KERUX: A JOURNAL
Editor: James T. Dennison,Jr.
Assistant Editors: Richard A. Riesen and David L. Roth
KERUX is a publication of Kerux, Inc. and appears three times each year (May, September, December). Editorial offices are located at 1131 Whispering Highlands Drive, Escondido, CA 92027-4961. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $15.00 (U.S. and Canada); $20.00 (elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U.S. Funds. KERUX is: abstracted in Old Testament Abstracts, Washington, DC and Religious and Theological Abstracts, Myerstown, PA; indexed in Elenchus of Biblica, Rome, Italy.
ISSN: 0888-8513 December 1994 Vol. 9, No. 3
The Gospel of
from Beginning to End
Mark 1:1-15; 15:33-39; 16:1-8
James T. Dennison, Jr.
Mark begins and ends his gospel with schisma division, a parting, a rendingthe schism of the heavens (chapter 1:10); the schism of the veil in the temple (chapter 15:38). These two schisms—these two dramatic tearings/rendings—form, as it were, the boards of the book of Mark. The front cover—God splits the heavens; the back cover—God splits the veil of the temple. In between the boards of the book of Markin between the schismslies the vigorous, rapid-moving, dynamic gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (as Mark prefaces chapter 1:1). If we view the schism of the heavens and the schism of the veil as a literary bracket which envelopes this shortest of the four gospels, then within these brackets, inside this shortest of gospels, inside is the good news of Jesus of Nazareth and the good news of the kingdom he brings. Mark writes to tell us the gospel storythe gospel story of who Jesus is and the gospel story of the kingdom Jesus brings. Notice, if you will, that before the schism of the heavens at the Jordan (1:10) is Mark's prologuehis introduction to his gospel story. Notice that after the schism of the veil of the temple (15:38) is Mark's epiloguethe conclusion to his gospel story. Mark has structured his story of Jesus and his kingdom in this way: Prologue introduction; rending of the heavens; ministry of Jesus from Jordan to Jerusalem; rending of the veil of the temple; Epilogue conclusion. The heart of Mark's story of Jesus is inaugurated with the schism of the heavens; consummated
with the schism of the veil.
Now that we have found these markers for Mark's gospel, let's look a little more closely at the sections. The introductory prologue (1:1-13) places us squarely in the flow of the history of God's plan of salvation. In fact, the events of 1:1-13 take us back into the Old Testament—back into the preceding phase of the history of redemption. In Mark's prologue, we have wilderness themes, water-passage themes, temptation themes, prophetic themes—all themes from the Old Testament history of redemption. The concluding epilogue (15:39-16:8) places us squarely in the current or present phase of the history of redemption. The angel at the empty tomb tells the women on the morning of the resurrection, "He is going before you" (16:7). Between the prologue and the epilogue, the history of redemption receives its eschatological fulfillment. Now I use that term eschatological fulfillment to indicate how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament law and the prophets—how the kingdom Jesus brings is the accomplishment of the Old Testament Scriptures. The advent of Jesus is the advent of the eschatological kingdom—"the kingdom of God is at hand" (1:15). The advent of Jesus is the plundering of the kingdom of Satan—"come out" unclean spirit (1:25). The advent of Jesus is the beginning of the lifting of the curse—lepers are cleansed, the lame walk, the palsied are healed, the blind see and the dead are raised. In the heart of Mark's gospel, Jesus brings the eschatological gifts—the eschatological gifts of the kingdom of heaven—no more sickness, no more death. The kingdom which Jesus brings is a previewno, a replica of the kingdom which is heaven itself.
At the inauguration of the arrival—the eschatological arrival—of this kingdom, Mark places the parting of the heavens, the manifestation of God in the form of a dove and the voice—the voice of the Almighty—"Thou art my beloved Son." God speaks of his Son out of the heavens—commissions his servant-Son out of the heavens just as he had commissioned his servant Moses out of the burning bush. You will remember God told Moses—Go down! Go down Moses and tell pharaoh to let my son go. Yes, Moses, tell pharaoh to let my son go that he may serve me. Do you see the pattern: the manifestation of God; the voice; the commission; Moses, the servant of the Lord; Israel, God's sonthe exodus. And now at the Jordan: the manifestation of God; the voice; the commission; Jesus, the servant of the Lord; Jesus, God's Son—the new
This new exodus stands out in the structure of Mark's initial divine manifestation. The voice of God—in the wilderness—"prepare ye the way of the Lord." That call to preparation is a quotation from Is. 40:3. Isaiah projects that cry arising from a voice in the wilderness. For Isaiah, the wilderness is to become a place of new beginnings. Isaiah's wilderness is the reverse of the wilderness of Sinai. The Sinai wilderness was a place of rebellion, failure, death for God's son Israel. But in Is. 40 and later chapters, the wilderness is a place of rejoicing, abundance, life and blessing for the Israel of God. In Is. 40, the wilderness becomes the location of a new exodus for the people of God. Out of bondage they come—up from exile—out of malediction and cursing they flow—into a sojourn of freedom—a pilgrimage of rest—an odyssey of benediction and blessing. In the wilderness of Isaiah's new exodus, streams of water will flow, pillar columns of light will illuminate the way, cedars and myrtles, fig trees and cypress will dot the landscape—a virtual paradise garden of God.
Now, in Mk. 1:2-4, John the Baptist appears to signal the inauguration of the new exodus projected by Isaiah. In the wilderness, a new beginning occurs in the history of redemption. This John the Baptist—this final prophet of the former era declares the end of the old the dawn of the new. The new age has arrived! "Prepare ye the way of the Lord". In Christ Jesus, God's true Son—the age of fulfillment has arrived. Here, in Jesus, is the Israel of God who can enter the wilderness and bind the curse of sin. Here, in Jesus, is the Israel of God who can sojourn in the desert and spoil the strong man's goods. In the wilderness, this Israel will not fail through unbelief; this Israel will not long for the meat of Egypt; this Israel will not serve any save the Lord God and him only.
This Jesus—this Israel of God—God's Son appears in the wilderness at the end of the age in order to submit himself to the ordeal by water: through the waters Jesus goes signaling the end of the old and the beginning of the new. The new beginningthe new age is before us from the time of Jesus' ordeal by baptism. He passes through the waters—the heavens are split asunder and God himself declares this one is Son of God as no other. No other could pass through the waters and receive the dove—no other could plunder the kingdom
of Satan whose forces cry in terror, "have you come to torment us before our time"—no other could banish the curse from the fallen creation (even the dead are raised!)no other could intrude heaven on earth by the touch of his hand ("O leper, be thou clean"!)—by a word from his lips ("Take up thy bed and walk")by a glance from his eye ("Daughter thy faith hath made thee whole"). The appearance of this Jesus—this Son of God—is the rending of the heavens. What separates God and man is pierced—shattered—laid open by the voice of the Almighty. This well-beloved Son of the Father marks the beginning—the new beginning—the beginning of the gospel—the gospel of the God-man—the new beginning of the gospel of the kingdom of the incarnate Son of God.
Here is Mark's incarnation narrative—the rending of the heavens by the Father is a declaration that the One on whom the Spirit rests is the Son out of the heavens. The Son of God has pierced the barrier between heaven and earth; he has shattered the cosmos in incarnation. There is no story of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem in Mark's gospel. No angel choir, no magi, no shepherds around a manger. These events are not recorded in Mark chapter 1 not because Mark is ignorant of them, but because the drama of the incarnation of God irrupts with the rending of the heavens and the voice from above. In Mark's gospel, the incarnation of the Son of God is declared by the revelation at the baptism. Dramatically, abruptly—voice, dove, split-heavens—all announce that now the kingdom of God is at hand; now, from this moment at the Jordan, the kingdom of God has come; now, the beginning of new thingsa new beginning in the history of redemption with the advent—the coming—of the Son of the Father. The exodus finds its fulfillment in Jesus; the sojourn in the wilderness finds its accomplishment in Jesus; the passage through the waters finds its fulfillment in Jesus. Indeed, the eschatological kingdom of God is near.
In Mark's prologue, Jesus is passive. In Mk. 1:1-13, Jesus is silent. John the Baptist is active; God, the Father, speaks, but the Son of God never says a mumblin' word.
In Mark's prologue, Jesus does not testify of himself. In Mk. 1:1-13, the transitional servant (John the Baptist) testifies of Jesus' mightof Jesus' worth. John the Baptist marks the transition from the Old Testament to the
New Testament. He is the last Old Testament prophet—the last figure of that era. But John the Baptist is also the first to proclaim the new age—the era of fulfillment. John the Baptist bears witness to the end of the old—the beginning of the new. John the Baptist bears witness to Jesus. But he is not the only witness, is he. The heavenly visitor—the visitor with the voice from above—the heavenly visitor also testifies. The Father declares his Son. But the voice of Jesus is not heard.
Not heard until he has endured his first assault by the Evil One—not heard until he has triumphed in his first encounter with Satan. Even there, in the temptation by the Devil, his voice is not heard. In Mark's gospel, the temptation by the Devil in the wilderness contains no dialogue. The voice of Jesus is not heard in Mark's gospel until he returns to Galilee and declares the presence of the kingdom. "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (1:15). Now we hear the voice of Jesus; from 1:15 on we hear Jesus' voice in Mark's gospel—a staccato of words and deeds—a machine-gun cadence of voice and action. He proclaims the kingdom—he declares the kingdom (in parables)—he demonstrates the kingdom (in miracles)—he displays the kingdom. From 1:14 on, Mark's gospel is ablaze with the presence of the kingdom of God. From 1:14 on, Mark's gospel presents a Jesus who is active. After Mark's prologue through to the beginning of Mark's epilogue, Jesus is active and talkative. The kingdom comes—in a rapid panorama of action and speech—in a flurry of words and deeds. And at the center of this kingdom is Christ; at the center of this gospel is Christ; at the center of Mark's revelation to you and to me—is Christ. That's who Mark wants us to see. He wants us to see Jesus—Jesus at the center—Jesus as the focus—Jesus as the heart of the Christian faith.
Now the climax of the action in this fast-moving gospel is the final battlethe last encounter—the final conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Throughout Mark's gospel, the Son of God has marched his kingdom in an invasion of the fortress of Satan. Back and forth, from Galilee to Judea, the king advances his kingdom in word and deed against the forces of darkness. Now the climax, the hour of darkness and the power thereof. Satan plays his trump card—death to the Son of God. The last battle will be waged on a hill, in a city, at a cross. Satan will be active; Christ will be
passive. Satan's minions will do the talking—accusing, convicting, lying. Christ will be silent. Satan's servants will be active—arresting, dragging, mocking, spitting, nailing. But he never said a mumblin' word.
The final schism—the last splitting apart—the climax of the gospel: the rending of the temple-veil. On the death of the Son of God, the barrier between the sacred and the profane is torn in two. The curtain separating the holy of holies from the outer court is split apart. When Jesus wages his assault on the kingdom of death at the cross, he also attacks the temple ritual. Christ's death is the tearing away of the temple barrier to the presence of God. The gospel of the new beginning in the history of redemption sets the temple aside once and for all. From the crucifixion of Christ, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus replaces the Jewish temple. The former era in the history of redemption is fulfilled. It has served its purpose—behold, from this time forth, better things are here. No more temple—no more veil—no more barriers. Those are finished—completed—displaced—replaced—they will never appear again. Yes, that's right, we will never see a time in the future when there will be a temple for the people of God—a temple in Jerusalem—a temple anywhere. The former things are passed away—behold better things are here. This kingdom which Jesus brings is a kingdom in which death—his death—the death of the true Son—the death of the true Israel—has abolished the separation of heaven and earth. Heaven has been opened by the death of the Son of God. From this time, a new heaven and a new earth.
And at the foot of the cross where the lifeless body of the Son of God hangs in silence—from the foot of the cross comes the testimonycomes the witness—of a Gentile—a Roman centurion, "surely this was the Son of God." It's the proclamation that the Father made when he split the heavens above the Jordan in chapter 1. It's the same witness that the voice accompanied with the dove gave forth—"This is my Son." Now that proclamation—that witness—that testimony—that Jesus is the Son of God will be carried by the church. The Son of God will be proclaimed by all who begin at the foot of the cross—all who stand with a Gentile and confess him Son of God. Now, the church will confess him....
For you see, the final journey of Christ in Mark's gospel is not Jerusalem—not Calvary—not the tomb. No! the final journey of Jesus in Mark's gospel is
Galilee—Galilee of the Gentiles. "There you will see him," the angel tells the women in chapter 16. Lo, the risen, triumphant Lord Jesus goes before you into Galilee—Galilee from whence the church will be born. Galilee—where his disciples will be commissioned to proclaim the kingdom of God—the kingdom of the crucified yet risen Son of God—the kingdom of victory over Satan—the kingdom of the splitting apart of the heavens—the kingdom in which the exodus for the enslaved people of God has resulted in liberty for the sons and daughters of the Most High—the kingdom in which the wilderness becomes a place of victory, not defeat for the sojourning people of God—the kingdom in which the passage through the waters marks the transition from the old to the new.
The epilogue of Mark's gospel finds Jesus silent. Mk. 16:1-8 contains no words of Jesus. As with the prologue of Mark, the testimony of the transitional figures and the heavenly messenger are central. The women and the disciples are the transitional figures—they mark the commencement of the era of the church—the church of the risen Christ which confesses with the Father, with the centurion—Truly this is the Son of God—the well-beloved of the Father. Hear him—for he is the bringer of the kingdom.
And to those who confess him Son of God, he still brings his kingdom. No more curseyou have been forgiven all your sins; no more death—you have been made alive; no more darknessyou have become sons and daughters of the Light of the world to come; no more barriers—you have been seated in heavenly places even now in Christ Jesus.
For you see, Jesus says to you, "I have rent the heavens and come down so that you—you! may become the sons and daughters of the heavenly kingdom ever beholding the face of my Father."
Gofor you are the continuation of the story. Goin Christ, for you are now the witnesses of the gospel of the final exodus for the people of God. Gountil the final schism. Gountil the eschatological schism of the heavens at the return of the Lord of glory!
Suggestions for Further Reading
David Ulansey, "The Heavenly Veil Torn: Mark's Cosmic Inclusio." Journal of Biblical Literature 110/1 (Spring 1991): 123-25.
The Sweetness of the Cup
Is. 51:17-23; Mt. 26:26-30, 36-46
Philip G. Ryken
We gather around the Lord's Table, as one body in Christ, to eat the bread and drink the wine of salvation. Do you understand what it means to eat and drink at the Lord's Table? Do you understand what it means to eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ?
For most of us, the answer to those questions is "Well . . . maybe." Most of us are only just beginning to understand what it means to share in the Lord's Table. And we needn't be ashamed of that, since feeding on Christ in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a great mystery.
But our Lord has given us his Word so that we may come to an ever-deeper understanding of our union with Christ. So we look to God's Word to help us become holy wine-tasters. The Bible speaks of at least three cups of wine. We will lift up each of those cups for inspection, to see which one has the best appearance, to see which one has the most aromatic bouquet, to see which one has the richest flavor. And then those of us who know Christ as Savior and Lord will raise the sweetest of those cups and drink it down together.
But those of you who have not yet put your trust in Christ should not despair. Come and examine these three cups with us, so that you may choose
your drink wisely, and perhaps drink together with us at your next happy communion.
The Bitter Cup of God's Wrath in the Hand of the Sinner
We find our first cup in Chapter 51 of the prophecy of Isaiah. This is the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of the sinner. In verses 17 to 20, Isaiah describes Jerusalem as a city with a hangover. "Wake up! Wake up! " "Rouse yourself!" It's the "Morning After," and Jerusalem is in a deep sleep, she is groggy and dazed, and Isaiah is trying to shake her from her drunken slumber.
And so Isaiah says "Rise up, O Jerusalem!" Get up! Try to stand up! Jerusalem is asleep because she has had strong wine to drink. In verse 17 we see that the cup of wine has been drained down to the very dregs. Jerusalem has drunk herself senseless.
Perhaps you know how unpleasant the dregs in a cup can be. Imagine a cup of dark coffee that has great gobbets of coffee grounds at the bottom. If you drink them, your tongue and your throat will be surprised by those chunks, and you will check your drink to see what is at the bottom. Jerusalem has drunk her bitter cup down to the dregs. In Isaiah's day, when wine-making was more primitive, all of the impurities would settle to the bottom of strong drink, and make bitter dregs. Jerusalem has drunk her bitter cup down to those dregs.
This drink is also the cup of staggering. At the end of verse 17, the Scripture says this is the "goblet that makes men stagger." It is powerful liquor; it makes men unsteady on their feet, prone to stumble and fall.
Perhaps some of us have tasted the goblet that makes men stagger, to our own dismay. I have at least seen such staggering. When I was twelve or so, the neighbor boy staggered across the road and into our yard, dazed and unsteady, his eyes glazed. You see, he had just downed some fifteen shot glasses of whiskey, and one of his friends was pushing him toward the sprin-
kler in our front yard, trying to revive him. The boy fell to the ground like a stone. When my mother ran out to him he was out cold, lying face down in his own vomit. He had been drinking from the goblet that makes men stagger, drinking down to the dregs.
So Jerusalem needs help. But verse 18 tells us that there is no one to guide her in her drunkenness. Mother Jerusalem has no sons to rouse her, no sons to wake her from her drunken slumber. There is no one to comfort Jerusalem. As it says at the end of verse 19, "Who can console you?"
You can see what the problem is in verse 20. The sons of Jerusalem have a hangover as bad as their mother's. They have fainted in the street. They are like antelope trapped in a net. They are like antelope which have struggled and struggled and are now so tangled and so intertwined in the netting that they cannot move. And they are lying, motionless, in the street. That's what the people of Jerusalem are like in Isaiah's prophecy. They have been out all night on a bender, and they are too smashed to move.
This is the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hands of the sinner. For you see, this unholy intoxication has befallen God's people because of their sins. Jerusalem has drunk the cup of God's wrath. That is to say, Jerusalem has drunk the cup of God's wrath against sin. All Isaiah's talk about strong drink isn't just about alcohol; it's about God's wrath against sin.
See what the Scripture says in verse 17: all this is "from the hand of the Lord himself." Or look at verse 20: the people are "filled with the wrath of the Lord." That is why Isaiah says what he says in verse 22: "drunk, but not with wine. " Jerusalem is drunk, not with wine, but with the wrath of God.
In Isaiah's day, the people of God have rejected their maker and king, following after their own selfish desires. They are people of unclean lips; there is no justice and no mercy in Israel. And so Isaiah prophesies about a day when the Lord will punish Jerusalem for her sins, when God's people will be carried off into captivity. It's all summed up in verse 19: "devastation and destruction, famine and sword."
Isaiah imagines what it will be like to walk through the streets of Jerusalem after this judgment has come. As you walk with Isaiah you can sense the stupor of the city. You can see the derelicts lying in the dust in front of
buildings, like antelope trapped in nets. This will be the result of seventy years of demoralizing captivity. Jerusalem will be a city staggering and reeling under the weight of God's judgment, staggering and reeling and then finally collapsing into a drunken slumber.
And apparently there is no hope for Jerusalem. According to verse 18 there is no leadership in Jerusalem, no resolve, no new generation with courage and vision. The city has sunk into apathy and despair. The people of Jerusalem are incapable of waking themselves up, incapable of saving themselves from God's judgment. This is the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of the sinner.
Know, then, that this bitter wine has been mixed for every sinner. A cup of judgment has been prepared for everyone who rejects God. In verse 23 of this passage, Isaiah foresees a time when the cup of wrath will be given not only to Israel, but also to Israel's neighbors: "I will put [the cup of wrath] into the hands of your tormentors."
Now the Old Testament often speaks of God's judgment as a cup of wrath, prepared for sinners. Hear the words of Psalm 75:7-8: "But it is God who judges; he brings one down, he exalts another. In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. "
Or listen to Jeremiah 25:15-16: "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them."
But know that the cup of wrath was not just for Isaiah's day. It is not just an Old Testament figure of speech. A cup of wrath is stored away for everyone who does not fear the Lord. It is a present threat to those who refuse to cling to Christ for salvation.
In the Book of Revelation, at the end of the New Testament, the apostle John describes the judgment that waits for those who will reject Christ to follow after another god, there symbolized by a great beast: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full
strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name (14:9-11)."
There will be an eternal drinking of the cup of God's wrath, and it contains nothing but dregs all the way down. This is the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of the sinner.
O believer, know how great your salvation is! Know the misery from which Christ has delivered you! You will never wrap your lips around the "goblet that makes men stagger." You will never have your head thrust into the foaming bowl of God's wrath to drink deeply from God's judgment.
O unbeliever, do you know the consequences of your unbelief? Does your hand not tremble at the thought of grasping the cup of staggering? Do your lips not quiver at the thought of drinking the cup of God's wrath to the very dregs? Be assured that the Lord will punish you for your sins, even until the last drop of his wrath has been drained. This is the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of a sinner.
If only you would push away the dreggy cup! If only you could push away the dreggy cup! . . . Ah, but you can push it away!
The Bitter Cup of God's Wrath in the Hand of Christ
How can this be? How can we know that we will never drink the wine of God's wrath? Look again at Isaiah's prophecy and see what amazing change takes place. One minute the sons of Jerusalem are lying about in a drunken stupor, staggering about and collapsing in the street.
But then look at verse 22: "This is what your Sovereign Lord says, your God, who defends his people." The God who defends his people? How can this be? They are asleep in the streets, dead to the world, unable to shake off their hangover. But see what the Lord says in verse 22: "See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my
wrath, you will never drink again." The Sovereign Lord snatches the cup of wrath out of their hands. The bitter cup of God's wrath is no longer in the hands of the sinner. Isaiah foresees that day when the captivity in Babylon will be over, when God will remove his chastisement from Jerusalem and God's people will return to their land. How can this be? Why does God have this change of heart?
What we need to see together is something which even Isaiah could not yet fully see. We need to see what makes it possible for a just and righteous God to forgive his people, to defend his people, and to return them to prosperity. That is, that when God takes the cup of wrath away from the sinner, he places that awful cup into the hands of his only Son. Come and see the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of Christ.
Let us turn first to Matthew 26, so that we may see the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of Christ. And see first that Christ shrank back from the cup. Now that we have smelled the bitter aroma of the cup in Isaiah, now we understand why Jesus is almost afraid to drink it. Little wonder that Christ should draw back from this horrid cup, the cup of God's wrath; little wonder that he should endure a dark hour of trial in the Garden of Gethsemane. Little wonder that our Lord should say in verse 38 that he is "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."
Jesus is overwhelmed with sorrow because he knew the terror of God's wrath. Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies about the cup of God's wrath. He knew how bitter that cup would be. He knew it to be the goblet of staggering, the cup that makes one faint, the cup that makes men lie about in the streets, unable to rise, like antelope trapped in nets.
This is the cup of suffering, even of the sufferings of the cross. This is not just a cup of staggering, it is a cup of staggering unto death. And so Christ says in verse 39, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me."
And here is where we see how terrible our sins really are. Like the disciples, we are asleep in the Garden, dozing through the Christian life, oblivious to our sin. Ah, but were we to watch and pray, were we to kneel beside the Savior in the grass, were we to hear his cries of anguish, were we to see
the bloody sweat upon his brow, then would we see our sin in all its wickedness, then would we know the sinfulness of our sin.
Jesus took the bitter cup of God's wrath into his hand and he shrank from it. O sinner, are you so bold as to drink the cup of God's wrath yourself? Does your hand not tremble at the very thought? If even the Son of God shrank back from this cup, should you not also be afraid?
But Jesus took the cup of God's wrath into his hand and he drank it down, down to the very dregs. See the courage of our Lord in verse 42: "If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." This is the willing, courageous obedience of Christ. And see the difference between verse 42 and verse 39. Back in verse 39 Jesus said "if it is possible" for the cup to be taken away. But now Jesus says "if it is not possible." Indeed, he is saying since it is not possible. Jesus Christ knows the will of his father, and he knows that he must endure the cross that is set before him, and he knows that there is no other way to remove the cup of judgment, and so he says, "may your will be done."
Because, you see, the bitter cup must be consumed. If Jesus Christ is to win salvation for his people, as he has done, then God's wrath must be turned aside, his anger against our sin must be propitiated. God's righteousness cannot tolerate any sin, certainly not the blackness of your sin and my sin. And so Christ came to take our sins upon himself. He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us.
And so this cup is no longer the cup of God's wrath in the hands of a sinner. No, it is the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hands of the sinless one. It is the bitter and foaming cup of God's wrath in the hands of Jesus Christ, the one who became sin for us.
And Jesus drank this cup down to the very dregs. This is why, we believe, the sufferings of Christ were the ultimate possible sufferings, because Christ drank the full measure of God's wrath down to the last drop. Christ endured every imprint of every thorn upon his forehead, every stripe beaten upon his back, every nail driven into his hands, even to the point when he cried out, "It is finished!" Finished indeed, for the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of Christ became an empty cup.
And so we remember that Christ drank the cup of God's wrath in our place. Do you remember the startling thing we found in Isaiah 51? Do you remember how God took the cup of staggering away from his people? Do you remember how Isaiah said "you shall drink no more?"
It is only on the basis of the work of Christ that Isaiah could make that claim. That is why Israel was not totally destroyed; chastised, yes, but not destroyed. Because Christ drank the cup of wrath in the place of his people, there was no wrath left for them to drink. And so it is, on the basis of the work of Christ, that God can say to you, "you will never drink the cup of my wrath again."
If you know that you're a sinner, then don't drink the cup of God's wrath. If your hand trembles, if your lips quiver at the thought, then pass the bitter cup into the hands of Christ. Let Jesus drink the cup of God's wrath in your place. Let him drink away your sins, down to the very dregs.
The Sweet, Sweet Cup of God's Love in the Hand of the Christian
But now what cup is this, that lies on the table before us? We deserve the goblet of staggering. But what sweet cup is this?
You have seen the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of the sinner, you have seen the bitter cup of God's wrath in the hand of Christ, now come and taste the sweet cup of God's love in the hand of the Christian. Taste the sweet, sweet cup of God's love in the hand of the Christian.
Listen to what Christ said to his disciples before going to the Garden of Gethsemane: "Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom' (Matthew 26:27-29)."
Here is a new cup, the cup of the new covenant in Christ's blood. The cup of wrath has been taken away from the Christian, never to be tasted again, but here is a new cup to replace it.
This is the cup of Jesus' blood, the blood he spilled on Calvary as he drank the cup of God's wrath. This is the cup poured out for forgiveness, the forgiveness which Christ earned for us when he completely drained the bitter cup of judgment.
There could be no cup like this, no new cup, unless Christ had already drunk the cup of wrath. But now, now that God's wrath has been removed from you, you may hold out your hand to receive the cup of Christ. It is his cup of blessing, the victory cup that he earned by his blood.
And of this God's word assures you: there are no dregs in the cup of God's love. You can drink and drink and drink. You can drink deeply all the way to the bottom and it will be sweet all the way down.
That's what this communion cup is like. This cup is sweet all the way down. This cup has no dregs. This is the cup of the kingdom of God, the cup we shall drink again with Jesus Christ when he brings us into his kingdom. We shall drink this cup forever and forever.
Have you put your trust in Christ for salvation? Then drink as long as you may, drink as deeply as you may, gulp as many of the rich draughts of Christ's mercy as you may, you will never taste any of the dregs of God's wrath. Come and take this cup into your hand. Its appearance is altogether lovely, its aroma is rich, and your Savior has made it sweet by his blood. Come and taste how sweet it is....
By My Spirit*
Meredith G. Kline
2. Temple-building: Conquest and Creation. (a) Conquest, A corollary of Construction: In the double oracle of Zechariah 4:6-10,40 the two Sections (vv. 6b and 9) declare that the temple will be completed by the power of the Spirit, exercised through his messianic agent, "Zerubbabel." This declaration is made in the face of difficulties whose presence is reflected in the challenging questions issued in the two B-sections (vv. 7a and l0a). It is evident that construction of the temple, promised again in the C-sections (vv. 7b and 10b), is going to involve conquest of the enemy.
"Who41 are you, O great mountain before Zerubbabel? (Before Zerubbabel you will become) a plain" (Zech. 4:7a). This is the kind of interrogative challenge the apostle Paul used to defy all that threatened God's elect. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rom. 8:35). No hardship, nothing in all creation; we are more than conquerors through our God who is with us (Rom. 8:31-39). The apostle was echoing Psalm 118. "Yahweh is for me; what can man do to me?" (v. 6). Zechariah 4:6-10 and Psalm 118 share the primary theme of God as the strength of his people (cf. Psalm 118:14 and Zech. 4:6) and the distinctive motif of the stone in the messianic temple that signifies the overcoming of opposition (cf. Ps. 118:22 and Zech. 4:7b, l0b). Note also that in Psalm 118:13 the enemy whom the Lord cuts off is addressed in the second person singular (cf. Zech. 4:7a). These correspondences suggest that Psalm 118:6 is the inspiration for Zechariah 4:7a as well as for Romans 8:31.
The hostility (not merely rivalry) of the great mountain becomes more explicit if "before (lipney) Zerubbabel" is taken with what precedes. The
mountain power is then pictured as putting the battle in array against Zerubbabel (cf. the use of lipney in 1 Chr. 14:8; 2 Chr. 14:9). If "before Zerubbabel" is taken with what follows, the mountain is depicted as being humbled in the presence of a superior Zerubbabel (cf. the use of lipney in Exod. 9:11; Deut. 1:42; Judg. 2:14; 20:32; 1 Sam 4:2). Our translation of verse 7a above reflects the possibility that this is a case of the poetic device in which a word written once applies in both directions, sometimes with different meanings.42
Interpretations of the great mountain include: the pile of ruins on Zion that had to be cleared away in the preparing of a foundation platform for the temple; the difficulties in general that beset the building enterprise; and the particular local adversaries of the project. But the context of the night visions favors the view that the great mountain symbolizes the hostile imperial power seen as a satanic counterfeit of Zion, the temple mountain of God and seat of his sovereignty (cf. Zech. 6:1).43 Especially relevant is the treatment of the horn-nations in Zechariah's second vision: the titanic world power lifts up its head-horn on high against the living God of Zion but its idolatrous challenge is brought low by God's expert agents of vengeance.44 In the fifth vision the leveling of the self-exalted imperial power is conveyed by the word "a plain." Isaiah 40:4 speaks of mountains leveled into plains and Isaiah 41:15 encourages lowly Israel, warred against by enemies (vv. 11-14), that the Lord their Redeemer will make them his instrument to reduce these "mountains" to dust. In Zechariah 4:7, however the phrase "before Zerubbabel" is connected to the rest of the sentence, the picture is one of conflict between Zerubbabel and the great mountain, so that the leveling of the mountain to a plain marks an overcoming of the world-power before Zerubbabel, a casting down of Satan's kingdom by the messianic king.
God's challenge to the hostile world, "Who are you?" (v. 7), is issued at a time when the covenant community is outwardly weak. The world mountain towers over them. The restoration of the temple on Zion is just beginning (cf. Hag. 2:3). This is reflected in the parallel challenging question of verse 10a: "Who is despising the day of small things?" God's challenge sets the stage for the announcement of a total reversal on both sides; not only will the high world mountain be brought low but lowly Zion will be exaltedZerubbabel will complete the temple of heavenly glory (cf. Hag. 2:9). God will shake
heaven and earth, overthrowing royal thrones and world kingdoms, while making Zerubbabel as his own signet ring (cf. Hag. 2:21-23).
Conquest of the world is the corollary of temple building. Holy war must clear the way for the holy work of building God's house.
(b) Construction, A Copying of Creation: The theme of the construction of God's kingdom-temple that follows on the victory against the world mountain is found in both the A-sections (Zech. 4:6 and 9) and C-sections (Zech. 4:7b and 10b). Together they declare that Zerubbabel begins and finishes the temple. Verse 9a provides a clear, comprehensive statement to this effect, and verses 7b and 10b supply graphic details of either the founding or completing of the building, depending on how one understands the two stones.
Some understand "the head (haroshah) stone "brought forth by Zerubbabel as the cornerstone (cf. "head of the corner" in Ps. 118:22). On the basis of customs elsewhere in the biblical world, others take it as a former stone, i.e., a stone derived from the previous temple on this site and deposited in the foundation of the new temple to assert the continuity of the two. Van der Woude interprets it as "the stone Beginning . . . the primeval stone from which the creation of the world commenced," an allusion to the mythological idea of a primal hill that emerged from the chaos waters as the starting point and center of creation.45 On this view too verse 7b would refer to the foundation stage. But the laying of the foundations of the postexilic temple (which is the immediate, typological perspective here) had already taken place. Also, what we expect in verse 7b as the corollary of the leveling of the lofty world mountain (v. 7a) is the exaltation on high of the lowly house of God. The reference would then be to the completing of the temple and the stone would be the final topstone.46 An expectation that haroshah will have the meaning "top" here is prompted by the haroshah, "its top,"47 in verse 2, referring to the menorah. Further, the concluding words of verse 7b have been understood as a public acclamation such as might attend the completion of a project (cf. 2 Sam. 6:15), in the present case, the closing ceremonies dedicating the temple (cf. 2 Chr. 7:4-6). The exclamation, "Hen, hen," would be appropriate to such an occasion whether interpreted as praise of the beauty of the edifice or petition for God's continuing blessing on the temple (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:29, 43).48 On the other hand, Ezra 3:10, 11 records joyful shouting at the
laying of the foundations of the postexilic temple.49
The occasion of the challenging question in verse 10a is a time of "small things," characterized by disparaging comments of the gainsayers, a relatively early phase in the temple restoration project. The stone mentioned in verse 10b, the stone in the hands of Zerubbabel described as habbedil, will also belong to that earlier stage. Bedil means tin and the major ancient versions interpreted this stone as a plummet.50 A plumb stone could refer to any stage in the building process. Other identifications include: one of the sacred objects, including precious stones or metallic tablets, deposited in foundations; and a set aside or chosen stone (cf. the verb badal, "separate, divide"), whether the stone of verse 7b, understood as a stone taken from the ruins of the former temple, or as a special stone selected to be a keystone.51 With emendation to bedolah, "bdellium," the stone could be a symbolic signet.
Zerubbabel's temple building, like all temple construction, had as its archetype God's original creation of the cosmic temple. As we have seen, the Genesis prologue exhibits in prototypal form the standard literary pattern of temple building texts.52 The Zechariah 4:6-10 account parallels the Genesis prologue in such fundamental features as the dual role of paradigm and power assigned to the Spirit in temple construction and the emphasis on the commencement and completion of the project. Of incidental interest here is the similarity of the record of Zerubbabel's temple building in Zechariah 4:6-10 and the creation event as reflected in the Lord's interrogation of Job (cf. Job 38 and 39). Each account contains these elements: challenging questions put to human wisdom and power (Job 38:2, 4, 5, passim); laying the foundation (Job 38:4) with mention of a particular stone (in Job 38:6, the cornerstone); reference to a line, measuring or plumb (Job 38:5); acclamation over the architectural achievement (Job 38:7).
Throughout its history temple construction is depicted as creation activity. A short survey of the matter will be presented in the following chronicle, which will also note the recurring correlation of conquest to temple building.
(c) Chronicle of Conquest and Construction: (i) Covenant of Creation: Although the creation of the cosmos as a house of God was the archetypal temple building, it differed from all postlapsarian temple building in that it
was a purely constructive process with no prelude of conflict and conquest. The mythological versions of the creation tradition posit evil as present in procreation reality and characteristically make the creator-god's vanquishing of rival forces of chaos a preliminary step in the creational ordering of the cosmos and the associated building of the hero-god's palace. But Genesis 1, allowing no place for evil before creation, reveals the creation to have been an exercise of simple sovereignty, with no pre-existing rival powers to be overcome by the eternal God.53
However, there was also the temple building commission given to Adam, and under the terms of the Covenant of Creation there was a probationary conflict to be endured and an enemy to be overcome before the temple program could proceed. By this time satanic evil had arisen in the world and Adam's immediate task was to confront and judge the challenge of that evil and so maintain the sanctity of Eden. Only then would the program go forward of filling the earth with the family of Adam and Eve, the living people-temple. Royal temple building was a covenantal grant proposed on the basis of a probationary obedience in warfare against the devil. Faithful service issuing in triumph in this holy war was prerequisite to construction of God's holy house.
(ii) Ark Covenant: The ark was a symbolic replica of the cosmos-temple; Noah's building of the ark-temple was a re-enactment of creation.54 This (re)creation aspect of the event is brought out by the literary form of the flood narrative, whose structure and style parallel the creation narrative in the Genesis prologue. Also, the physical phenomena of the episode recall in a remarkable, if limited, way the original creation history. There is a return to the situation of unbounded waters dealt with in "day two," a re-emergence of the dry land, and a reappearance on the earth of the representatives of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and of man. Of special interest in view of the role of the Spirit (ruah) in temple building in Zechariah 4 is the role Genesis 8:1 assigns to ruah (echoing the ruah of Gen. 1:2) in the restructuring of the earth out of the deluge waters. These cosmological correspondences were recognized by Peter who boldly expounded the flood event as the creation of the heavens and earth that now are (2 Pet. 3:5-7).55
Antecedent to this creation of the present heavens and earth was the
conquest of the opponents of God's rule, the persecutors of his people who had dominated the old world.56 Noah had opposed the antichrist world in his prophetic witness, declaring its condemnation, and God, the ultimate temple builder, triumphed over the enemies in judgment, destroying them by drowning their world in watery chaos. The vanquishing of the satanic powers was thus a precursor of the arrival of the ark-temple, the holy kingdom-city, at its sabbath rest on the high mountain in the re-created heavens and earth.
(iii) Old Covenant: With Moses as his messianic agent, Yahweh triumphed over Egypt and its gods in acts of judgment, which Scripture figures as a divine slaying of the satanic dragon (Ps. 74:12ff.; Isa. 51:9f.; cf. Ezek. 29:3ff.; 32:2ff.). The Egyptian sea is also identified with the draconic powers whom the Lord defeats in redemptive judgment for the salvation of his people.57 At the same time, the mastery of the sea by the Glory-Spirit, consisting as it does in the dividing and bounding of the waters so that the dry land appears, is a reproduction of the creation process. A re-creation setting is thus evoked for the temple building that takes place under Moses, whether we are thinking of the forming of the nation as the holy house of Israel, God's people-temple, or of the erection of the tabernacle. Agreeably, the tabernacle is designed to be a replica of the cosmic temple created in the beginning.58 Tabernacle construction is a copying of creation; however, being a redemptive (re-)creation event, building of the tabernacle was preceded by the conquest of pharaoh and his forces, the manifestation of Yahweh's supreme sovereignty in anticipation of his enthronement in the exalted sanctuary to be prepared for him.
(iv) Davidic Covenant: At its typological level the Davidic Covenant proferred temple building prerogative and continuance of dynasty on the condition of the continuing faithfulness of God's royal representatives.59 Indeed, God's making of this covenant of grant was itself a benefit bestowed on David for faithful service he had already rendered, particularly in fighting the wars of the Lord (cf. 1 Kgs. 3:6). Significantly, the account of the revelation of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7) follows upon the record of his conquest of the enemies of the theocratic kingdom, his capturing of Zion, and his locating the ark of the covenant there (2 Samuel 5 and 6). David's military service was the ground for God's granting to his dynasty the privilege of
building the temple. Thus, conquest was the prelude to temple construction.
The same pattern emerges when the matter is viewed from the perspective of the Lord as the divine warrior. The battle was the Lord's; David was merely his agent. And in the building of the temple too the human king was only the agent of the Lord, whose house it was and who was its ultimate architect and builder. It was as the victorious divine warrior that God proceeded with the building of his temple as the seat of his enthronement as King of kings. Pointing to the pattern of divine conquest as prelude to divine temple construction is the statement in 2 Samuel 7:1 that it was Yahweh who had given David rest, making him victorious over all enemies round about. The Lord had initiated the conquest of his theocratic domain under Moses and Joshua (cf. 2 Sam. 7:5-7) and had now finished it through his servant David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:9-11), and it was this completing of the conquest that opened the way for his ordering the erection of his more permanent house of enthronement (cf. 2 Sam. 7:7, 13). Appropriately, the covenant oracle providing for the building of the Lord's holy palace was cast in the genre of the victory hymn.60
(d) Conclusion: Under the typological figure of Zerubbabel's temple building, Zechariah 4:6-10 prophesies of Christ's temple building. Zerubbabel's carrying forward the temple project from foundational commencement to dedicatory consummation is a redemptive repetition of God's original creation of his cosmic temple. And the leveling of the imperial mountain before Zerubbabel as he engages in raising up the head of God's house on Zion exemplifies the pattern, constant from the first to the second Adam, that finds the slaying of the dragon to be the precursor of the erection of God's royal residence.
The New Testament depicts the work of Christ as a fulfillment of this typological paradigm, particularly so in the drama of the Apocalypse. It is Christ, the Son of Man who has decisively overcome the satanic dragon and has been established in supreme heavenly authority with cosmic dominion (cf. Rev. 1:12ff., 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 12:1ff.; 20:1-3), who then proceeds to fashion the seven menorah-churches, the true temple-city, by his authoritative, creative word through the power of the Spirit (cf. Revelation 2 and 3). At the climax of the Apocalypse, the consummating of this holy ar-
chitectural enterprise in the manifestation of the new Jerusalem, the glorified temple-city, follows as the sequel to Christ's "final judgment-conquest of the dragon and his hosts (Rev. 20:10; cf. v. 2), by which the son of David secured rest forever from all the enemies round about."61
C. Messiah—Anointer with the Spirit: Mediator to the Menorah. 1. Mediator Symbolism: Zechariah had received the interpretation he requested for the two olive trees and, in particular, their product, the olive oil (Zech. 4:4). This symbolism represented the theophanic Spirit, the archetypal pattern for the menorah-church and the power for fulfilling the menorah mission (Zech. 4:1-10). The prophet's interest then focused on the coupling of the trees with the menorah (vv. 11-14). Commentators who have mistakenly identified the menorah as a symbol for the Lord are understandably uncomfortable with the consequences of that for verse 12. For on their view verse 12 would depict deity (the menorah) as dependent on a flow of energy (the oil) from his servants (the trees). Some would resolve the problem by dismissing verse 12 as a later editorial addition. Of course, even without the explicit account in verse 12 of the flow of oil through the connecting apparatus, the thought would naturally present itself that the two flanking olive trees served as the source of oil for the menorah. Moreover, as we shall see, that thought is also conveyed by the identifying phrase "sons of oil" in verse 14.
"What are these two olive trees?" asks Zechariah (v. 11). Then, repeating his question, he adds the term shibboleth to the description of the trees (v. 12). In this passage shibboleth is usually translated "branches,"62 but elsewhere it regularly refers to an ear of grain, though it is apparently applicable to the harvestable inflorescence of other plants. A grammatical question also requires attention. In the phrase "the two shibboleth's of the olive trees," the genitive (the olive trees) is usually regarded as subjective. Thus construed, the shibboleth's are a part of the trees; hence the customary translation "(end) branches" or "tufts." The genitive should, however, be taken as explicative, the olive trees specifying the particular genus of shibboleth, i.e., an olive tree kind of shibboleth.63 In effect, the shibboleth's are then a metaphor for the olive trees, likening them in their flowering of fruit, about to be harvested and processed, to a spike or inflorescence of grain.
A second noun shibboleth means "flowing (or deep) stream" (cf. Ps.
69:2, 15 [3, 16]) and the rest of the symbolic picture in Zechariah 4:12b suggests that the prophet's question plays on this double meaning. In relation to the conduits that connect the trees to the menorah, shibboleth would signify the flowing stream of olive oil that issues from each tree. As they pour out their golden oil through the channels the olive trees become olive oil rivers. In the combination of the two meanings of shibboleth the images of the tree of life and the river of life merge (cf. Ezek. 47:1-12; Zech. 14:8; Rev. 22:1, 2; John 7:37-39).
A curious parallel to Zechariah's treatment of shibboleth is found in Isaiah 27:12 (which may well have been his inspiration). There again shibboleth seems to refer to olive trees rather than grain.64 The Lord is pictured gathering his people like fruit "from the shibboleth," that is, from the olive tree inflorescence. But the second meaning, from the flowing stream, is required by the following words describing the extent of the harvest: "(from the flowing stream) of the River (Euphrates) to the Wadi of Egypt."
In Zechariah's vision the process of pressing the fruit of the shibboleth trees to extract their oil for the menorah is not delineated; it is contained, hidden as it were, in the compression of the olive trees ripe for harvest and the streams of olive oil within the pun on shibboleth. More evident is the copious quantity of oil that results from the wondrous transformation of the trees into streams. The large volume of oil flow indicated by the term shibboleth (cf. Ps. 69:15 ) is also intimated by the term tsantaroth, which denotes the two golden shafts through which the oil is channeled to the menorah.65 Definitely, the picture is not that of two end tufts adjoining narrow pipes into which they trickle oil. The indications of a supply of oil in abundance support the interpretation of the two shibboleth's (in their arboreal meaning) as the two olive trees in their harvestable fullness.
Responding to Zechariah's inquiry about the two shibboleth-trees, the angel identifies them as "the two sons of oil who stand by the Lord of all the earth" (v. 14). Fittingly, "sons of oil" signifies a plentiful source of oil. "Sons of " expresses here the idea of a source, as it does in Isaiah 5:1, where a fertile hill is called "a son of fatness (or oil)."66 Yitshar, the term for oil, denotes fresh olive oil, and it consistently connotes abundant harvest. The angel's answer thus confirms the understanding of the symbolism of the shibboleth
trees as the (mediatorial) sourcean inexhaustibly rich sourceof the oil.
But what historical persons are meant? Who are the two sons of oil?67
Since the shibboleth-trees are the source of the oil, not the recipient, their identification as "sons of oil" does not signify that they were anointed ones. In fact, not yitshar but shemen would be used for anointing oil. The misunderstanding of the sons of oil as anointed ones has led to the common interpretation of the two as the royal and priestly offices, represented in Zechariah's day by Zerubbabel and Joshua. But if the trees are the (mediatorial) source of the oil that streams to the menorah, if the sons of oil are not the anointed but the anointers, we must think of prophets, not kings or priests. "The prophets, outstandingly the paradigm prophet Moses, were God's chief agents for anointing."68 Moreover, in Revelation 11:4 it is the two prophetic witnesses that are explicitly said to be the two olive trees. Further, the description of the sons of oil as "standing by the Lord of all he earth," that is, as his servants, comports with the familiar designation of the prophets as God's servants (cf. Amos 3:7; Jer. 7:25; 25:4; Rev. 10:7; 11:18). This description also points to prophetic identification in that it denotes the status of those admitted into the divine council (cf. its use for angelic members of the council in Zech. 3:7), a special privilege of prophets.
Why there are two prophet-trees is a matter of the total design of the vision, which mirrors the symbolic setting of the Glory-Presence in the holy of holies with its dual-cherubim pattern (of which, more presently). We need not seek particular candidates, therefore, like Haggai and Zechariah, or Moses and Elijah (although their careers do supply the details of the picture of the career of the two prophet-witnesses in Rev. 11:3ff.).
Though the symbolic representation of the divine Presence is to be found not in the menorah but in the olive trees,69 Zechariah 4:12 shows that these two trees as such represent the prophet-mediators of the Spirit and, therefore, it is more precisely the oil of these olive trees which is mediated through them to the menorah that symbolizes the Spirit-Presence. The Mosaic prophets were part of the menorah community70 and yet in their office were distanced from the covenant people and became the representatives of God, the mediators of his word and the mediators of his Spirit-Presence to the commu-
nity. Hence they appear in Zechariah's vision, in the form of the two shibboleth-trees, as the insignia of deity, in a manner analogous to the two cherubim figures that stand by the enthroned Glory in the holy of holies. Cherubim and prophets, members alike of the retinue of the King of Glory, bespeak his Presence. It is in keeping with this that the dual, overarching pattern of the theophanic cherubim is reproduced in the Zechariah 4 vision of the two prophets of the Spirit-Presence.71 Here is the justification for speaking of the two olive trees as a symbolic depiction of the theophanic Glory.
It is evident that the Old Testament prophets could only in a typological manner be the source or mediators of the Spirit. "'The two sons of oil' in Zechariah 4 may be identified with the Old Testament prophets only in the limited sense that they were prototypal of the Lord Christ, the archetypal-antitypical prophet, who in the fullest measure possessed the Spirit, who was one with the Spirit, who was in truth the mediatorial source of the Spirit for his lampstand-church."72 And once it is recognized that ultimately the two shibboleth-trees are Christ, they may be identified without qualification as representing the divine Presence. The trees and their oilChrist and the Spirit.
2. Messianic Mediator: Christ's mediating of the Spirit-oil to the menorah-church, typified at the close of the fifth vision, sets in motion the working of the Spirit symbolized in the first part of the visionthe Spirit's functioning as creator-paradigm who fashions the menorah-church in his Glory-likeness and as the divine power by which the church performs its menorah mission. With these prophetic themes, Zechariah's vision directs us to the Great Commission and Pentecost. The church's world witness is undertaken in obedience to the charge of Christ, who summons it to imitate him, the model light of the world. In the great Commission he calls his disciples to be colaborers with him in building the menorah, in fathering the church in his image, the perfect image of the Spirit. Then by pouring out the charism of Pentecost, the messianic mediator implements his covenantal commissioning of his church.
(a) Christ and the Covenantal Commission: What we commonly refer to as the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) is of larger significance than "commission" would suggest. It is more broadly a covenantal pronouncement. It performs a critical role in the inauguration of the new covenant, a role similar to that of the revelation on the two tables of the covenant in the
establishing of the old covenant.73 In both cases the setting is that of covenant ratification.
At Sinai there was a declaration of the terms of the treaty (eventually written on the two tables) before the ratificatory act (Exodus 20-23; 24:3). This provided the Israelites with the knowledge necessary for them to take the oath of acceptance, which, with the accompanying altar ritual, ratified the old covenant (Exod. 24:3-8). A communion meal celebrated by Israel's representatives in the presence of the Lord on the mount of Glory sealed the establishment of the covenant relation (Exod. 24:9-11). And the divinely inscribed treaty tablets, deposited at the footstool of God's throne in the tent of Glory (Exod. 34:27-29; 40:20) constituted a permanent documentary witness to the covenant as in effect.
Jesus' covenantal declaration on the occasion of his ascension was also in the context of covenant ratification, not however as preparatory to but consequent to the ratificatory act. Ratification occurred at the Lord's shedding the blood of the new covenant on the cross. Jesus' pronouncement recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 served to confirm the already accomplished fact of ratification. It was the promulgation of the new covenant, a summary formulation of its terms and a declaration that this new constitutional order was now in operation. In addition, the new covenant like the old is sacramentally sealed in a communion meal and its status as ratified and in force is attested in divinely inspired documentation, the four Gospels deposited in the canon of new covenant Scripture.74
Analysis of Matthew 28:18-20 indicates that it exhibits the essential structure of the old covenant documents deposited in the holy of holies—the two tables of the covenant and the "book" of Deuteronomy. Like them it contains: (1) the claims of the covenant Suzerain, establishing his sovereign status in the arrangement by assertions of who he is and what he has done for his people in the past; (2) his commands, stipulating the duty of his servants; and (3) threats and/or promises, which can function as constraints on the loyalty of the covenant servants or as commitments on the Lord's part.75 We will trace in more detail these basic treaty elements in Matthew 28:18-20, and in the process will also observe points of contact with the contents of Zechariah 4.
Jesus began with his coronation claims, declaring himself invested with cosmic authority (Matt. 28:18b). It had come to pass according to the Scriptures. In the Psalms God disclosed the eternal covenantal grant to the Son: coronation as theocratic king on holy Zion and entitlement as inheritor and judge of the nations to the uttermost part of the earth (Ps. 2:6-9). He would be enthroned at God's right hand, ruling in might in the midst of his enemies, judging among the nations, adoringly served by his priestly people (cf. Ps. 110). In prophetic vision the Son of Man was revealed as annihilator of the satanic beast, granted by the Ancient of Days universal glory and power, everlasting dominion, an imperishable kingdom, the worshipful submission of all peoples, nations, and tongues (Dan. 7:9-14). Similarly, Zechariah highlighted the universal sovereignty of the coming messianic mediator of the Spirit and author of the menorah mandate. The prophet portrayed him stationed by "the Lord of the whole earth," whose seven eyes "run to and fro through the whole earth" (Zech. 4:10, 14).
At the promulgation of the new covenant, close upon his covenant-ratifying death, Jesus announced to his disciples that these Scriptures were that day fulfilled in their ears; the Father had given him all authority in heaven and earth.
The New Testament resounds with praise of the Son who has received universal dominion as the reward of his faithfulness in the covenant made with the Father in eternity. Fulfilling the messianic obligations stipulated in that covenant of works, he had been made in human likeness and had been obedient unto death on a cross. Therefore the Father had now bestowed on him the promised and merited reward, enthronement at the Father's right hand, the dignity of lordship in administering the new covenant, the name above every name at which every knee in all the universe must bow (Phil. 2:6-11). In similar vein Jesus is extolled in Hebrews 2 as the one who, made a little lower than the angels, had suffered death and because of that was now crowned with glory and honor, all things put in subjection under his feet. To him, the covenant fulfilling second Adam, thus belongs the eschatological glory originally proferred the first Adam in his covenant of works in Eden (vv. 6-10).
The risen Savior stood before his disciples as the victor, the slayer of the
dragon, the conqueror of Satan and his power of death (cf. Rev. 12:5-11). He was the living one. He was deadbehold his hands and sidebut was now alive forevermore, possessor of the keys of death and Hades (cf. Rev. 1:17, 18). He was the Son of Man exalted to the pinnacle of heaven with authority over all creation (Matt. 28:18b). This self-identification of Christ the Lord in the hour of his ascension, confronting his disciples with who he was and what he had done for them, constituted his claim on their covenantal confidence and commitment.
Proceeding from his holy claims to his sovereign charge, Jesus issued the new covenant commission (Matt. 28:19, 20a). Formally, this corresponds to the commandments section of the Mosaic covenants, but functionally it differs as the gospel of grace and truth that came by Jesus differs from the law given through Moses (John 1:17). Israel's obedience to the stipulations of the works arrangement mediated by Moses would be accepted as the legal ground of their continued possession of the typological kingdom. But Jesus does not summon the church to earn the eternal kingdom by obedience to the demands of the new covenant. Rather, it is as the one who, by the active and passive obedience of his life and death, has already merited salvation and the glory of the kingdom for his church that Jesus addresses to his disciples the great commission.
Nor is it only in this functional respect that the stipulations of the old and new covenants differ from each other. The central corporate commissions of these two covenants belong to two vastly different eschatological times. The mission of Moses introduced an age of (typological) final judgment and agreeably his covenant commission to Israel was: Go ye and destroy the Canaanites. With the inauguration of the antitypical kingdom at our Lord's first advent an age of salvation was introduced, and with a view to that Jesus' great commission to the church was: Go ye and disciple the nations.76
Jesus' great commission is a menorah mandate, a charge to the church to shed abroad the light of its gospel witness. Followers of the Light of the world are to be lighting individual menorah flames and multiplying lampstand churches all over the earth. In so doing these replicas of "the (model) faithful witness" are fathering a growing family of witness-children in the Lord's imagethe redemptive fulfillment in the Spirit of the original assign-
ment to mankind to multiply and fill the earth with God's people-temple.
Jesus spells out the discipling task in terms of baptizing into the triune name and teaching his lordly commands. The aim is to extend throughout the globe the scepter-claims of the King of grace and so elicit everywhere a confession of Jesus as Lord, the confession that is made unto salvation (cf. Rom. 10:9, 10).
The great commission calls the church to a construction project, a building of the holy temple of God. Risen from the dead, slayer of the dragon and so validated as true King of kings, Jesus fulfills the ancient typological pattern by advancing from victory in the battle ordeal against the enemy of God to the erection of the house which (in his case) is at once the throne site of his sovereignty and God's holy dwelling place. He is himself the Masterbuilder, but he commissions his people to enter into this work of redemptive re-creation with him, promising them that afterwards they shall also sit down with him on his throne (Rev. 3:21). As in previous temple-building episodes in Scripture,77 this divine commission to construct God's temple is covenantal. The menorah-temple mandate of Jesus is issued in the context of his promulgating the new covenant and occupies within it the place of covenantal stipulation.
Our Lord's closing promise to be with his people to the conclusion of this world-age (Matt. 28:20) corresponds to the section of sanctions, the third major component in the formulary for old covenant documents. Threats of curse and promises of blessing addressed by Moses to the Israelites were calculated to constrain the obedience by which continuation of God's favor would be secured and his dire judgments averted. While from Israel's perspective the sanctions were constraints to covenant loyalty, viewed from the Lord's perspective these sanctions were his commitments to enforce the terms of the covenant. They were divine guarantees that he would punish rebellion to the third and fourth generation and that he would infallibly confer his promised blessings on covenant-keepers to the thousandth generation. Akin to that kind of guarantee of blessing was Jesus' climactic promise to be with his church always. It envisaged the church, however, not as under probation and having to earn the perpetuation of God's blessings but as the persevering people for whose salvation Jesus was the surety and whom he was sending
forth into the world as the Father had sent him into the world (John 17:18). Matthew 28:20 is Jesus' commitment to that apostolic community of witnesses, the commitment of a constant presence, which assures the success of their menorah mission.
By the promise, "Lo, I am with you," our Lord identified himself as one with the I Am who so identified himself to Moses (Exod. 3:14), promising, "surely I will be with you" (Exod. 3:12) and "with your mouth" (Exod 4:15b). The settings of the two promises are similar: the commissioning of Moses to witness to the name of Yahweh before the hostile world power and the sending forth of the church to witness to the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before a world that hated them because Christ, whom the world hated, had chosen them out of the world (John 15:18-21). In each case the commissioned party is assured of all sufficient enablement for an otherwise impossible task, the assurance of the divine Presence with them and with the witness of their mouths.
Jesus' promised presence would be in and through the Paraclete-Spirit whom he promised to send, the Spirit of truth sent forth from the Father to witness to the Son (John 15:26), teaching the witnessing church all things and guiding it into all truth (John 14:26; 16:7-14; cf. Exod. 4:15c). Our Lord's covenantal commitment thus identifies him as the realization of Zechariah's vision: as the source of the oil channeled to the menorah in a perpetual supply "unto the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20b); as the Prophet-Mediator of the Spirit, the seven eyes of the Lord whose sovereign superintendence encompasses "all the earth" (Zech. 4:10b, c), matching the scope of the menorah mission to "all the nations" (Matt. 28:19a), the Spirit-might by which the hostile world mountain is leveled and the exaltation of the house of God accomplished (Zech. 4:6ff.).
(b) Christ and the Covenanted Charism: At Pentecost, Jesus the true son of oil poured out the fire-fuel of the Spirit from his heavenly throne and flaming tongues lighted upon the heads of the assembly of commissioned witnesses (Acts 2:2). The Zechariah 4 vision of the menorah with a jubilee of flames had come to life. Here was a reproduction of the symbolic picture in historical reality. The actual menorah lamp was lit. Jesus had inaugurated the church's menorah-mission of world-wide witness, testifying to the new cov-
enant in his blood, showing forth his death until he comes.
The fiery Spirit with which Jesus baptized the church at Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:5) represented the enabling presence of Jesus promised in his covenantal commissioning of the disciples (Matt. 28:20b; John 14:16-20). In epiphanic form this divine presence was similar to that seen by Moses at his commissioning. But while the flaming Glory burning in the unconsumed bush was a token of the redemptive grace of I Am, the tongues of flame on the apostolic assembly spoke of the Spirit's might available for menorah mission.
By virtue of this presence of the Lord in the Spirit, the church would be empowered to carry out its world-witness commission. For this promise of the Father the disciples must wait. Before they were to go, before they proceeded from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, the Spirit must come (Acts 1:4). For the Spirit was the Witness who would convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). By the presence of the Spirit with their tongues the witnesses of Jesus would be able to stand before rulers and authorities and confess the Son of Man (cf. Luke 12:11, 12). The inauguration day of the menorah mission already demonstrated the effectiveness of the apostolic witness through the power of the Spirit in convicting an international array of sinners of their desperate plight (Acts 2:37ff.; cf. 1 Cor. 2:4; 2 Cor. 3:1-6; 4:7). And the fruits of this Pentecost day were an earnest of the world-wide harvest that would follow.
For the Pentecost charism the disciples must wait because the menorah mission was one of reproducing the glory of the Light of the world, of fathering children of light. And only the Spirit can accomplish this regeneration, this birth from above, this re-creation in the Glory likeness.
Moses' shining face, while a typical foretaste of this transformation, was the flower on a stem that was to be cut off. It was the glory of a covenant that was to be invalidated (2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 13)78 because it was not of faith but works (cf. Gal. 3:12), a covenant of the letter, written on tables of stone, that could not fulfill the promise of righteousness but was rather a ministration of condemnation and death (2 Cor. 3:6, 7).
The new covenant, however, is not of works but of grace, a ministration
of the Spirit writing on the heart, a ministration of righteousness and life (2 Cor. 3:6, 8, 9). Unlike the old covenant, the new is not terminated in abrogation but endures unto consummation (2 Cor. 3:11). Its glory is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6), the model menorah, and that glory shines on our hearts, transcribed there by the Spirit, and transfigures us into the same glory-image (2 Cor. 3:18). By the Spirit he sends on Pentecost, Christ replicates his likeness in us, so lighting the menorah of myriad lamps unto the glory of God.
Typologically, the episode in the Sinai history (Exodus 19ff.) that affords the best parallel to the Pentecost event is the twofold anointing of the tabernacle: the symbolic anointing with oil by Moses (Exod. 40:9-16) and the anointing with the Spirit-cloud as the Glory filled the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34). Linking this old covenant "Pentecost" and the new is the description in Daniel 9 of the mission of Messiah-Prince (vv. 25-27) in the prophecy of the seventy weeks. There, the final purpose of the appointed period of ten jubilees is the anointing of the holy of holies (v. 24).
For Moses to be mediator in the Glory-Spirit's covering and filling the tabernacle was the seal of his mediatorial vocation. Similarly the Pentecost event in fulfillment of Jesus' covenantal commitment to send the Spirit was the confirmation of his claim to be Lord of all, with cosmic authority (Matt. 28:18). For to be mediator of the promise of the Father demonstrated that he was enthroned with the Father in the heavens, head over all. Pentecost proclaimed that God had made him both Lord and Christ. It attested that, as prophesied in the psalm, the Father had declared to Jesus, "Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet" (Acts 2:34-36; cf. Zech. 4:9).
The two lampstand-witnesses carry out their menorah mission in the confidence that Jesus their Lord is Lord of lords and that he is present with them by his almighty Spirit (Rev. 11:4-6). It is he who ordains that they shall maintain their Gospel testimony to all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations throughout the present Great Commission age (Rev. 11:3). Though the beast that comes up out of the abyss at the behest of the dragon will then silence them (Rev. 11:7b-11), it will not be until they have completed their global historical task (Rev. 11:7a). And the Lord who has loosed Satan with his
beast agent from the abyss will quickly quell this Har-Magedon challenge and exalt his own witnesses to glory (Rev. 11:11, 12). Age of testimonyhour of trialeternal triumph. That is the eschatological course of the menorah-church, patterned after the mission of the Light of the world.
At Pentecost the hands of Zerubbabel-Messiah laid the foundation of the menorah-house of Godand his hands shall finish it (Zech. 4:9). Let the heavens ring: Glory in the highest.
*This is a continuation of an article begun in Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp. 3-15 with a second installment in Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp.3-22.
40On this structure see Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), p. 8.
41The mi here might be rendered as the indefinite, "whatever (you are)." So Adam van der Woude, "Zion as Primeval Stone in Zechariah 3 and 4" in Text and Context: Old Testament and Semitic Studies for F. C. Fenshaam (ea. W. Claassen; JSOT Supp. 48; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988), p. 240. (Hereafter, Primeval Stone.) Favoring the interrogative meaning is the parallel mi in Zechariah 4:10a.
42See below the discussion of shibboleth in verse 12.
43Cf. Jeremiah 51:25. The religious dimension of the political reality in view is suggested by the use of the Akkadian equivalent of "great mountain" as a title for various gods, including Enlil and his temple. See B. Halpern, "The Ritual Background of Zechariah's Temple Song," CBQ 40 (1978), p. 187.
44See Kerux 7:1 (May 1992), pp. 23-33 for a discussion of this, showing the Babel-Daniel background of the motif of God's judgment on the pseudocosmic mountain.
45Primeval Stone, p. 241.
46Cf. Kerux 7:1 (May 1992), p.32
47The Hebrew has a mappiq in the final He.
48Hen can mean either grace or beauty (cf. Prov.17:8).
49Appealing to ancient versions van der Woude translates teshuoth as "splendor" rather than "shoutings" (Primeval Stone, pp. 240, 241).
50Cf. Kerux 8:2 (September 1993), p.28.
51Van der Woude (Primeval Stone, p. 243) renders it as the stone "Separation," another name for the stone "Beginning" (v. 7b). Appealing to the use of badal in Genesis 1 for the separation of the waters, he sees in the stone "Separation" a reference to the rising of the cosmic mountain from the primal sea.
52Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 11,12. See also my The Structure of Biblical Authority, p. 86, where Proverbs 8:22ff. is adduced as a portrayal of the creation process as a building of the divine wisdom's house.
53For further discussion of this, see my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 17-20.
54Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 12, 13.
55On these literary and cosmological parallels, see further my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 136-139.
56Cf. Kingdom Prologue, pp. 132,133.
57Cf. Kerux 5:2 (September 1990), pp. 14-17 and The Structure of Biblical Authority, pp. 79-82.
58Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 13, 14 and Images of the Spirit, pp. 35-42.
59Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 15, 16.
60On this and the similarities of 2 Samuel 7 to Egyptian hymns of victory see The Structure of Biblical Authority, pp. 82-84. (Re-)creation aspects of the Solomonic temple building are noted in connection with the discussion of the tabernacle in Images of the Spirit, pp. 39-41.
61The Structure of Biblical Authority, p. 86.
62This rendering was used provisionally above; cf. Kerux 9:1 (May
1994), p. 3.
63Cf. GKC, 128, 1.
64Note that the harvesting is "one by one."
65Tsantaroth is taken as related to tsinnor, "water channel" (cf. 2 Sam. 5:18; Ps. 42:7 ), on which see T. Kleven, "Up the Waterspout," BAR 20, 4 (1994), pp. 34, 35.
66Shemen is used here for "oil".
67On the following see further Images of the Spirit, pp. 86ff.
68Ibid., p. 87.
69Cf Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp.4f.
70Accordingly, in Revelation 11:4 the two prophets are also identified with the two lampstands.
71Cf. Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp. 4, 7.
72lmages of the Spirit, p. 88. In their servant status too as those "standing by the Lord," the prophetic sons of oil typified the Messiah as Servant of the Lord (cf. Zech 3:8). In Revelation 11:4 the two witnesses identified as the two olive trees symbolize the witnessing church of the new covenant not as typological of Christ, like the Old Testament prophets, but as the body of Christ, which represents him, the head of the body, in his world witness and is thus identifiable with him.
73"The ten commandments," the common designation of the contents of the stone tablets, likewise does not bring out the full nature of these documents as entire treaties.
74Cf. The Structure of Biblical Authority, pp. 172-203.
75Cf. my Treaty of the Great King, pp. 13-22 and Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), p. 18.
76Blind to this simple, fundamental difference, practitioners of consistent theonomist theory would apply the policy expressed in Israel's commission to the present new covenant age, and thus, in effect, they advocate that
the church, as soon as it is possible, should obliterate the mission field rather than harvest it.
77Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 9-17.
78In all these verses the verb katargeo refers to the old covenant. The passage does not, therefore, say anything about the glow on Moses' face as such fading away or becoming somehow inoperative.
Seminary in California
D. A. Carson, ed. Right with God: Justification in the Bible and the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994, 255 pp., $19.99. ISBN: 0853645167.
Right With God: Justification in the Bible and the World is not a book to be readat least not all at once. It is a book to be referred to. A collection of monographs, each demanding the closest attention in itself, and for the most part written in spare academic prose (but not without the mandatory Hebrew and Greek word studies), Right With God is not for idling away the hours in front of a log fireunless, of course, such happens to be your log fire reading of choice.
Edited by D. A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and published on behalf of the World Evangelical Fellowship, the book has, as the subtitle suggests, a universal scope, a scope reflected in both its contributors and the topics it covers. "The Biblical Doctrine of Justification by Faith" by Edmund Clowney, Emeritus at Westminster in Philadelphia, begins the discussion with a broad overview of justification by faith as found throughout Scripture. The discussion ends with "Justification by Faith: Its Relevance in Buddhist Context," by Masao Uenuma, Bible Seminary, Tokyo. In between are "Justification in Pauline Thought," "Justification in the Epistle of James" and "Justification in Roman Catholicism," as well as "Justification in Personal Christian Living" and others, submitted by scholars from Australia to
The point of the articles on justification and Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism is of course evangelistic and apologetic: how can similarities and dissimilarities between Christianity and other religions on this issue be used in missionary preaching? (In Hinduism, for instance, the Christian idea of justification by faith contrasts dramatically with belief in justification as duty; similarly, the Quran makes it clear that "justification by faith through grace in the death of Christ is an absolute contradiction;" and in Buddhism, except in one of its sects, which the essay here analyzes, "there is certainly nothing akin to Christian justification.")
The point of the rest of the articles, except perhaps those on justification in personal Christian living, justification and social justice, and justification in Roman Catholicism, is to argue that justification by faith is a biblical, as opposed to a merely New Testament or (especially) purely Pauline conception. The essays on justification in the Gospel of John (is justification even mentioned in John?) and the Epistle of James (doesn't James contradict Paul on this issue?), make the point emphatically. Likewise those on Matthew and Luke-Acts.
Related and of equal importance is of course the issue of Scripture's integrity. If justification by faith is found nowhere in Scripture but in Paul, or indeed is contradicted elsewhere in Scripture, where then is our doctrine and where the Bible's uniform witness? Right With God's witness is itself uniform: justification by faith belongs to the whole of Scripture. And because it offers us this conclusion from a variety of points of view, each interesting and important in its own right (though not all delivered with equal felicity), and because it lets us see this conclusion juxtaposed with the beliefs of other major religions, the book is worth having whether we read it snuggled up by the fire or not.
Richard A. Riesen