4 Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. 2 He asked me, “What do you see?”
I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. 3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
4 I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
5 He answered, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I replied.
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
7 “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”
8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it.Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.
10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”
11 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”
12 Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”
13 He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I said.
14 So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”
(Zechariah 4:1-14 NIV)
As we continue our journey through the book of Zechariah, let’s look at the first four of eight visions we have studied so far:
- Peace on the earth
- Favor with God
- Protection from enemies
- A righteous high priest who is the model of Messiah to come, who will lead the people spiritually
Today’s passage is the fifth of the eight visions that the Lord gave to Zechariah the prophet. Zechariah was likely still reeling from the previous visions, trying to assimilate all that he had seen and heard. The angel comes and gets Zechariah’s attention, like waking someone from a deep sleep.
We’ve all been in Zechariah’s shoes, haven’t we? Whether we are daydreaming about something wonderful, or totally lost in our thoughts, trying to make sense out of what just happened before our very eyes. Then something or someone jolts us back to the present, back to reality.
The angel asks Zechariah what he sees. Zechariah responds, identifying the golden lampstand and the two accompanying olive trees / branches (vv. 2-3). While Zechariah can name the objects, he has no idea what they represent, so he asks the angel.
The angel temporarily ignores Zechariah’s inquiry, and instead, gives Zechariah a word from the Lord to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. The Lord’s word to Zerubbabel is that the Temple will be rebuilt by God’s intervention of God’s Spirit, not by military strength (“might”), nor by human strength (“power”, human labor) (v. 6).
Moreover, Zerubbabel, who started the rebuilding of the Temple, will also be the one who completes the work (v. 9). This is a seemingly impossible task with a rag-tag bunch of returned exiles with no resources and dubious skills. This is achievable only through God’s Spirit guiding, directing, and empowering His people.
The Lord then tells Zechariah to remind Zerubbabel to not to despair over the size or opulence of the current Temple as compared to Solomon’s original Temple. If the Lord is in this work, who would dare despise the “day of small things”? God says that He rejoices to see Zerubbabel leading the work on the Temple.
It’s easy to get discouraged in what we do, isn’t it? We look at our efforts, and there is always someone that does what we do in a bigger or better way. When we compare, we take our eyes off what God is doing in and through us, losing sight of what He has called us to do.
Do we experience God’s favor in what we do, however big or small that might be? Do we let the light of Christ shining in us and through us (just like the lampstand in today’s vision) be a source of truth and hope to those around us?
At the end of the vision, Zechariah asks the angel again what the olive branches represent. The angel explains that the two branches represent two anointed ones – Joshua the high priest (picturing reconciliation and right standing before God, as evidenced in the previous vision), and Zerubbabel the governor of Judah (picturing the promised continuation of David’s royal family that leads to Messiah).
Today’s text is so rich – we’ve just barely scratched the surface of all that there is to see here.
May we take some time to ask the Lord what He would have us be and do.
And may we be faithful to follow His lead in whatever He gives us, no matter how big or small. We need not wear ourselves out trying to “do” things for God, or be discouraged when He gives seemingly menial tasks to complete, or if He asks us to just sit with Him and do nothing but enjoy His presence.
Instead, let us be found faithful and experience His favor, knowing that He will equip and empower us for what He has called us to be and do.