‘Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying. Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne’, Zech. 6. 12-13.
There is no difficulty here as to the identity of ‘the man whose name is the branch’. For the Jew this was the well-known emblem of the coming Messiah: ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’, Isa. 11. 1. A new shoot and branch was to grow out of the nearly extinct stem of David. From small beginnings this tender shoot was to become a strong and fruitful branch, sheltering and nourishing the entire nation. This was the hope of every believing Jew, but such was Jewish pride and prejudice it never occurred to them that this hope had a wider reference than to Israel only. Of all people they should have known that the promised Messiah was not only to be ‘the glory of my people Israel’; He was also to be ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’. With this promised Branch is bound up not only the hopes of the Jewish people, but the history and destiny of the world.
In the verses quoted above, the Branch of the Lord is represented as Building the Temple, Bearing the Glory, and Ruling on His Throne. To this we shall now confine our attention.
In the words ‘he shall build the temple of the Lord’ we have a prophecy of a temple which was yet to be; a temple distinct from, and superior to, the temple of the Old Testament. With all its unparalleled magnificence even Solomon’s temple was never intended to be God’s permanent dwelling-place; the reason for this being, that ‘the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands’, Acts 7. 48. That Solomon himself was aware of this is clear from his words: ‘But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have builded’, 1 Kings 8. 27. The fact is the temple was not the goal, it was a signpost pointing to new and better things; it was a type of which the Church is the antitype. The temple of the Old Testament has been superseded by the Church of the New Testament; the material structure has been displaced by a spiritual building. The people of God no longer meet in a temple, they are the temple. He who once dwelt in a ‘tent’ while Israel was in the wilderness, and in a ‘temple’ when she was in the land, now dwells in the Church. These tabernacle-temple shadows of the past have their substance in the Church of the present. They were temporal, the Church is eternal – God’s everlasting abode. In Solomon’s temple, therefore, we have a type of God’s heavenly building the Church, the Assembly of God.
Solomon was a great builder and his greatest achievement was the magnificent temple that bears his name. But in the verses now before us a greater builder is in view and a fairer temple than any Solomon built. The prophet says: ‘Even he shall build the temple of the Lord’; and the repetition of these words clearly points to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus we see not only a greater temple, but a greater than Solomon in this typical history. It points forward to the great work the Lord Jesus came to do when He said: ‘Upon this rock I will build my church’, Matt. 16. 18. He is now implementing that promise; He is taking out of the nations a people for His name and building that people into an holy temple where, by the Holy Spirit, He dwells. Consider the pattern He builds to. Solomon’s temple was a carefully planned building, and because it was a type of God’s heavenly building, the Church, He Himself drew the plans. We read that ‘David gave to Solomon the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord’, I Chron. 28. 11, 12. All the details, the minutest, were divinely revealed. The scriptural pattern for the Church is set before us in the New Testament and anything not framed after this pattern cannot be of God. Think of the materials He builds with. The stones of this building arc living stones; men and women who have been made spiritually alive. Like the stones of Solomon’s temple they were once lying cold and dead in the hard rock quarry of nature. But the divine Builder sought them, purchased them, and is now fitting them for, and fitly framing them into, an holy temple in the Lord. In the words of Peter, ‘Ye also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house’, 1 Peter 2. 5. The word ‘stones’ here implies stones dressed, polished and built into their appointed place. What privileged stones! What a glorious Builder! Note the purpose He builds for. He is building the Church ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit’, Eph. 2. 22. The Holy Spirit is sanctifying the Church, the Assembly of God, a temple for God’s use and service. If it is to be seen that we know how to behave ourselves ‘in the house of God, which is the church of the living God’, we must exemplify the holiness of God’s house. In all our activities and behaviour we must see to it that we are doing nothing inconsistent with the character and pattern of the house of God. Thus the Church is the habitation of God; it is His Holy of Holies, His place of worship, His instrument of service. His heaven on earth. The Glory
A glory results from this temple building: ‘Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory’. To whom can the glory belong but to the builder! As we have seen the name here is Solomon but the true image is the Lord Jesus. In Him there is glory upon glory and nowhere is this exemplified more fully than in that hallowed house of His glory, the Church. In the stability and completeness of this house beautiful He bears an exceeding weight of glory. Upon Him hangs all the glory of His Father’s house, the Church, and everything in that house is intended to make some contribution to His glory. Here everything is so arranged that he who glories must glory in the Lord, for ‘in his temple doth every one speak of his glory’, Psalm 29.9. How much more will this be the case when ‘he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe’ -when we shall cast our crowns before the throne, saying: ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever’. Rev. 1. 5-6.
When His glorious work is completed He ‘shall sit and rule on his throne; he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both’. Now He is sitting upon His Father’s throne; having finished the work of redemption, He ‘sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’, Heb. 1. 3. But there is a throne peculiarly His own. When the Church is completed, when the last living stone has been added to the building, He ‘shall sit and rule upon his throne; He shall be a priest upon his throne’. God’s purpose ever has been an everlasting kingdom for His Son, but in order to establish this the king must be a priest and the priest a king. Had there been no priest, no offering, no sacrifice for sin; there could have been no king, no kingdom, no right to rule and reign. This throne, therefore, will be the throne of the King-Priest Redeemer; and ‘the counsel of peace shall be between them both’. There was a counsel of peace between God who would have a redeemed people, and Christ who would redeem them. This counsel took place in eternity past, and it will be brought to complete fruition in eternity future. Thus in the King-Priest Redeemer ‘mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other’, Psalm 85. 10. Thank God the King-Priest has been here and left His blessing upon His people. The throne and the crown that shall be His have not yet been displayed; His sovereign rights are in abeyance; but ‘he that shall come will come, and will not tarry’, Heb. 10. 37. A day is coming when God will ‘bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all’. In that day the Church, the Assembly of God, will go no more out. She will then be her Builder’s and Maker’s rest for ever. She was chosen of Him, desired by Him, and in that day she will enter into the fulness of her inheritance bringing praise and glory to her King-Priest Redeemer.