Reading: Zech. 4:1-7.
We did not complete our previous meditation on the first of the main issues arising from these and other Scriptures which were brought together, therefore we shall now pursue the matter a little further, and I may say that the word which is governing the whole of our meditation in all its parts is Zech. 4:6:
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." We might abbreviate it for our purpose - "By My Spirit".
The first matter which is before us and that which is predominant and supreme is the Divine testimony; the testimony of God which is symbolically set forth in this candlestick all of gold. And we were saying that the testimony of God is the glory of God lying behind all the Divine activities and being the thing which motived the very bringing into being of man: the design of humanity originally being the glory of God and man in the first instance failed. That testimony was then taken up by a thin line of witnesses: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and so on. In a very real sense, the testimony of the glory of God rested upon those individuals; they carried the enormous responsibility of being here on this earth where almost entirely the enemy had succeeded in veiling that glory, marring that glory. They stood on the earth as lonely figures to preserve the testimony, the glory of God, and all the force of the Evil One was concentrated against them, but they triumphed.
Israel was then brought in to be a corporate vessel of that testimony, that amongst the nations they should be a nation for the glory of God in which that glory was seen and shown forth. Ultimately Israel failed. The testimony was passed on and transferred to the church; the glory of God blazed up anew in the church at the beginning. In the course of time, the church, speaking quite generally, has failed in this matter, and we find in the book of the Revelation the Lord sorely grieved and deeply concerned about the testimony, pointing out that it is one thing to have a form or a candlestick or a lamp-stand, and another thing to have a blazing testimony. And where the testimony has gone, a lamp-stand will have to be removed unless there is recovery. The church failed, and then the book of the Revelation shows us that the testimony is passed on to, and taken up by, a company called overcomers and the testimony is consummated in them in final triumph.
Then we saw that all this, from the first intentions of God as to man through that series of personal links into and through Israel, on to the church and to the overcomer, is gathered up in the one glorious witness, the Lord Jesus. All that went before pointed on to Him; all that followed took its character from Him so far as the glory of God, the testimony of God, was concerned.
So the great concern, business and issue for the people of God is for His glory, for His testimony which is His glory - to be here on this earth for the glory of God. That is the thing that matters, nothing matters beside that, everything has got to be handed up to that and considered in the light of that. The one plumbline and measuring reed for Jerusalem, for the altar, for the priesthood, for everything and everyone, is the glory of God. Every measurement is to relate to the glory of God. The City in the end is seen having the glory of God. The measurement of the City is given.
Now, on two earlier occasions we have this measuring. In Zechariah 2 the measuring of the city, the measuring of things, and in Revelation 11, the measuring of the altar, the measuring of things, and it is all related to the testimony of God. The measurement spiritually is all a matter of the glory of God. That is, what counts with you and with me is just and only what works out for the glory of God. It is not how much we do, how busy we are, how much we know, how long we have been Christians, it is none of these subsidiary things. The measurement which stands at last is just the degree of the glory of God which comes out of our lives. How much there is for His glory is the thing that abides. We may take it that nothing else will abide. That is the challenge and it may be that in the face of such a challenge many of our hearts sink. Some of us have lived a few years and done a good deal for the Lord and we are wondering really how much glory has come to the Lord from our lives. Some of you have longer lives before you and this challenge almost frightens you in such a world as this is, with so much to contend with in ourselves and outside of ourselves, with the cost that is bound up with this matter of the glory of God and it is a great cost. We say, "Who is sufficient for these things?"; how can it be? That is just the value of the underlined word - "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts".
It was ever thus; in the great concentric expression of the testimony of God, it was the same. Did He come to perfect and establish that testimony? Is it true that the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ? Then it was by the Spirit. The testimony of God was taken up at Jordan, the Spirit came upon Him, and immediately the enemy challenged and offered Him the kingdoms of this world and the glory in exchange for the glory of God. It is always like that - the kingdoms of this world and the glory thereof in exchange for the glory of God. But by that Spirit of anointing which had come upon Him at the Jordan, He met that challenge to the glory of God. Ah, He met it under fiery trial and you remember what the apostle said to some believers in fiery trial, speaking about their afflictions, their sufferings, for the testimony's sake, "The Spirit of glory... rests upon you" (1 Peter 4:14). In trial, in adversity, in suffering, the Spirit of glory rests upon you. What is that? The Spirit that was upon the Lord Jesus for the express purpose of perfecting that testimony.
The Holy Spirit came for the express purpose of perfecting and establishing the testimony of God, the glory of God. Wherever you find the Holy Spirit coming in symbol or in actuality, you find the immediate result is the glory of God. Was it the tabernacle filled with the glory? Was it the temple filled with the glory? What did it point to? It pointed to the day of Pentecost when, the church brought in, the Spirit came and filled, and it was glory. That was a day of glory, God glorified in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. You know how again and again when we are told that the Spirit came upon them or they were filled with the Spirit, the scene is a scene of glory. They glorified God... and everybody has to take account of God.
Yes, the Holy Spirit came on Him for the perfecting of that testimony, for that glorifying of God, and seeing that He had accepted that position of entire dependence upon God His Father for everything, we are right in saying that there is a sense, the Son of Man sense, in which Jesus could not have glorified God apart from the anointing. He depended upon the anointing for everything and it was through the eternal Spirit that He offered Himself (Heb. 9:14). From beginning to end it was a matter of the Holy Spirit perfecting the testimony, carrying it on to finality, and it was done. If He had been left to Himself, it would not have been done. Do not misunderstand that. I am not speaking of Him now as God nor as Son of God. I am speaking of Him in that manhood, that representative manhood, to work out the thing that had been set aside through Satan in man. But the fact is that, immense as was the task, the work, the purpose, the conflict, the suffering, the cost; through the eternal Spirit God was glorified in Jesus Christ and that testimony to the glory of God was secured in Him forever. The glorifying of the Lord Jesus in the end was because He had glorified the Father. Our glorification will be because God has been glorified in us.
Now then, our fears can go, our sense of dread can be dismissed, our weakness need not be the thing which dominates our consciousness or our outlook. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, said the Lord of hosts."
God's Instruments Stripped of Their Own Glory
Now here is the real value of significance of that little interrogation - "Who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zech. 4:10). Out of the millions who went into exile, just these forty-two thousand odd would pay the price of letting go their comforts and possessions and all that they had come to settle into in their exile, and go back for the Lord's testimony. Comparatively, out of the millions, a very small thing and in weakness; coming back with nothing, coming back to a desolate land - nothing there for them, nothing to bring with them, weak, impoverished, stripped, an afflicted people in the land - a day of small things. But there is something very challenging in that word, "Who hath despised the day of small things?" We have not really got the value and force of those words. They have very often been used as a cover for a kind of smallness that is not of God. Some people seem to think that if a thing is despised, it is necessarily something very important, that there is a value about it. Not necessarily. God Almighty is committed to that which is standing for His glory. That is no small thing, you cannot despise that, and the fact remains that whenever God has sought to get peculiar glory for Himself, He has taken something which had no glory in itself. Ah yes, you may despise it, but with God it is elect, precious, it is something of tremendous value. You would never despise whatever the thing was in itself if it was standing wholly for the glory of God, and you understand that such a thing finds God committed in His anointing to that.
God has ever been under obligation to strip His instruments of their own glory. A Moses with all his Egyptian glory must go for forty years to the desert to be emptied out and brought to be the man who says, "I cannot!" before the glory of God in Israel can come in. A Gideon's twenty-two thousand must be brought down to three hundred if God is going to be glorified. But Moses now is not a man to be despised. Let them despise Moses and say, "Does the Lord speak only by Moses? Does He not speak by us also?" And they despised him, and it just puts in there, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3). Now then, see what God will do. God is committed, and the glory of God appeared at the gate of the tabernacle and took up the challenge.
And the three hundred of Gideon was a small thing, but not to be despised. The principle holds good. Sometimes it takes the Lord years and years to get us sufficiently empty, meek and small, to bring in glory to Him and that explains His dealings with us. When He has got us small enough and empty enough, then He will begin His real testimony in us. "Not by might, nor by power of any kind whatsoever, but by My Spirit" said Jehovah of hosts, the Lord God of Sabaoth.
The Glory of God in the Hands of the Holy Spirit
That is the message. The testimony of God, which is the glory of God, must be in the hands of the Holy Spirit and can only be confirmed, established, and perfected by the Holy Spirit. The testimony of God is not a teaching, a system of truth. It is the glory of God. Oh, let us get that quite clearly and be quite sure about it.
We may have all the doctrine, the perfection of doctrine, and we may call that having the testimony. We have got to see that we are not occupied, and not to be occupied with things at all, even though those things be Divine truths and Divine order. While the Divine glory will require truth and right order and perhaps many things, these things can become the technique, the mere framework and shell. And we must remember that although the tabernacle was constituted and constructed to the last pin according to Divine instructions, it did not function until the glory came in. The temple was an exhaustive thing in the matter of detail and everything, to the last detail, was done according to Divine commandment and there it stood, perfect as to its form, but dead until the glory came in. While we must have the form of things as God has prescribed, we do not stop there. We can have it, and oh, we have seen it: things just an imitation of something in the Scriptures, in the New Testament, a taking up of the technique or doctrine and order, and dead. We must have that, but the testimony is not that. The testimony is the glory. Is the glory there? Oh, those poor lives that are so legal, meticulous about what you ought to do and what you ought not to do, what you ought to wear and what you ought not to wear, where you ought to go and where you ought not to go; in these things so particular and careful and imposing some heavy burden. Now, it may be all right to be concerned for things being right, but is the glory being brought in?
It is the point from which you start that matters. If you are bringing in the glory, people will say, "How do you get the glory?" And the glory, the testimony of God, will be the plumbline which will show the bulges; not technique, not the doctrine, not the legalism; no, but the glory. If you have the glory of the Lord in your heart, in your life, I will want to know how to get it and I will follow. But if you come to me with all kinds of, "Thou shalt..." and "Thou shalt not", and all those legal things, (and you may be quoting them from the Scripture at me), and I do not find the glow of the Divine glory which draws my heart after the Lord, then I shall say that it is an empty shell, that it is dead, it does not help. We begin with the glory.
That is how it is in the New Testament. Perhaps you say that in the Old Testament they put the thing just as God prescribed and then the glory came. Yes, you are pointing on. At Pentecost it was the other way round, or, shall I say, more full. Things in Christ, in heaven, had been perfected and the glory came here, and then by the glory of that which was perfected in Him, the doctrine followed, the prescription came afterwards. The glory was there, the power was there, the anointing was there, and then people began to learn what they should do and what they should not do. The dynamic came first. It is necessary to have it that way. "By My Spirit". We can do nothing about this testimony. I cannot help you to glorify God; you cannot help me to glorify God apart from the Holy Spirit. Nothing that we can provide or prescribe can do it. The most perfect order that we can secure will not do it. It is "by My Spirit". It is not our abilities, intellectual or otherwise, not our personality, no, nothing at all of man. It is "by My Spirit, said the Lord". But it is "by My Spirit". It will be done where the Spirit has His way, God will be glorified. Beloved, if the Spirit of glory is in us and upon us, He is the Spirit of the God of glory, He is the Spirit of the glorified Christ and His whole object is to bring about that testimony in us and through us - in strange ways, but the issue is just that.
Paul may seem to be dying in Asia, the sentence of death in him, despairing of life, the enemy seeming to be triumphant. That is not the end, "...that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raised the dead" (2 Cor. 1:9). And after that he wrote a good deal to the glory of God and lived a good deal to the glory of God after that.
Yes, we may go very deep, far down, but the Spirit of God in us is not going to be drowned, is not going to be swamped, is not going to be overcome of death. The Spirit of God in us is yet going to secure the testimony of God, the glory of God. Oh, count much upon the Holy Spirit, recognize the indispensability of the Holy Spirit, do see that the Spirit is come for this express purpose in you, in us, upon us, for one object - the glory of God. In all times when it would seem to be going otherwise, you and I must lay hold of the Spirit of God and say, "You are here in me for the glory of God and you have got to bring glory to God out of this affliction, out of this persecution, out of this difficult situation!" The Lord give us that strong faith attitude towards the Holy Spirit for the testimony of God.
This is a brief, I trust concise, one-noted message - "By My Spirit". It is the negative - not this, not that, not any one of a whole number of things upon which the world and men count for achieving their ends; not these things at all, but - "by My Spirit". That alone, but "by My Spirit", yes, a thousand times, yes! "By My Spirit" it can be. A day of small things, weak, suffering, afflicted, despised, nothing - yes, but "by My Spirit" all is possible and all will be if you will live by the Spirit. The Lord help us.