Fifth Vision. The golden candlestick
and the two olive trees. The temple shall be completed by the aid of
1. waked me—The prophet was lying in a
state of ecstatic slumber with astonishment at the previous vision.
"Came again, and waked me," does not imply that the angel had departed
and now returned, but is an idiom for "waked me again."
2. candlestick—symbolizing the Jewish
theocracy; and ultimately, the Church of which the Jewish portion is to
be the head: the light-bearer (so the original is of "lights,"
Mt 5:14, 16; Php 2:15) to the world.
all … gold—all pure in doctrine
and practice, precious and indestructible; such is the true ideal of
the Church; such she shall be (Ps 45:13).
bowl upon the top—In the candlestick
of the tabernacle the plural is used, bowls (Ex 25:31). The Hebrew implies that it was
the fountain of supply of oil to the lamps. Christ at the head
("on the top") of the Church is the true fountain, of whose
fulness of the Spirit all we receive grace (Joh 1:16).
his seven lamps—united in one stem; so
25:32. But in Re 1:12 the seven candlesticks are separate. The
Gentile churches will not realize their unity till the Jewish Church as
the stem unites all the lamps in one candlestick (Ro 11:16-24). The "seven lamps," in Re 4:5, are the "seven Spirits of God."
seven pipes—feeding tubes, seven
apiece from the "bowl" to each lamp (see Margin) [Maurer and Calvin];
literally, "seven and seven": forty-nine in all. The greater the number
of oil-feeding pipes, the brighter the light of the lamps. The
explanation in Zec 4:6 is,
that man's power by itself can neither retard nor advance God's work,
that the real motive-power is God's Spirit. The seven times
seven imply the manifold modes by which the Spirit's grace is imparted
to the Church in her manifold work of enlightening the world.
3. two olive trees—supplying oil to the
bowl. The Holy Ghost, who fills with His fulness Messiah (the
anointed: the "bowl"), from whom flow supplies of grace to the
by it—literally, "upon it," that is,
growing so as somewhat to overtop it. For the explanation of the "two"
4. The prophet is instructed in the truths
meant, that we may read them with the greater reverence and attention
5. Knowest thou not, &c.—Not a
reproof of his ignorance, but a stimulus to reflection on the
No, my lord—ingenious confession of
ignorance; as a little child he casts himself for instruction at the
feet of the Lord.
6. Not by might … but by my
Spirit—As the lamps burned continually, supplied with oil
from a source (the living olive trees) which man did not make, so
Zerubbabel need not be disheartened because of his weakness; for as the
work is one to be effected by the living Spirit (compare Hag 2:5) of God, man's weakness is no obstacle,
for God's might will perfect strength out of weakness (Ho
1:7; 2Co 12:10; Heb 11:34).
"Might and power" express human strength of every description,
physical, mental, moral. Or, "might" is the strength of many (an
"army," literally); "power," that of one man [Pembellus]. God can save, "whether with many, or
with them that have no power" (2Ch 14:11; compare 1Sa 14:6). So in the conversion of sinners (1Co 3:6;
2Co 10:4). "Zerubbabel" is
addressed as the chief civil authority in directing the work.
7. All mountain-like obstacles (Isa 40:4;
49:11) in Zerubbabel's
way shall be removed, so that the crowning top-stone shall be put on,
and the completion of the work be acknowledged as wholly of "grace."
Antitypically, the antichristian last foe of Israel, the obstacle
preventing her establishment in Palestine, about to be crushed before
Messiah, is probably meant (Jer 51:25; Da 2:34, 44; Mt
bring forth the head-stone—Primarily,
bring it forth from the place where it was chiselled and give it to the
workmen to put on the top of the building. It was customary for chief
magistrates to lay the foundation, and also the crowning top-stone
(compare Ezr 3:10).
Antitypically, the reference is to the time when the full number of the
spiritual Church shall be completed, and also when "all Israel shall be
saved" (compare Ro 11:26; Heb 11:40; 12:22, 23; Re
Grace, grace—The repetition expresses,
Grace from first to last (Isa 26:3, Margin). Thus the Jews are urged
to pray perseveringly and earnestly that the same grace which completed
it may always preserve it. "Shoutings" of acclamation accompanied the
foundation of the literal temple (Ezr 3:11, 13). So shoutings of "Hosanna" greeted the
Saviour in entering Jerusalem (Mt 21:9), when about to complete the purchase of
salvation by His death: His Body being the second temple, or place of
God's inhabitation (Joh 2:20, 21). So when the full number of the saints
and of Israel is complete, and God shall say, "It is done," then again
shall "a great voice of much people in heaven" attribute all to the
"grace" of God, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honor, and
power, unto the Lord our God" (Re 19:1, 6). Ps 118:22 regards Him as "the head-stone of the
corner," that is, the foundation-stone. Compare the angels
acclamations at His birth, Lu 2:14. Here
it is the top-stone. Messiah is not only the "Author," but also
the Finisher (Heb 12:2).
"Grace" is ascribed "unto it," that is, the stone, Messiah. Hence the
benediction begins, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2Co 13:14).
9. Zerubbabel … shall … finish
it—(Ezr 6:15) in
the sixth year of Darius' reign.
Lord … sent me unto you—(Zec 2:9). The Divine Angel announces that
in what He has just spoken, He has been commissioned by God the
10. who … despised … small
things—He reproves their ungrateful unbelief, which they felt
because of the humble beginning, compared with the greatness of the
undertaking; and encourages them with the assurance that their progress
in the work, though small, was an earnest of great and final success,
because Jehovah's eye is upon Zerubbabel and the work, to support Him
with His favor. Contrast, "great is the day of Jezreel" (Ho 1:11) with "the day of small
they shall rejoice … with those
seven; they are the eyes of the Lord—rather, "they,
even those seven eyes of the Lord (compare Zec 3:9), which … shall rejoice and see
(that is, rejoicingly see) the plummet (literally, the 'stone of tin')
in the hand of Zerubbabel" [Moore]; the
plummet in his hand indicating that the work is going forward to its
completion. The Hebrew punctuation, however, favors English
Version, of which the sense is, They who incredulously "despised"
such "small" beginnings of the work as are made now, shall rejoicingly
see its going on to completion under Zerubbabel, "with (the aid
of) those seven," namely, the "seven eyes upon one stone" (Zec 3:9): which are explained, "They are
the eyes of the Lord which," &c. [Pembellus]. So differently do men and Jehovah regard
the "small" beginnings of God's work (Ezr 3:12; Hag 2:3). Men "despised" the work in its early
stage: God rejoicingly regards it, and shall continue to do so.
run to and fro, &c.—Nothing in the
whole earth escapes the eye of Jehovah, so that He can ward off all
danger from His people, come from what quarter it may, in prosecuting
His work (Pr 15:3; 1Co 16:9).
11, 12. Zechariah three times (Zec 4:4, 11,
12) asks as to the two olives
before he gets an answer; the question becomes more minute each time.
What he at first calls "two olive trees," he afterwards calls
"branches," as on closer looking he observes that the "branches" of the
trees are the channels through which a continual flow of oil dropped
into the bowl of the lamps (Zec 4:2), and
that this is the purpose for which the two olive trees stand beside the
candlestick. Primarily, the "two" refer to Joshua and Zerubbabel. God,
says Auberlen, at each of the transition
periods of the world's history has sent great men to guide the Church.
So the two witnesses shall appear before the destruction of Antichrist.
Antitypically, "the two anointed ones" (Zec 4:14) are the twofold supports of the Church,
the civil power (answering to Zerubbabel) and the ecclesiastical
(answering to Joshua, the high priest), which in the restored Jewish
polity and temple shall "stand by," that is, minister to "the Lord of
the whole earth," as He shall be called in the day that He sets up His
throne in Jerusalem (Zec 14:9; Da 2:44; Re 11:15). Compare the description of the
offices of the "priests" and the "prince" (Isa
49:23; Eze 44:1-46:24). As in
4, the "two witnesses" are
identified with the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. Wordsworth explains them to mean the Law and
the Gospel: the two Testaments that witness in the Church for
the truth of God. But this is at variance with the sense here, which
requires Joshua and Zerubbabel to be primarily meant. So Moses (the
prophet and lawgiver) and Aaron (the high priest) ministered to the
Lord among the covenant-people at the exodus; Ezekiel (the priest) and
Daniel (a ruler) in the Babylonian captivity; so it shall be in
restored Israel. Some think Elijah will appear again (compare the
transfiguration, Mt 17:3, 11, with Mal 4:4, 5; Joh 1:21) with Moses. Re 11:6, which mentions the very miracles
performed by Elijah and Moses (shutting heaven so as not to rain, and
turning water into blood), favors this (compare Ex 7:19; 1Ki 17:1; Lu 4:25; Jas 5:16, 17). The period is the same, "three years
and six months"; the scene also is in Israel (Re 11:8), "where our Lord was crucified." It is
supposed that for the first three and a half years of the hebdomad
9:20-27), God will be
worshipped in the temple; in the latter three and a half years,
Antichrist will break the covenant (Da 9:27), and set himself up in the temple to be
worshipped as God (2Th 2:4). The
witnesses prophesy the former three and a half years, while corruptions
prevail and faith is rare (Lu 18:8);
then they are slain and remain dead three and a half years. Probably,
besides individual witnesses and literal years, there is a fulfilment
in long periods and general witnesses, such as the Church and the Word,
the civil and religious powers so far as they have witnessed for God.
So "the beast" in Revelation answers to the civil power of the
apostasy; "the false prophet" to the spiritual power. Man needs the
priest to atone for guilt, and the prophet-king to teach
holiness with kingly authority. These two typically united in
Melchisedek were divided between two till they meet in Messiah, the
Antitype. Zec 6:11-13 accords with this. The Holy Spirit in
this His twofold power of applying to man the grace of the
atonement, and that of sanctification, must in one point
of view be meant by the two olive trees which supply the bowl at the
top of the candlestick (that is, Messiah at the head of the Church);
for it is He who filled Jesus with all the fulness of His unction
3:34). But this does not
exclude the primary application to Joshua and Zerubbabel,
"anointed" (Zec 4:14)
with grace to minister to the Jewish Church: and so applicable to the
twofold supports of the Church which are anointed with the Spirit, the
prince and the priest, or minister.
12. through—literally, "by the hand of,"
that is, by the agency of.
branches—literally, "ears"; so the
olive branches are called, because as ears are full of grain, so the
olive branches are full of olives.
golden oil—literally, "gold,"
that is, gold-like liquor.
out of themselves—Ordinances and
ministers are channels of grace, not the grace itself. The supply comes
not from a dead reservoir of oil, but through living olive trees (Ps 52:8;
Ro 12:1) fed by God.
13. Knowest thou not—God would awaken
His people to zeal in learning His truth.
14. anointed ones—literally, "sons of
5:1, Margin). Joshua
the high priest, and Zerubbabel the civil ruler, must first be anointed
with grace themselves, so as to be the instruments of furnishing it to
others (compare 1Jo 2:20, 27).