Now we come to a most interesting chapter. Many of the types and symbols presented it this chapter are used in several other places. There is a pause between the previous vision and this one. Evidently, the angel which had been talking with the prophet left him for a time, maybe to give him rest. Then the angel returned.
Zechariah had been sleeping (resting), and now the angel awakes him, out of his sleep--. Obviously, our condition, when compared to that of angels, is one of sleep.
"Our condition, when compared with that of the angels,
is to be regarded as a sleep (Ibid, pg. 983)."
Chapter 4 starts a new vision. Zechariah saw a candlestick made of pure gold. On the top or over the top of this candlestick was a bowl to hold oil. From this bowl were seven lamps. Each lamp had a pipe or tube to it from the bowl of oil. On each side of the bowl or vessel was an olive tree. From each olive tree there is also a golden pipe or tube which runs to the bowl, supplying it with oil:
(1.) Two olive tress with a lamp stand between them.
(2.) From these two olive tress run a golden tube from each to a common vessel which hold the oil.
(3.) From this vessel runs seven tubes.
(4.) At the end of each tube is a lamp.
(5.) Notice: the bowl, tubes, lamps are all of gold and the oil is called the golden oil, v. 12.
Zechariah speaks to the angel which is showing him these things, and says, what are these, my Lord? The angel answers him back, don't you know? The prophet answers, no my Lord.
Rather than the angel explaining point by point the vision at this time, he sums up the whole meaning of the vision.
OBSERVE: Many times we get far to wrapped up in point by point interpretation of Scripture rather than its overall teachings and meanings. As we have mentioned many times, there are many very well financed ministries which have been built on explaining what the toes on the beasts represents, or what each eye represents, or each head, horn or hair. Folks love to hear all of these points dissected and will turn out to hear the points, but try to get them to turn out to hear about their responsibility to a Holy God and no one will come.
Obviously, the angel, and thus the Lord, is only concerned about the overall principle which is contained in these prophetic visions although we are able to understand some of the meanings of the "sub-points" from other passages.
The prophet here had to ask the angel to explain the individual points of this vision, v. 12. In fact, the angel did not volunteer any explanation of any individual points except what the prophet expressly asked him about, and then it was just the two olives tress, v. 12.
The "sub points" of the vision are understood from other passages of Scripture as we use Scripture to interpret Scripture. The Lord here does not hold understanding every point of the vision as necessary for understanding the principle which is being taught with the two olive tress and the golden lamps.
Therefore, we should be careful about placing too much emphasis on the details because we could easily miss God's overall teaching in the prophetic visions. The overall principle contained herein, explained by the angel to the prophet, is tremendous.
Here the angel gives the teaching of the vision:
This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shouting, crying, grace, grace unto it.
Notice who this is addressed to, Zerubbabel. He was the one who led the people back from captivity to rebuild the temple: Ezra. Remember, Zechariah is dealing with discouragement among the people of God as they face the seemingly hopeless task of rebuilding from the rubble. This vision is to encourage them, but it does not stop there.
As we have seen, Zachariah's visions refer though history to the coming of the Messiah and the building of the temple of God, the church. Thus Zechariah is told by the Lord that the church will not be built by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord alone.
Notice the shouting at the laying of the foundation stone of the temple, v. 7: Grace, grace unto it. This temple (church), will not be built by human means; rather, it will be built by the grace and power of God.
Moreover, notice that the mountains which stand in the way of building this temple will be subdued, becoming a plain. Let's keep in mind that at the time of this vision, the foundation stone of the rebuilt temple had already been laid at Jerusalem, Ezra 3:10. The work was very difficult and discouraging and probably seemed that it would never be completed. The promise to Ezra (Zerubbabel), is that he will complete the task, but he will not complete it by his own might nor power.
Thus we have:
(1.) The people had returned, built an altar to reinstate the sacrifice. Two years and two months after the return they laid the foundation at the temple, Ezra 3:8.
(2.) The task seemed hopeless, requiring huge amounts of work and sacrifice. It was very discouraging.
(3.) The heathen nations around them did all they could to discourage, and stop their work. V. 7, the heathen nations are represented by the large mountains of worldly power. The promise of the Lord is to level this worldly power.
(4.) Ezra is promised that, in spite the difficulties and hindrances of the worldly powers, the headstone will be laid: the task will be completed.
(5.) The completion of the task of building the temple will not depend upon human strength nor power, but upon the power of God.
(a.) Because the completion does not depend upon human means, the leveling of the mountain (world's power exhibited in nations standing against this work of God), does not depend on human means and abilities. If the building is God's work, so is the leveling of the worlds kingdoms.
As we have already mentioned, Ezra was the immediate fulfillment of the vision, yet it is a clear prophecy concerning the Messiah and the time of the church of all ages.
(1.) The cornerstone which was laid to build upon, of course, was/is Christ, Isa. 8:14; 28:16; I Pet. 2:6. But not only is he the foundation cornerstone but he is also head of the corner, Acts. 4:11. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He is all in all.
(2.) This temple of the Lord, the church, is built out of the rubble of sin. The work of building this temple will be totally the work of God and His spirit of grace.
(3.) But God uses people. Like Zerubbabel, the work looks difficult and useless. Those involved in the hard work would be inclined to think it was by their own might and hard work and power that the work is accomplished.
One of the major fallacies of some who hold to the Calvinist position is that they don't believe human effort and work are required. But though the building was built by God's Spirit, Ezra had to work.
a.) This building will require as much work dedication and sacrifice as was required in Ezra's day.
(4.) The powers of this world will exalt themselves to do all they can to stop this work.
(5.) Since this is the Lord's doings and indeed it is marvelous in our eyes, He is the One who will reduce the great mountain to a plain. "The great mountain did not become truly a plain till Christ appeared (Ibid, pg. 984)." No man or earthly power can stand against the power of the Spirit of God for long. Their great mountain will be replaced by the stone cut out without hands, (see Ps. 118:22).
(6.) The angel doesn't stop, he continues with, moreover..., v. 8. The immediate promise was to Zerubbabel (Ezra), who laid the foundation stone at the temple. He will se it completed by the power of the spirit of God. As this promise looks forward to the Messiah, we see the promise that the One who laid the foundation stone of the new temple of God will also finish this.
(a.) This stone is Christ, see (1.).
(b.) The Builder and Maker of this temple is God.
There are more Scripture texts on this than we could cover in such a short space. Therefore we will restrict ourselves to one. Paul sums ALL of Zechariah chp. 4 up in I Cor. chp. 2. I don't believe there is one point of Zechariah's vision (chp. 4), which Paul fails to cover.
(7.) finally, v. 10 is a message all in itself:
a) first, encouragement to those who were and are discouraged at the small and poor beginnings of Ezra's temple; it also looks forward to those discouraged at the small and poor beginnings of the Church, the temple of God.
b) the plummet... this speaks of Zerubbabel's representation of Christ who would come and build His Church, the true temple of God. Though the world would war against His efforts and the Church, and though human nature would become discouraged, the surface does not reveal the truth behind the scenes.
c) God has seven eyes, the continual Divine Providence so that neither Satan nor any power in the world can go about to bring anything to pass to hinder His work; # Zec 5:9.
November 6, 1994
We saw from v. 6 that the Lord was more interested in the overall teaching of the vision. The overall teaching was that the work commanded by God was hard work and a great amount of effort was going to be required, but the sucuessful completion of the great work would be God's doings.
Obviously, v. 6 summs up the compleat message from God to man in the Scriptures: Scriputre presents man's responsibilities that he must work very hard to accomplish, but Scriputre also tells us that the sucussful completion of those responsibilities are the workigns of God's spirit.
Now for the rest of the vision. The prophet inquires for more detail than what had been given in v. 6. And the angel fills in some of the details.
The golden oil... It is the most obvious of all the symbols in this vision: oil always represents the Spirit of God as He dwells in and works in the church.
[Henstenberg makes this point: "At the same time it must be noticed that it is the physical, rather than the moral operations of the spirit, which comes into consideration here."]
The golden oil shows us the Spirit's work in bringing others into the building, the temple of God. The temple is built, others are brought into the kingdom through hard, physical work. The emphasis here is not on forgiveness of sin and moral purity at this point, but on Holy Spirit powered hard work in the building of the Lord.
The seven eyes of the Lord, roam the earth for two purposes.
(1.) Looking for those through whom God can work to build
(2.) Protecting his temple (church), from those who would seek to tear it down.
Now, let's consider a few points:
1) it is not wrong to seek out details of the Word of God as long as those details are used to better equip us to serve the Lord. A great amount of detailed study today, though, is for courousity.
2) building the temple: let me make a point here on tearing the temple down:
The picture here is of building a building one brick or stone at a time; such building is the Holy Spirit's work, but the Spirit uses people, e.g. Paul, 1 Co 3:5-17; 1 Pe 2:5
The enemy of God desires to tear down the temple. We have the mistaken idea that the enemy uses a "wrecking ball" or a "bulldozer" to tear down the wall. He might make a full, fruntal attack in some cases, but more often than not, he uses the same method to destroy as the Spirit does to build, ONE STONE AT A TIME.
His succuess comes from his efforts of removing one block at a time. As he removes his one block, those involved in the work of placing one block don't notice that the removed block is missing. Or they are so concerned about thier area of construction on the buildign that they don't care much what happens to others. People say, "My, the attendance is down at church" but what will they do to imporve the situation? (How many have been by to see the Croys?)
Most folks do not realize the enemy is removing one stone at a time until the buildign is about to colaps.
Then there are folks who see the blocks being removed, but they only see one or two when actually there are hundreds being removed, Ps 11:1-3. They may raise a great issue over one or two foundation blocks they see removed, but never see the rest that are being removed.
But there is someone else workign on the building that sees some other bocks being removed, so he makes a big noise over the ones he observes destroyed.
This goes on hundreds of times down through the line of workers, and each worker is concerned about his foundation stones which he sees removed, and is extremely upset becasue all the workers do not rush to his aid.
But no one worker can see the total destruction that is taking place. Being human we do have a very restricted area of vision. The Holy Spirit alone can see the overall picture of the building as well as the destruction, yet to each individual, their area is the only area of concern or at least the area of most importance.
But to the Holy Spirit of God, each area of destruction is important, and He raises up different workmen to build and/or repair different areas.
All of that to say this: we should learn not only to be tolerant, but also work with those others who see the wall falling apart in their particular area of work. They may think it is the only area of work (and destruction of the wall), but it isn't. We think our area of work (and destruction by the enemy), but it isn't. The Holy Spirit gives different concerns and insights to different ones because no one person could cover them all.
those seven... eyes of the Lord... The seven spirits of the Lord are working to build as well as to protect his building.
Rom. 12:5-9 lists the Seven Spirits, and Eph. 4:12 gives their job.
1) One body in Christ.
a) One job, to glorify God and build the body, temple.
2) Each person's job (gift), is different.
a) One is not above (more important), than another.
3) The apostle, knowing the danger of pride, my gift is better than yours, exhorts each to love, then defines love, chp. 13.
These Seven Spirits of the Lord encourage, empower and protect the laborers as well as level the mountains of opposition.
3) the details explained:
A) the work of the oil: it flows into the golden bowl which feeds the seven lamps. The understanding of the candlestick and oil is obvious. Rev. 1:20, this candlestick represents "The community, the people of the covenant, the church."
B) The eyes are separate from the lamps, Zec 3:9; 4:2, 10. The eyes of the Lord are upon the stone, and symbolize the operation of the Spirit of the Lord and the powers of God as seen in and above nature. The eyes of the Lord go throughout the whole earth to ward off danger from every side to the kingdom of God and to bring assistance from every point of the earth.
C) The candlestick, composed entirely of the purest gold, is a sign of teh glory of the Church of God.
D) The golden pipes bringing the oil symbolize the supply of the mercy and power of God through various channels to His Church. They also speak of an abundance of supply of God's mercy and grace.
"The eyes are the symbol of the operations of the spirit of the Lord, the powers of God manifested both in and above the sphere of nature. These go through the whole earth, to ward off danger on every side from the kingdom of God, and to bring assistance from every quarter, (Ibid, pg. 985)."
"That the candlestick is entirely composed of the purest metal, namely gold, is a sign of the glory of the Church of God. The great number of tubes, seven for every one of the seven lamps, shows the variety of the channels, by which the mercy and power of God are communicated to his Church, and also the abundance of the supply, (Ibid, 985)."
4) Now the prophet asks, what are these two olive trees which supply the oil to the lamps?
The answer is found in a review of the vision to this point:
The lamps represent the covenant people through whom the spirit
of God works to build his kingdom.
The oil represents the enabling spirit of grace which empowers (and protects) them in that work.
The trees represent the source of this enabling power.
Therefore these two trees CANNOT represent any kind of mortal men.
The two trees must be two divine instruments used by God to provide the divine power and blessings to his covenant people.
Remember the purpose of Zechariah's vision is to assure the High Priest that God was going to work through him in his meditation for the people, 3:1-2.
Moreover, the vision gives assurance to the civil power, Zerubbabel, that he was going to work through him and his efforts, 4:6.
"And the direct intention of the present symbolical representation was to assure both the High Priest (Joshua), and civil authorities (Zerubbabel), that this was the fact; and by this assurance to comfort and gladden the hearts of the people, who fancied that God had forsaken them, (Ibid, 987)."
Therefore, God's grace to his to covenant people flowed to them through these two offices: the civil ruler, Zerubbabel, and the religious leader, the priest, Joshua.
Christ is the NT fulfillment of these two offices: His office is both Priest and King. Therefore, these two trees symbolize Christ as Priest and Ruler (King) over his people; He supplys the their needed abundant grace to do His work. These two olive trees represent the source of the power of God for God's covenant people; therefore, they must represent Christ, for He alone is the source of power for his people.
Conclusion of this chapter:
1) No matter how hopeless things may look to the human understanding, it is not hopeless. God will do a work of building his temple, the Church.
2) God uses people. Its hard work requiring dedication as much dedication as was needed in Ezra's day to rebuild the temple.
3) In this work, again, it would seem to result in very little if any progress. God assures that there will be. He is working and he will finish the good work that he has begun.
4) As they work and God does give an increase, don't start thinking, "My, look at what our wisdom, might and power did."
5) The efforts to advance his kingdom will encounter great mountains of worldly kings and powers. He can and will subdue all.
6) The total of the vision is that the enabling grace for the church to advance is only from Christ.
In all of this, let me keep in mind: this is absolutely no excuse for "Calvinism" which says, "God will do it, let's set back and let him." This is rebellious disobedience and will bring God's judgmental wrath against those who believe and practice such foolishness. This is a call for work and hard WORK on the part of the covenant people.
I Cor. chp. 2 makes this abundantly clear as Paul takes the
principle of Zechariah chp. 4 and makes it proper application.
There in I Cor. 2 is where we should be finding our marching orders,
and we will if we will study it.