The Jewish church was aptly set forth by the golden candlestick; and the two olive trees, mysteriously supplying the lamps with oil, were admirable emblems of the secret manner in which grace is infused into the saints by the energy of the Holy Ghost. Other lamps must be fed with oil by human labour, but the Lord himself supplies the golden candlestick of his church.
God will work in his own way despite the feebleness of his people, or the power of their foes.
The vision was intended to teach Zerubbabel that, by secret means, God would keep his cause safe from decay by poverty, or destruction by opponents.
The Samaritan opposition came to nothing, and by the aid of Darius the house was joyfully completed.
God blessed the work, and it went on under his supreme protection, angels watching over it. The spirit of the people was stimulated so that they did not flag, their enemies were restrained, and all materials for the temple were given them; and all this not by their own might, but by the Spirit of God. Let us learn to trust in God when we are most weak, and friends are most few, for he will appear and glorify himself in us.
The prophet also uttered a remarkable prophecy as to the future conversion of the Jewish people.
O that this long-expected day would come, that so poor Israel might take her proper place in the household of grace!
Repentance must be personal and private, or it cannot be real. Do we understand such repentance? Have we felt it for ourselves?
When a soul mourns for sin, its pardon is near. True repentance weeps at the foot of the cross. We sorrow not as despairing sinners do, for we have washed in the atoning blood, and are clean.
Deliver us from evil.”
Many Jews preferred to live in Persia and forget their fathers’ land. These fell into a low state of grace, but were nevertheless the subjects of very remarkable providential deliverances, which are recorded in the Book of Esther. King Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, commanded Vashti, his queen, to show herself at a drinking bout. This immodest act she refused to do, and therefore the king divorced her. Beautiful women were gathered from every land that he might choose a new queen, and among others Esther was presented by her uncle Mordecai. Very far had Mordecai turned aside from the purity which becomes a child of God when he did this, but the Lord overruled it for his people’s good, for Esther became the queen of Ahasuerus, and was thus able to interpose to save the Jews.
The Persians ascribed religious honours to their rulers, and these the godly Jew would not render.
What a mean and cruel spirit dwelt in this great lord! He might very well have allowed the Jew to act as he pleased, for how could so great a man be injured by missing the nod of a poor Jew? But no, he plots a horrible revenge—a whole nation must die to atone for the brusque manners of one man.
He superstitiously waited for a lucky day in which to wreak vengeance on Mordecai’s nation, and happily the lot fell twelve months forward, which gave time to reverse the king’s decree.
Unhappy were the people who were subject to such a hasty, thoughtless king. Well was it for the world that Xerxes did not conquer the Greeks at Salamis!
To gratify a favourites malice an ancient race must be massacred. God be thanked that under a constitutional government our lives are not at the mercy of one man as the poor Israelites were.