coming, and of the end of the age, that gave the occasion for this wonderful unfolding of the future, particularly in reference to the Jews. The angel Gabriel informed Daniel that “Unto the end wars and desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26, Scofield, marg.), and this is further confirmed by our Lord when He says: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars ... all these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:6, 8). They were, however, specially warned of the coming great distress, that will come upon the Jewish people, then back in their land, as we have seen. Although these warnings were addressed to the disciples it is quite evident that the remnant of the future is in view, hence He says: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in a holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains ... for there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:15-21). Thus our Lord confirms the account given by Daniel, that it will be a time of trouble such as was never known before, nor will the like even occur again. The word “tribulation” comes from the Latin “tribulum,” which was a kind of triple flail used by the Romans when threshing their wheat. Consequently the time of trouble we are considering will be the “great threshing time.”
Doubtless the Jews who are returning to Palestine are under the impression that their sorrows are nearing an end: whereas God, in a providential way, is but gathering them in to the threshing floor. It must not be forgotten that He has a “controversy with his people,” both for idolatry and the murder of His Son. Men would like to forget the foul crime enacted at Calvary but God never can; and that awful prayer uttered in the presence of Pontius Pilate, “his blood be upon us and on our children,” will yet have a more terrible answer than anything they have ever experienced in the past. It was no mere figure of speech when the Baptist declared concerning the Coming One: “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12). The “flail” of judgment will do its work in separating the chaff from the wheat, when the ungodly will be consigned to eternal perdition, and the righteous gathered for millenial blessing when, “He shall come down life rain upon the mown grass” (Psa. 72:6)
Nor will highly favoured Christendom escape in the day of righteous retribution, for “in the end of the age, the Son of man will send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:40-42). Such will be the portion of every false teacher, and the end of every false system.
A COMMON ERROR
We learn from Daniel 9:27 that after the Jews are reinstated in their land they will enter into a covenant of seven years with the Roman prince of that day, who is identical with the first Beast of Rev. 13 and the little horn of Dan. 7. This would seem to be followed by a period of comparative calm until an event of sinister importance occurs in the heavens: “And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceived the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:7, 9). While this gives occasion for jubilation in heaven it is of evil omen to the earth: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you. having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (v. 12). This coincides with the determined effort on the part of the Beast and the false prophet to substitute idolatry for the worship of Jehovah; and this in turn ushers in the Great Tribulation. “And he (the Roman prince) shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (Dan. 9:27). There is nothing in this about his breaking the covenant, as is commonly taught; the covenant is a purely political instrument, for mutual advantage, between the head of the revived Roman empire and the leaders of the Jewish commonwealth, and according to Isaiah 28, it will remain intact until it is annulled by the direct judgment of God: “Wherefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, we have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it
shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves ... Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it” (vv. 14-18). Nor are we left without corroborative testimony, for this coincides with the predicted judgment of the last phase of Gentile dominion, as revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, when the stone cut out of the mountain without hands will fall with crushing effect upon it, and it becomes as the chaff of the summer threshing-floors (Dan. 2). We have further testimony to the same event in Rev. 19 where John sees “the Beast, and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army ... And the Beast was taken and with him the false prophet ... These both were cast alive into the lake of fire ... and the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse” (vv. 19-21). Doubtless the Psalmist had these tremendous happenings in view when he exclaimed: “Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against his Anointed,” but Omnipotence can afford to smile at the puny efforts of the creature to thwart Him in His purposes, for, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision" (Psalm 2).
If the Roman prince does not break the covenant he will, nevertheless, oppress the nation, and persecute the godly remnant who refuse to “worship the beast” or his “image” (Rev. 13). It was to this our Lord referred in that solemn warning: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in a holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains” (Matt. 24:15. 16). The setting up of this image will be the signal for instant flight on the part of the faithful for there will follow the most bitter persecution the world has ever known: “There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, ro, nor ever shall be, and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (vv. 21, 22), He who has said to the raging sea: ‘Thither shall thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:11), has mercifully set a limit to that time of sorrow which we are considering. According to Daniel’s account that time will be limited to “a time, times, and a half,” that is, three and a half years, corresponding to the last half of the seven years covenant. In Rev. 11:2 where we have the cruel heel of the Beast upon the holy city, the time is described as “forty and two months;” but when the faithful witnesses are in view the very days are numbered,” a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (v. 3).
Zechariah was post exilic, contemporary with Haggai, Malachi followed two generations later, to complete O.T. Canon.
Summary of Zechariah—
Ch. 1:7 to Ch. 6—Visions.
Ch. 9 to 14—Prophesies
All the visions refer to the future, including this in Ch. 5:5-11. Fulfilment looks on to the time of the End. The subject is the cleansing by judgment of the restored people in the land of Israel, with world-wide consequences.
Zechariah 5:1-4 is the 6th Vision of the curse that goeth forth.
Zechariah 5:5-11 is the 7th Vision of the Ephah that goeth forth.
The former (6th) deals with sin in practice (guilt) in theft and perjury.
The latter (7th) deals with wickedness (lawlessness) from which former arises.
Zechariah 5:5-11—We have Zechariah’s two questions, the angel’s answers viz.—
This is an Ephah that goeth forth.
This is their resemblance through all the earth (or land).
This is the wickedness.
To the land of Shinar—Babylonia—Iraq—(Gen. 11:2).
To build it an house.
To establish and set it there upon her own base.
Verse 5: Ephah -3 measures, as Matthew 13:33; Gen. 18:6; Judg. 6:19: 1Sam. 1:24.
Ephah in O.T. like bushel in N.T. would stand for commerce.
Verse 6: “This is their resemblance’'—The Ephah stamps its character on all and everywhere, and illustrates a universal condition.
Verse 7: “This is”—yonder was.
“Talent”—perhaps circular weight as lid of cylindrical Ephah, but talent is measure of quantity, as Ephah is of capacity.
Verse 8: “Wickedness”—Literally the wickedness. LXX lawlessness. It is “the mystery of lawlessness.” “He cast her down”—apparently the woman tried to escape, the angel “cast” her back to the Ephah and “cast” the weight upon the mouth of the Ephah.
Verse 9: “Two women came out”—or came forth into the stage or range of vision. Compare verse 5 where angel also “went forth” or “came forward.”
“Stork” is an unclean bird.
“Wind”—the power of Satan who is prince of power of the air. (Compare “between the earth and heaven”).
Before the Babylonian exile God’s complaint against Israel was against her idolatry. Later when agriculture was left for commerce His complaint was against commerce’s besetting Sins of theft (unlawful gains) and perjury (untruthful dealings in men, money and merchandise).
Universally, mammon, (industry, commerce, trade, and its concomitants) are on the Throne, and dictate policies everywhere, and the makers of Mammon are very often Jews.
It would seem clear that a Godless Mammon with humanitarianism, false peace, luxury and pomp is fast becoming the religion of the day everywhere. In this Mammonism apostate Christianity and apostate Judaism will join hands.
Shinar (Babylon, Babel) the scene of the original organised rebellion against God, will once again be the scene of a worse rebellion, compare Rev. 18, the woman sitting compares with the woman seen in Rev. 17.
As businesses have the houses founded or established in such a year so this Mammon will have it’s “house” and be “Established” and “set” with it’s base in Shinar.
I believe there are yet many prophesies against Babylon which remain to be fulfilled. Babylon is the Devil’s Headquarters (base) of anti-God, anti—Christian religion, politics, and economics and culture.
The tone in which Paul writes in his Epistles to the various Churches provides a clue to the spiritual state of the particular Church addressed. To the Philippians, for instance, he makes no mention of his apostleship, re-iterating the theme of rejoicing and writing with much warmth of affection. By contrast, to the Corinthians, amongst whom were those who questioned his authority, he finds the necessity of emphasising that he is an apostle by the will of God and that the things he writes are the commandments of the Lord. In the First Epistle we find a verse (2:2) which provides a key to the state of the Corinthian Church, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
The great truths of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, what might be termed ‘over Jordan’ Epistles, were equally the heritage of the Corinthian saints, as indeed they are ours to-day. But this self-imposed restriction of the apostle is itself an eloquent commentary on the state of carnality found at Corinth. They were as yet “babes in Christ,” fed with milk and not with meat (1Cor. 3:1-3). Nevertheless, this phrase “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” to which Paul was confining his knowledge and ministry at this time, was and is basic and crucial as providing the foundation for the building up of the believer on spiritual lines. As the title “Jesus Christ” is usually employed in relation to His present position as risen and ascended, so this title “Jesus Christ” has its own connotation and unique importance. It portrays in its use the kind of Manhood which is of another order, entirely according to God, distinct and different from the Adamic, yet found in One here truly human. We read “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8) and again Paul’s use of this title “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). The purpose of God is to people heaven with men of this order who shall eternally speak to Him of His beloved Son in Whom He ever had supreme delight.
In our verse (2:2), the apostle significantly adds to the title “and Him crucified.” He is not here “laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Heb. 6:1) nor doubting that their sins were forgiven. He is bringing to bear upon them the application of Christ’s crucifixion to them as believers. It is a feature of Paul’s teaching which cannot be over-emphasised. He himself understood deliverance from all that marks the man after the flesh, perhaps more than any other. Not only was he delivered from gross wickedness as unconverted, but that kind of man, even if cultured as was Paul, well versed in the Greek classics, will not do for God. It is thus that Paul stresses, after Christ died “and was buried” (1Cor. 15:4): that man (representatively in Christ) has to go out of sight.
This line of teaching runs right through the writings of the apostle and is indeed peculiar to Paul. So thoroughly clear is he personally as having judged in himself the man “after the flesh” that he is able to write with contemptuous satire of two of its features, Jewish legalism and Greek wisdom. In this vein he even uses such expressions as “the foolishness of God” and “the weakness of God” (1Cor. 1:21-25), over against their vaunted wisdom and strength. To have “died with Christ,” he associates others with himself, but crucifixion is a more extreme and drastic aspect of the death of Christ. Nevertheless Paul, this time using only the first person singular, is able in the depth
of his own exercise and experience to say “1 am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). In this same Epistle he later adds “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and 1 unto the world” (6:14).
Following my request in the last issue of “Assembly Testimony’’ for information about the Annual Men’s Conference at Swanwick this year I have received a large number of helpful letters together with copies of various magazines that have carried a report of the conference. So many letters have been received that it would be impossible for me to reply and thank you individually. I am glad to know that I have the prayerful support of so many of the Lord’s people and I thank you all warmly.
The magazines in which reports appeared were :
EVANGELISM TODAY’ (No. 80) November 1978 (page 8).
‘CHURCH OF ENGLAND NEWSPAPER’ (No. 4416) October 13 (page 2)
‘CRUSADE’—an abbreviated report.
‘REDEMPTION TIDINGS’ (Official Organ of Assemblies of God) calls the four speakers ‘Men of Metal.'
‘THE PRESBYTERIAN HERALD—January 1i979.
‘ALIVE’ which includes a photograph of those attending with the caption ‘The delegates at Swanwick Conference, drawn from all parts of Britain.’
Was there any report in ‘The Harvester,' ‘The Witness,' ‘The Believers Magazine,’ ‘Precious Seed’ and ‘Assembly Testimony?’ These are the five assembly magazines—I shall be glad to have copies of any reports they made of the conference please.
I am informed that because of the interest shown in the conference the convenors are intending to produce a full report.
I shall anxiously await a copy of this, there may be a difference between what was actually said and what was reported to be said. When I receive this I shall proceed, (if the Lord will).
Certain questions I should like to put, however, are:
Who are the Convenors of the Conference?
Who gave the impression that this conference was of major importance? Annual Weekend, and weeks of meetings are held in various parts of the country, but the brethren who convene them do not create an atmosphere of vital and national importance. How about Eastbourne, Bournemouth, Ayr, Largs, Exmouth, Larne, Lurgan, Llanfairfechan, Bicester, Aberdeen, Kilvarock, etc., etc. How about the London Convention and Harley Street Conference in Glasgow. These are all of equal importance and would appear to be more profitable.
How was the impression given that those attending were delegates. Delegates must be delegated. They must represent something or someone. Who delegated these men? Who do they represent? Do they represent the Assembly to which they belong? or the overseers of that assembly? Or were they just there as interested individuals, representing no one but themselves?
Why was Bill Spencer there? Is he a believer? Is he in assembly fellowship? Was he invited? Was he present with the understanding that he was reporting? Was his report submitted to and agreed by the convenors.
I repeat I shall value the prayers of the Lord’s people in dealing with this matter. The Lord bless you all.