THE PRESERVATION OF GOD’S HOUSE
Harold J Klassen
Zechariah 1: 18-21
We have just heard about Priscilla and Aquila being those who ministered to the edifying and building up of the saints. I thought of this portion here. It is quite interesting to read the whole chapter, where we get the different coloured horses. There are things that have to do with the red horse in verse 8, and then, the “red, bay and white horses” follow. They each have a meaning. And then, what is interesting is that the nations were at rest: they had succeeded, so they thought, in subduing Jerusalem. But the Lord says, “my house shall be built in it”, v 16. And now, where we began to read, we find that there are the four horns. Four speak of what is universal; one speaks of power. So Zechariah says to the angel, “What are these? And he said to me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem”. Think of that, the power of the enemy to scatter God’s people, to destroy the centre! Jerusalem speaks of the centre. It is interesting that God mentions those three names: Judah suggests to me man in responsibility; Israel man in sovereignty; and Jerusalem the centre. All this had been destroyed by mankind. It is interesting when you think of the work of the enemy today seeking to destroy what God has built up in the power of the Spirit since the day of Pentecost.
Then he says, “And Jehovah shewed me four craftsmen. And I said, What come these to do? And he spoke, saying, Those are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man lifted up his head; but these are come to affright them, to cast out the horns of the nations, which lifted up the horn against the land of Judah to scatter it”. Now, I would say that what we have heard about Aquila and Priscilla would refer to the craftsmen, or as the note says, ‘carpenters’. It is really easy to destroy things. I could destroy a building easily, but when it comes to the craftsmen to build it up, that would be a lot more of a challenge to me, to each one of us. And another thing that is interesting is that it takes a lot longer to build up than it does to destroy!
So I thought of this, that God takes note of everything. It looked as if God was resting or asleep, if you want to say that in a reverent way. The nations were at rest because Jerusalem was not being built, and yet God is watching, seeing everything; and He has those carpenters, those craftsmen that He is going to use to build up what the nations around had destroyed. Destruction is the work of the enemy and it is the work, you might say today, of the religious world, to destroy what is really of God, the apostle Paul’s ministry as we have had before us. But there is power with the craftsmen. He says, “Those are the horns which scattered Judah”, and, as I said, man in responsibility and man in sovereignty, they were all scattered; and Jerusalem. But God says, “my house shall be built”. That is so: when God comes, when Jesus our Lord and Saviour comes to take the assembly home, there will be a testimony for Him. There will be those going on that He will have great delight in. It is not that He does not have delight in all the redeemed - I do not want to be taken wrongly on that - but there will be that which is answering to Him when He comes, I do believe. Some of the psalms would bring that out.
So the question is for my soul, am I the one that is destroying and scattering or am I a craftsman like those who have been brought before us? You think of Priscilla and Aquila. I think they are mentioned six times in Scripture, three times Priscilla is first, three times Aquila is mentioned first; so it was a household that was in balance. You might say, ‘What can I do? I am just one brother; we are just one household’. Well, you could probably do a lot more than you think you can do. A brother once said if no one else is going on, why not just go on yourself. That would be the greatest testimony you can have. But Priscilla and Aquila had a home where the saints were welcomed, and they ministered to their needs. It says in Romans 16 that the assembly was in their house, v 5. That is where they had the meetings, perhaps the breaking of bread and so on, as we would say. Well, I think it is interesting to see that God has a way, has a plan, for the preservation of His house. These are the craftsmen and, as I said, Mr Darby’s note says, ‘smiths’, ‘carpenters’. There are those who can build up. We have all seen some of the beautiful work that a craftsman can do in building cabinets, for example; it is beautiful! I could tear them apart a lot faster than he could build them, and make a mess of things. I think it is interesting how it does not take an intelligent person to destroy. It takes an intelligent person to be a craftsman and to bring forth what is constructive and helpful for the preservation of Jerusalem and the Lord’s people.
And so these were shown to Zechariah. God said, “but these” - that is the carpenters - “are come to affright them, to cast out the horns of the nations”. Well, how would that be? It is by being constructive. It is by building, dwelling on what is positive, and building on that. And so that is how the carpenters affrighted them and “cast out the horns of the nations, which lifted up the horn against the land of Judah to scatter it”. It would be a sad thing to me, as I have found out through the years with the brethren, to think that I might have been involved in scattering some of the Lord’s people. If you just think of that for a minute: if you really love your blessed Saviour, if you love what He loves, the testimony, think what it would be to have to give an account for scattering His people! I say these things for encouragement that we might each see, and build upon the foundation that we have had before us. A carpenter, smith, craftsman, whatever, would build upon that. As I said, it takes a lot longer to build up. We have a word in my office that one word can destroy ten years of building friendship, and I think we have all seen that and experienced a little bit of that; let me ask again, what would be edifying? What, if I may use the expression, would look nice in the building? What would be attractive that I could put in there? I think the household of Priscilla and Aquila was an attractive household. I believe that we can each at least have that in our lives, in our home. We may not think of it as a great thing but as we had before us recently: we are not to despise “the day of small things”, Zech 4: 10. God is doing a great work, and what a privilege it is to be among that. It is only His grace that can keep us; we cannot keep ourselves. We may think we are pretty good; we may think we are spiritual. Do not be overcome by that; do not think that way! That is the thinking of the enemy. Commit yourself to the hand of God and to His saving grace, His keeping grace, so that we might be able to minister to the needs of one another. And it is not only that, but the other side is, am I willing to be ministered to by my brother, not to be offensive, but to seek to learn what God teaches, through our fellowship together? There are a lot of precious things that we have, many more than we know. God would have us to enjoy them, enjoy the beauty of them, the beauty of that which is going on in divine communion with our Lord and Saviour. He is Lord in the assembly and how wonderful it is!
I hope that we can be encouraged in these things because it is not a legal thing at all, and if we take up with legality, seeking to be technical in the things of God, we may destroy. If we take up with what is of grace, which is beautiful and constructive, it will be for the glory of God. May we be encouraged and strengthened for His Name’s sake!
29th March 2017