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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Zechariah 4

Verses 1-14

Vision of Lampstand and Olive Trees (4:1-14)

The fifth vision of the prophet is closely related to the fourth. In it he sees a lampstand of gold with a bowl on its top for the oil and seven lamps, each with seven lips for wicks. On each side stands an olive tree. Again an interchange of questions and answers with the angels promises to provide the interpretation of the vision, but before the interpretation is given there comes a special message of encouragement from God to Zerubbabel.

The special word to Zerubbabel concerns the task immediately before him, namely, the rebuilding of the Temple. In the form of a direct address to the mountain of rubble to be cleared away from the site of the Temple, the Lord announces that it will "become a plain." Furthermore, Zerubbabel, whose hands have laid the foundation of the Temple, will himself set the top stone "amid shouts of ’Grace, grace to it!’ " A French translator appropriately translates the shout of joy as, "Bravo, bravo for it!" The special word of the Lord to Zerubbabel tersely declares, "Not by might, nor by power, but my Spirit, says the Lord." Zerubbabel may look forward to the accomplishment of his task, but his achievement belongs actually to the Spirit of God.

The interpretation of the vision points to the activity of the Spirit of God. The seven lamps are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth, instruments of the activity of the unseen God. The two olive trees, or the two branches from the olive trees, or the two golden pipes are the "two anointed who stand by the Lord of the whole earth." These two are also instruments of the activity of God, who is Spirit. The two instruments are men, evidently the high priest and "the Branch," understood by Zechariah to be his contemporaries, Joshua and Zerubbabel, the one pre-eminent in the sacred sphere, the other in the political realm. In both areas of human life God is Lord of the whole earth. By the Spirit of God the power and sovereignty of God are communicated to the life of mankind. Such explicit awareness of the spiritual nature of God’s intervention in human affairs is seldom expressed in the Old Testament, but it became an axiom of New Testament faith as seen in the Book of Acts and the writings of Paul. It is a conception which needs to be rediscovered and re-examined in the modern world.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Zechariah 4". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/zechariah-4.html.