Zechariah 4


‘Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.’ I asked the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these, my lord?’ He answered, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ ‘No, my lord,’ I replied. So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’ Zechariah 4:1-7

The Gold Lampstand And The Two Olive Trees

Zechariah was awoken by the angel of the Lord, Zechariah 3:6, and it appears that all the visions he had up to this point had exhausted him. He was probably mentally exhausted in trying to work out what they all actually meant, 1 Peter 1:10-12. In this vision, Zechariah is shown the significance of Zerubbabel as the civil leader of the people.

In the vision he sees a solid gold lampstand, Exodus 25:31 / Exodus 37:17-24 / Kings 7:49 / Jeremiah 52:19, which here represent the restored Jewish people. The lampstand had ‘seven lamps’ on it, these represent our all-seeing God, who sees His people and their needs.

The olive trees were used to continually supply oil for the lamps, in order that they will continue to burn. Although the meaning of the two live trees isn’t entirely clear, most commentators agree that they represent Zerubbabel, the civil leader, and Joshua, the religious leader.

Zerubbabel and Joshua were God’s ambassadors among His people until the coming of ‘The Branch’, that is the Messiah, Zechariah 3:6-10.

The word which came to Zerubbabel was to remind him that his leadership role shouldn’t be based grounded upon his might or power. He needs to remember that his leadership must be grounded upon what God’s Spirit supplies, Acts 6:1-5.

Dummelow, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, but called in 1 Chronicles 3:19, son of Pedaiah, was governor of Judah at the time of Haggai and Zechariah. Shealtiel was the son of Jehoiachin, king of Judah so that Zerubbabel was of royal blood. He returned from exile, probably in 528 B.C., along with his uncle Sheshbazzar, who was the first governor of Judah after the return. He probably succeeded his uncle as governor sometime in 522-520 B.C. He is recognized by Zechariah as the civil head of Jerusalem, and as such, is encouraged to proceed with the work of rebuilding the Temple. Of his ultimate fate, nothing is known.’

To the Jews, the Gentile authority might seem like a great mountain, which hindered all progress in the work of rebuilding the temple and the city.

However, all their fears and all the opposition would be removed, because God’s Spirit would come upon His people, through the spiritual leadership of Zerubbabel. They would then be able to get on with the task of rebuilding God’s temple and the city of Jerusalem.

Notice the text says, ‘he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’ The word, ‘capstone’ in Hebrew isn’t really clear about what it actually means, but most commentaries agree that the word should be ‘cornerstone’, Job 38:6 / Psalm 118:22.

Zerubbabel would live and be blessed by God because he would see the completion of the temple under his leadership and direction. All the other Jews would certainly rejoice when the temple was completed, they would shout, ‘God bless it! God bless it!’

The K.J.V. uses the words, ‘Grace, grace unto it’. This implies that it was only through the grace of God that they were able to complete the building of the temple and the city walls.

‘Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. ‘Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?’ Zechariah 4:8-10

In his vision, Zechariah is told when Zerubbabel completes the building work, then God’s people ‘will know’ that God was speaking through him, that is, Zechariah. It’s clear that all those who doubted that the temple would ever be completed would now rejoice at its completion, Philippians 1:6.

Many of the Jews were obsessed with the glory of Solomon’s temple and never thought this new one would be as splendorous as his. To the unenlightened mind, the greatest achievement both in the making and in its completion seems trivial, Ezra 3:12-13.

The ‘seven eyes of the Lord’, is used metaphorically to describe God being pleased with the further establishment of His people in their former dwelling place.

It also refers to the completion of the temple under Zerubbabel would serve as a pledge that, in time, the true temple, that is, the church, would be built by that greater Son of David, 2 Samuel 7:13. Zerubbabel is a figure type and foreshadow of the Messiah, Haggai 2:23, a symbol of Him who was to come.

‘Then I asked the angel, ‘What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?’ Again I asked him, ‘What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?’ He replied, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ ‘No, my lord,’ I said. So he said, ‘These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.’ Zechariah 4:11-14

It appears that Zechariah understood the message of encouragement to Zerubbabel, but he didn’t exactly understand how it connected to the vision of the olive trees and the lampstand.

The two anointed ones were Joshua who was representative of the high priests, Zechariah 3:1 / Zechariah 3:3 / Zechariah 3:9, and Zerubbabel, who would be representative of the civil rulers, Zechariah 4:7 / Zechariah 4:10.

Notice that they weren’t the entire trees, but two olive branches from the trees, probably one branch from each tree. Although it’s not clear, the trees themselves may represent the kingly and priestly offices in Israel.

God would anoint them both together in order that they work together to finish the work of God. They had work to do and God’s Spirit would continually help them, just as the olive trees continually supplied oil for the lamps on the lampstand.

Later we see God promising to raise up these two witnesses, His anointed ones, Joshua and Zerubbabel, to preach the Gospel to the world, Revelation 11:3-13.

Go To Zechariah 5