Summary: Sufficient truth had already been revealed to Zechariah to encourage him & to enable him to encourage others. Zechariah though kept inquiring until God reveals that His Spirit will be poured forth through God's two anointed ones so that God's light shine
ZECHARIAH 4: 11-14
THE CHURCH EMPOWERED
Sufficient truth had already been revealed to Zechariah to encourage him and to enable him to encourage others in the good work of building the Temple (which the remnant was by that time working on again, Haggai 1:14) and that was the historical intention of the vision for those who first received it. But despite a full and clear explanation of the purpose of the vision already granted to Zechariah, the prophet was unsatisfied until he discover the particulars, especially concerning the two olive trees, which would give him (and us) a more complete understanding of the fifth vision. For those who know much of the things of God are those who have a hunger to know more.
Zechariah understood that God, the Light of the World, was kindling this light through His golden lampstand, which today is the church, the true Israel. Zechariah though kept inquiring until God reveals that His Holy Spirit will be poured forth through God's two anointed ones so that God's light shines forth brightly in His church and to the world (CIM).
I. WITH PERSISTENT KNOCKING, 4:11 & 12.
II. THE FINAL OPENING, 4:13 & 14.
However encouraging the message that had been relayed to Zechariah, he still had not grasped what function the trees performed. So in verse 11 Zechariah renews his earlier inquiry again concerning the feature of the amazing two olive trees which were supplying the unpressed oil for the continuous light of the lampstand. Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?"
The vision of the lampstand remains with the prophet and after the intervening oracle in verses 6-10 he is still perplexed about the imagery. It is the two olive trees which stand beside or over either side of the lampstand in order to supply it with super abundant oil which still baffles him. Zechariah had no background on the olive trees from the tabernacle or temple to use as a reference to help him understand what they symbolize. They form such an arresting feature and obviously bear such a vital relation to the whole vision that the prophet persists in his line of questioning from 4:4. Notice that those who would be acquainted with the things of God must be inquisitive concerning those things. "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you" (Mt. 7:7).
To understand the two olive trees we must first understand the golden lampstand. The golden lampstand prefigures Israel in the full fellowship and blessings of God as she was meant to be in Messianic faith and expectation in Old Testament times. The nation however, failed in her national calling. The revelation of God and His glory had been granted Israel for her own enlightenment so that she might become a light bearer to the nations. But the nation rebelled against God. They persecuted and killed the prophets, disobeyed the Word of God so wonderfully committed to them. They fell into the disgraceful idolatry of the nations to whom they were to be the light and finally crucified the divine Redeemer when He came to earth to fulfill their messianic promises. This last and culminating act of denying and crucifying the Lord exhibited the nation's utter failure as lightbearer and resulted in the removal of her lampstand.
When Jesus came in the flesh the symbolic and typical became reality and when He died, the whole temple sacrificial system was fulfilled and became meaningless ritual. With Israel's lampstand removed, the enlightenment and light-bearing testimony passed over to the people willing to receive it, to the new Israel, the church (Jn. 8:12, Mt. 5:14-15; Eph. 5:8-9; Phil. 2:15). Because of Israel's blindness and rejection the church now has the light and the responsibility of fulfilling the Jew's mission of serving before the Lord and of letting His light stream out into the darkness of the world (Mt. 21:43).
But the church too has faltered and is failing to reach the world with the saving message of the love of God manifested in Jesus Christ. In spite of all we have and all the years we have been given to complete the task of world evangelization, we have been insufficient for this absolutely necessary task.
In verse 12 the prophet continues to pursue details that will help him understand the two olive branches. And I answered a second time and said to him, "What are these two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden (oil) from themselves?"
Zechariah asks again. If satisfactory answers are not given to our inquiries, we must renew them with persistence until we receive our answer. This time the prophet concentrates his attention upon that part of the vision that left him puzzled and as he views it more intently, he discerns features that he had not been aware of at first. So, to know the full meaning, the prophet asks a more precise question. He focuses on the olive tree and the fruitful branches which were pouring the golden oil (the implied word oil is not in the text) from themselves into two troughs which carried the precious golden oil to the bowl that was positioned over the lampstand.