Zechariah 4 - Outline of Zechariah (Book Notes menu page)
I. Symbolic Visions - Israel's Messianic Hope: Sure (ch. 1-6)
  1. Introduction and Message of Warning, 1:1-6
  2. Ten Visions, 1:7 - 6:15 -
    1. A Rider among the Myrtle Trees, and Horses behind Him (1:7-17)
    2. Four Horns (1:18-19
    3. Four Smiths (1:20-21)
    4. Man with Measuring Line (2:1-13)
    5. Joshua and Satan (3:1-7)
    6. The LORD's Servant, the Branch (3:8-10)
    7. Lampstand and Two Olive Trees (4:1-14)
1. And the angel that talked with me came again,
and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
2 And said unto me, What seest thou?
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,
and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which [are] upon the top thereof:
3 And two olive trees by it,
one upon the right [side] of the bowl, and the other upon the left [side] thereof.
the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me...-
Zechariah was not dreaming, the LORD was communicating with him through a vision.
What seest thou?- The word 'see' (HB=ra'ah) means to see with the eyes, to inspect, to perceive, to discern.
Zechariah reports what he saw, but he is unable to discern its significance, until the angel provides the explanation.
I have looked {HB=ra'ah}, and behold a candlestick {HB=menorah, lampstand} all of gold...-
Zechariah sees a lampstand, similar to the one that illuminated the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, and later of Solomon's Temple (Ex 25:31-37; 40:24,25). Lampstands were among the items carried away to Babylon at the fall of Jerusalem (Jer 52:12,13,19).
...all of gold... with seven lamps...-
[The following bulleted comments are excerpted from the Book Notes at Ex 25:31-37]
The Lampstand in the Tabernacle was:
  • of pure gold - this speaks of Christ, in His deity, as the source of Light. cp. 1Joh 1:5; Joh 1:1-4,9
  • {with} seven lamps {one on the stem and one on each of the six branches} -
    This reminds us that the seven-fold Spirit of God rests upon Christ (Isa 11:2).
    As seven speaks of complete perfection, the seven lamps speak of the completeness of Christ's wisdom and knowledge, with which He illuminates believers (1Cor 1:24,30; Eph 1:17-20).
  • {to} give light over against it- All natural light was excluded from the inside of the Tabernacle.
    This is also the condition in the Heavenly city of God (Rev 21:23,24).
    The beauty of the Lampstand was revealed in its own light, as it illuminated the Holy Place.
  • The lamps were fueled with oil (Ex 27:20,21)-
    Oil speaks of the Holy Spirit...
[For a closer look at the symbolic meaning of the Lampstand, see Christ in the Tabernacle, Chapter 12, "The Candlestick" (also accessible through the 'Intro & Resource Menu' button).]
...with a bowl upon the top of it...-
The lampstand, that Zechariah saw, had a single reservoir from which oil flowed to each of the seven lamps, through seven pipes. This was unlike the lampstand in the Tabernacle, which had seven bowls, one for each lamp.
and two olive trees by it...- This also was an unusual feature, unlike anything in the Tabernacle or Temple.
In v.12, we learn that the single bowl was supplied with oil directly from the two olive trees.
4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying,
What [are] these, my lord?
5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me,
Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying,
This [is] the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying,
Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7 Who [art] thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel [thou shalt become] a plain:
and he shall bring forth the headstone [thereof with] shoutings, [crying], Grace, grace unto it.
What are these, my lord?...-
Zechariah has no understanding of the things that God has brought before his eyes, until he is given spiritual illumination. 1Cor 2:12-14
This is the Word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel...-
Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah, having been appointed by Cyrus, king of Persia, for the express purpose of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezr 1:1-3). {Zerubbabel, whose Babylonian name means 'Sown in Babylon,' was also known by his Persian name, Sheshbazzar, meaning 'Worshipper of fire'. cp. Ezr 1:8,11; 5:14; Hag 1:14; 2:2,21}
     Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest, worked together to lead the returned remnant in the rebuilding project. Together, they had encountered severe opposition, which had caused the work to cease. Their enemies, motivated by Satan, had raised obstacles, which seemed insurmountable (cp. Zech 3:1-3 and the Book Notes at that passage). God's Word to Zerubbabel was:
Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.-
God's work cannot be accomplished by the arm of flesh. God Himself will accomplish His purposes in, through, and for His people. The governor, in his human ability and authority, could never overcome the opposition that had risen before him. But nothing is too hard for the LORD. Just as the LORD had stood in the behalf of Joshua, the high priest, nullifying Satan's opposition, by cleansing Joshua for His holy service (Zech 3:1-5), so Zerubbabel must trust the LORD to do what he could not. Historically, this had always been Israel's strength. They failed when they put their confidence in themselves or other men. cp. 2Chr 32:7,8; Psa 20:6-8; 33:16-22; Isa 31:1
     God's message to Zerubbabel continues...
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain {ie., a level place}:
and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings,
crying, Grace, grace {ie., favor, acceptance} unto it.
  • God's Word to Zerubbabel would have come as a great encouragement. The opposition to God's work would be brought down to nothing. The rebuilding of the Temple would be completed. The capstone would be set in place. Zerubbabel, who had been instrumental in starting the work, would be present to celebrate its completion, with shouts of praise to God for His enabling grace (v.9-f; Ezr 6:15,16).
  • The vision also looks beyond Zerubbabel's time with the assurance that the kingdom of the Messiah will be established, not through military might or diplomatic skill, but through the work of God's Holy Spirit.
    • Every mountain of opposition, that would hinder God's anointed One from taking His rightful place as governor (King) in Jerusalem, will be swept away. (cp. Isa 9:6,7; 40:4,5; 64:1-3; Dan 2:34,35; Mic 4:1)
    • Zerubbabel would have a part in bringing forth the Messiah, who is the 'headstone' (Acts 4:11; 1Pet 2:7). As a descendant of David through the line of Solomon, Zerubbabel's name appears in the genealogy of Jesus through His step-father, Joseph (in Mat 1:12,13). Thus, Jesus received the legal right to David's throne through Zerubbabel's lineage, even though He was not born into this line (see the Book Notes at Matthew ch. 1 for more about Jesus' lineage.)
8 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house;
his hands shall also finish it;
and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice,
and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel [with] those seven;
they [are] the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
who hath despised {viewed with contempt, viewed as insignificant} the day of small things?...-
The elders, who had seen the glory of Solomon's Temple before its destruction, were heartbroken to see the comparatively small and crude structure which the returned remnant was rebuilding (Ezr 3:10-12). The LORD encouraged them with His promise that His Spirit would see the work to completion (Hag 2:2-5).
     The Holy Spirit would continue working after Zerubbabel's work was done, for the promise looked forward to a time when this second Temple would be filled with greater glory than that of Solomon's Temple, with the coming of the Messiah (Hag 2:6-9). At His first coming, He would be "despised and rejected of men" (Isa 53:3), though He would lay the foundation of the LORD's house (Isa 28:16; 1Cor 3:11). At His second coming, He will finish the building which He has begun (Eph 2:19-22; Php 1:6).
for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel... those seven...-
A plummet (or, plumb bob) is a standard by which a builder judges whether a building's walls stand perpendicular to the earth. It consists of a stone (or other weight), hanging on a string, so that the string is straight with regard to earth's center of gravity.
     Zerubbabel is seen, here, as a type (or picture) of Christ in that future day (Hag 2:21-23). At Christ's second coming, He will judge the world with a standard of absolute righteousness, not as man sees, for nothing is hid from the the Spirit of God (Prov 15:3).
     The word translated 'plummet' is unusual. Some interpreters believe it refers to the capstone, which marks completion of the building. Others feel it signifies Zerubbabel's supervision of the project. These interpreters also see 'those seven' as referring to the seven lamps on the lampstand, which they see as representative of 'the eyes of the LORD.'
     Note, however, that in v.10, the word 'with' is in brackets (or, in italics, in many Bible versions), having been supplied by the translators. The verse could be read: '...the plummet... even those seven, they are the eyes of the LORD...' The word 'plummet' is translated from two words: HB=eben, stone; and HB=bidyl, tin, dross (this word is closely related to HB=bidal, to divide, to separate). As 'the dividing stone' (discerning between truth and error, righteousness and unrighteousness, silver and dross, etc.) the plummet is inseparably identified with 'the eyes of the LORD' which search out and separate the evil from the good.
     The picture here is similar to that in Rev 1:12-20, where the seven churches are lamps illuminating (witnessing to) the glory of the Lord, whose hands hold them accountable, by God's Word and Spirit (cp. Rev 1:16; 3:1).
     In Zech 3:9,10, Joshua, the high priest, beheld 'the Branch... the stone {HB=eben} [with] seven eyes,' in a foreview of Christ who is both the standard (ie., the perfect example by which all others are judged) and the provider of true righteousness for God's people. Here, in Zerubbabel, we behold a foreshadow of Christ as the perfectly true corner stone, and the builder of God's purposes. cp. Mat 16:18; Eph 2:19-22; Heb 3:3,4
and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.-
When He stands (as Zerubbabel did in his time) to preside, as promised, over the house brought to completion by the Spirit of God, the despised and rejected One will be seen in His divine glory (Isa 49:1-7). (cp. Zech 2:9-11, where the context concerns Israel's recognition of their Messiah, when He comes to deliver and restore them.)
11. Then answered I, and said unto him, What [are] these two olive trees
upon the right [side] of the candlestick and upon the left [side] thereof?
12 And I answered again, and said unto him,
What [be these] two olive branches
{This word for 'branches' (HB=shibbol) refers to 'flowing streams' or 'channels.'}
which through the two golden pipes {ie., conduits} empty the golden [oil] out of themselves?
13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these [be]?
And I said, No, my lord.
14 Then said he, These [are] the two anointed ones,
that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
What are these two olive trees...?- Zechariah is struck by...
  • Their location in relation to the lampstand. cp. Mat 20:21,23
  • The free flow of oil through and from them. The golden color of olive oil enhances the symbolic picture of the Holy Spirit, since gold symbolizes deity. The gold lampstand (Christ in His deity) is illuminated by the light from the golden oil (the Spirit of God) which flows as a stream from within golden conduits, which empty the 'golden' out of themselves. (Note that 'oil', in v.12, is in brackets.) cp. Joh 7:38,39; 2Pet 1:21; 1Cor 2:4,5,13
These are the two anointed ones...-
This is not the usual word for 'anointed.' This word {HB=yitshar, fresh oil} is always translated 'oil', except in this verse. These two individuals are 'well oiled' by being freshly filled with, and enabled by, God's Holy Spirit.
...that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
  • 'The Lord {HB=Adon} of the whole earth' is Jehovah (cp. Psa 97:5; Mic 4:13).
  • Because of being filled with God's Spirit, these individuals are enabled to 'stand by' Him. That is they 'take their stand' for Him. They identify with Him. They bear witness to Him, though their witness, like their Lord, is despised and rejected by men.
  • The fact that there are two witnesses is an indication that their testimony is true (cp. Joh 8:17).
But who are they?
  • Joshua and Zerubbabel were the two witnesses of their day. Together, Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor, picture Christ, the ultimate faithful and true witness (Rev 3:14), who is both Priest and King (Zech 6:11-13).
  • Rev 11:3,4 makes specific application of v.14 to the two witnesses who will minister during the future Tribulation. While the whole world worships the Antichrist and the dragon who empowers him, these two witnesses will attest to the true Christ and His coming Kingdom (cp. Rev 11:15). Even though their enemies will eventually silence their witness, Christ's Kingdom will be established, in fulfillment of God's Word, which they proclaim.
  • Other witnesses?...
    Why did the angel hesitate to answer, causing Zechariah to repeat his question: "Who are these?"?
         - Perhaps he was reluctant to leave out the multitude of Spirit filled witnesses who would testify in every age and generation. For example, while the leaders, Joshua and Zerubbabel, tended the lamp of testimony in the public view, the prophets Zechariah and Haggai, standing off to the side and speaking as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance, supplied fuel for their light. During the Tribulation period, while the two witnesses testify to the world at large, there will also be an innumerable multitude of less known, but no less steadfast witnesses (Rev 7:9,13,14; 12:11). Consider also: Mat 18:20; 28:19,20; Acts 1:8
         - Perhaps the angel was reluctant to identify the 'golden pipes' (the human conduits of God's Word) lest attention be distracted from the central point of the vision: that the Golden Oil (God the Holy Spirit) illuminates the beauties of the Golden Lampstand (God the Son, the Light of the world, and the Fulfiller of God's purposes) who is the object of any humble believer's witness. vs. 6,7; cp. 2Cor 4:5-7

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