THE SPOILED GLORY
Zechariah 11:1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. 3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
We have now left chapter ten of Zechariah’s writings, with it’s blessed comforts and have entered immediately into the ravages of devouring fire and howling. This causes us to remember that our God is vast in his person and character! The Psalmist reminded his generation to approach God with awareness of both his mercy and judgment. Psalm 101:1 I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
And the Apostle Paul speaks of both God’s goodness and severity in his Roman letter. Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Those who own only a god of love, really have a Santa Claus image for their Higher Power. And those who have only a god of wrath, really have only a merciless tyrant as their god. But the true God is the Lord God with all his attributes actively at work under the crowning glory of his holiness! For even his scourging and chastisements are administered in his holy love! Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Therefore if you find yourself under the pleasant comforts of his mercy, never forget his holy judgments. And if you are experiencing his present chastisements, never forget his mercies. Remember the words of the sufferer Job, when his wife tempted him to dwell only upon the wrath of God. Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Howling Fir Trees
But what do we make of these howling fir trees? First let us remember that the Lord refers to men as trees quite often in his Scriptures. For in Psalm one we read that the blessed man who delights in the law of the Lord, is like a tree planted by God. Matt. 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. And these are planted near to the nourishing supply of the Holy Spirit’s sustaining waters! John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) We see this relationship between tree and spirit also pictured in Revelation 22:1-2.
Nebuchadnezzar was looked at by God as a strong tree that he had raised up to shelter his peoples, for a while under its protection. Daniel 4:20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; 21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: 22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong:
The fir tree will howl as it, like Nebuchadnezzar, is to be fallen! Only the stump of the roots (Daniel 4:15, 23) is left to remain! But not even the sprigs (Isaiah 18:5-6), that is, the works of the flesh, are allowed to remain! For these, the Heavenly Husbandman lobs off with his pruning hooks! (John 15:1-2) For no flesh shall glory in his presence. (1 Corin. 1:29). All that our natural mindedness produces must be cut off. And we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we only have the mind of Christ! (Rom. 12:2; 1 Corin. 2:16).
The stump is allowed to remain, but only as it is identified as the stump of the roots! For Christ is the Root and offspring of David! (Rev. 22:16). He, as the vine, unlike ourselves, as the branches, has the root in himself! It is only through him that we are sustained and draw our nourishment! John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The Cedar is Fallen
But the tree that we need to see is that cedar which speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ! For the falling of that cedar is the only reason given as to why the fir tree should howl!
First, let’s see Christ’s own words as to himself being described as a tree. Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
Here our Lord is speaking of himself as the fallen cedar! The cedar was associated with glory! The cedar wood was used to adorn the temple of God! (1 Kings 6:9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.) And so Christ does adorn every true believer. It is only by the covering of his righteousness with which we approach God! (Rev. 19:8).
Cedar wood won’t rot! Your grandmother’s cedar chests are still in good shape and are presently keeping your fine linens safely preserved! Note that it is the fire that may devour thy cedars – not decay! Christ would only die as the Father’s wrath was poured out on him. His death was not due, like ours, and every other son of Adam, to receiving sin’s wages by being conceived as a sinner! We are referred to, as he speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem, as those who should weep due to our natural birth! For it would have been better for one never to have been born; better that his mother’s womb should have been barren, than that we should have the wrath of God fall on us as dry trees!
Therefore he instructs us not to weep for him, as his life (as a living, green tree), was set forth by God, while tears are suitable for us whose death, (as a dead, dry tree) is set forth by sin! He accepted his death as that for which he was sent into this world! John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
Therefore the fir tree is to howl, with its dead, dry depravity bringing it into the fires of God’s wrath, as it sees that even the green tree – the glorious cedar, will not ascend back into heaven without the sanctifying fires of God’s wrath!
The cedar tree is the example for all of us fir trees! 1Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Do you remember the problem? The problem was stated in Zechariah 11:3. The serious problem is that our glory is spoiled! That’s where our sin lies! We have all sinned in that we have all come short of God’s glory! (Rom. 3:23). And the law could not recover for us a look into the face of God’s glory! For God said to Moses, by whom the law came, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. (Exodus 33:20) But that was because the law was sustained only by the blood of bulls and goats!
Now our approach to God is sustained by the blood of the Lamb of God Himself – the very Son of God, Jesus Christ! He has afforded a new way, a living way back into the presence of God! Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And therefore we read in 2 Corinthians 3:18, But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. And also in 2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We now can, by faith alone, look and believe on the Son of God by the revelation of Him to our hearts by the Holy Spirit! John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
We are now able to see the glory again by the revelation of God through grace! And it is only by him that the glory may be recovered! John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Isaiah 22:23 And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. 24 And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house,
The Glory of His Cross
The spirit of glory comes to rest on us as we participate in the fellowship of his sufferings through our own crosses! Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
For the fiery trial that consumed the cedar (Zech. 11:1), is not to be thought of as strange to the true believers, represented by the fir trees! 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
For it is in these sufferings left behind by Christ, (Col. 1:24), that is, sufferings for the name of Christ, and not for a committed sin, recovers that glory within the hearts of the once dead, dry fir trees! For by regeneration they have the life of Christ and are the planting of the Lord!
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
The Tree’s Knowledge of the Lord
Ezekiel 17:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent: 23 In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.
The Lord has spoken of the planting of national Israel in the first of this chapter. But in verses eight through ten we read, as Christ said, of their house being left unto them desolate. But not so with spiritual Israel! With the applied benefit of the effectual cross, which is foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block unto the Jews (1 Corin. 1:23), we read in these verses that the true church shall bring forth fruit to the Lord’s glory. She shall be planted in Mount Sion and shall provide shade and protection for everyone who has ability to mount up with wings! (Isaiah 40:31). Those not earthbound by carnal minds shall greatly benefit from these one dry trees whom the Lord God now makes to flourish!
Notice the seal upon the truth of this: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.
Pastor Gene Breed, May 1, 2011