The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Zechariah 4

Zec 4:1

Zec 4: The gold lampstand and the two olive trees: Further encouragement, this time to Zerubbabel specifically, with the knowledge that the temple (and esp the menorah here) will be established, and its light shine forth for all the world to see. And, in fulfillment of the type, that in the Kingdom, Christ will bring a glorious light that will enlighten the Gentiles (Isa 60:1,2).

Zec 4:2

A SOLID GOLD LAMPSTAND WITH A BOWL AT THE TOP AND SEVEN LIGHTS ON IT, WITH SEVEN CHANNELS TO THE LIGHTS: Lampstands generally, and the lampstands in the tabernacle and temple particularly, held removable lamps (Exo 25:31; 1Ki 7:49). Their purpose was to support that which holds up and bears the light (cp Mat 5:16; Rev 1:20; 2:5). In this case the lampstand or menorah represents the temple and the Jewish community, which were to hold the light of Israel's testimony to Yahweh up to the rest of the world. The bowl on top of this lampstand contained oil that constantly replenished the lamps (cp v 12).

In the Heb (see AV mg), the these seven lamps are represented as being fed by "seven sevens" of pipes, or 49. This would suggest that each of the seven "lamps" had itself seven receptacles and seven separate wicks -- or a total of 49 separate "lightstands".

GOLD: Sym a tried faith, not faith in the abstract, but that which has been put to the test: 1Pe 1:7; Pro 17:3; Job 23:10; Lam 4:2.

Zec 4:3

THERE ARE TWO OLIVE TREES BY IT, ONE ON THE RIGHT OF THE BOWL AND THE OTHER ON ITS LEFT: Human maintenance of the lamps was unnecessary since the oil flowed from the trees to the reservoir to the lamps. This important feature of the vision stresses God's singular provision of the oil (cp v 6).

In Rom 11 the two olive trees are said to represent Israel and the Gentiles. "In this vision they represent the royal priesthood of the Age to Come, who will convey the 'oil' of all nations, on a basis of faith in Christ (the golden pipes leading to the reservoir) to shine forth as light through their ministrations (the seven lamps)" (HPM).

Zec 4:6

NOT BY MIGHT NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT: "This principle is an elliptical sentence... a kind of motto, as it were, to guide all endeavors and enterprises of the nation in these evil days. If we were to complete the ellipsis we might formulate the statement somewhat after the following fashion: If success is to be gained in the achievements of the people of God it will not be secured by what man can do but by the Spirit's work" (Leupold).

Since Zerubbabel was leading the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the community, the LORD's word to him was a word of encouragement. These restorations would not need an army of workers, as Solomon's temple did (1Ki 5:13-18), nor unusually strong laborers. The strength of the workers, in fact, failed because the work was so strenuous (cp Neh 4:10). The work would succeed because of the supernatural grace (help) that the Lord would provided by His Spirit (cp Gen 1:2; Exo 15:8,10; 28:3; 31:3; Num 11:17-29; Jdg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14, 19; 2Sa 22:16; Eze 37:1-14). This is, of course, true of any work that seeks to carry out God's will in the world (cp 2Co 12:9).

Zec 4:7

WHAT ARE YOU, O MIGHTY MOUNTAIN?: Mountains are symbols of large obstacles (cp Isa 40:4; 41:15; 49:11; Mat 17:20; 21:21; Mark 11:23; 1Co 13:2). They are also symbols of kingdoms (cp Isa 41:15; Jer 51:25,26; Dan 2:35,45; Rev 17:5; etc). The whole process of temple restoration seemed like a mountainous job to the few who returned from exile. In addition, there was much opposition to building (Ezra 4:1-5,24), from such as the Samaritans, and the Israelites themselves proved unwilling to persevere in the task (Hag 1:14; 2:1-9).

BEFORE ZERUBBABEL YOU WILL BECOME LEVEL GROUND: God would reduce this "mountain" of difficulty to a flat plain by assisting the workers.

THEN HE WILL BRING OUT THE CAPSTONE TO SHOUTS OF 'GOD BLESS IT! GOD BLESS IT!': Zerubbabel would bring forth the top stone, the final stone on the project, with shouts of "Grace... to it." The joyful cry of the people as they saw the last stone put in place would voice their prayer that God's blessing would now rest on the beautiful structure that His grace had made possible.

(NT) Christ is the stone which the builders rejected, but which subsequently becomes the head stone of God's spiritual temple: Psa 118:22; cp 1Pe 2:4-7: "There will exist contemporary with the resurrection, when Zerubbabel shall stand up again, 'a great mountain' in the political world, which is to be reduced to 'a plain.' But that this will not result by the power and strength of Israel under any organization they might constitute; for at that crisis their power and strength will have been utterly scattered; but it shall be accomplished by Jehovah's Spirit, which will raise Zerubbabel and his companions from among the dead, to be the captains of Israel together with the living believers; and will be the strength and power energizing them all to the complete reduction of the Great Political Mountain of the Gentiles to the level of a summer threshing-floor: even to cause to go forth the Head, or Chief Stone, with shoutings of 'Grace, grace unto him!' " (Eur 1:65).

The shouts of acclamation directed toward Christ are further mentioned in 2Th 1:10; Rev 5:9-14; 19:1-7; Phi 2:8,9; Mat 23:39.

Zec 4:9

THE HANDS OF ZERUBBABEL HAVE LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THIS TEMPLE; HIS HANDS WILL ALSO COMPLETE IT: As Zerubbabel had laid the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:8-11; 5:16), so he would also complete it (cp Ezra 6:14-18). Construction began on the foundation of the temple in 536 BC and the last stone went in place in 515 BC. Then the people would know that it was indeed the LORD who had sent the messenger who brought this message to Zechariah.

THEN YOU WILL KNOW THAT THE LORD ALMIGHTY HAS SENT ME TO YOU: The messenger in view appears to be the angel of the Lord (cp Zec 1:11,12; 2:8,9,11; 3:1,5,6).

Zec 4:10

WHO DESPISES THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS?: The people would be ashamed that they had despised the rebuilding project as insignificant (cp Ezra 3:12; Hag 2:3).

MEN WILL REJOICE WHEN THEY SEE THE PLUMB LINE IN THE HAND OF ZERUBBABEL... THESE SEVEN ARE THE EYES OF THE LORD, WHICH RANGE THROUGHOUT THE EARTH: The LORD Himself was glad to see Zerubbabel building with his plumb line as His omniscient eyes surveyed all that was happening in the world (cp Zec 3:9; 2Ch 16:9). The Hebrew words translated "plumb line" may mean "separated [ie, chosen] stone" (Const). The LORD, in addition to His people, would rejoice when He saw the capstone put in place (cp Ezra 6:16-22). Now His people could serve Him as He purposed.

THE PLUMB LINE: In the antitypical temple (a spiritual temple) the Master Builder is Jesus Christ, and the plumb line will be the measure of inclusion or exclusion for the individual "stones" of the believers.

Zerubbabel as a type of Christ: "Small things marked the beginning of the work in the hand of Zerubbabel, but none might despise it, for the Lord had raised up one who would persevere until the headstone should be brought forth with shoutings. The plummet was in good hands. Here is the comfort of every believer in the Lord Jesus; let the work of grace be ever so small in its beginnings, the plummet is in good hands, a master builder greater than Solomon has undertaken the raising of the 'temple', and he will not fail nor be discouraged till the topmost pinnacle shall be raised. If the plummet were in the hand of any merely human being, we might fear for the building, but the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in Jesus' hand. The works did not proceed irregularly, and without care, for the master's hand carried a good instrument. Had the walls been hurriedly run up without due superintendence, they might have been out of the perpendicular; but the plummet was used by the chosen overseer. Jesus is evermore watching the erection of his spiritual temple, that it may be built securely and well. We are for haste, but Jesus is for judgment. He will use the plummet, and that which is out of line must come down, every stone of it. Hence the failure of many a flattering work, the overthrow of many a glittering profession" (CHS).

Zec 4:13

DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT THESE ARE?: Again the interpreting angel expressed surprise that Zechariah needed an explanation of these things (cp v 5). He did not want to give an interpretation if Zechariah could figure it out himself. Normally God does not provide additional information until we have done all we can to discover His meaning. To do so would discourage human effort.

Zec 4:14

THESE ARE THE TWO WHO ARE ANOINTED TO SERVE THE LORD OF ALL THE EARTH: It was their relationship to the Lord that equipped them for their tasks. "Anointed ones" is literally "sons of oil," namely sons of God who had been anointed with oil as divinely appointed leaders. In Israel only the kings and the priests underwent anointing with oil for their ministries, and Zerubbabel and Joshua must be the individuals in view here. The references to anointing with oil and God's enabling Spirit (v 6) combine to connect the oil as a symbol of the Spirit.

(NT) "Sons of oil" sym those who have been begotten by the Spirit-word (1Pe 1:22-25) and have been clothed with the Spirit-nature (1Co 15:44).

All Mosaic institutions served as parables and shadows of the "heavenly things" (Heb 8:5). Thus, Zerubbabel and Joshua point ultimately to the Messiah who combined the royal and priestly offices and functions in one person, the Branch (Zec 3:8; 6:12; Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5; cp Psa 110; Heb 7). In the Tribulation two other special witnesses will appear (cp Rev 11:3-12).

The point of this vision and its accompanying oracle was the Lord's ability to bring a seemingly impossible project to completion successfully and gloriously through His anointed servants (first, Zerubbabel and Joshua -- and then, in prophecy, the Messiah) and supernatural empowerment (cp 2Co 12:9). The lesson is applicable to any project that God has ordained and called His people to execute, including rebuilding the temple and building up the ecclesia of God (Mat 16:18).

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