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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 4

 

 

Verses 1-14

The Fifth Vision - The Lampstand

(vv. 1-14)

The next vision requires Zechariah's being awakened by the angel who spoke with him. Our natural inclination would not discern the truth of a vision like this: we are naturally insensible regarding these things and require an awakening by divine power. The essence of the vision is expressed in verse 6: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts," and 1 Corinthians 2:14 reminds us, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." We too need an awakening by a power outside of ourselves if we are to understand the things freely given us by God. It must be by divine revelation.

The angel asks what Zechariah sees, for he wants his fullest attention. Zechariah says, "I have looked." The vision was of a gold lampstand, reminding us of the lampstand in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31), with a bowl on the top and seven oil lamps which were fed by seven pipes evidently from the bowl. Also, two olive trees were beside it, one on the right and one on the left side. The oil came from those trees.

The lampstand speaks of Christ in whom all the golden glory of God is manifested. It is He who is the Sustainer of all true testimony for God, of which the light speaks. In the tabernacle the lamps were to be lit so "that they give light in front of it" (the lampstand). The light was not simply to light up the room, but for the display of the lampstand itself, just as the light of God is focused upon the Lord Jesus, the Sustainer of God's testimony.

The interpretation of the two olive trees is found at the end of the chapter, so we will wait until then to consider this.

Zechariah's interest is stirred by this vision (v. 4), though he has to admit to the angel his ignorance of what it means (v. 5). This brings forth the angel's message from God, that is of the most vital consequence, not only for Israel, but for mankind in every sphere and in every age. It is the Word of the Lord addressed to Zerubbabel, for he represents the might and power of government. He is told, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." We have recently seen the startling collapse of authoritarian rule in various Communist countries. The irritation of the people against such rule must eventually break out in rebellion. How good to know that the great authority and power of the Lord Jesus is perfectly balanced by the grace of His Priesthood! The world's kings know nothing of this.

Zerubbabel means "melted by Babylon" which pictures the lowly grace of the Lord Jesus in identifying Himself with Israel in feeling the deep sorrow of her humiliation in captivity to Babylon's tyranny. He who rightly feels the humiliation of Israel's shame is the One who can deliver her from the bondage of Gentile oppression. Therefore, the question, "Who are you, O great mountain?" (v. 7), draws our attention to the Gentile powers, beginning with Babylon, that have been so great an obstacle to Israel's blessing. But before Zerubbabel, this mountain would be reduced to a plain - no obstacle whatever. Certainly Zerubbabel is a picture of the Lord Jesus in this case.

More than this, "He shall bring forth the capstone, with shouts of Grace, grace, to it." The capstone or topstone of the building (the temple) signifies its completion. Just as Christ is the foundation of the building, so also is He the full completion of it. Grace too will be predominantly seen, in contrast to "might" and "power." Grace will draw forth shouts of rejoicing on the part of the people. This will be especially true in the day of Israel's restoration, but today believers are privileged to know in advance the reality of the grace of God. This grace is seen in the Lord Jesus as the foundation of the spiritual building, the Church of God, and as "Completer of faith," the One who brings to a perfect culmination all the counsels of God concerning the Church.

The word of the Lord has further instruction for Zechariah concerning this fifth vision. "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands also shall finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you" (v. 9). Though considerable time had elapsed between the laying of the foundation of the temple and the time of this prophecy, the temple was far from finished. Yet God decreed plainly that Zerubbabel would finish it. When the finishing took place, it would be the clearest demonstration that it was "Jehovah of hosts" who had "sent Me to you." Who is this who was sent? The language is intended to emphasize the typical character of this prophecy as looking forward to the future temple in Jerusalem, which Israel knows will be built by the Messiah in His own time. The One therefore whom Jehovah of hosts has sent is the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus. It will be He who gives instructions for both the laying of the foundation of the temple and the completed edifice. In this present day, this is a picture of the spiritual house, the Church, of whom the Lord Jesus is Himself the foundation, the corner-stone and the topstone. He is the Builder and is personally involved in the erection of the entire building.

At the arrival of the glorious age to come, it will be fully manifest to Israel that it is indeed the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, who has sent the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. No doubts will remain in the minds of the people, though when He came first in lowly grace, they rejected Him as the Son of God sent by the Father.

Meanwhile, while the marvelous glory of the Millennium is held in abeyance, and we see only great weakness instead of power, much failure instead of victory, the Lord asks a question of deepest importance, "Who has despised the day of small things?" While waiting for the coming day of glory, we ought to rejoice in every small occasion of true spiritual blessing which God graciously gives to encourage genuine faith. In the present day God is seeking to impress on us the truth of the words of the Lord Jesus, "He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much" (Luke 16:10). If He does not give us great blessing in our testimony as to the truth of the gospel or to the truth of the Assembly, it may be because we have lacked faithfulness in maintaining the blessing He has given! At any rate, faith does not despise small things, and can patiently wait for the great things that are promised.

"These seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel." Zerubbabel pictures Christ as the Builder whose building is perfectly square vertically as well as horizontally. The seven eyes refer back to Zechariah 3:9, the eyes in one stone (Christ), which are the eyes of the Lord that range throughout the whole earth. This compares with Revelation 5:6, "the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth," that is, the seven-fold power of the Spirit of God who takes great delight in drawing attention to Christ as the great Builder of His house. These eyes of perfect discernment are cognizant also of all that transpires throughout the whole earth. In doing so, they find nothing that can remotely compare with the dignity of the person of Christ.

Zechariah's interest is specially awakened by the two olive trees, one on either side of the lampstand (v. 11), and he questions the angel as to this. But before receiving an answer, he questions further as to the two olive branches beside the two golden pipes which empty the golden oil from themselves. These had not been mentioned in verses 2 and 3, but evidently the branches from the trees connected with two golden pipes brought the oil to the seven lamps. As well as the lampstand and the pipes being of gold, the oil is said to be golden oil. This emphasizes the deity of the Spirit of God, just as the glory of Christ's deity is emphasized in the golden lampstand.

The angel answers that the trees with their branches are "the two anointed ones who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth" (v. 14). The significance of this is easily understood when we remember that both priests and kings were commonly anointed with oil in Israel, and if we consider Zechariah 6:13, that Christ will be priest on His throne. In the Old Testament history this could never take place, for priests could come only from the line of Aaron, and kings could not come from that line. But Christ will be both High Priest and King.

The olive trees therefore symbolize the priesthood and royalty of the Lord Jesus. These two precious facts provide oil for the golden lamp of testimony, that is, the power of the Spirit of God is seen in its wonderful characteristics in connection with the Lord Jesus as being God's chosen King and in His being God's High Priest. Also, as we have seen, the golden lampstand emphasizes the deity of this same blessed Person as the Sustainer of all testimony for God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Zechariah 4:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/zechariah-4.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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