Zechariah 4:1-14 . FIFTH VISION. The golden candlestick and the two olive trees. The temple shall be completed by the aid of God's Spirit.
7. All mountain-like obstacles ( Isaiah 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 ( Jeremiah 51:25 , Daniel 2:34 Daniel 2:44 , Matthew 21:44 ).
bring forth the headstone--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 Ezra 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 Romans 11:26 , Hebrews 11:40 , Hebrews 12:22 Hebrews 12:23 , Revelation 7:4-9 ).
Grace, grace--The repetition expresses, Grace from first to last ( Isaiah 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 ( Ezra 3:11 Ezra 3:13 ). So shoutings of "Hosanna" greeted the Saviour in entering Jerusalem ( Matthew 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 ( John 2:20 John 2:21 ). 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" ( Revelation 19:1 Revelation 19:6 ). Psalms 118:22 regards Him as "the headstone of the corner," that is, the foundation-stone. Compare the angels acclamations at His birth, Luke 2:14 . Here it is the top-stone. Messiah is not only the "Author," but also the Finisher ( Hebrews 12:2 ). "Grace" is ascribed "unto it," that is the stone, Messiah. Hence the benediction begins, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 13:14 ).
9. Zerubbabel . . . shall . . . finish it--( Ezra 6:15 ) in the sixth year of Darius' reign.
Lord . . . sent me unto you--( Zechariah 2:9 ). The Divine Angel announces that in what He has just spoken, He has been commissioned by God the Father.
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" ( Hosea 1:11 ) with "the day of small things" here.
they shall rejoice . . . with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord--rather, "they, even those seven eyes of the Lord (compare Zechariah 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" ( Zechariah 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 ( Ezra 3:12 , Haggai 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 ( Proverbs 15:3 , 1 Corinthians 16:9 ).
11, 12. Zechariah three times ( Zechariah 4:4 Zechariah 4:11 Zechariah 4:12 ) 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 ( Zechariah 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" ( Zechariah 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 ( Zechariah 14:9 , Daniel 2:44 , Revelation 11:15 ). Compare the description of the As in Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:4 , 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, Matthew 17:3 Matthew 17:11 , with Malachi 4:4 Malachi 4:5 , John 1:21 ) with Moses. Revelation 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 Exodus 7:19 , 1 Kings 17:1 , Luke 4:25 , James 5:16 James 5:17 ). The period is the same, "three years and six months"; the scene also is in Israel ( Revelation 11:8 ), "where our Lord was crucified." It is supposed that for the first three and a half years of the hebdomad ( Daniel 9:20-27 ), God will be worshipped in the temple; in the latter three and a half years, Antichrist will break the covenant ( Daniel 9:27 ), and set himself up in the temple to be worshipped as God ( 2 Thessalonians 2:4 ). The witnesses prophesy the former three and a half years, while corruptions prevail and faith is rare ( Luke 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. Zechariah 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 ( John 3:34 ). But this does not exclude the primary application to Joshua and Zerubbabel, "anointed" ( Zechariah 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 ( Psalms 52:8 , Romans 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 oil" ( Isaiah 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 1 John 2:20 1 John 2:27 ).