His Hands Shall Finish It

“His hands shall also finish it.” —Zechariah 4:9

TO US WHO have come to understand the divine plan of the ages, this Gospel dispensation is a very important one. For ever since Christ became the world’s Redeemer he has become the chief cornerstone of a temple which will be the meeting place between God and man during the Millennial Age. Indeed, we have come to see that the great purpose of God during this age has been the construction of this temple—first the gathering, then the shaping and preparing of the stones; and finally, the putting of them together. When this building work is complete we know that divine blessings shall flow to all people, and all shall find access to God.

We might expect that since the success of the future age depends on the preparatory work of this age, that Almighty God would have made elaborate preparations and arrangements for the construction of this temple, choosing out as living stones the outstanding examples of the race—outstanding respecting intellect, social position, and education—clearing the site of all opposition and sweeping away every hindrance to his work. We might also have supposed that since this temple is to fill such an important place in the future, that God would have arranged for all the might and power of this world to be harnessed in the interest of his project, and that he would have legislated so that every other project would be secondary so that priority would be given to the completion of his grand design.

But the poet has said that “God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform,” and in no field has this been so true as that in which this temple has been in course of construction for almost two thousand years now. For, instead of restraining evil and evil-doers, instead of binding Satan and clearing the field of everything in opposition to this construction design, he has actually continued the work in the very presence of these opposing forces; yea, he has even used much of this opposition to actually forward the construction of this temple.

At times it has seemed to the natural observer that the odds against the success of this constructive effort were too great, difficulties too many, friends too few, and enemies too formidable. To all of these opposing elements it was a day of small things which they were inclined to despise, but our dear Brother Paul caught the right thought when, focusing his eye of faith on promises fulfilled, he wrote, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.”—I Cor. 1:27,28

The portion of scripture from which our text is taken tells of the building of Zerubbabel’s Temple after the return of the Jews from captivity. But the prophecy is altogether too grand, and takes in too much, to limit its application to such a small event. Instead we can see that while it had a literal application to the building of that Temple, in reality the prophecy foretold the building of the spiritual temple during this Gospel Age. As in Zerubbabel’s day there were difficulties and opposition, so there have been many difficulties and much opposition to the present building work.

These difficulties are spoken of in the prophecy as a ‘great mountain’, and how apt this figure is. It does often seem that the great mountain or kingdom called Christendom is so mighty and powerful, and wealthy, and wields so much influence that the construction work of God, the gathering out of a little flock of faithful followers of the Lamb, and the preparing of them for future use, has little chance of success.

There is so much against its success: error stalks abroad garbed as truth; darkness masquerades as light. Like the builders of Zerubbabel’s day, we might often get discouraged were it not that the heavenly Architect arranged to do something for us. And what has he arranged to do for us? Vanquish our enemies? Erect a protecting fence around us? No, indeed! He permits the enemy to pursue his course, shout his jibes, boycott us, and slander us, but he defeats this purpose of the enemy by giving us a vision.

God did the same thing in Zerubbabel’s day. He sent two prophets to the people, Haggai and Zechariah, with a vision, recorded earlier in this chapter. It was a vision of a candlestick to give light, and the oil came through seven golden pipes from two olive trees. The message was, “Not by might [Margin, army], nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” How encouraging this must have been to the people in that day.

They knew they were God’s chosen people, and that some day they would be the light of the world. Perhaps they had often imagined that the secret of success in becoming the favored nation to give light to other nations might lie in military might, earthly power, wealth, and influence. But God renounced all that and warned them that as the secret of the candlestick’s light was the oil coming from the two olive trees, so the secret of their success as a nation lay in their having a continual supply of his Holy Spirit.

To the natural eye, weighing on the one side the military might against them, and on the other side nothing but the invisible power, or Spirit of Jehovah, in his people, the chances of success seemed remote—it was, indeed, a day of small things from that standpoint. And the same is true today—the Lord’s children are in a minority both with regard to numbers and to earthly power. Often they have made the mistake of supposing that success would be ensured if they could count on the support of some mighty organization, but this is the voice of Satan speaking. The Lord’s message was and still is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

It is good for us, in this day of special testing and trial, continually to keep this in mind and to satisfy ourselves that this is really the secret of success—the filling of our hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit of God. From the beginning of our Christian experience we can remember how true this has been. For when at our consecration God’s Holy Spirit was given to us, it was not so much as a forbidding or destroying power; and yet it caused old things to pass quietly away, and shed a light upon old and formerly cherished possessions which made them appear valueless. Therefore to us all things became new. And how quietly this took place—not by might, nor by power, but by the conquering presence of the Holy Spirit of God!

Is our chief field of service today in and for the ecclesia? If so, the filling with the same Spirit will ensure us success. Or, is it in the harvest work? Then the same is true. And if at times it seems that the enemy is having the best of it, that work is being hindered, or that we are so weak and helpless that the ‘great mountain’ is likely to swallow us up, let us recall that, unlike the world, we conquer by his Spirit.

Now let us look at the progress of this temple building work right from the start and see how marvelously it has proceeded even though it takes place in a ‘day of small things’. In the strictest sense this day of small things began at Pentecost, for then the foundation of the house was laid. But let us go back a little further, back to the time when he who laid that foundation first appeared on earth. For thirty years, the life of our dear Redeemer is almost hidden from the public gaze. Mary and a few others knew of his wonderful miraculous birth, and all this time no doubt they pondered over the message of the angel, Gabriel, and the prophecies of Simeon and Anna.

Wonderful things indeed were foretold concerning the child Jesus, and as the years sped past and no sign of the predictions being fulfilled, Mary must have felt that it was a day of small things indeed. His eventual identification with John at Jordan, and his anointing there with the Holy Spirit, were very important events and were so regarded by the Heavenly Father, but to Mary and others looking on, it was still a day of small things.

We know how the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus, as viewed from a purely human standpoint, could be considered largely as an apparent failure. He presented himself to Israel as their Messiah, but because he did not measure up to their idea of what the Messiah should be, they rejected him. Some days before he died he said to his disciples, “I have overcome the world.” How true this was, for he was an overcomer in every sense of the word, although it did not seem so when, a few days afterward, he hung upon the cross, dying. There amidst a fearful darkness, Jesus had his greatest victory over the world; but to the average man it was only a excruciating end to a foolish, wasted, and fanatical life.

And to the grief-stricken disciples it was a day of small things as they watched—perhaps helped—Joseph and Nicodemus carry away the body to its burial place. Let us note well that this death and burial of Jesus, although it was a day of small things, perhaps, in the estimation of every mind which viewed it, was actually a day of great victory, the results of which will only be clearly seen when every creature which is upon earth will lift his voice in praise to him saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever”!—Rev. 5:13

Going back to our text we read that it was a day of small things when Zerubbabel laid the foundation of that house, and we would inquire, when was the foundation of our temple laid and does it also take place in a day of small things? Here we notice that the foundation of Zerubbabel’s Temple was laid by his own hands. (Zech. 4:9) This means that it was a work which he attended to personally. After our Lord’s ascension to heaven we find that his first work was to lay the foundation of the new spiritual temple, and this he also attended to personally, laying the foundation with his own hands. For it was then that he carried into the courts of divine justice the merit of his sacrificed perfect humanity—the valuable thing—“his precious blood,” and, presenting it to the Father “for us,” he laid the foundation of the house of sons—laid the basis upon which human beings desirous of coming to God and consecrating their lives unto him might be acceptable with him.

These events were, to spirit beings who could see what was taking place, a day of great things, but true to our text it was a day of small things upon the earth. Let us look back into Jerusalem and see what was taking place there at that time. The Lord’s bewildered disciples had tarried there, assembled together, according to his instructions. He had told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they would be endued with power from on high; and they were tarrying, but no power had come to them yet. In that upper room, one can visualize them all gathered, and can almost hear Thomas wondering whether or not they have understood the Lord correctly. We can imagine Peter reasoning, What can be the meaning of it all? Meanwhile the quiet John was meditating, questioning why the abiding presence of the Master was not with them.

Outside, in the city, the tumult, which but a few weeks earlier had raged so furiously, had been stilled. Those chief priests and elders of the Jews were at rest. The cause of all their worry was gone—or so they thought. The Nazarene was dead; the movement was finished; the hopes of his followers had been dashed and the victory was theirs; they gloated over it. Yes, it was a day of small things upon earth, but it was a day of great things in heaven. As we have seen, while doubt reigned among the bewildered disciples, the greatest event in the history of humanity was taking place. The risen and glorified Redeemer laid the foundation of a house, which will be the meeting place between God and men when completed.

And what was true of Jesus’ ministry, and at Pentecost, has been true throughout the age ever since—it has been a day of small things. For we know that even before the apostles fell asleep in death the secret “mystery of iniquity” (II Thess. 2:7) began to work in the infant church, eventually developing into a ‘great mountain’, opposing all who kept the faith, and walked in the footsteps of the Lord. This ‘great mountain’ has persecuted, burned, and opposed with sword, the true saints of God. They have .been compelled to flee to dens and caves of the earth before its persecuting power.

To the untrained eye of the human observer it might appear that the great Architect did not have much interest in his work to allow it to be impeded—or apparently impeded—but actually the situation has never been out of hand; and, although the Dark Ages were a day of small things, nevertheless, to God, and to our Lord, and to those heavenly beings looking on, the work has been going on grandly. For, in the midst of this day of small things, the living stones for the temple have been in course of preparation, have been, one by one, prepared, chiseled and polished in the very presence of their foes and often at their hands.

Actually it has been a day of great things, when viewed from the heavenly standpoint. We have just seen that the prophecy stated that the very hands of Zerubbabel had laid the foundation of the house, and now we note it also says, “His hands shall also finish it.” (Zech. 4:9) We have noticed that the laying of the foundation was a personal work, in which our Lord with his own hands presented to God the valuable thing, the basis of our acceptance. And now since we read that his hands also shall finish it, we must also conclude that the finishing will also be a personal work attended to by himself. And what a wonderful thought it is, that we are now living in the days of the Second Advent of the Master, in the time of his “parousia,” or presence, when he has come to attend personally to the finishing work of this great building.

When he laid the foundation of the house at Pentecost he had in his hands the ‘merit’ by which the house of sons was made acceptable; but now when he comes to ‘finish it’, we read that he comes with a plummet in his hands. (Zech. 4:10) A plummet is used for the work of getting everything into alignment. Now let us look back nearly twelve decades, and notice how, upon his arrival, the greater Zerubbabel, Christ Jesus, with the plummet of truth in his hands, began to hold it up to many widely accepted doctrines. He held the plummet to them, and how distorted and crooked they appeared!

Look at the doctrine of the trinity, for example, and notice, when the plummet is put to it, how poorly it squares up with the Scriptures! The same is true of the doctrine of the inherent immortality of man, the doctrine of eternal torment, and many other theories. Now with the plummet placed alongside them they look very much out of shape. What has been the result? The true saints of God have been gathering around the truth served at the table of their returned Lord that they might learn more and more of his truth, and enjoy the light coming from his presence. Yes, there is no doubt about it, his hands laid the foundation of the house, and now—glorious thought—his hands are finishing it!

Not only has he held the plummet to doctrinal errors, he has also held it alongside our characters. What has been the result of this use of the plummet? As the light and truth shine forth from his presence what excitement there has been! With what haste we have quickly endeavored to put off all that pertains to the old man and have our robes properly adjusted and clean, and to bring everything in our lives into conformity with righteousness as we prepare to enter the glories now just at the threshold! Yes, his hands laid the foundation of the house, and his hands are now finishing it. We are witnesses of this great truth.

There is also something more wonderful still connected with the finishing work of the greater Zerubbabel. He has come to gather together all the living stones and have them all put in their several places in the building. These stones, when prepared during the age, were left to one side to wait this great day of assembling. They have slept in the graves, and now as he comes to finish the house, another work of his hands is to awaken these saints so that each may be placed in position in the building.

The Apostle Paul assures us (I Thess. 4:17) that at this time, some of these stones would still be upon earth, and that these that remain would not be forgotten. The sleeping saints and the living saints must both be “changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” (I Cor. 15:51,52) It is also a fact that all who would fill a place in this temple must finish their consecration in death; and placing these facts together, we are led to the conclusion that “we which are alive and remain unto the presence of the Lord,” after we have finished our sacrifice in death, are instantaneously changed, and so join those awakened from the sleep of death. (I Thess. 4:15-18) How thrilling it is to think that this very work is now going on, and that beyond the veil the general assembly and the church of the firstborn has already commenced! Yes, “his hands shall also finish it”!

But let us look at the scene around us. While these great events are taking place, the arrival of the great Zerubbabel—the gathering of the saints to himself; the awakening of the sleeping ones; the assembling of the house of sons beyond the veil—while these great events take place, we say it is still a day of small things upon earth. We might expect it to be so. Pentecost and the foundation laying of the house were great things in heaven and small things upon earth, and now at the finishing of the house it is the same: the great and glorious events taking place in heaven have their day of small things upon earth.

At one time the expectant church hoped she was nearer her change from earthly conditions to heavenly than she actually was. The saints hoped and were disappointed. And while they wept, they tenaciously held on to the precious truths delivered to them, knowing that they could never change, but the world mocked and pointed the finger of scorn at them—and they still do. It is a day of small things from their standpoint so far as the divine purpose is concerned. Even where we would least expect it, iniquity has abounded and the love of many has waxed cold. Truth so clear and so precious but a short time ago, is now at a discount, while speculation and uncertainty and error abound on every hand. Yes, his hands are finishing it in the midst of a day of small things.

Are we advancing in power, and is the Christ class increasing in numbers as some others claim they are doing? No! Actually, we are a very insignificant remnant compared with many of the mighty organizations of earth, and the Christ class gets fewer in number, as one by one the faithful pass over to join that general assembly. Those who reckon success in terms of numbers, we cannot hope to .impress. From the human standpoint, it is a day of small things, but let us rejoice, for every such day has had a day of glorious things in heaven, and our day is no exception.

Let it enthuse us to face the trials of this, our day, by remembering that the finishing work is taking place, and that it is being performed by Messiah’s own hands, that he is personally present attending to it. The great temple is being completed, and when the last member has passed beyond the veil, he will bring forth the capstone; then, from every corner of this old earth, instead of taunts and reproaches there will be shoutings of “favor, favor unto it.”—Zech. 4:7

Then the day of small things will be over, and from our heavenly home we shall hear restored humanity sing, “Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness; beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”—Ps. 48:1,2

Dawn Bible Students Association
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