Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: I. The Candlestick and Two Olive Trees

Monday, August 13, 2018

I. The Candlestick and Two Olive Trees

Chapter Ten
I. The Candlestick and Two Olive Trees

Zechariah chapter four blends Zechariah’s present situation under king Zerubbabel and the vision of God’s hidden spiritual presence and influence in it all.  The point of the text is that God is in control.  Again, as in chapter three, God is revealing what Zechariah sees in the physical world and how God sees the things invisible to us in the spiritual world.  When we understand what God is doing, it completely changes our perspective of human events.  The point is that God sees a lot more than we see.  It is difficult for most people, even faithful believers, to keep their minds wrapped around this reality.  God is not limited in the ways we are limited.  

Even within the trillions of trillions of things going on through God’s infinite creation, He knows when a blade of grass is moved by the wind and when a sparrow loses a feather.  We know with absolute assurance there is nothing within God’s existence in which He is not being proactive.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). 

God did not just create and then abandon everything He created to just happen by chance (Deism).  Neither does God cause everything that happens.  He knows what will happen before it happens but does not necessarily cause everything.  Humanity was given a free will.  Yet, God can, and often does, intervene in circumstances to change the hearts of people.  We simply are not aware of the invisible chain reaction of human events that God is creating by one special event He might cause.  Some of these chains of events began hundreds and thousands of years in the past.  Even while Israel was under Babylonian and Assyrian captivity, God was still in control of the circumstances that control the hearts of the kings. 

1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof” (Zechariah 4:1-3).

Apparently, Zechariah was so amazed by the previous vision from the LORD, he was entranced by it.  His mind was spinning and overwhelmed by what God brought before his understanding.  We should be astonished by prophecy.  As the LORD regains his attention, the previous vision disappears, and a new vision captures his attention.  The “candlestick” is undoubtedly the heavenly Temple Menorah.  The heavenly Menorah represents the “light” of God and His constant witness to the world.  They key word to remember the significance of this Menorah vision is the is the word testimony.  

Most of the priesthood of Israel failed to be faithful in their witness to God’s Word and in their testimony to the children of Israel.  Thereby, they were also unfaithful to their mission in the world in which they lived.  

What Zechariah sees in Zechariah 4:2-3 is not understood by Zechariah.  That is the point of the LORD’s question, “What seest thou?”  The LORD is not asking for a physical description of the vision, but an explanation of the meaning of what is being revealed to Zechariah.  There are several elements in the vision that are essential to understanding the meaning.

1. A candlestick all of gold
A. With a bowl upon the top of it
B. His seven lamps thereon
C. Seven pipes to the seven lamps
2. Two olive trees by it

Zechariah would have been familiar with most of these elements as the “candlestick” is the seven bowled Temple Menorah, although he did not understand its big picture significance.  Most of the Jews reverenced these items without ever really understanding their spiritual significance. 

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick. 3 And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses. 4 And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses {apparently God gave Moses a vision of the literal Menorah that was in Heaven}, so he made the candlestick” (Numbers 8:1-4).

Obviously, the “candlestick” that Zechariah sees in this vision is considerably more extensive than the Temple Menorah.  The heavenly Menorah represents God’s Spiritual connection to His redeemed within His New Creation.  It also represents the illumination by the Spirit as believers begin to approach God for worship, prayer, and service.  It also represents God’s enabling grace of the believer through the operations of His Spirit.  The main point of the representation is that without God’s help, all people, even believers, are spiritually blind and spiritually helpless to be righteous.  The Temple Menorah is the spiritual representation of Paul’s statement, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).  Therefore, the Temple Menorah was much more than a mechanical light fixture.  Yes, it provided light, but it was a spiritual portrayal of a big picture aspect of the spiritual provision of God’s presence of which we all need to be reminded.  God is not just there for us.  God is there to help us! 

4 So I {Zechariah} answered {the question, ‘What seest thou?’ in verse two} and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. 8 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:4-10).

Clearly, from Zechariah 4:6, the intent of this vision is to reveal that nothing happens by chance or by the powers/abilities of men, even faithful prophets, preachers, or kings.  God is spiritually connected to every event in human history.  Everything good that happens is sourced in the goodness of God.  However, the severity of God is also evident.  The goodness of God is His kind and understanding graciousness.  The “severity” of God simply refers to his abrupt decisiveness in His judgments.  God is longsuffering in His “severity” as is obvious with His dealing with the nation of Israel, but when His longsuffering ends, His judgments are decisive and abrupt.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Romans 11:19-22).

The “candlestick” vision of Zechariah chapter four shows us the constant spiritual connection of God to His creation in all matters of our present existence.  NOTHING happens without His PERMISSION.  Although God never causes evil, He does allow evil to run its course and bear its evil fruit in the lives of those choosing evil practices.  The “candlestick” vision shows us that God provides constant and consistent spiritual light for people to make moral, righteous choices.  However, they must bear the consequences of evil choices as well as the impact those evil choices make on people under their influence.  Even the “severity” of God is good in that its intent is upon turning hearts in repentance to righteousness to lessen the impact of selfish and evil choices.  Until we understand the dynamic of the goodness of God within the curse, what we deserve, we will never understand the grace of God’s provisions.  

Some of the most blasphemous things ever coming from the mouths of sinners is that they and the world do not deserve what God has allowed to happen.  Poverty should not exist.  Every sickness should be curable.  Every pain should be eliminated.  Wars should be immediately stopped.  God is blamed for every form of evil simply because He allows evil to exist.  Yet, people forget that Satan introduced evil into God’s creation and humanity chose evil over good.  That was humanity’s first free will choice.  

God cursed all His creation and damned it to eternal toil, pain, and ultimately destruction.  Yet, God’s grace provided humanity one lifetime EACH to repent and be “born again” into a New Creation.  His grace necessitated His incarnation into humanity to bear the curse in His body on Calvary’s tree.  God knew the death of His Son would be necessary before He ever cursed His first creation.  Christ is the “lamb slain from the foundation of the earth” (Revelation 13:8).  

Therefore, it is wicked blasphemy to accuse God of being uncaring or unkind because God has never disconnected Himself from this cursed creation.  Just as men chose evil, they must choose to repent and turn to God’s goodness.  This is what the Spirit of God is working to accomplish within every person’s heart while being opposed by evil at every turn.  Until you understand this big picture, you will never understand God’s grace within it as portrayed by the “candlestick” vision given to Zechariah. 

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

In Zechariah 4:4, Zechariah reveals his ignorance of the meaning of the vision by asking, “What are these, my lord?”  Here Zechariah uses the Hebrew title âdôwn (aw-done') in addressing the “angel of the LORD.”  This Name of God refers to Him as the Sovereign of the universe, recognizing that the Lord is in control.  Although Zechariah uses the term Adoni, it does not appear he truly understands the theological and practical significance of the term.  Such is often the case with believers.  There exists a large degree of superficiality even within our understandings of God.  Superficial knowledge of God will result in superficial worship of God and superficial service to God. 

Therefore, the LORD responds with another question to Zechariah (vs. 5), “Knowest thou not what these be?”  There appears to be an implication of expected understanding.  Did Zechariah have enough revelation of the character and nature of God to understand the depraved helplessness of humanity and the divine helpfulness of God?  Why is it that believers do not know of the depth of the sovereignty of God within the human predicament of sin?  Isn’t the pattern of God’s intervention and care a redundant constant throughout the Scriptures?  

The Tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting, in the Wilderness had one Menorah.  Solomon created ten Temple Menorahs and had them placed five on each side of the entrance into the Holy of Holies.  The Temple of Zerubbabel, the second Temple, again had but one Menorah, which is more in alignment with its spiritual significance.  The fact that the Menorah was placed inside the Temple near the Holy of Holies reveals that its intent is to show the light of God in both the redemption/salvation of people and His desire for the redeemed to live sanctified before Him.  Therefore, the “candlestick” represents God’s constant personal involvement in the lives of people in this twofold way – SALVATION and SANCTIFICATION.  

In Zechariah 4:6; the LORD answers the question He asked of Zechariah in verse five.  “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).  If you understand the divine principle stated in Zechariah 4:6, how does it impact our lives?  The emphasis is upon maintaining our intimacy with God in a sanctified relationship with Him so that His grace can flow through us.  

The “candlestick” vision is intended to keep apparent to us the spiritual operations of God that are presently invisible to our sight.  We must see everything that happens in this world through the divine perspective of the lens of understanding of the “candlestick” vision given Zechariah in chapter four.  Everything good that God wants to do will be done through the lives of Spirit filled sanctified believers.  Therefore, our focus of priorities in life must constantly be maintain upon our personal relationship with God and maintaining the “fellowship” of holy unity with His Spirit and His mission in this world.  In Ephesians 5:18, the words “be filled” is a present, passive, imperative.  What is the significance of knowing this?  We must constantly be being filled with the Spirit.  We cannot fill ourselves.  It is disobedience not to be being filled.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:11-21).

We tend to give credit, or glory, to people for what God does.  Spiritual leaders will often receive glory that only God deserves, when in fact they had very little to do with what God does.  Faithfulness is merely a vessel through which God’s grace flows.  Does the vessel then deserve to be glorified for what God does through it?  The plate upon which the food is served is merely utilitarian.  In other words, it serves the purpose for which it was created and designed.  We expect the plate to be clean so that the food is not defiled by filth.  We may even want the plate to be decorative to make the food more eye appealing.  However, none of that will have any merit if the food is not good.  

Yes, Joshua and Zerubbabel were faithful within the capacity of their callings.  However, neither of them was the source of God’s blessings, grace, mercy, and their restoration and return to Jerusalem.  The point here is that all people, especially spiritual leaders, MUST maintain the spiritual perspective of their contributions to what God does, often in spite of them.  This is humbling one’s self “in the sight of the Lord” so that He might “lift you up” (James 4:10).  Many people cannot handle God’s exaltation to leadership positions because they start taking credit for what God does through them. 

19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (II Timothy 2:19-21).

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). 

Although sin hindered the work of God, it did not keep God from accomplishing His will.  Our frailties and weaknesses will not keep God from fulfilling His prophetic announcements.  Your frailties and weaknesses may hinder people in their coming to Christ and from living in sanctity before God, but they will not keep God from doing what He says He is going to do.  In other words, simply because you choose to live outside of God’s will, will not keep God from doing His will.  Your life is not that powerful my friend.  Nonetheless, seek to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem!

Although it was Israel’s unfaithfulness to their promises to God that brought them into captivity, it will be God’s faithfulness to His promises to them that will restore them in the Kingdom Age.  The fulfillment of God’s prophetic messages will not be hindered by the “might” or “power” of men.  The fulfillment of God’s prophetic messages might be helped by faithfulness, but the fulfillment of God’s prophetic messages will not be hindered.  The point is that although prophetic history as not yet been completely fulfilled, it is already written.  This is no excuse for Christians not getting their spiritual act together.  This is expanded upon in Haggai 2:1-9. In other words, the statement to Zechariah in Zechariah chapter four does not stand alone. 

1 In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, 2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, 3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? {The rebuilt second temple compared to Solomon’s temple was but an organized pile of rubbish made from the destroyed first temple.  To look upon the second temple must have been discouraging to those who had seen the first temple.} 4 Yet now be strong {strengthened or encourage by God’s future prophetic promises}, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: 5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory {His own presence in King Jesus}, saith the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:1-9).

“I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:4).  Do we comprehend the blessings of this promise?  God maintains an intimate connection with His faithful redeemed.  When we fall and become defiled with sin, God is waiting for us to repent, confess, and be cleansed by the already shed Blood of the Lamb of God (I John 1:9).  God has already prepared for our failures?  

Was Israel’s great blessing to able to have a glorious Temple like Solomon built?  Or, was Israel’s great blessing to have God dwelling with them?  Never forget the blessing of the words, “I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:4).  Say these words repeatedly to yourself.  Every time life starts getting rough and the darkness starts to engulf your life, remind yourself that God says, “I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:4).  Oh, how easily we miss the REAL blessings of God!

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

No comments: