The Book of Zechariah #6

 

Israel: The Light of the World
Zechariah 4:1-14
 
If you have your Bible handy let's look at Zechariah Chapter 4 tonight.
 
God has always been a God Who desired to communicate. In the New Testament, that communication is shared through the church, but  if you study the Old Testament, you find His chosen vehicle to communicate with the world was the nation Israel.
 
Look for a moment at Romans Chapter 3. The apostle Paul in reasoning through the logic of basic theology and asking himself questions which he proceeds to answer asks in verse 1, "What advantage then has the Jew? Or what profit is there in circumcision?"
 
Now if you remember, the basic message of Chapter 2 is that both the Jew and the Gentile are lost in their sin, and if that's true then what is the advantage of being a Jew? That’s the natural question that would be asked after listening to chapter 2, and so Paul asks it in verse 1, then answers it in verse 2. 
 
Verse 2. "Much in every way, but chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God."
 
Further on in the book of Romans in the 9th chapter and the fourth and fifth verse the apostle Paul says, regarding his own kinsmen, his brethren in the flesh,
 
"Who are Israelites, to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the ternally blessed God. Amen."
 
Israel was God's vehicle for the transmission of His revelation. That was their purpose. It is heard as early as the calling of Abram in Genesis 12. “I’ll bless you, and you be a blessing to the whole world..”
 
In Isaiah 43:21, God says regarding Israel, "This people have I formed for Myself, they will show forth My praise." In Deuteronomy 4:5-6, it says, "See I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, says Moses, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'"
 
In other words God wanted Israel to speak His truth so that the nations would know wisdom and endeavor to ascertain the source, which would bring them to Him.
 
Now basically when God chose Israel in the Old Testament it was to be a witnessing people and they were to witness in two ways: by their lifestyle and by their proclamation. 
 
 
And the tragedy is they failed. That's all that can be said, they just plain failed and God had to set them aside.
 
And Israel today is not God's witnessing nation and they haven't been since the time Jesus was on the earth. And that's why the Lord Jesus had to find a new group, a new witnessing people, and that new witnessing people is the church, you and I and all those who have been a part of the body of Christ.
 
We are His witnessing people, we are His witnessing community, but as we come to Zechariah 4, we find the most marvelous prophecy that tells us that in the future Israel will be reinstated as God's witnessing nation and this is an exciting thing. There is coming a new day for Israel. There will be a hope realized in that all that God had originally intended for them is going to come to pass in the future.
 
Now as we look at Chapter 4, just a quick brief review: The chronology of this vision is in perfect sequence with the others. You remember that I told you at the beginning that Zechariah has eight visions all eight of which refer to the restoration of Israel both historically as they rebuild their city after the captivity and prophetically as they will be a part of God's wonderful coming kingdom.
 
And the first of the visions that we looked at presented the outward promise of the kingdom. And then they talked about the restoration of the city and the temple. And then after there was the outward restoration, the visions moved to the inward and we saw the inward salvation that occurred.
 
And we saw last time in Chapter 3 the saving of Israel and the figure of the cleansing of Joshua the high priest. Joshua is a picture of the nation and as Joshua was cleansed and purified so Israel is to be cleansed and purified.
 
And now next in the sequence we find that this vision deals with the usefulness of Israel in the outward kingdom when the inward cleansing has taken place. God is going to restore them to a place of wonderful usefulness.
 
That's always the way it is. God has a plan in the world, God has a design to accomplish, but the people who accomplish it will be the people who are saved and then they will be useful to God within the framework of His plan.
 
So the nation is saved in Chapter 3, prophetically and the nation is used as God's witnessing people in Chapter 4.
 
Now let's look at the vision and see several points.
 
1. The presentation of the vision.
 
verse 1 – as the others, he is awakened to see
 
verse 2
 
Now what you have here is a lamp stand, and if any of you have ever seen what the Jews call a menorah with a bowl or reservoir on the top and out of the bowl are conduits that provide oil to the lights themselves.   
 
 
Now, look at verse 3
 
Now watch. The lamp is lit by oil. Oil is flowing to each of the seven lamps on the one big lamp stand from seven pipes coming from a big bowl of oil and the bowl of oil is being supplied by the olive trees.
 
And the picture is of kind of an automatic lighting system, at least as automatic as it got in Zechariah’s day. And there are three key components:
 
number one is the bowl of oil.
 
Now in the temple and the tabernacle the oil had to be supplied by the priests, so it was not automatic, but this is an automatic lamp. In the Holy Place, they were filled by the priests and they had to go in and trim the lamp, and trim the lamp, and trim the lamp, all the time, keep the oil in there, keep the oil in there because it would burn it up.
 
The second component is the seven pipes.
 
And by the way, there is a little bit of controversy there; some say seven, others say seven to each lamp, so 49 total. 
 
However many there are, no such pipes existed in the temple of tabernacle. 
 
And then you have the two olive trees on the right and on the left and flowing out of those is the oil. And the picture is of those trees supplying the oil through large golden pipes from the trees to the bowl, according to verse 12.
 
 
So there is the vision: two oily trees dripping oil into pipes that flow down to a bowl, which supplies oil through multiple pipes to the seven lamp stands. 
 
Now you say, "What in the world is this trying to show?"
 
Well right off the bat, it's trying to show whatever it is it has no human involvement. It's strictly automatic. God is producing the life in the tree and out of that the thing is being lit without any human involvement. There are no priests to trim the lamp, there's nobody putting oil in it. It's strictly an operation by God. Keep that in mind. That's the presentation of the vision.
 
2. The purpose of the vision
 
 verse 4-5
 
And you may be saying, "I'm with him." What is it?
 
Well the lamp stand represents the testimony of Israel as a nation under God. And God is saying through the lamp stand that Israel will be lit again to be the light of the world that God had intended originally for her to be. Now that's basically the simple interpretation.
 
Zechariah is seeing visions. The visions begin with a restoration of the people, a rebuilding of the temple, a rebuilding of the city, the salvation of the nations and then the witnessing ministry of the nation, and that's exactly what we see right here, a restored, revived, regenerated nation is now again God's witnessing people. They are the light.
 
Now ultimately, in the lamp stand you see a symbol of the one who is truly the light of the world, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Ultimately you'd have to see Him there.
 
And certainly we should acknowledge the church as the light of this age, but to be true to the historical setting of the vision, and the prophetic application of it, what we have here is a reminder of the coming time when the church will be removed, and God will restore Israel. You see, He is never without a witness to Himself, and when the church is gone, He has no witness in the world and Israel will be reborn and regenerated and redeemed and placed in the position of being the light that God intended them to be all along.
 
Now what about the bowl? Zechariah says the, the angel, "What does this mean?" Well what did it mean? The angel really never gave him much of an answer. He really was saying to him, "Look Zechariah, think about it a little bit. Isn't it pretty obvious? What would the bowl full of oil represent?"
 
What does oil symbolize in the New Testament and even in the Old Testament? The Holy Spirit! So the bowl on top symbolizes the Holy Spirit. This is a rather clearly defined symbol of the Holy Spirit because it's reiterated again and again as we shall in a moment.
 
But what's interesting to me is that fact that you have this bowl and out of this bowl flowing to the nation Israel in their millennial witness are channels of the power of the Holy Spirit. You see the point that is being made? The point here is that there will be an unlimited supply of power from the Holy Spirit.
And remember, it's all automatic. There's no human involvement at all. In the kingdom the witness of Israel will be spontaneous, it will be Spirit generated, there will be no other thing than the operation of the supernatural Holy Spirit. Everything there seems to be just the flow of the power of the Spirit of God through individual lives under the directorship of Christ Himself.
 
Now the two olive trees, what are they? Well they're mentioned in verses 11-14, and he's still asking the same question at the end. He says, "What are these?
 
And the angel says, "These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
 
Now the two anointed ones, who would that be? Now in Israel there were two specific people who were anointed. You remember who they were? One was the king and what was the other one was the priest.
 
So what you have here then is this: You have the office of king and priest. Now historically, and you have to keep your thinking hat on now because you realize this has historical meaning and then a prophetic meaning.
 
Historically the man who stood in the place of king was a man named Zerubbabel. He was the civil leader. And the man who stood in the place of priest was whom? chapter 3, Joshua.
 
 
 
 
 
The responsibility of Joshua and Zerubbabel was to stand beside the Lord and to lead the nation in the proper path and to bring them back to a restored place, a place where they would rebuild the wall historically, rebuild the temple historically and become again, if even in a small sense, a witness to the power and the truth of God.
 
But prophetically who is the ultimate king and priest? Messiah! He is the king priest. And in Zechariah look at Chapter 6 verse 13, it talks here about the Lord coming, the Messiah, called the branch in verse 12, and this is talking about the millennial period, the kingdom to come. "Even He shall build the temple of the Lord, and He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon His throne and He shall be a priest upon His throne."
 
Now if you've got a priest upon a throne what have you got? You got a king priest.
 
And so Zechariah recognizes this and he is seeing Christ here. So summing it up we have the light of Messiah provided by the golden oil, and it's called golden oil in verse 12 because of its preciousness, the light of Messiah provided by the golden oil poured into the lamp stand of Israel and that's basically what Zechariah sees. And the actual source of all of it is none other than the Messiah himself so the thing goes full circle.
 
Now Israel's going to have this place in the future, the place of wonderful blessing, the place of wonderful usefulness to God, where what God had intended for them all along will finally be accomplished.
 
So we see the presentation and the purpose, but expanding the thought who in the world could bring this to pass? Who is it that has the energy and the power and the strength to bring Israel to this place?
 
And so we come number three to
 
3. The power in the vision.
 
verse 6.
 
Now who is it that's the power for the whole thing to come to pass? The Spirit of God! One of the great verses in the Bible! I want to show you just a distinction here you need to make. Not by might, and in the Hebrew that refers to the strength of many, and not by power, and in the Hebrew that refers to the strength of one great one.
 
It'll only be accomplished by the Spirit. Not by might, that is the power of multiples of men, nor by power, that is the power on one great man, but by what, by Spirit. When it's done there'll be no comment able to be made but this: this was the work of God. So there's no problem with who gets the credit.
 
By the way, true witnessing, true evangelism, is always done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Acts 1 says, in verse 8, "You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses." All witnessing must be, to be effective, done in the energy of the Holy Spirit.
 
Effective evangelism is not a matter of education, it not a matter of methodology, although those things make a contribution. 
It is a matter of the power of the Spirit of God unleashed in the life and the heart of a willing vessel.
 
And so when Israel is restored to the kingdom, when Israel reaches that great place of usefulness to God it will not be because of any human agency, it will not be because of any move upon the part of men, but only upon the part of God's Holy Spirit.
 
Now you'll notice something interesting in verse 6. It says, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel."
 
Now here is Zerubbabel, the chief ruler over Israel. This man had a lot of obstacles in front of him. He was trying to lead the nation to the rebuilding of the wall and he was trying to lead the nation to the restoration of the temple and he was fighting obstacle after obstacle after obstacle.
 
But God says to him, "Zerubbabel, it's going to be done historically and it's going to be done by the Holy Spirit and it was. Now the Holy Spirit used a human vessel to build that wall. Who was it? Nehemiah, but he did it in 52 days and everybody said, "It had to be God, it had to be God."
 
So historically note he says to Zerubbabel, God's Spirit is going to rebuild this place, but Zerubbabel also, like Joshua, is a symbol of the whole nation and as historically Zerubbabel would see the city restored so future the nation will see the kingdom restored on its ultimate scale.
 
 
 
 
The nation at this time was a mess. Things were rather tragic, but God says, "Zerubbabel, it's going to happen," and the implication of the future it's going to happen again when all of those who are the nation once led by Zerubbabel see God's power.
 
Now notice what it says there at the end of verse 6, "But by My Spirit." The Spirit or the breath of God, this is the Spirit who worked in creation, where it says, "And God breathed and everything sprang to life." This is the spirit that opened and closed the Red Sea in Exodus 15, this is the Spirit in Ezekiel's vision in Chapter 37 where God breathed into the dead bones that had come together and the dead people came to life. It will be that Holy Spirit, the breath of God who will restore and regenerate and rejuvenate Israel.
 
So the oil, then, is the picture of the Spirit and it's the flow of the Spirit in profuse quantity that's going to make that kingdom such a fantastic time.
 
So Israel fed by the Spirit of God, doing God's work, in God's power and marvelous things are going to happen.
 
Now we've seen the presentation, the purpose, the power, who is the Holy Spirit, now let's see how
 
4. The plan of the vision
 
verse 7
 
Zerubbabel's had a lot of obstacles and now after this tremendous promise from God there's good reason to feel your oats. 
And so he looks at what has been a normal mountain type obstacle and he says, "Who are you mountain? Out of the way."
 
See God's word is now giving him confidence.
What this is is a defiant challenge against all opposition that tries to stop God from accomplishing His work in the power of His Spirit.
 
Historically God is saying I'm going to rebuild this city even though it's not going to be like it used to be, in glory I'm going to rebuild this temple and nothing is going to stop me and prophetically God is saying I'm going to bring My kingdom and nothing is going to stop me.
 
So the courage that echoes out, "Who do you think you are O mountain? Before Zerubabbel you'll become a flat place." And the headstone, you know what that was? The headstone is the Hebrew designation for the final stone that marked the completion of a building. And He's going to bring forth the headstone. I'll be finished. It's going to be completed and Zerubbabel is the guy and he'll stick that headstone in there and it'll be done. And the greater than Zerubbabel, the future restoration of the kingdom will also be completed.
 
Now notice it's going to be accomplished with shoutings. It's going to be a great day when they get that temple finished. It's just going to be a time for everybody to scream and shout and holler. Literally, the Hebrew is “loud noised”.
 
You know sometimes Christians ought to make some loud noises. The Psalms even talk about a joyful noise. Well that's what you have here.
When that headstone went into place in Zerubbabel's temple historically they yelled their head off. In fact that same Hebrew word is used to describe the rumble of thunder in Job 36:29. It sounded like thunder. It speaks of wild, tumultuous cheers and shouts and what their cheer was is here.
 
Look at it. Grace, grace unto it. That was their cheer. That doesn't seem like such a hot cheer. Well it was theirs and grace means beauty. And what they're really saying is what gracefulness that temple has, what perfection it has, how beautiful it is.
 
Ezra records what happened when that time came: 
In Ezra 3:11 it is finished and this is the historical record of which Zechariah is the prophecy, "And they sang together by chorus in praising giving thanks to the Lord because He is good, for his mercy endures forever toward Israel." Now watch. "And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. And many of the priests and Levites and heads of the father's houses who were old men who had seen the first house when the foundation of this house was set they wept with a loud voice and many shouted aloud for joy."
 
Now the idea there has to do with the completing of it. The final stone was put in place. The thing was set into its foundation and there was exactly what Zechariah said, there was great shouting and screaming and hollering.
 
But there's a futuristic aspect to this. You know that the first time the Messiah came the time He offered himself as a Messiah and came into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
They threw palm branches in His path and they shouted and screamed, didn't they? But they didn't receive the kingdom because before the week was out they killed Him. But in the kingdom when it comes there's going to be shouting and praising like you never imagined.
 
Verse 8-9, still talking about the plan as it unfolds.
 
Now this stresses not only the certainty of completing the temple but doing so in the lifetime of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel will finish it. Zerubbabel will finish it in order that God may be glorified.  And I want you to notice something.
 
Notice the word “Me” at the end of verse 9. "
 
This is Christ and in that day when the temple, the ultimate temple looking beyond to the prophetic element, when it is finished then you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me, the angel of the Lord, none other than Christ the Messiah, unto you. He is the one.
 
So what is the plan?
 
God the Father lays out the plan; God the Son directs its fulfillment, God the Holy Spirit supplies its power. The whole Trinity involved with Israel in the past as they built their temple and in the future as the kingdom comes.
 
That’s what verse 10 is all about: 
 
The seven eyes of God shall rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
 
Listen to me. If God gets happy over this thing you ought to be happy. If an omniscient God, who knows everything, rejoice when the plumb line is dropped to start the thing, you sure ought to get happy about it and not despise it just because it might be a small thing to you. You know why God gets happy? Because God sees His plan coming to fulfillment. God gets happy when He sees that thing begin because He sees the end from the beginning. The point is: don't despise what God rejoices over.
 
Now listen, if God rejoices over such a minor activity as the building of Zerubbabel's temple, what must be His joy in contemplating the entire objective in the future when He rebuilds the nation into the kingdom planned for them and tasks them. God is excited about the future of Israel.
 
Did you know that? He is excited. He is thrilled. He rejoices. You and I sit around and we say, "Man, it's exciting to see Israel in the land." God's saying the same thing, "Boy we're getting there." The plan is on the way and it might not look like much now, but don't despise small things. And Zerubbabel's temple didn't look like much, but you know what, it re-instituted a nation that could have been lost right there. It got a wall up and it preserved that little people so that the farther objective could be accomplished. God was happy. God rejoiced.
 
And so we move on to the next element:
 
5. The promise of the vision
 
verse 11-14
 
 
These are the two anointed ones. As the lamp stand symbolizes Israel in full fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit, the source of fuel, and becoming a light bearer to the world, as he was called to be, we know see the two olive trees through which the blessing of God is flowing to the nation. And those two things are the office of king and priest, the royal and priestly offices, as we mentioned.
 
So he's saying it is the pure power of the Spirit of God flowing through the priestly kingly office into the life of Israel that makes it radiate messianic truth. And we know who the king priest is none other than Christ himself. So it is Christ starting and finishing the cycle.
 
And that brings us to the conclusion,
 
6. The person in the vision
 
The end of verse 14 says, "That stand by the Lord of the whole earth." Now listen, here the Lord of the whole earth is a messianic title. It identifies Christ with His reign in the world. Messiah is the source, the channel of blessing flowing through the Spirit of God to the people and then radiating back His glorious reality. And He is none other than the Lord of the whole earth.
 
Now summing up very simply Zechariah has a vision. His vision sees Zerubbabel completing the temple and the people restored. But far beyond that he sees the nation restored, the nation having been redeemed brought back to the place of being a witness as they're energized by the flow of the power of the Spirit of God to radiate the truth of the very Messiah, who is the source of their blessing.
And you know what's going to happen in that day? Look with me at Revelation 7 and I'll show you.
 
When Israel becomes that witness nation, Revelation 7, the first 8 verses describe them as the witnesses. They're going to proclaim a hundred and forty and four thousand of them, you can see all the way down to verse 8, there's twelve thousand from each tribe, they are the servants of God and they go out to proclaim. And the results in verse 9, notice, "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations. and kindred's, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands, cried with a loud voice saying, 'Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.'"
 
Now watch, that is a multitude of Gentiles who have been saved and they are the direct result of the witnessing of the hundred and forty four thousand out of the tribes of Israel. Listen, when Israel is turned loose as God's witness nation, at the period of time known as the tribulation and the anticipation of the kingdom, as they are turned loose there will be more Gentiles converted than could even be counted. Greatest revival in the history of the world, when Israel finally does what God called her to do from the beginning.
 
In Revelation 12:17, closing out that chapter where Satan persecutes Israel, the dragon was angry with the woman, that is Satan was angry with Israel, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed.
 
 
Now watch, her seed is Israel, who keep the commandments of God, now watch this, and have the testimony of whom, Jesus Christ. Israel will have the testimony of Christ, proclaim it, and a world of Gentiles will be redeemed to God. Great, great day!
 
You say, "Well John that's all great and glorious sweet by and by stuff but what does it have to do with the nasty now and now?" How does it fit in?
 
Here's how it fits in. Until then where is the light? Listen to this. Matthew 5:14, Here me, hear Jesus, "Ye are, what, the light of the world." That's right. Until then, it's us. Are we more faithful than Israel? I pray God, so. Jesus said in Luke 12:35, "Keep your lamps burning." Keep your lamps burning. In Ephesians 5:8, Paul said, "For you were once darkness, but now are you light in the Lord? Walk as children of light."
 
Paul said to the Philippians in Chapter 2 and verse 15, that we be blameless and harmless children of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom you shine as lights in the world." Where's the light? Ye are the light. And I'll tell you something. The only way the light will ever shine is when it is infused with the power of the Holy Spirit. That's our commission today. I pray God we're more faithful than Israel was.
 
Let's pray.
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