Commentary on Zechariah 4

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Zechariah 4

A vision, encouragement, and explanation. The Spirit will help Zerubbabel rebuild the temple.

Vs. 1-4

Zechariah’s next vision is of a solid gold lampstand. The lampstand had a bowl on top of it with seven lamps and seven channels going to each lamp. The bowl on the top of the lampstand had an olive tree on its right and an olive tree on its left. This clearly reminds us of the gold lampstand in the temple. That lampstand had to be kept burning continually, and was never to go out. This required 24-hour care from the priests who had to trim the wicks, supply special pure oil, replenish the oil, and so on. The lampstand Zechariah sees here is vastly different though. This lampstand was supplied with oil straight from the olive trees flanking it. It would never need priests to refill the oil. Also, this oil would be the of the purest kind since it came straight from the trees, and it would not need to go through any processing.

Vs. 5-9

The angel who is showing Zechariah these things asks Zechariah if he knows what he is being shown. Zechariah answers that he does not. The angel goes on to explain that this was a vision concerning Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the person responsible for rebuilding the temple. At this point the temple foundation had been laid, but further work had been halted because of the people’s own self-interest and opposition from enemies.

This is a message of encouragement and promise for Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel would finish the temple not by might or strength or human help, but by God’s Spirit. This is the same word for Spirit “ruah” in Hebrew that was used in aiding with creation, parting the Red Sea, and bringing life back to the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision. The mountain of work before Zerubbabel would look like a flat plain with the help of God’s Spirit. We must remember in our lives that we also have God’s Spirit – the only external, self-sustaining, renewable resource. God also makes the promise to Zerubbabel that he would be the one to lay the foundation, the one to bring out the capstone, and finish the temple.

Vs. 10

God now encourages Zerubbabel some more by telling him not to despise the day of small things. This is a repeating pattern throughout the Bible when it comes to how God uses humans in His plans. God often uses small things to make the big things happen. Either the youngest son, the smallest tribe, the most humble, the poorest, or so forth. This was no different. This was a devastated country, people, and land who had to rebuild everything. Compared to this Zerubbabel looked tiny, but God would use him to fulfill this part of the plan. The seven eyes (complete knowledge) of God will also rejoice with Zerubbabel and the people with the completion of this work.

Vs. 11-14

Zechariah had one final question. He wanted to know what the two olive trees were. He is told they were the two appointed to serve God. In short term fulfillment, we can see these as being Joshua and Zerubbabel. But as with most prophecies, this most likely has a long term fulfillment of which we do not yet know.






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