Summary: There are times when everything looks dark, but the One who wants us to return to Him gives us perfect light.
Text: Zechariah 4:1-14
Title: When It All Seems Dark Type: Expository
Purpose: Encourage hearer with the truth that God is light and victory.
Main Idea: God will get it done.
Opening: And Pound Us To Dust. In 1992, a big budget version of The Last of the Mohicans arrived in the movie theaters. I, of course, went to see it with my friends (we saw everything back in those days). I went in with no knowledge of The Last of the Mohicans and came out loving it. There are many parts of that movie which stuck with me. One of the more dismal ones is a conversation between Major Duncan and Colonel Munro. Munro is holding a British fort against the French, and it is not going well. Duncan asks Munro about “the situation”, and Munro replies in this way: “The situation is that his guns are bigger than mine and he has more of them. We keep our heads down while his troops dig 30 yards of trench a day. When those trenches are 200 yards from the fort and within range, he’ll bring in his 15-inch mortars, lob explosive rounds over our walls, and pound us to dust.”
The situation, in other words, was a losing situation. It was a losing situation and Munro knew it was a losing situation. He was not going to be able to hold the fort and he knew he was not going to be able to hold the fort. He had grand designs, great things he wanted to do for his country, but now knew he wasn’t going to realize those grand designs, wasn’t going to be able to do those great things for his country. He knew he was going to fail and he felt that failure already. He felt hopelessness. He felt despair. He felt darkness; felt he was in the darkness (that’s how I would describe it; I would describe that as darkness or coldness).
And that darkness/coldness is what a guy named Zerubbabel was feeling a couple thousand years before Munro and The Last of the Mohicans. Zerubbabel was the governor of the postexilic/restoration community that was trying to rebuild Jerusalem and restore The Temple. He was just trying to rebuild Jerusalem and restore The Temple and it didn’t look to him or to anybody else like he was going to succeed, like that was going to happen. It looked to him and everyone else that he was going to lose, to fail. It looked to him and everyone else like the rebuilding project was hopeless. And so he and the entire postexilic/restoration community were in the darkness. They were in the cold.
And that darkness, that coldness, that hopelessness is what God addresses as He continues ministering to the people through the ministry of the prophet Zechariah.
Read Zechariah 4:1-14
When It All Seems Dark. That’s what the prophet Zechariah is telling us about here in Zechariah 4. That’s what God is telling the prophet Zechariah here in Zechariah 4 (once again, Zechariah is largely confused by what he is seeing/experiencing) and what God is telling us about through the prophet Zechariah here in Zechariah 4. When it all seems dark. What to do/think/feel/understand/believe/cling to when it all seems dark (or cold; whichever you prefer).
As you have no doubt guessed by now, Zechariah 4 records yet another of Zechariah’s eight “Night Visions”, the eight-fold audio-visual revelations/revelation he received from God on the night of February 24th, 519 BC, the visions/revelations/revelation which each have their own individuals messages but which together have a large message about God blessing the postexilic/restoration community Zechariah was ministering to at the time, a larger message which further supports the “Return to me” thematic message of the book. Zechariah 4 records the fifth of those visions. The NIV calls it “The Gold Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees”. I think most others call it something similar. Whatever you call it, it is the most static of the eight night visions. All the others have some sort of movement to them; there is action; a little story is played out. This one does not have movement or action or story. This one is just an image or picture. There is just a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. What exactly this lampstand looked like is anyone’s guess. I liked this picture I found (show background picture) but I also saw several similar interpretations. In any case, it is a light source, a light source that is unfamiliar to us today who live in the era of electric lighting but a light source nonetheless, a great light source (this lampstand would have put out a lot of light), a perfect light source, in fact (seven is the number of perfection or completeness; since this lampstand has seven individual lights/lamps, so it is a perfect or complete light source). In conjunction with that are two olive trees…one on the right of the bowl or lampstand and the other on its left. As Zechariah says later in the chapter (verse 12), these olive trees are pouring out golden oil through two gold pipes into the lampstand/bowl of the lampstand (you see that in this background picture; show background picture). That’s it. That’s all that the vision is. That is all that happens in the vision. Zechariah just sees this lampstand/perfect or complete source of light being fed by these two trees.