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The "oil" of God

Oil is used as a picture of the Holy Spirit.

Zechariah 4:1-14 The candlestick

And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said to me, What do you see?

An olive tree

The seven branched candlestick

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And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon [as in the first room of the sanctuary], and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. [The trees are not shown in the tabernacle picture].

So I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

Then the angel that talked with me answered and said to me, Know you not what these be? [In disbelief at such a lack of understanding]. And I said, No, my lord.

Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel [a worker for God at that time], saying, Not by might, nor by power [of man], but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

Who are you, O great mountain [of difficulty]? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace to it.

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house [the new temple]; his hands shall also finish it; and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet [a type of plumb line or straight edge] in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven [candlesticks]; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth [the Holy Spirit].

Then answered I, and said to him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered [asked] again, and said to him, What be these two olive branches [trees] which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? [How does the Spirit work?]

And he answered me and said, Know you not what these be?

And I said, No, my lord.

Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. [In Zechariah’s case, the books of Moses (the law) and the prophets (Matthew 11:13) – in our time, the Old and New Testaments, for the Spirit illuminates the Word of God].

Note that the candlestick (the Spirit operating in this world) is supplied with its oil by the trees (the Bible) rather than the other way round. This means that the Spirit is always willing and anxious to be checked against the Word of God. The Spirit was not given - nor can it ever be bestowed - to supersede the Bible, for the Scriptures explicitly state that the Word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. Each doctrine and each teacher must be investigated in the light of the Scriptures.

Isaiah 8:20

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

John 15:26-27

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me: and you also shall bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

John 16:7-15

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Of sin, because they believe not on me;

Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see Me no more;

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.

He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it to you.

1 Corinthians 2:9-13 The Spirit is our Teacher

But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ's second coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ's near approach, and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now. A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes; go you out to meet Him," many are unready. They have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit.

Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan.

This is the class that in time of peril are found crying, Peace and safety. They lull their hearts into security, and dream not of danger. When startled from their lethargy, they discern their destitution, and entreat others to supply their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up another's deficiency. The grace of God has been freely offered to every soul. The message of the gospel has been heralded,

Revelation 22:17

"Let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

But character is not transferable. No man or woman can believe for another. No man or woman can receive the Spirit for another. No man or woman can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit's working.

Ezekiel 14:20

"Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it [the land], as I live, says the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness."

It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, "Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him," and the sleeping virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without preparation. So now, a sudden and unlooked-for calamity, something that brings the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. As we shall see, the great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul's need to be supplied.

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