by T. Austin-Sparks
"And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have seen, and, behold, a candlestick all of gold, with its bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon" (Zech. 4:1-2).
"And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands" (Rev. 1:12).
"For, behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; upon one stone are seven eyes" (Zech. 3:9).
"For who hath despised the day of small things? For these seven shall rejoice..." (Zech. 4:10).
"And out of the throne proceed lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Rev. 4:5).
"And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6).
"Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of Grace, grace, unto it" (Zech. 4:6-7).
I only want to gather up the definite and direct truths which are contained in these various portions, that which lies behind these symbols. It is not difficult, indeed it is quite simple, if we just quietly meditate on them.
Firstly, there is a foundation stone, or a chief cornerstone, for the building in which God is interested, the house of God, and it is said about this stone that it has seven eyes. We know from other scriptures that the seven eyes represented the Holy Spirit in fulness in two particular respects. What we have is the One who is the chief cornerstone brought into His place by God in the fulness of the Spirit, and that is the fulness of spiritual vision and the fulness of spiritual power. The whole building is to take its character from the chief cornerstone; the building will be according to that.
Then there are a great many difficulties represented in Zechariah by the great mountain. There are mountainous difficulties in the way of the completion of this building, this Divine purpose. The mountain may mean anything that stands in opposition to God's intention. It may mean anything or everything of that which has come to challenge, and, if possible, to frustrate God's purpose in the building of this house.
But then there is a top stone which is brought forth and put on the completed building, or as the completion of the building, with shoutings of "Grace, grace unto it", and there are two things connected with that. One is that the seven eyes rejoice. "These seven shall rejoice", that is, the eyes of vision are satisfied at last. And the other thing is - "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." That corresponds with what we saw in a previous meditation, the change in the imagery from the Lion to the Lamb. Not by might, as man thinks of might, nor by power, as man speaks of power, but "by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts".
We must begin with the Lord Jesus as God's chief cornerstone in whom God's full vision is set forth. In simple words, the Lord Jesus is the beginning of God's purpose. God's vision in fulness is found in Him. Seven eyes on this cornerstone simply say that the Lord Jesus is God's beginning, and God's beginning in Him is a full revelation, a full intelligence, a full spiritual vision. Then the Lord Jesus is the top stone and when the top stone is brought forth, all that vision is realised, all that spiritual intelligence is satisfied, all that God meant and looked for is attained in the Lord Jesus. In between you have, on the one hand, all the obstacles, all the difficulties, the great mountain; and, on the other hand, "My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts". So the seemingly difficult symbolism is very simple, after all. In the book of the Revelation, we notice that the seven eyes belong to the Lamb: "a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes", so that God's full revelation in the Lord Jesus, realised by the fulness of the power of the Holy Spirit, is by way of the Cross, the Lamb slain. Now, all that is to be resolved into one or two things for immediate application to ourselves.
Fulness of Vision
The seven eyes, we have said, speak of fulness of vision, and that is where the Lord begins His building. The building begins with that, and it is a law that there is no spiritual increase, no building up, no progress towards God's full end, except by spiritual vision. Spiritual vision is essential. Usually people put spiritual power first. The Lord does not put power first; the Lord puts vision first.
The Lord took great pains with His disciples that there should be the ground of intelligence, spiritual vision, as to Himself, before He gave power. The Lord does not want us to have power without understanding. It is a dangerous thing. We go in quest of power first; we want power with which to do the work of God. What work? Oh, what we think ought to be done for the Lord, what we are convinced is the work of the Lord. But that is not good enough. The Lord wants intelligence before power. Power without intelligence is both dangerous and wasteful. During forty days after His resurrection He was seeking to lay the foundation in those disciples of a true understanding of what He is in resurrection. His final three and a half years had closed with a state of appalling ignorance. On the way to Emmaus it was made perfectly clear that, after all that He had said, all that He had done, all that they had heard and seen as they had companied with Him, they really had not seen. Everything crashed with His death. "We trusted that it was He who should redeem Israel. Yea, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass" (everything gone!) "...And their eyes were opened." Then He opened their understanding. This was during the forty days and that is what He was doing, and then came Pentecost!
We often begin with the point, "Ye shall receive power". We always want to begin there. We must remember that the Lord wants a good foundation for power, and that is spiritual vision. I am not saying that you can have spiritual vision apart from the Holy Spirit, I am saying that the seven eyes are perfect vision and they represent the Holy Spirit. That is the first aspect of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of Life has come, His next movement is Light. Power is subsequent. So what is needed first is Light. Let there be light!
Now, it is a very important thing in relation to God's purpose for a "House" (and that is His supreme and inclusive purpose - "whose house are we"), that we, by the Holy Spirit, have vision. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). "My people perish (are destroyed AV) for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). The Lord said that.
Oh, we have such a ground of appeal to the Lord concerning the power if we have caught a vision of His purpose, because the power works in relation to the purpose. It is not just general power for all kinds of good things that we might feel inclined or drawn to do for the Lord. It is related to the purpose.
May I urge upon you, without multiplying words in this connection, that you really do seek the Lord about this matter, that the Lord, by the fulness of the Spirit, will be to you a Spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Some of us do know that, after years of seeking the Lord for power. We sought the Lord through the night hours, we rose before daybreak; for years we were in quest of power. This word 'spiritual power' was always on our lips before the Lord, and nothing happened until the day when there broke upon us a revelation of God's purpose. We saw the purpose of God and from that time we knew something more of the Spirit working, the accompanying work of the Spirit; I am not going to say the fulness of the power of the Spirit. Things began to happen; there was movement. Lives were changed; people began to seek; they recognised something. Lives were turned inside out from the day that we began to see the purpose of God; the power of God came like that.
I do want to urge this upon you, that you are not going to get very far without seeing. We ought to realise that the first work of the Spirit of Life is vision. It is true in John's gospel. When He in whom is the Life has come as the Life, it is the Light which begins to work, and then there is a dividing between light and darkness. Some men loved darkness rather than Light, but those who want the Light come to Him and go on with Him. He is the Light; He opens the eyes of the blind.
Now, for spiritual growth, for spiritual fulness in ourselves as far as that can be in individuals, in the church locally and universally, Life is always first, there must be Life and Light, not in a general sense, but vision as to God's purpose. We cannot put too much emphasis upon this need among the Lord's people for revelation, spiritual vision, seeing the purpose of God - what a tremendous thing it is! Vision works wonders. See what it did with Paul. At the beginning of his Christian life when in natural blindness because of that light, the eyes of his heart were enlightened, and God revealed His Son in Him. That revelation of the Lord Jesus and who He was, and God's purpose concerning Him, did what nothing else could possibly have done in the case of Saul of Tarsus.
I venture to think that there was nothing in this universe that could have lifted Saul of Tarsus clear of his fanatical Judaism but an inward revelation. It did that and many other things too. We need vision by the Holy Spirit, but let us remember that that is the object for which the Spirit has come. He has come because of the work of the Lamb, the Cross; upon that basis He has come to give revelation of God's purpose.
That brings us once more to recognise the simple, fundamental fact that the fulness of the Spirit working in spiritual revelation and vision demands a work of the Lamb in us; it demands the Cross in us. The obstruction to spiritual vision and revelation with so many is their own reason. That is in the way. They cannot see God's thoughts because of their own. I need not pursue that very minutely. We can say inclusively that if we are going to see God's purpose, something has to happen to us. And so it is true to the experience of all of us who have gone this way that, first of all, something very drastic was done concerning us and the Cross of the Lord Jesus.
The Lord brought us to see first of all Romans 6; and if you see Romans 6, something is going to happen and something does happen. Seeing is the act. We can preach Romans 6, lecture on Romans 6, know all about Romans 6 as a passage in the Bible, and not see Romans 6. Romans 6 revealed to us is a terrific thing. When Christ died, we died; and - forgive the old form of expression so familiar to many - when we died as sinners, we died as men and women. Most of us are quite willing to die as sinners, very glad to get out of the way as sinners, but to die as men and women is quite another thing. Not only is it someone who is not sinning as they used to, but it is no one at all but Jesus. Romans 6 reveals the foundational fact of our death with and in Christ, something which has come about in our experience as a basic thing. The Lord has to do a great deal of preparatory work to get us there very often. Oh yes, none of us has such a position, such a knowledge, that we can set up as a model, but some of us do know something about this in measure.
For your own comfort and encouragement, I tell you that, so far as I am concerned, I preached Romans and Ephesians for many years as well as all the rest. But then the Lord began to work towards the crisis which meant this: 'We can go on no longer; we can go on preaching no longer; we can go on working for the Lord no longer. It is doubtful whether we can go on professing to be Christians any longer' (not that we were not born again, but the Lord had something more than our being born again in mind). The day came when it seemed that everything had come to an end. It was in that day that Romans 6 was revealed inwardly and it explained these strange dealings of the Lord. He had a lot to do to make a revelation of Romans 6 possible of being fruitful. For we, being what we are, do not really profit by anything that we do not desperately need. Unless we are right up against it, we are not really in a state to get the good of it, and the Lord has to work like that until that is the only thing that will save us. We do not know what it is but He reveals it. He has been working towards that; it is done in that hour - the Cross really brought home over a background of the dealings of God with us in a deep and desperate way.
What can we say in that hour? All we can say is, 'Well, Lord, the only logical thing in the light of what You have been doing with me is that I accept Romans 6. Being what I am, how I am, where I am, in the light of Your dealings with me, can I stand up against the fact that You have done with me, You finished with me two thousand years ago?' This is no new situation. God had that situation when Christ died. That this occurs in us is a necessary thing in order that the power of the Spirit might come in fulness along the line, first of all, of revelation. When the Lord accomplishes that and gets us there, a new vision breaks upon us, a new revelation. Then in spiritual experience, as in the Word, the order is a revelation of the church following the Cross; a revelation of the House of God or, if you like, a revelation of God's purpose. That is the order: something done to make way for that revelation, and then the revelation given, and then a new power coming in to work in relation to the purpose.
These are facts and I would urge upon you to have dealings with the Lord in this matter. If you feel that you have taken that position long since or not so long since, you hold the Lord to it, that the right which is yours on the ground of your having accepted all that identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection means, is to have a new revelation of His purpose. That is your right. Stand for it! Hold on to the Lord - new light, new revelation, not in a general way, but in a definite way, as to what God is after. Well, all this has to do with perfect vision by the fulness of the Spirit.
Now you are asking perhaps, or have asked, for the fulness of the Spirit. Remember that is not a mere abstract or indefinite thing. The fulness of the Spirit relates, in the first instance, to the knowledge of God's purpose, to spiritual intelligence, spiritual vision. Then, of course, when you have seen what God is after, when you have vision and revelation, you meet the mountain. When you have seen God's full thought concerning His people, God's full thought as bound up with the church, oh, the mountain - a range of mountains - will appear! How, in all the world, can this purpose be realised? That will be one mountain to get over. How is it possible? And because that question has arisen, all sorts of people have resorted to all sorts of theories which somehow or other just cause the vision to fade. 'Oh, everything is hopelessly in ruins! We must not expect to have anything better! We must take things as we find them!' Why? Because of that great mountain. How? In view of the situation - how? The mountain comes up - the enemy sees to that.
When there is a report of the land by Joshua and Caleb, some people only see high walls and giants and that does it; it is finished! The whole purpose of God is abandoned. There are high walls and there are giants! That is the last word in the argument for some people. Do remember that Satan is really out with all his power and all his arts to see that that vision is not realised if he can prevent it. There is nothing which is more fraught with Satanic antagonism than spiritual vision. Where there is real spiritual light among the Lord's people, there you have real spiritual conflict. There Satan works persistently by every means. Why is that? It is a tremendous thing to have seen, and Satan is the god of this age to blind the mind. His work is blinding, and if your eyes are open, he is undone. So he would ever keep God's people from having spiritual vision. Revelation is a realm of conflict. Don't forget that!
That is the real force of the overcomer in the book of the Revelation. What really is the clearly defined issue with the overcomer? Why, the general thing has lost its vision; the general thing has ceased to be occupied with God's full thought; it is occupied with many things for the Lord, and many good things. The Lord says, "They are all right in their place - as things." And those people would say, "Well, things being as they are, it is no use our aiming at something better. It is useless for us to hope for or seek after anything better. We must make the best of what there is. We must do what we can." That is the church in general today, and if you are going out for anything more than the general, you will be told you are an idealist, or you are trying to be different from others - all sorts of things; but that is the overcomer. The overcomer is this in effect.
The majority of the Lord's people may be satisfied with something less than God's full thought; they are perhaps having a good time, more or less; they are not meeting the cost, not having to pay the price of anything more. They are free from many of the things which come upon those who are going on with God in fulness of purpose. What am I going to do about it? Am I going to accept that position? Am I going to surrender to what is more or less general? Or am I going to take the place of an isolated and ostracised minority, and go right on with God for His fullest mind? That is the overcomer; that is what it means to overcome. You can sum it all up there. The overcomer is the one who will not be content with anything short of the full purpose of God and is prepared to pay the price, and the price will be exacted largely by the Lord's people themselves - that is where the difficulty is. Well, that is where the Cross applies more deeply.
Fulness of Power
There is this other side which is fulness of power. Fulness of vision is essential, but there are seven horns as well as seven eyes, and while there is a great mountain, there is this word: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." There is, in the same Spirit who gives the vision, the power for its realisation. In the same Christ who is the chief cornerstone, there is the top stone, and to complete it, the bringing forth of the top stone with shoutings of "Grace, grace unto it", sees Him as the Omega as well as the Alpha, the end as well as the beginning. "By My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It is all in the energy of the Spirit of God that it is done.
It would be a poor lookout if we were trying to do something on our own in relation to God's full thought. If it were left to us, it would be a poor lookout indeed! But, blessed be God, it is not. We may take it that, if we are in line with God's full mind, we are on the way of the fulness of the Spirit in power. We may not realise that. We may say, 'But surely we must be conscious of something, if that is true. Surely no man, no assembly, can have the fulness of the Holy Spirit in power without feeling something!' "I looked to see this wonderful Lion and it was a Lamb as it had been slain..." and do you know what it feels like to be slain? Well, the Word says that is the way of overcoming, and when you see what has to be overcome, that is the way of infinite power. It is the Lamb that overcomes, but what does the Lamb overcome? You can truly be in the mighty energies of the Holy Spirit in an incorruptible Life, and never be conscious of that power at all. That is where so many people make a mistake and lose their faith. It is true to our experience and true to principle, that very often God does His biggest things in the hour when the instrument is at its weakest, and consciously so.
Our worst times are very often God's best times, and when we think we are having a good time, God is not always having such a good time. His strength is made perfect in weakness. Do not interpret that to mean that the weakness is turned into His strength. It means that the weakness is there, and His strength is working in perfection while the weakness is still there. The consciousness of the one concerned is of the weakness, but the consciousness out beyond that is of His strength. Do not think that we must feel the mighty power of the Spirit in order that that power may be at work.
What we have to give to the Lord is a crucified life, a crucified man, and a faith in Him, and through our weakness His strength will work. His glory will never be given to any flesh - never! The Spirit of glory rests upon that which is at a discount in its nature.
This is hard teaching, it is hard to receive. Will you go away offended, saying, "These are hard things. Who can receive them?" Well, whether we receive them or not, the fact remains that when it is all done and we reach the glorious accomplishment of God, we will say, "Thou art worthy! Thou art worthy!" That only means, 'Marvellous! Never would I have thought it possible!' Why? Look at that through which it has been done! It will not be a galaxy of mighty, wonderful people in themselves. It will just be through those who in themselves counted for nothing, and the Lord saw they counted for nothing, and all the glory is due to Him. Remember, the ascription of praise is not to the Lion, after all. It is to the Lamb. The Lord show us what that means!