11-3-2 The Vision Of Seven Lamps
Zechariah Chapter 4
The vision is of a bowl with seven lamps, fed from a sump of oil
in a bowl which is supplied by pipes from two olive trees.
The "seven lamps are the seven eyes of the Lord, which run to and
fro through the whole earth" (Zech. 4:2,10)- i. e. they represent
the Angels active in the land of Israel to enable the restoration.
They are energized by the spirit in the bowl. The candlestick being
part of the tabernacle was therefore also a "pattern of things in
the Heavens"; it represented how the Heavenly organization of Angels
works. The olive trees "are the two anointed ones, that stand by
the Lord of the whole earth" (v. 14). The "Lord of the whole earth"
is the Angel of 3:1 (making "the God of the earth" in Rev. 11:4
also an Angel). The olive trees actually stand by the candlestick,
thus making the whole arrangement of bowl, branches, pipes and lamps
represent the workings of the one Angel- in the same way as the
Angel of Jesus in Rev. 1 can somehow stand in the midst of a candlestick.
The olive being a symbol of leadership (in Judges 9:8 the
olive tree was the first tree to be thought of as a national leader),
it would be fitting that they represented Joshua
and Zerubbabel. However, there is a definite allusion to the Angel
cherubim here. "Within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive
tree" (1 Kings 6:23); "and I will commune with thee from above the
mercy seat, from between the two (olive tree) cherubims which are
upon the ark of the testimony" (Ex. 25:22). If the olive trees are
like the Cherubim, then "the Lord of the whole earth" of Zech. 4:4
which was between them connects with the ark- the Angel that dwelt
over the ark, between the Cherubim. Josh. 3:11-13 also makes
the connection between the ark and the "Lord of all the earth".
The candlestick therefore represents the Angel co-ordinating the
restoration, as well as the other "seven" Angels in His control.
This shows the close association between the Angel-cherubim and
Joshua and Zerubbabel. Thus from the Angelic inspiration of these
two men, the spirit was supplied to the candlestick through the
gold pipes- the faith they showed and their prayers supplied the
spirit which enabled the seven lamp Angels to act. However, the
close link between the two olive trees and the Cherubim Angels once
again shows that the ultimate impetus to our faith, prayers and
spirituality comes from God's spirit in the Angels rather than from
any personal inspiration we may feel. This idea of the flow of the
spirit, enabling God's action through the Angels as a result of
our prayers, is found elsewhere:
- "This shall turn to my salvation, through your prayer, and the
supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:19)
- ". . . how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy
Spirit ("good things", Mt. 7:11) to them that ask Him?" (Lk. 11:13).
Of Oil And Olives
Thus in the vision of the seven lamps, the prayers and faith of
Joshua and Zerubbabel were the oil, the spirit that was supplied
to activate the seven lamp Angels that went to and fro in the land
of Israel preparing the way for the restoration. However, the olive
trees were "sons of oil" (4:14 AVmg)- they were anointed with the
oil initially. Is this a dim foreshadowing of the birth of the spirit
("sons of oil")? The oil of the spirit is clearly a symbol of the
word- the men of the olive trees were sons of the spirit word through
their belief in the word of God through Jeremiah concerning the
restoration. The olive branches emptied the golden oil out of themselves-
if we are to have the same victory of faith as Joshua and
Zerubbabel, we have to in the same way pour ourselves out in prayer
and golden faith. The amount of oil flowing into the bowl determined
the amount flowing out of it to the lamp Angels, seeing that there
was a constant flow of the oil in the vision. Thus the amount and
intensity of our prayers and spirituality affect how brightly the
Angels burn in their zeal to fulfil our requests. Notice too the
power of the prayers of a small minority of God's people. The two
olive branches which feed the bowl are replaced by Christ, the one
branch (Zech. 3:8; 6:12), who would provide the Spirit in abundance
so that the true spiritual temple could be built- "the branch. .
. shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple
of the Lord" (6:12).
It is difficult to relate Rev. 11:1-5 to all this. It is clearly
based on this and other visions in Zechariah, but the exact links
are elusive. The measuring of the temple in Rev. 11 is similar to
that in Zech. 2, which was stopped by the Angel. In Rev. 11 the
measuring (for judgement) goes ahead for the Jews but not for the
Gentiles. The two witnesses of Rev. 11 are empowered to overcome
their adversaries, as Joshua and Zerubbabel were given power to
overcome theirs. There are often what appear (superficially?) to
be vague allusions to the Old Testament in Revelation, and it is
hard to determine their exact significance (e. g. Job 3:21= Rev.
9:6). Maybe the points of contact between Zechariah and Rev. 11
are examples of this? But Rev. 11:4 seems specific: "these are the
two olive trees, and the two candlesticks". And why two candlesticks
when there was only one in Zechariah?
Let us take the rebuke which the Angel gave Zechariah twice (a
sign of rebuke often in Scripture- e. g. "Simon, Simon"): "Knowest
thou not what these be?" (v. 5,13), the Angel answered Zechariah
when he asked what the system of pipes represented. Let us be humble
to the Word, let us really accept the potential power of our prayers
and truly poured out spirit. Note too the Angel's method of educating
Zechariah by asking the question "What seest thou?" (v. 2). Through
what mechanism do they open the word of God to us and lead us to
concentrate on certain parts of it, as they did to Zechariah?