If you have your Bible handy, let’s look at Zechariah chapter 4 tonight. The fourth chapter of Zechariah.
Now, I realize that our stud of Zechariah is not light, that it’s rather heavy. Some of you have been going out, looking like Pilgrim on his progress, with the burden still on your back. But we hope that the Spirit of God will bless the Word of God to your hearts. And those of you who have a great desire to plumb the depths of that Word, I know are rejoicing in what God is teaching us out of this wonderful Old Testament prophesy.
And tonight we’re going to look at the fourth chapter. Since the creation, God has always spoken to man. In the case of Adam, before the fall, God walked and talked with him in the cool of the day, the Bible says. And man had a perfect knowledge of God’s truth and perfect fellowship with God’s presence. Then sin came, and the consequence of sin was that man lost the knowledge of God and became ignorant.
And in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 17 to 19, the apostle Paul outlined something of the results of the fall. He says, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” One of the effects of the fall was that conversation and communion with God was hindered, and man who had known the full knowledge of God and His full presence and fellowship, and had had conversation with God was now in lonely isolation.
But God was not going to give up with that and fall back into some kind of silence. To this ignorant world, a world that became a sinful world, God then began to speak, and He sent His revelation to redeem sinners. God, from the very first time that Adam sinned, began to speak, and the first thing that He said was, “Adam, where are you? I want to find you because I want to talk to you.” God has always talked. God has always spoken. God has always communicated.
And in the Old Testament time, the vehicle of His communication was the nation Israel. After the founding of the nation, they became His channel of information and revelation. And if you look with me for just a moment - and if you don’t want to turn to it, think with me – in Romans chapter 3, two verses, verses 1 and 2. The apostle Paul, in reasoning through the logic of basic theology and asking himself questions which he proceeds to answer, says, “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?”
In other words, the message of chapter 2 is that both the Jew and the Gentile are confirmed in sin, and if that’s true, then what is the advantage of being a Jew? The advantage comes in verse 2, “Much every way, but chiefly because unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
Further on in the book of Romans, in the ninth chapter and the fourth and fifth verse, the apostle Paul says, regarding his own kinsmen, his brethren in the flesh, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
Now notice, “The Israelites to whom pertaineth the covenants and the giving of the law and the promises.” Israel was God’s vehicle for the transmission of His revelation. God has always spoken to man.
In Isaiah 43:21, God says, regarding Israel, “This people have I formed for Myself. They will show forth My praise.” In Deuteronomy 4:5 and 6, it says, “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So, keep and do them,” says Moses, “for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” In other words, God wanted Israel to speak His truth so that the nations would know wisdom and endeavor to ascertain the source which would bring them to Him.
In 1 Chronicles 16:23, it says, “Proclaim glad tidings of His salvation from day-to-day.” In Psalm 18:49, “Therefore will I give thanks to thee among the nations, O Lord.” In other words, the responsibility of proclaiming God in the midst of the world. In Psalm 96 and verse 3, “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the people.”
In Ezekiel chapter 5 and verse 5, “Then saith the Lord God, ‘This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her, and she hath changed Mine ordinances into wickedness more than the nations, My statutes more than the countries that are round about her, for they have refused Mine ordinances and My statutes; they have not walked in them.’” Now, that is a sad diversion from all the intentions that I read in the verses preceding.
God had said, “You are My people. You are to proclaim My truth. You are to tell people what I am and who I am and what My will is.” But instead, Ezekiel says they violated God’s principles. They disobeyed His ordinances. They kept closed mouth about His commandments and failed in the thing that God had called them to do.
Now, basically, when God chose Israel in the Old Testament, it was to be a witnessing people. And they were to witness in two ways: by their lifestyle, and by their by their proclamation, as we have seen in our past studies. It was not just a matter of speaking; it was a matter of living. There was to be a lifestyle so dramatically different that it was to be a testimony to God.
And then they were to verbalize the things that God revealed to them. And the tragedy is they failed. That’s all that can be said; they just plain failed, and God had to set them aside. And Israel today is not God’s witnessing nation, and they haven’t been since the time Jesus was on the earth. And that’s why the Lord Jesus had to find a new group, a new witnessing people. And that new witnessing people is the Church, you and I, and all those who have been a part of the body of Christ. We are His witnessing people. We are His witnessing community.
But, as we come to Zechariah 4, we find a most marvelous prophesy that tells us that in the future, Israel will be reinstated as God’s witnessing nation. And this is an exciting thing. There is coming a new day for Israel. There will be a hope realized in that all that God had originally intended for them is going to come to pass in the future.
Now, as we look at chapter 4, just a quick brief review, the chronology of this vision is in perfect sequence with the others. You remember that I told you at the beginning that Zechariah has eight visions, all eight of which refer to the restoration of Israel both historically, as they rebuild the city after the captivity; and prophetically, as they will be a part of God’s wonderful coming kingdom.
And the first of the visions that we looked at presented the outward promise of the kingdom. And then they talked about the restoration of the city and the temple. And then after there was the outward restoration, the visions moved to the inward. And we saw the inward salvation that occurred. And we saw last time, in chapter 3, the saving of Israel and the figure of the cleansing of Joshua the high priest. Joshua was a picture of the nation, and as Joshua was cleansed and purified, so Israel is to be cleansed and purified. So, there is an outward presentation of the kingdom, but the outward kingdom will never come until the inward salvation occurs.
And now, moving away from that, to the next in the sequence, we find that this vision deals with the usefulness of Israel, in the outward kingdom, when the inward cleansing has taken place. God is going to restore them to a place of wonderful usefulness. That’s always the way it is. God has a plan in the world; God has a design to accomplish. But the people who accomplish it will be the people who are saved, and then they will be useful to God within the framework of His plan. So, the nation is saved in chapter 3, prophetically. And the nation is used as God’s witnessing people in chapter 4.
Now, let’s look at the vision and see several points. It’s really a very dramatic and unusual one. I want to first of all talk about the – and I’ll give you a whole lot of Ps in the outline. The first one, the presentation of the vision. These are just hooks to hang your thoughts on. The presentation of the vision.
Let’s get right at it in verse 1, “And the angel who talked with me” – and there we are with good old faithful interpreter angel, who’s leading us all through these visions, and leading Zechariah as well – “the angel who talked with me came again and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.”
Now, we’ve noted each time that after Zechariah sees a vision, the thing is so astounding, and so dramatic, and so provocative, and so profound that the natural response is to slump in a state of meditation. And here he almost gets himself into a sort of a semi-coma of spiritual exhaustion over the exercise of his mind in the comprehension of what he is seeing. It’s beginning to build on him now, and he falls into state of exhaustion from which the interpreting angel comes and wakens him.
Daniel had a similar experience in the tenth chapter of Daniel in the ninth verse. Now, having been wakened, he sees another vision in verse 2. “He said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘Well, I have looked, and behold a lampstand’” – some of your Bibles may say a candlestick, but that probably is not the best translation because they aren’t actually candles, as we’ll see – “‘a lampstand, all gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, and seven’” – watch this one – “‘seven conduits’” - or seven tubes, or seven pipes - “‘to the seven lamps, which are on the top of it; and two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side.’”
Now, you had, no doubt, the same reaction that I did the first time I read that. I was going to draw this for you, but that would only confuse you. But let me see if I can draw the figure in your mind. Now, what you have here is a lampstand. Now, if any of you have ever seen what the Jews call the menorah, that’ll help you.
Outside of the Knesset in Israel, which is the parliament, the government, there is a huge menorah. It has a – actually a base that goes straight up, and then it has those candelabra-like things coming out of it. And there are seven, of them, and that was a rather typical lampstand. So, if you can see that in your mind, you’re all right.
Now, also, in addition, notice there was a bowl on top of it. Now, here we have this lampstand all going out – fanning out like this, and on the top of it is a great bowl. Now notice, it’s seven lamps, and seven pipes to the seven lamps so that – this is going to get complicated because there are 49 pipes in all. All right? So, out of this bowl, to each of those little lamps come seven conduits.
Now, look at verse 3, “And beside it, two olive trees: one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side.” Now watch. The lamp is lit by oil. Okay? That’s the way they lit their lamps: oil. The oil is flowing to each of the seven lamps on the one big lampstand from seven pipes coming from a big bowl of oil. Now watch. And the bowl of oil is getting its oil from – what? – the olive trees. This, you see, is an automatic lamp. As automatic as you get in Zechariah’s time, folks.
Now, what we have essentially here is the seven-branched candlestick of the tabernacle, and the seven-branched candlestick of the temple. It’s the same thing, basically. However, there are three variations. Now watch. Number one is the bowl of oil. Now, in the temple of the tabernacle, the oil had to be supplied by the priests. So, it was not automatic, but this is an automatic lamp. In the holy place, they were filled by the priest, and they had to go in and trim the lamp, and trim the lamp, and trim the lamp all the time, keep the oil in there. Keep the oil in there because it would burn it up.
The second distinction is the seven tubes or the seven conduits or the seven pipes. And incidentally, the Hebrew grammar and the Hebrew construction of the term here indicates that there were 49, 7 going to each one. So, there would be seven little pipes coming down to each lamp.
Now, in the Holy Place, in the temple, in the tabernacle, no such pipes existed. And then you have the two olive trees on the right and on the left, and flowing out of those is the oil going into the bowl and then trickling down. And incidentally, there are two great, big, giant golden tubes coming out of the olive tree.
You say, “Where did you get that?”
Verse 12, and it says, “I answered again, and said unto him, ‘What are the two olive branches which through the two golden conduits’” – or channels, or pipes, or tubes? So, let me reconstruct quickly. Two great big olive trees, living, flowing olive trees. And in fact, an olive tree can last a long time. They tell us, if you’re over there in Israel, that some of the olive trees that are still producing oil were there as saplings when Jesus lived. They last a long time.
You know, when – have you ever seen a little olive wood figure that somebody brought back from Israel? It takes 40 years to cure that wood before it can be carved, because the oil stay in it so long. It’s a oily tree. And so, there are these two olive trees. The oil flows down golden channels into this bowl and then into multiples of sevens into the lamps.
Now, you say, “What in the world is this trying to show?”
Well, it’s trying to show that whatever it is, it has no human agency. Right? It’s strictly automatic. God is producing the life in the tree, and out of that the thing is being lit without any human involvement. There are no priests to trim the lamp. There’s nobody putting oil in it. It’s strictly an operation by God. Keep that in mind. That’s the presentation of the vision.
Now, second, the purpose of the vision. You ready? Verse 4, “So, I answered an spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, ‘What are these, my lord?’
“And the angel who talked with me answered and said unto me, ‘Knowest thou not what these are?’
“And I said, ‘No, my lord.’
And you may be saying, “I’m with him. What is it?”
Well, I’m not going to take a lot of time to give you all of the study of all of the rabbinical scholars who’ve commented on this, because they all come out with the same answer, and the answer is this: traditional Jewish interpretation and Christian interpretation is almost unanimous on this that the lampstand represents the combined testimony of Israel as a nation under God, that the lampstand is Israel lit again to be the light of the world that God had intended originally for her to be.
Now, that’s basically the simple interpretation. Zechariah is seeing visions. The visions begin with restoration of the people, a rebuilding of the temple, a rebuilding of the city, the salvation of the nation, and then the witnessing ministry of the nation. And that’s exactly what we see right here, a restored, revived, regenerated nation is now again God’s witnessing people. They are the light.
Now, ultimately – mark it – ultimately, in the lampstand you see a symbol of the one who is truly the light of the world. Who’s that? The Messiah Jesus Christ. Ultimately, you’d have to see Him there. In Isaiah chapter 49, just to give you a couple of verses here to compare with it, it says, “And now saith the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob again to Him” – isn’t that great? Jacob will be brought back – “‘Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.’
“And he said, ‘It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel’” – now watch - “‘I will also give thee for a light to the nations’” – and there it’s referring to the Messiah.
God is saying through Isaiah, “I will restore the nation, and I will make the Messiah the light, that thou mayest be My salvation to the end of the earth.” So, basically, the ultimate light is none other than Jesus Christ.
In Luke chapter 1 – a long chapter, incidentally – in verse 78, “Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dayspring on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” – and there again, the light refers to the Messiah.
In Luke 2:32, it says of the Messiah, He is, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” So, the ultimate light, the ultimate one who defuses the glow and the glory of God is the Messiah.
In fact, in John 8:12, when Jesus stood up in the midst of the Court of the Women, the temple Treasury, and said, “I am the light of the world,” it was a dramatic moment, because right into that – right in the middles of that was this huge candelabra that was used during the feast time, and they lit it every night to sparkle its light out the open top of that place and be like a diamond in the sky. They were celebrating the glory of God in the wilderness. And they lit that thing every night. And now the feast was past, and the candle was out, but the big thing was still sitting there. And Jesus walks up and says, “You may have your candle, but I am the light of the world.” And He turns the moment and the scene to Himself. And He is the ultimate light.
So, the lampstand, then, pictures Israel in full fellowship with the Messiah. The blessing of God is on the nation. They are restored to the place of usefulness, and they are the testimony to the world. And this is going to happen, beloved, in the future.
You say, “Well, since their light is out now, does God have a light?”
Yes. In Revelation 1:20 we find this – verse 19, “Write the things which thou has seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” – that’s the outline of the book of Revelation, incidentally – “the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands” – now listen – “the seven stars are the ministers of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” The lampstand in this day is – what? – the Church. But there’s coming a day when the Church will be removed. The true Church will be raptured out of the world. And the only thing left will be Babylon the whore, the prostitute, the false church. And God will not use that church. And so, he will restore Israel. The Church is gone; he has no witness in the world, and Israel will be reborn and regenerated and redeemed and placed in the position of being the light that God intended them to be all along.
Now, what about the bowl? Zechariah says to the angel, “What does this mean?” Well, what did it mean? The angel really never gave him much of an answer. He really was saying to him, “Look, Zechariah, think about it a little bit.” Isn’t it pretty obvious? What would the bowl full of oil represent? What does oil symbolize in the New Testament and even in the Old Testament? The Holy Spirit. So, the bowl on top symbolizes the Holy Spirit. This is a rather clearly-defined symbol of the Holy Spirit because it’s reiterated again and again, as we shall see in a moment.
But what’s interesting to me is the fact that you have this bowl, and out of this bowl, flowing to the nation Israel, in their millennial witness, are 49 channels of the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you see the point that is being made? The point here is that there will be an unlimited supply of power from the Holy Spirit. And you’ll remember the words of Joel, where Joel says, “In the last days I will” – what? – “pour out My Spirit on all flesh, and remarkable things will happen.” And so, in the millennial picture, we see the nation Israel as the lampstand; we see the Spirit of God being poured out in profusion so that the light becomes gloriously brilliant, and all of it really is a declaration of the one who is the light, none other than Jesus the Messiah.
And you note that it’s all automatic. There’s no human involvement at all. In the kingdom, the witness of Israel will be spontaneous. It will be Spirit generated. There will be no other thing than the operation of the supernatural Holy Spirit.
You know, it’s interesting to look into the kingdom pattern, and you really don’t find anything in the kingdom of an organizational nature. Everything there seems to be just the flow of the power of the Spirit of God through individual lives under the directorship of Christ Himself.
Now the two olive trees, what are they? Well, they’re mentioned in verse 14. And he’s still asking the same question at the end. He says, “What are these,” basically, and then the angel says, “These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Now, the two anointed ones, hmm. Who would that be? Well, in Israel there were two specific people who were anointed. Do you remember who they were? One was the king, and what was the other one? The high priest or the priest.
So, what you have here then is this. You have the office of king and priest. Now historically – and you have to – you have to keep your thinking hat on now, because you realize this has a historical meaning and then a prophetic meaning. Historically, the man who stood in the place of king was a man named Zerubbabel. He was the civil leader. And the man who stood in the place was whom? Chapter 3, Joshua. The responsibility of Joshua and Zerubbabel was to stand beside the Lord and to lead the nation in the proper path, and to bring them back to a restored place, a place where they would rebuild the wall historically, rebuild the temple historically, and become again, if even in just a small sense a witness to the power and the truth of God.
But prophetically – prophetically who is the ultimate King and Priest? The Messiah. He is the King and Priest. And in Zechariah – look at chapter 6, verse 13; it talks here about the Lord coming, the Messiah, called the Branch in verse 12, and this is talking about the millennial period, the kingdom to come, “Even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne.”
Now, if you have a Priest upon a throne, what have you got? You got a King Priest. And so, Zechariah recognizes this, and he is seeing Christ here.
So, summing it up, we have the light of Messiah provided by the golden oil – and it’s called golden oil in verse 12 because of its preciousness – the light of Messiah provided by the golden oil, poured into the lampstand of Israel, and that’s basically what Zechariah sees. And the actual source of all of it is none other than the Messiah Himself. So the thing goes full circle. Now, Israel’s going to have this place in the future, the place of wonderful blessing, the place of wonderful usefulness to God. Where what God had intended for them all along will finally be accomplished.
In Isaiah 62:1 we find this statement, “For Zion’s will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” In other words, God says, “I won’t rest till this nation is my light to the world.”
So we see the presentation and the purpose. But expanding the thought, who in the world could bring this to pass? Who is it that has the energy and power, the strength to bring Israel to this place?
And so we come, number three, to the power in the vision. We’ve seen the presentation of the vision, the purpose of the vision, and here’s the power in the vision. And I’ve already hinted at it, but let’s quickly look. The power in the vision is in verse 6. And this is a great verse that you have heard many times. “The he answered and spoke 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.” Now, who is that’s the power for the whole thing to come to pass? The Spirit of God. One of the great verses in the Bible. And I want to show you just a distinction here you need to make. “Not by might” - and in the Hebrew that refers to the strength of many – “and not by power” – and in the Hebrew that refers to the strength of one great one.
Now this – listen – the accomplishing of Israel’s restoration will not be due to a collection operation on the part of strong men, nor will it be due to the efforts of one great and strong man. It will only be due to the effort of the Holy Spirit. There’s no human agency at all. Human strength, human power of every description – physical, mental, moral, whatever – combined or individual will never bring about the salvation of the nation Israel.
There’s no need for some preacher to think that he alone is going to save Israel. There’s no need for some great leader to come along and think that he’s going to pull his Israel up from its quagmire and introduce it into the great golden age, because it’ll be accomplished by the Spirit, not by might – that is the power of multiples of men – or by power – that is the power of one great man, but by what? My Spirit.
When it’s done, there will be no comment able to be made but, “This was the work of God.” So, there’s no problem with who gets the credit. True witnessing, incidentally, is always done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1 says, in verse 8, “You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses.” All witnessing must be, to be effective, done in the energy of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 4:31, “They prayed, the Spirit of God filled the, and they spoke the Word with boldness.” Effective evangelism is not a matter of education; it is not a matter of methodology, although those things make a contribution; it is a matter of the power of the Spirit of God unleashed in the life and the heart of a willing vessel.
And so, when Israel’s restored to the kingdom, when Israel reaches that great place of usefulness to God, it will not be because of any human agency; it will not be because of any move upon the part of men, but only upon the part of God’s Holy Spirit.
Now, you’ll notice something interesting in verse 6. It says, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.” And here Zerubbabel was the chief ruler over Israel. We know that from Haggai, where that is recorded for us. Haggai – I think you might want to look just a minute at verse 4 of chapter 2, “‘Now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ saith the Lord, ‘and be strong, O Joshua’” – and there’s those two, the one in civil authority and the one in religious authority and so forth. So, these two people are the ones who stand in the power.
In Ezra chapter 2 and verse 2 you have a similar indication of the authority that has been given to Zerubbabel as one who is responsible for leading the people.
Now, this man had a lot of obstacles in front of him, and a lot of them piled up. And he was trying to lead the nation to the rebuilding of the wall, and he was trying to lead the nation to the restoration of the temple, and he was fighting obstacle after obstacle after obstacle.
But God says to him, “Zerubbabel, it’s going to be done historically, and it’s going to be done by the Holy Spirit.” And it was. Now the Holy Spirit used a human vessel to build that wall. Who was it? Nehemiah. But he did it in 52 days. And everybody said it had to be God. It had to be God. So, historically note, He says to Zerubbabel, “God’s Spirit is going to rebuild this place.” But Zerubbabel also, like Joshua, is a symbol of the whole nation. And has historically Zerubbabel would see the city restored, so future the nation will see the kingdom restored on its grandiose scale. The nation at this time was a mess. Things were rather tragic. But God says, “Zerubbabel, it’s going to happen.” And the implication of the future, it’s going to happen again, when all of those who are the nation, once led by Zerubbabel, see God’s power.
Now, notice what it says there at the end of verse, “But by My Spirit.” The Spirit or the Ruach of God and the breath of God. This is the Spirit who worked in creation, where it says, “And God breathed, and everything sprang to life.” This is the Spirit that opened and closed the Red Sea in Exodus 15. This is the Spirit in Ezekiel’s vision, in chapter 37, where God breathed into the dead bones that had come together, and the dead people came to life. It will be that Holy Spirit, the Ruach of God who will restore and regenerate and rejuvenate Israel. A great, great future hope.
Now, I want to just add a footnote. All God’s work is done by God’s Spirit. Did you get that? All God’s work is done by God’s Spirit. Anything not done by His Spirit is not His work, even if you call it that. And the Spirit always works through spiritual gifts. The Spirit always works through holiness. The Spirit always works through the Word. And the Spirit always works through humility.
And where you have the gifts in operation, holiness, the Word, and humility, you have God’s Spirit at work in any generation. So, the oil, then, is the picture of the Spirit, and it’s the flow of the Spirit in profuse quantity that’s going to make that kingdom such a fantastic time.
And interesting Bible study that I would just challenge you to do is to study the concept of oil in the Bible and how it relates to the Holy Spirit. Let me just give you a starting point. Several little points, and it won’t take too long; this doesn’t count in my sermon. Okay?
Number one, oil heals. Did you know that? Oil heals. Psalm 23, “That anointest my had with oil.” The shepherd would put oil on the sheep’s head when it had been bruised, and it would soothe the cut. In the Bible, oil again and again is applied to wounds. Luke 10:34 and James 5:14 – and if would make a parallel, we would say it’s the Holy Spirit who touches us in the time of our being wounded, in the time of our care, in the time of our sorrow, in the time of our distress and the time when we’ve been cut, and soothes those wounds with His marvelous presence.
And oil lights, as we see in the vision here. And certainly the Holy Spirit is the one who illuminates the believer’s path. It’s the Holy Spirit who leads us into truth. It is the Holy Spirit who lightens the heart of an unregenerate man and convicts him of sin. It is the Holy Spirit who opens the Word of God to our understanding. He is light.
And oil warms. Oil was used to produce heat. And the unresponsive heart is warmed by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Read Luke 24 and the response of those on the road to Emmaus.
And fourthly, oil is a sign of joy. Did you know that? Did you know that in the Old Testament feast times oil was never applied in periods of sorrow and grief because it was reserved for periods of joy? Read Psalm 104:15 or 2 Samuel 12:20. Oil is a symbol of joy in the Old Testament. And certainly the Holy Spirit is the source of joy. Romans 14:1 says the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So, you can follow that through yourself. The Holy Spirit is many things symbolized by oil. So, Israel fed by the Spirit of God, doing God’s work in God’s power, and marvelous things are going to happen.
Now, we’ve seen the presentation, the purpose, the power who is the Holy Spirit. Now, let’s see how the plan unfolds. The plan of the vision in verse 7. And we’ll go by quick on this one. “Who art thou, O great mountain?” Now, this is kind of interesting. Zerubbabel’s had a lot of obstacles, and now, after this tremendous promise from God, there’s good reason to feel your oats. And so, he looks at what has been a normal mountain-type obstacle, and he says, “Who are you, mountain? Out of the way.” See, God’s Word is now giving him confidence. “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.” You’re going to get flattened. “And he shall bring forth the headstone with shoutings, crying, ‘Grace, grace unto it.’”
Now, that’s kind of interesting. What this is is a defiant challenge against all opposition that tries to stop God from accomplishing His work in the power of His Spirit. Historically, God is saying, “I’m going to rebuild this city, even though it’s not going to be like it used to be in glory. I’m going to rebuild this temple, and nothing is going to stop Me.” And prophetically, God is saying, “I’m going to bring My kingdom, and nothing is going to stop it.”
And so, the courage that echoes out, “Who do you think you are, O mountain? Before Zerubbabel you’ll become a flat place.” And the headstone – you know what that was? The headstone is the Hebrew designation for the final stone that marked the completion of a building. And he’s going to bring forth the headstone. It’ll be finished. It’s going to be complete. And Zerubbabel is the guy, and he’ll stick that headstone in there, and it’ll be done. And the greater than Zerubbabel, the future restoration of the kingdom will also be completed.
Now notice, it’s going to be accomplished with shouting. It’s going to be a great day when they get that temple finished. It’s just going to be a time for everybody to scream and shout and holler and make – the Hebrew means loud noises. You know, sometimes Christians ought to make some loud noises. The Psalms even talk about a joyful noise. Well, that’s what you have here. When that headstone went into place in Zerubbabel’s temple historically, they yelled their head off. In fact, that same Hebrew word is used to describe the rumble of thunder in Job, chapter 36, verse 29. It sounded like thunder. It speaks of wild, tumultuous cheers and shouts. And what they’re cheer was is here. Look at it. “Grace, grace unto it.” That was their cheer.
You say, “That doesn’t seem like such a hot cheer.”
Well, it was theirs. And grace means beauty. And what they’re really saying is, “What gracefulness that temple has. What perfection it has. How beautiful it is.” Now, they finally shouted that. But as the thing was being built, during the time of Zerubbabel, they really weren’t that excited. Some of them were comparing it with the old temple of Solomon that had been destroyed. And so, in Haggai 2:3, which comments on the same period of time, they says this, “Oh, who is left among you that saw this house in its first glory. And how do you see it now. Is it not in your eyes, in comparison with it, as nothing?” And this isn’t built yet in Haggai. It’s not finished. And they’re saying, “Hey, you remember the other one? Boy, this is nothing. This is like going from the new auditorium back to here. “This isn’t anything like we used to have.” And so, they’re griping, and they’re murmuring. But the vision says they will shout when it’s done, and there’ll be joy everywhere. And Ezra records that, and that event happened. In Ezra 3:11 it was finished. This is the historical record of which Zechariah is the prophecy. “And they sang together by course in praising, giving thanks to the Lord because He’s good, for His mercy endure forever toward Israel.” Now watch, “And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. And many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers houses, who were old men who had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was set, they wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy.” Now, the idea there has to do with the completing of it. The final stone was put in place. The thing was set into its foundation. And there was exactly what Zechariah said; there was great shouting and screaming and hollering. It happened.
You know, but there’s a futuristic aspect to this. Do you know that the first time the Messiah came, the time that He offered Himself as a Messiah and came into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, they threw palm branches in His path, and they shouted and screamed, didn’t they? But they didn’t receive the kingdom, because before the week was out, they killed Him. But in the kingdom, when it comes, there’s going to be shouting and praising like you never imagined.
Isaiah talks about it. I have to just tell you what he says, because it’s from God, and you ought to know. Isaiah 12:1, “In that day, thou shalt say, ‘O Lord, I will praise Thee. Though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away. Thou comfortest me. Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord is my strength and my song.” Verse 3, “Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation. In that day shall you say, ‘Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His doings’” and so forth.
Verse 5, “Sing unto the Lord.” Verse 6, what does it say? “Cry out and shout, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” So, when the Messiah comes, you’re going to have the same kind of screaming and yelling all over the place that you had when Zerubbabel finished the temple and stuck the headstone in.
Verse 8, “Still talking about the plan as it unfolds, “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘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 Armies has sent me unto you.”
Now, this stresses not only the certainty of completing the temple, but doing so in the lifetime of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel will finish it. This is the word of the Lord, and God’s Word is inviolable and incontrovertible. Zerubbabel will finish it in order that God may be glorified.
And I want you to notice something. Notice the word “Me” at the end of verse 9, “And thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me unto you.” It is very likely that the “Me” is best understood as the Angel of the Lord again, who is the one speaking the word of Lord in verse 8. Interpreter angel just interpreted what was seen. The proclamation seems to come from the Angel of the Lord. So, it is Christ. And in that day, when the temple – the ultimate temple, looking beyond to the prophetic element – “When it is finished, then thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me” - the Angel of the Lord, none other Christ the Messiah – “unto you.” He is the one.
So, what is the plan? Now watch. The plan, God the Father lays out the plan. God the Son directs its fulfillment. God the Holy Spirit supplies its power. The whole Trinity involved with Israel in the past as they built their temple, and in the future as the kingdom comes. And just as the Davidic prince Zerubbabel was to complete the restoration temple, so the greater Davidic King, Christ, will build the millennial temple. And again, you see that two-fold element in prophecy.
Verse 10. Now listen to the translation that I read. “For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice” – actually, read it this way – “For those seven” – which you see two lines further down, but read it this way – “For those seven shall rejoice when they shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Stop right there. “For who has despised the day of small things? For those seven shall rejoice when they see the plummet in the hands of Zerubbabel.”
Now, they are the eyes of the Lord which run to and fro through the whole earth. Now, what are those seven? The eyes of the Lord. Why are they seven? Perfection. God is omniscient. Now, this is most interesting. Now watch.
Some of the people, as I told you, were skeptical about Zerubbabel’s temple not matching up to the Solomonic temple. And they thought it was kind of a loser. And so, the Holy Spirit says, “Who has despised the day of small things?” Listen, “The seven eyes of God shall rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Listen to me. If God gets happy over this thing, you ought to be happy. If an omniscient God who knows everything rejoice when the plumb line is dropped to start the thing, you sure ought to get happy about it and not despise it just because it might be a small thing to you.
Do you know why God gets happy? Because God sees His plan coming to fulfillment. See? God gets happy when He sees that thing begin, because He sees the end from the beginning. The point is, don’t despise what God rejoices over.
Now listen; if God rejoices over such a minor activity as the building of Zerubbabel’s temple, what must be His joy in contemplating the entire objective in the future when He rebuilds the nation into the kingdom planned for them? Fantastic. God is excited about the future of Israel, did you know that? He is excited. He is thrilled. He rejoices. You and I sit around, and we say, “Man, it’s exciting to see Israel in the land.” God is saying the same thing, “Boy, We’re getting there.” The plan is on the way. And it might not look like much now, but don’t despise small things.
And Zerubbabel’s temple didn’t look like much, but it reinstituted a nation that could have been lost right there. It got a lot wall up, and it preserved that little people so that the farther objective could be accomplished. God was happy. God rejoiced.
And so, we move on to the next element, the promise of the vision, verse 11. And we’ll tie it all together in a minute. Verse 11, “Then answered I, and said unto him, ‘I got everything except the two olive trees on the right side and the left side. What are they?’” That’s a free translation, but that’s what he’s asking.
“And I answered again and said to him, ‘What are these two olive branches which through the two golden conduits empty the golden oil out of themselves?’
“And he answered me and said, ‘Knowest thou not what these are?’
“And I said, ‘No, my lord.’
“And he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones’” – you can stop there. “These are the two anointed ones.” As the lampstand symbolizes Israel in full fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit, the source of fuel, it – and becoming a light bearer to the world, as she was called to be, we now see the two olive trees through which the blessing of God is flowing to the nation. And those two things are the office of king and priest, the royal and priestly office as we mentioned. The two anointed ones - literally that means sons of oil – have to be the king and the priest. And the word for oil there is incidentally fresh oil, which indicates that it is fresh oil out of a tree rather than manufactured oil. And again we go right back to the absolute accuracy of the Word of God, that God is trying to present something that has no human instrumentation, and even uses the right word for oil so we know it’s not the manufactured kind, but it’s yitshar which has to do with fresh oil.
So, he’s saying it is the pure power of the Spirit of God flowing through the priestly, kingly office into the life of Israel that makes it radiate messianic truth. And we know who the King Priest is, none other than Christ Himself. And so, it is Christ, starting and finishing the cycle.
And that brings us to the conclusion, the person in the vision, none other than Christ Himself, the Messiah. The end of verse 14 say that the two anointed ones stand by the Lord of the whole earth. Here the Lord of the whole earth is a messianic title. It is a messianic title. It identifies Christ with His reign in the world. The Messiah is the source, the channel of blessing flowing through the Spirit of God to the people and then radiating back His glorious reality. And He is none other than the Lord of the whole earth.
Now, we know that is a messianic millennial term because of how it’s used in Micah. A little prophecy of Micah, chapter 4, verse 1, and all the way down through verse 13. At the end of verse 13, it says, describing Christ in the kingdom, “And their substance will be given” - essentially – “unto the Lord of the whole earth.” There’s that same term, and it is definitely used in the millennial context, because in this forth chapter of Micah, you have the last days in verse 1, you have the Armageddon battle predicted and all of these things. So, we know that’s when it is. And that tells us the prophetic, futuristic element of Zechariah’s prophecy.
So, the Lord of the whole earth is really the key to the whole thing. It’s the messianic Christ that pervades this thing. Sometimes in the Hebrew figures, and in the Hebrew thinking, there will be a dramatic change in thought, and we don’t always pick it up. It seems very clear that initially these two olive trees are the priestly and kingly offices of Christ.
But then there seems to be an introduction of another thought altogether, when in verse 14 it describes these anointed ones as those standing by the Lord of the whole earth, almost as if they are persons. This same transition can be seen explicitly in Revelation chapter 11 and verse 4, because there you have a description of two witnesses who will come during the time of the tribulation, and they will announce to the world that the King Priest is coming to take His kingdom. And they are described, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation, in the fourth verse, in these words, “The two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
Now, there’s an obvious parallel in the terminology of Zechariah chapter 4, verse 14, and Revelation 11:4. And so, it may be that both are the same, that what you have here in 4:14 of Zechariah is a prophecy not only of Messiah as King Priest but of two very specific witnesses who will declare that truth during the time of the tribulation. And as you certainly know, if you’ve studied the book of Revelation, from Revelation chapter 6 through 19 is the record of how Messiah, the King Priest, becomes the Lord of the whole earth. So, there is an interesting connection.
Now summing up very soon. Zechariah has a vision. His vision sees Zerubbabel completing the temple and the people restored. But far beyond that, he sees the nation restored, the nation having been redeemed, brought back to the place of being a witness as they’re energized by the flow of the power of the Spirit of God to radiate the truth of the very Messiah who is the source of their blessing.
And do you know what’s going to happen in that day? Look with me at Revelation 7 and I’ll show you when Israel becomes that witness nation. Revelation 7, the first eight verses describe them as the witnesses. They’re going to proclaim, 144,000 of them. You could see all the way down through verse 8 there’s 12,000 from each tribe. They’re the servants of God, and they go out to proclaim. And the go out to proclaim, and the result’s in verse 9 – notice – “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palm in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’”
Now watch, that is a multitude of Gentiles who have been saved, and they are the direct result of the witnessing of the 144,000 out of the tribes of Israel. Listen; when Israel is turned loose as God’s witness nation at the period of time known as the tribulation, in anticipation of the kingdom, as they are turned loose, there will be more Gentiles converted than could even be counted. The greatest revival in the history of the world. When Israel finally does what God called her to do from the beginning. In Revelation 12:17, closing out that chapter where Satan persecutes Israel, “The dragon was angry with the woman” – that is Satan was angry with Israel – “and went to make war with the remnant of her seed.”
Now watch. Her seed is Israel who keep the commandments of God – now watch this – and have the testimony of – whom? – Jesus Christ. Israel will have the testimony of Christ, proclaim it, and a world of Gentiles will be redeemed to God. Great, great day.
And so, Isaiah says this – listen – “He calls to Israel, ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples, but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you, and the nations will come to your light, and the kings to the brightness of your rising.” That hasn’t happened yet.
You say, “Well, John, that’s all great and glorious sweet by-and-by stuff, but what does it have to do with the nasty now and now? How does it fit in?”
Here’s how it fits in. Until then, where is the light? Listen to this, Matthew 5:14, hear me – hear Jesus – “Ye are” – what? – “the light of the world.” That’s right. Until then, it’s us. Are we more faithful than Israel? I pray God so.
Jesus said in Luke 12:35, “Keep your lamps burning.” Keep your lamps burning. In Ephesians 5:8, Paul said, “For you were once darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” Paul said the Philippians in chapter 2, in verse 15, “That ye be blameless and harmless, children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
Where’s the light? You’re the light. And I’ll tell you something. The only way the light’ll ever shine is when it is infused with the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s our commission today. I pray God we’re more faithful than Israel was. Let’s pray.
Father, we can’t tell You how exciting and wonderful it is to study Your truth. You’ve given us such a love for Your Word, and even though many of the things we know well thrill us when we go over them again. Help us never to treat Your Scripture commonplace – as commonplace. Help us never to underestimate its impact and its power. Give us an appetite for it that cannot be satiated, a thirst that cannot be quenched, a love that is ever expanding and increasing.
Thank You, Father, for your plan for Israel, because it proves You’re a covenant-keeping, promise-keeping faithful God, and that’s the kind of God we want, one we can trust. Thank You that someday Israel will be that light again, to Your glory, by Your Spirit, and may we in this day, who have been commissioned to be the light, realize the same truth, not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit. And may we light our world, to Your glory, and to the saving of many, in Jesus’ name, amen.
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