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Fifth Vision: The Lampstand and Olive Trees


The angel who talked with me came again, and wakened me, as one is wakened from sleep. 2He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it; there are seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3And by it there are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5Then the angel who talked with me answered me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6He said to me, “This is the word of the L ord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the L ord of hosts. 7What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain; and he shall bring out the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ ”

8 Moreover the word of the L ord came to me, saying, 9“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the L ord of hosts has sent me to you. 10For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.

“These seven are the eyes of the L ord, which range through the whole earth.” 11Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” 12And a second time I said to him, “What are these two branches of the olive trees, which pour out the oil through the two golden pipes?” 13He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 14Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

Now follows the explanation the angel gives this answer — This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying, etc. Here the angel bears witness to what I have shortly referred to that the power of God alone is sufficient to preserve the Church, and there is no need of other helps. For he sets the Spirit of God in opposition to all earthly aids; and thus he proves that God borrows no help for the preservation of his Church, because he abounds in all blessings to enrich it. Farther, by the word spirit we know is meant his power, as though he had said, “God designs to ascribe to himself alone the safety of his Church; and though the Church may need many things, there is no reason why it should turn its eyes here and there, or seek this or that help from men; for all abundance of blessings may be supplied by God alone.” And host and might, 4646     ᾿Ουκ ἐν δυνάμει μεγάλη ὀυδὲ ἐν ἰσχυι, Septuagint.; “non in exercitu nec in robore,” Jerome; “non virtute neque vi,” Jun. et Trem Newcome and Henderson adopt our version, “not by might nor by power.” The first word, [חיל] seems to mean combined force, either of wealth or of armies; and the second, [כח], is the strength or vigor of men — courage or valor. It was not by the united power of the world, nor by individual strength or courage, that the work was to be effected — “not by power nor by strength.” — Ed. being a part for the whole, are to be taken for all helps which are exclusive of God’s grace. It is indeed certain that God acts not always immediately or by himself, for he employs various means, and makes use in his service of the ministrations of men; but his design is only to teach us that we are very foolish, when we look around us here and there, or vacillate, or when, in a word, various hopes, and various fears, and various anxieties affect us; for we ought to be so dependent on God alone, as to be fully persuaded that his grace is sufficient for us, though it may not appear; nay, we ought fully to confide in God alone, though poverty and want may surround us on every side. This is the purport of the whole.

But God intended also to show that his Church is built up and preserved, not by human and common means, but by means extraordinary and beyond all our hopes and all our thoughts. It is indeed true, as I have just said, that God does not reject the labors of men in building up and in defending his Church; but yet he seems as though he were not in earnest when he acts by men; for by his own wonderful power he surpasses what can be conceived by human thought. To be reminded of this was then exceedingly necessary, when the Church of God was despised, and when the unbelieving haughtily ridiculed the miserable Jews, whom they saw to be few in number and destitute of all earthly aids. As then there was nothing splendid or worthy of admiration among the Jews, it was needful that what we find here should have been declared to them — even that his own power was enough for God, when no aid came from any other quarter. The same also was the design of what we have noticed respecting the seven pourers and the olive-trees; for if God had need of earthly helps, servants must have been at hand to pour forth the oil; but there were seven pourers to supply the oil continually. Wherefrom? even from the olive-trees. As then the trees were fruitful, and God drew from them the oil by his hidden power, that the lamps might never be dry, we hence clearly learn, that what was exhibited is that which the angel now declares, namely, that the Church was, without a host and without might, furnished with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that in these there was a sufficient defense for its preservation, in order that it might retain its perfect state and continue in vigor and safety.

When therefore we now see things in a despairing condition, let this vision come to our minds — that God is sufficiently able by his own power to help us, when there is no aid from any other; for his Spirit will be to us for lamps, for pourers, and for olive-trees, so that experience will at length show that we have been preserved in a wonderful manner by his hand alone.

We now then understand the design of the Prophet, and the reason why this vision was shown to him — that the faithful might be fully induced to entertain a firm hope as to that perfect condition of the Church which had been promised; for no judgment was to be formed of it according to earthly means or helps, inasmuch as God had his own power and had no need of deriving any assistance from others. And Zechariah says also, that this word was to Zerubbabel, even that he might take courage and proceed with more alacrity in the work of building the temple and the city. For Zerubbabel, we know, was the leader of the people, and the Jews returned to their country under his guidance; and in the work of building the city his opinion was regarded by all, as peculiar honor belonged to him on account of his royal descent. At the same time God addressed in his person the whole people: it was the same as though the angel had said, “This word is to the Church.” The head is here mentioned for the whole body, a part being specified for the whole.

Now as Zerubbabel was only a type of Christ, we must understand that this word is addressed to Christ and to all his members.

Thus we must remember that all our confidence ought to be placed on the favor of God alone; for were it to depend on human aids, there would be nothing certain or sure. For God, as I have said, withdraws from us whatever may add courage according to the judgment of the flesh, in order that he may invite or rather draw us to himself. Whenever, then, earthly aids fail us, let us learn to recumb on God alone, for it is not by a host or by might that God raises up his Church, and preserves it in its proper state; but this he does by his Spirit, that is, by his own intrinsic and wonderful power, which he does not blend with human aids; and his object is to draw us away from the world, and to hold us wholly dependent on himself. This is the reason why he says that the word was addressed to Zerubbabel. The rest I shall consider tomorrow.

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