Summary: Today, are you living in and relying on God’s Holy Spirit, or are you trying to rely on your own might and power?
We are continuing our exploration of the prophecies of Zechariah.
We are looking, at the moment, at the visions that God gave Zechariah, and are recorded in chapters 1 to 6. This time we are looking at the fifth vision: The Golden Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees.
These visions were given by God to Zechariah to bring hope to an oppressed people; a future when all seemed lost and hopeless.
They also teach that God is control, even when all seems to be going wrong. In fact, God uses the nations of the world to fulfil His will and His objectives in creation.
1. The Vision.
The Jews, who had returned from exile in Babylon, were building a replacement temple. It replaced the one destroyed as a punishment for their rebellion.
Compared with the one that had been destroyed, this temple was going to be a small and modest affair.
This vision is an encouragement to the people, and its leaders. They should not be discouraged because God often works His will through the ordinary, the small, and the unpretentious.
Remember, when the people of Israel wanted a king, as the people around them had kings. God’s anointed was amongst the sons of Jesse; but the anointed one was not the obvious: the first born, the mature, or the strong – His anointed was the young shepherd boy David. David was used by God to build Israel into a great and wealthy power in the region.
God uses the ordinary things of life. He uses the ordinary people to work out His will.
What did Zechariah see? He saw a lampstand with a large bowl on top. We are probably tempted to have a picture of what we think of as a traditional seven pillared candlestick holder. This would be wrong. It is more likely to have been a tall column, like a tree trunk, with a bowl on the top. At this point the Hebrew is not so clear. It could be that there were seven lips on the edge of the bowl into which wicks could be inserted, or that there could have been seven extension bowls with seven lips with wicks inserted. Whatever the actual picture was does not really matter. What we can understand is that this lampstand was a very powerful source of light, being made entirely of gold and very large. From the detail in which it has been described, it is even possible that Zechariah was involved in its design or construction.
On each side of the lampstand stood an olive tree, with their branches stretching out over the bowl of the lamp. These two olive trees, with their branches, puzzled Zechariah. "What are these?" (verse 4, 5). The angel delays answering the question.
As so often happens in life, we need some more information before we can understand an answer. When leading academic discussions, and a student asks a question, it is often necessary to explain or even discuss a series of related matters, before giving the answer -- otherwise the answer does not have its full and true meaning.
This is the same with God. The Christian life is a mystery. So many things happen in our lives which we cannot understand. We ask God for the answer and wonder why he does not give us the answer. Could we cope with the answer, or fully understand it if it were given?
Take God’s answer to sin, the sacrifice of his Son whereby the Blood of the Lamb washes away all traces of our sin and guilt. No, we do not fully understand it. So much we have to take on faith, accepting that God knows what he’s doing. We just have to accept the fact that Jesus died to save us and that our acceptance of this wonderful gift, taking Jesus as our Saviour, is our way back to the kingdom of heaven. A wonderful mystery, which will not be fully understood until after we have come together on that Judgment Day.
So what are these two olive trees? Move forward to vv11-14. Note that they are pouring out "golden oil” into the lamp bowl. The angel tells us that they are the "anointed". I believe that it means that God will continue to pour out His blessings upon His people when they are faithful to Him. The "anointed" are the two anointed rulers, Zerubbabel (the civil leader) and Joshua (the High Priest).
God will use mere men and women, even those who consider themselves to be weak and insignificant, to fulfil his will and purposes. It is not by the might or power of people that God will accomplish his wonders, is through the powerful, supernatural working of his Holy Spirit.
2. The Oracle.
This is the explanation piece, which gives full meaning to the vision.