Study Notes

Zechariah 4:1-14


Zechariah has just finished seeing a vision of Joshua the high priest being accused by satan, but cleansed and forgiven by God. Tonight, we will be studying chapter four, which tells us about the fourth of eight visions Zechariah was shown one night.

4:1 As If Awakened From Sleep

An angel had been guiding and interpreting the visions that Zechariah had seen. Now, he returns again to show him something else.

4:2-3 Vision Of A Lampstand And Olive Trees

The fourth vision was that of a lampstand. On its top was a bowl in which oil was kept, to keep the lights burning.

This lampstand was made of gold and had seven lamps, just like the one that was in the tabernacle, the temple of God.

As you may recall, God gave Moses instructions for building this lampstand in Exodus 25. It was pure gold, and was fashioned to look like an almond tree with branches, flowers, and bulbs. The branches came out, three on a side, as well as the main stem, giving seven total lights. The cups were shaped like almond blossoms.

Once it had been created by the skilled workmen, it was put in the Holy Place, to shine its light, illuminating the room.

Its source of fuel was...

Exod. 27:20-21 ...clear oil of beaten olives...

One of the priestly responsibilities was to make sure that these oil lamps burned continually. That meant tending the lamps: trimming the wicks and filling the oil every morning (Exo. 30:7) and evening (2Chr. 13:10,11).

But what was different about the lampstand that Zechariah saw in his vision was that no one was tending it. In fact, it had an automatic refueling system in place.

On either side of the bowl on top of the lampstand were two olive trees, each with a branch emptying olive oil into two golden pipes going into the bowl, keeping it full of olive oil.

4:4-6 Zerubbabel

Zechariah didn't know what this meant, so he asked the angel to explain the vision. The angel told him that this vision was the Word of the Lord being spoken to Zerubbabel.

Who was Zerubbabel? In our study of Ezra, you may recall, we saw that there were two men raised up as leaders, men who led the first group of Israelites to return from the Babylonian Captivity. One was Yay-SHOO-ah, who was the high priest. The other was Zerubbabel. Although there was no king over Israel in those days, he was the direct descendant of the kingly line of David - great-grandson of King Josiah. And so he was the closest thing to a political leader that Israel had.

Together, Yay-SHOO-ah and Zerubbabel oversaw the huge task of rebuilding the temple after it had been destroyed and abandoned for seventy years.

So Zechariah was being shown this vision as the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, that he would prophesy it to him.

Not By Might, But By My Spirit

What did this vision, this Word of the Lord, this prophecy mean? The angel stated it simply:

Zech. 4:6 ..."'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts."

The people were in the process of rebuilding the temple. It was a difficult task. They had encountered a lot of opposition in the form of threats and discouragement, fear and division. At this point, completing this project must have seemed to be an impossibility to Zerubbabel.

But God wanted to reassure him that it was not going to be accomplished based on him, and so He gave Zerubbabel this vision, this Word.

You see, the priests had to do the work continually, day and night, trimming the lamps, filling them with oil. It was a neverending process. If they fell down on the job, if they failed to perform, the light would go out.

But in the vision, this work was being accomplished on its own - supernaturally. It wasn't happening by might or power.

Might is a word that refers to the collective strength of an army. It is often translated "army" or "forces." Power, on the other hand, speaks of the strength of an individual.

God was saying, "Zerubbabel, this isn't being accomplished by your hard work. It's not dependent on the multitude of people you have laboring on this project. Although you cannot see this, it is I Who am doing it. It is happening by My Spirit, miraculously."

4:7-10 Zerubbabel Will Finish It

The angel continues to quote the Lord, saying that what appears to be a great mountain of a task before Zerubbabel will be flattened out to a plain. The impossible will be accomplished, and the temple will be finished.

Zerubbabel had begun the foundation of the temple, and he himself would set the capstone on the temple. He would see the project finished in his day. Although God does not reveal the time frame, the temple would be finished in just four more years.

It is reassuring to me that, although God rarely gives us time frames, He does reassure as that the work He begins is always finished. That also applies to the work that He is doing in you. Paul told the Philippians,

Phil. 1:6 {For I am} confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

What a blessed promise, that from the moment we were saved until the moment we die, God will be working on us!

Then You Will Know

It is to be told to Zerubbabel that when he finishes this project, he will know that this was a true word of prophecy from God.

Many times, people ask me how they can know if a certain thing that was spoken to them as prophecy is from God. There are so many people running around Christian churches saying, "Thus says the Lord," and "The Lord told me to tell you," that it is hard to know what to pay attention to and what to disregard.

My simple philosophy is this. First, I put it to the Biblical test of prophesy.

1Cor. 14:3 who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

In other words, if something is really prophecy from God, it will do one of these three things:

Edification: the building up and strengthening of God's people.

Exhortation: strongly encouraging them to love, good works, and holiness.

Consolation: reassurance and comfort from God.

If the prophecy meets this criteria, then I keep it in my thoughts and prayers, and wait to see what happens.

Deut. 18:20-22 "But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And you may say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

So, if the prophecy that was told to me doesn't happen, I am not devastated - I don't lose my faith. I just realize that it wasn't spoken by Him.

Zerubbabel would know when he put the final capstone on the temple that this word of prophecy was from God.

These Seven

The Lord says,

Zech. 4:10 "...these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel - {these are} the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth."

This seems to be a direct reference to the seven eyes on the Stone that was mentioned in chapter three, which was a title of Jesus Christ.


The Lord Himself will see Zerubbabel with the plumb line in his hand, doing the work, accomplishing the task by the power of God's Spirit, and the Lord will be glad.

This is so important to remember as we are doing any kind of ministry. Yes, we are to be doing the work, but we are to be doing it in complete reliance on the Lord. Led and empowered by His Spirit.

Paul told the Romans that,

Rom. 14:23 ...whatever is not from faith is sin.

It is possible to do the work of the ministry in the flesh. But the fruit is only temporary and often bitter. Instead, we must rely on the Lord, walking in faith and realizing that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

4:11-14 What Are The Olive Trees?

After Zechariah heard the explanation of the vision, he wanted more detail. "What are these two olive trees representing," he asked.

The angel told him that these were the two anointed ones. There has been great debate over who these two are, which makes no sense to me, for the Bible clearly tells us who they are.

In Revelation chapter 11, the Lord tells us about the ministry of two men. He says,

Rev. 11:3-12 "And I will grant {authority} to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed. These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies {will lie} in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations {will} look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth {will} rejoice over them and make merry; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. And after the three and a half days the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were beholding them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.

These are the two olive trees. Right now, they are standing by the Lord (Zech. 4:14), waiting to be sent on this mission.

Next week, we will learn about more visions, including a possible explanation of the two Babylons found in the book of Revelation.

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