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The Gold Lampstand And The Two Olive Trees (ch. 4:1 - 14)         


The last vision was meant to be an encouragement for Joshua and then to Israel.  This vision is meant to be an encouragement to Zerubbabel and then to Israel.  Again, Zerubbabel was the civic leader of Israel.  Joshua was the spiritual leader since he was the high priest at the time.


In verse 1we see that at some point after the last vision Zechariah fell asleep.  The text says that the angel that had been explaining these things to Zechariah returned and woke him from his sleep. I’m not sure why there is this interruption in time at this point in the sequence of visions.  Some Bible teachers try to make something from this.  Some think it represents the church age, but I’m not convinced we should be reading into this passage in such detail.  


In verse 2 the angel explaining these visions to Zechariah asks him what he sees.  In verses 2 and 3 we see what Zechariah sees.  The vision consists of a lampstand with seven lights on it, commonly known as the Jewish menorah.  Above the lampstand is a bowl full of oil.  From the bowl there are seven troughs that comes from the bowl into each of the seven lamps on the stand.  The oil flows from the bowl to the lamps  Then, on either side of the lamps and bowl are two olive trees.  From each olive tree is a trough that carries the oil from the trees to the bowls that subsequently ends up in the lamps.   


In verse 4 we see Zechariah’s obvious question.  “What are these my lord?”  Note here and elsewhere that Zechariah calls the angel “my lord.”  This is not suggesting that Zechariah views this angel as Jesus or God.  It’s more of a title of respect, such as the word “sir.”


In verse 5 we see the first thing the angel says to Zechariah is framed in a question.  He asks,  “do you not know what these are?”   It is interesting to note that many times in Scripture what is hard to understand for humans is easy to understand for angels.  The text here seems to suggest that the angel is somewhat surprised because Zechariah doesn’t understand what he is seeing.   This is understandable since the angel is clearly seeing these things from a heavenly perspective while Zechariah is seeing them from an earthly perspective. 


Zechariah simply responds by saying “no.”


Verse 7 begins to explain the vision.  First of all the angel says that this is the Word of the Lord and it is directed towards Zerubbabel.  If you remember, Zerubbabel was the civic leader of the Jews in that day.  The last vision was directed towards Joshua the height priest, and this one is directed towards Zerubbabel.


The message is simple at first. Zerubbabel is to know that it’s “not by might or by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord.  Songs have been written about the truth of this verse.  Although this statement is directed towards the Jews, and specifically towards Zerubabbel, there is a truth here that we all should know.  Whatever is done in the service of the Lord should be done with and according to the Spirit of God, not just our own might and power.  The people of God, both Jews in Old Testament times, and Christians in New Testament times have failed in this area.  The tendency is ever present with us to fall back on our own abilities, and not God’s Spirit.  The results are clearly seen in the church of today.


From what the angel just said, and from our knowledge of the Bible, it is clear that the oil in this vision represents the Spirit of God. 


In verse 7 the angel says, “what are you O mighty mountain?  Before Zerubbabel you will be leveled to the ground.”  There might well have been an old pile of rubbish that had been sitting by the foundation of the temple that was long since neglected.  The pile of rubble, material from the building of the foundation that had been sitting there for 18 years, might represent a bigger mountain.  Yet the word “mountain” or “mountains” in the Bible often refer to Gentile nations, who often oppose the people of God.  This mountain might well represent Israel’s opposition.  


As Zerubbabel and the rest of the Jews went back to the building of the temple, they grew in strength as a people that would have been noticeable to the peoples around them.  The leveling of the ground is in reference to the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. 


I believe that all these visions of Zechariah have an end time significance.  I see the mountain that will be leveled here as the last great empire of the anti-christ, and once that empire is leveled to the ground, then Jerusalem will be established with the temple in the millennial rule of Jesus.  Also, as the text says, “then He will bring out the capstone…”  The word “He” refers to God.  Most scholars agree that the “capstone” is Jesus, who will rule from Jerusalem.  


In verses 8 and 9 we see the Lord God saying that Zerubbabel laid the foundation to the temple and because of his leadership the temple will be completed and “then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me”.     I believe the word “me” refers to Zechariah.  The text shows this to be true.  Beyond this, I think this also could be a reference to Jesus, that is, “then you (Israel in the last days) will know that God has sent me (Jesus).  


In verse 10 a question is asked.  It is, “who despises the day of small things?”  I believe this is Zechariah speaking, as it carries on from verse 9.  The small thing spoken of here is the foundation of the temple.  It is small and insignificant in relation to the temple that would be built. 


Then also in verse 10 Zechariah says that “men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hands of Zerubbabel.”   This is meant to be an encouragement to Zerubbabel and the rest of Israel.  Zechariah is saying that when the plumb line is seen in the hands of Zerubbabel, everyone will rejoice because the reconstruction of the temple is underway again.


The last part of verse 10 says, “these seven are the eyes of the Lord which range throughout the earth.”   The words “these seven” refer back to the seven lights on the lampstand as seen in verse 2.  I believe it is the angel saying this to Zechariah.  Even though the last two verses were spoken by Zechariah, which includes this present verse, it makes better sense that the angel is saying these words, and that might well be why the NIV has these words in brackets. 


The angel thus tells us who the seven lamps refer to.  They refer to the “eyes of God.”  So does this mean that God has seven eyes.  We’ve seen the number seven earlier in Zechariah and elsewhere.  In chapter 3, verse 8 and 9 we see the seven eyes mentioned.  I believe as I’ve stated in chapter 3 that the seven eyes are either, the seven spirits of God, or the sevenfold Holy Spirit of God.  I tend to view these eyes as the seven fold Holy Spirit of God.  When this term is used, both translations are appropriate, so the reader has to determine which way to understand the term.  I believe there is just one Holy Spirit. This is clearly seen in the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit is always referred to as a “he”, not a “them.”


Both here and in chapter 3 we see part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to go out over the face of the earth.  Part of His job is to convict people of their sin.  Another aspect of His work is to empower  the believer.  Another aspect of His job is to be the eyes of God, as this verse clearly states.


In verse 11 Zechariah asks the explaining angel what the two olive trees are.  Then in verse 13 Zechariah gets a bit more specific.  He asks about the two olive tree branches that pour oil into two pipes that flows into the bowls.   So this is the picture.  You have the lampstand with seven lamps.  Above the seven lighted lampstand is a bowl full of oil that is fed through two pipes that go to two branches that are connected to two olive trees on each side of the lampstand.  


In verse 13 the angel replies once again, “do you not know?”  Again, angels are surprised at mankind’s ignorance. 


Also in verse 13 Zechariah responds to the angel by saying that he did not know what these things mean. 


Verse 14 tells us that the two branches are two “who are anointed to serve the Lord.”  At this point I’m not sure if Zechariah would have understood the angel’s answer.  The obvious question is, “who are these men, and what are their names.”


There’s been much speculation to whom these two anointed men are.  Many Futurists point to the two men in Revelation who prophesy outside the temple gates.  For those who make this connection, then the question is asked, “who are these men?”  Some say the two witnesses in Revelation are Moses and Elijah, which I tend to lean to at the moment.  But there are many other names that could be suggested as well.


Does this verse specifically refer to these two witnesses in the book of Revelation?  Many Futurists are convinced that this is prophetic of these two witnesses.  That could well be the case. 


Some people view the two olive trees as Zerubbabel and Haggai.  If that is so, then you need to first interpret this vision as in the present, that is, in Zechariah’s day, and that is most likely the first meaning of this vision.  Yet with most visions in Old Testament times there is a future prophetic sense as well. 


This vision was specifically directed towards Zerubbabel as we’ve noted above.  Since he was the civil leader of Israel, there might be some prophetic significance to this point.  The vision might well be prophetic of end time Israel as a nation with it’s civic leaders.  If this is so, it suggests that they oil of the Holy Spirit will flow over the nation of Israel, not just the religious people in Israel.  This would fulfill Paul’s prediction in Romans 9 through 11 discourse on Israel that all Israel would be saved. 


The seven-fold lampstand represents Israel.  The lights or flame on the lamps might represent Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  It’s pretty clear that the oil represents the Holy Spirit.  If this is so, and if this is a picture of end time Israel, you can see how the two specific branches of the two trees might represent the two witnesses of Revelation.        

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