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• 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.'
Zech. vi. 12.
COMMENTATORS generally suppose the Messiah is intended by this word. It is used in this manner in Isa. iv. 2. xi. 1. Jer. xxiii. 5. xxxiii. 15. Zech. iii. 8. Isaiah and Jeremiah call him by this name as a kind of prophecy of his miraculous birth of a virgin. The Chaldee has, 'whose name is my Messiah.' Cruden renders Luke i. 78, the branch from on high,' instead of the day-spring from on high.'*
The following things are said of this great personage prefigured by the Branch
I. He would build the temple of the Lord.
Other offices and work are assigned to him, but the above are the most prominent.
I. He was to build the temple of the Lord. By this language we are, of course, to understand a temple of a spiritual kind, one, differing in beauty, glory, and duration from all others: one, designed to last when thrones, dominions and earthly temples shall have passed away forever; one, having God for the builder; Jesus for the foundation; the apostles and prophets, and the whole human race for the structure. Peter refers to such a work, when he says, 'Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ.'* The Apostle of the Gentiles also refers to this building: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.'t But we must not multiply quotations. We will barely point out some of the glories of this temple, and leave the reader to enter, and admire and adore at his leisure.
* The Vulgate translates Oriens, Jesus Christ is the Branch of the house of David. He is likewise, Oriens, the Sun of Righteousness, which is risen in order to enlighten us, and to deliver us out of the shadow of death.
1. It is august, because it is the temple of God. 2. It is worthy of reverence, as God dwells in it.
3. It is ancient, for the patriarchs and prophets have labored in the building of it.
4. It is spacious, as it reaches to heaven, and to God himself, and includes both Jews and Gentiles.
5. It is beautiful, because adorned with grace, mercy, love and truth.
6. It is everlasting, because Jesus is the foundation.
II. He would rule upon his throne. That Christ was to be a ruler is evident from the whole strain of prophecy. Even to quote the Scripture indicating this fact would swell this work to an immense volume. The reader, therefore, in this instance, as in many others, must be content with mere references.* But then, the reign of Christ was of a spiritual nature, as is evident from his declaration to Pilate, which is so full and remarkable that we present the passage: 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, than would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence.'t The kingdom of Christ differs from earthly kingdoms, in its origin, extent, and duration. Jesus will continue to rule among the nations till all are subdued, and then the kingdom will be given up to God even the Father. I
* 1 Pet. ii. 5.
† Ephes. ii. 19–22.
III. Jesus would be a priest on his throne. St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews frequently alludes to this office of the Messiah. There are many particulars belonging to this part of our article. The difference between Christ as a priest and others, is, 1st. He was from heaven, he came from the bosom of Infinite Purity. Therefore his character, partaking of its origin, was without spot or blemish. 20. This priest possessed absolute power over both the moral and physical departments of creation. He not only preached against sin, but actually had the power to remove it. He not only rebuked disease, but could make the sick whole. He could not only comfort in the hour of death, but he could destroy death itself. 3d. This priest, instead of sacrificing others and their interests, actually sacrificed himself. 4th. This priest died, but had the power to rise from the dead. All
* Mic. v. 2. Isa. xlii. 1-4. Jer. xxiii. 5. Matt. i1. 6. Luke xix. 38. John xviii. 36.
$1 Cor. xv. 24–28. See title King. ♡ Chap. vii. 11. 15. 17; ix. 11.
others share the common fate of man till the morning of the resurrection. 5th. He was to be both king and priest. This is one of the most remarkable features in the reign of the Messiah. "The counsel of peace,' says the Lord of Hosts, shall be between them both.' Before the Messiah, these offices often clashed, and differences arose between kings and priests; but they were united in Christ, and the exercise of both these offices by him shall sweetly concur to produce peace and reconciliation, as priest; deliverance from all our spiritual enemies as king. 'For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, * * * And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.'*
Pursuing the grand theme, the reader will find there were crowns laid up for a memorial in the temple of the Lord, a type, perhaps, of Christ's making his servants kings and priests unto God, surrounding the throne on which he sits. And we are told that they who are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord.' This seems to complete the grandeur of the scene. Jesus sits on his throne, as ruler, and priest, and builds the temple that will ultimately include the whole human race.
What a glorious personage have we prefigured by the Branch! He is King, Priest, Saviour, Mediator, Advocate, Counsellor, Son of God, Son of Man. And 'he bears the glory. So many offices never before centred in one being. All are sustained without difficulty and in perfect harmony.
No wonder that patriarchs and prophets looked
* Ephes. ii. 14–16.
forward to the day of Christ's coming with joy. No wonder that at his birth angelic strains were heard, announcing his approach. It is enough to move all heaven and earth. The theme of the birth and reign of Jesus is everlasting. It is the song of the elders around the throne, and will be the triumphant subject of angels and men when suffering humanity is redeemed, and made fit for the regions of endless purity and enjoyment.
From Jesse's root a Branch did rise,
The sick, the weak, the halt, and blind,