Zechariah 4:1-6:8 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Final Four Visions
Comments for Study 2

Zechariah 4:1-6:8
Memory Verse: 4:6


I. Two Olive Trees (4:1-14)

Golden Lamp stand with Bowl

See drawing of a golden lamp stand with a bowl to the right.

>1. What did Zechariah see? (1-2)

* Zechariah 4:1-2 "Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a solid gold lamp stand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights."

* "the angel who talked with me returned" -2:3 says the angel was talking with Zechariah left and then was ordered to go back to Zechariah with the message in the rest of that chapter. 3:1 has the same angel (or perhaps the angel who sent that angel) showing a new vision. The vision here was at a different time than the one in chapter 3, but could have been the same night.

* "wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep" -The vision was still at night. This was not a dream, but a vision.

* "seven lights.. seven channels" -Seven is the number of completion and perfection.

* "lamp stand" -The temple had a lamp stand which burned olive oil. (Exodus 25:6, 31-40, 35:14, 37:17-24, 40:24-25; Numbers 4:9-10, 8:1-4; and 1 Chron. 28:15; and 2 Chron. 13:11) Everything in the temple was a symbol including the lamp stand. (Hebrews 9:1-10)

>What is the source of power for God's people? (4-6; Acts 1:8)

* Zechariah 4:4-6 "I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" He answered, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I replied. So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty."

* Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

* "So he said to me" -The angel gave Zechariah a one sentence answer, and then Zechariah was given more words to help explain the vision. Verse 7 is part of the answer.

* "the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel" -The Lord had a message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. Zerubbabel was not king. He was appointed by the Persians to rule in Judah under them. The Persian king Cyprus gave him the order to rebuild the temple, a major undertaking. See the first study for more information about Zerubbabel.

* "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit" -Not by human power or human will was the temple built and completed. The Spirit gives us the ability and power to accomplish the task he gives us. Zerrubbabel's very hard task was to clean the temple mount, level the land, and build the temple.

* We can do nothing that pleases the Lord if the Spirit is not given us.

A Greek Capstone

See a picture of a Greek capstone to the right.

>What hard was the building of the temple? (7)

* Zechariah 4:7 "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!'"

* "O mighty mountain" -The mountain Solomon had built the temple on now lie in ruins. Heaps of rubble covered the mountain.

* "level ground" -The rubble had to be removed and the mountain made level in order to lay a foundation.

* "Then" -All the details of the building is skipped. The angel goes from the levelling of the mountain directly to the laying of the last stone.

* "the capstone" -Capstone here is "ebon" in Hebrew meaning any stone used in building projects. A capstone is one of the finishing or protective stones that form the top of an exterior masonry wall or building. The last and highest stone in an arch is also called a capstone. (See notes for verse 10 "plumb line" below.)

* "God bless it!" -The people would know the Lord made it all possible and honor him. Everyone would be happy that the temple was finished.

>2. How would they know that the Lord sent Zechariah to encourage the temple's completion? (8-9)

* Zechariah 4:8-9 "Then the word of the LORD came to me: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you."

* "Then the word of the LORD came to me" -Zechariah understood the angle's words and repeated them in his own words. This encouraged Zechariah.

* "The hands of Zerubbabel" -Zechariah understood that Zechariah had laid the foundation by the power of the Holy Spirit and he would complete it by the same Holy Spirit.

* "have laid the foundation of this temple" -The foundation was laid in 537-536 B.C. (Ezra 3:8-11, 5:16) After a few years the foundation was finished and then the work on the temple stopped for at least ten years. See the introduction for more information.

* "will complete it" -When this word was given the temple was still being built. Zechariah started preaching in 520 B.C. The temple was finished in 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:14-16)

* "the LORD Almighty" -In Hebrew YHWH Saba. The KJV translates this Lord of hosts. See study one for more information.

* "has sent me" -Apparently some Jews wondered if the young Zechariah (2:4) was actually sent by the Lord to encourage the finishing of building the temple. A prophet was proven from the Lord when his words came true. (Deuteronomy 18:22)

* Jesus was rejected in his hometown too. (Matthew 13:57)

Roman Plumb Lines

See a picture of plumb lines found at a ancient Roman site to the right.

>If the Lord sees everything going on in the world can we be assured he sees what's happening in our lives?

* Zechariah 4:10 "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)"

* "the day of small things" -People who doubted the need to build the temple were claiming the project a small thing. (Haggai 2:3) Others were so small of faith they doubted it would be finished. Both types of people would be surprised when the temple would be finished.

* "plumb line" -Plumb lines are used by builders, planners and supervisors of building projects to ensure walls and columns are straight and vertical. A plumb line is a small rope or string with small tear drop shaped weight at the bottom. Gravity pulls the line straight and true to the center of the earth. Thus vertical items would be less likely to be pulled down by gravity.

* "plumb line" -The NEB translates this "the stone called Separation", paralleling it with "the stone called Possession" in verse 7. A few scholars believe that these stones were special ceremonial stones used as the first and final ones during the building of Zerrubbabel's temple; one at the bottom and the other at the top of the temple. This gives the final sentence more meaning.

* "These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth." -Some commentaries say that this is the answer to Zechariah's question, "What are these?" in verse 4. Yet, verses 6 and 7 are the answer to his question and verses 8 to 10a confirm Zechariah understood it. Still these commentaries say that the lamp stand had seven lights on it which represents the completion of the temple and that would bring the Lord's presence (lamp and lights) to it. (Seven in the Bible means completeness and perfection.) As stated above the Lord can't be the lamp because it received oil and the Lord doesn't receive power from anyone or anything. So what does this phrase mean? The stone in 3:9 has seven eyes (facets, see NIV note) on it, making this a fitting end to that vision as well. So the translation here could be, "These seven are the facets (see NIV note) of the Lord; which flow out over the whole earth". Thus the two visions are interconnected and both look towards a future renewal of God's people that will bring the oil of life first to God's people (3:9) and through them to the world (4:10).

* There are two olive trees and two stones.

>What did Jesus teach us about this? (Matt. 10:29-31)

* Matthew 10:29-31 "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

* The Lord gives us the ability to complete the tasks he gives us no matter how hard it is. He has given us the task of preaching the gospel to the whole world. He gives us the Holy Spirit to complete this task.

>3. What was Zechariah persistent in knowing? (11-12)

* Zechariah 4:11-12 "Then I asked the angel, "What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lamp stand?" Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?"

* "olive tree" -Olive trees have been grown all around the Mediterranean Basin for thousands of years. The fruit were not just for eating. The oil is much more important than the fruit itself. Olive oil is a fat obtained from the olive. The oil is produced by grinding whole olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical means. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and anointing (Judges 9:8). Archaeologists have found many olive oil lamps of varying sizes, shapes, and made from many different materials all around the Mediterranean. Olive oil lamps were used from generation to generation.

* "lamp stand" -The temple had a lamp stand which burned olive oil. (Exodus 25:6, 31-40, 35:14, 37:17-24, 40:24-25; Numbers 4:9-10, 8:1-4; and 1 Chron. 28:15; and 2 Chron. 13:11) Everything in the temple was a symbol including the lamp stand. (Hebrews 9:1-10)

* "olive branches" -Branches from each of the two trees.

* "gold pipes" -The Hebrew word "pipes" is used only here in the Bible. It is translated as pipes in most English translations. The lamps found at Gezer were found with terracotta tubes which sprout into a kind of port or opening. These may have been used as a means of keeping the lamps supplied with oil. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Joyce G. Baldwin)

* "that pour out golden oil" -The lamp cannot stand for the Lord because he is the source of supplies not their recipient.

>What did he find out?

* Zechariah 4:13-14 "He replied, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I said. So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."

* "two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth" -Priests and kings were anointed with olive oil. (Exodus 28:41, 29:7, 30:30; and 1 Sam. 10:1, 16:1) The Lord filled his prophets, priests, and kings with the Holy Spirit. Olive oil is used in the Bible to represent the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person. Judah had no anointed king at this time for they were ruled by the Persian empire. Zerubbabel was of the line of David; yet he was never made king of Israel and/or Judah. (Some have made unproven claims that Zerubbabel disappeared from history because the Jews tried to anoint him king of Israel causing the Persians to remove him from power.) Haggai and Zechariah were the only known prophets at the time. Therefore, the branches (trees) and pipes could be them. Governor Zerubbabel, Joshua the high priest, and the rest of the Jews could be the lamp stand for in the Bible God's people are referred to has lights and lampstands. (See below.)

* "Lord of all the earth" -Jesus is Lord of all the earth even though most do not belong to his kingdom.

>What is the meaning behind the trees, branches, pipes, oil, and lamp stands? (Rev. 1:12-20, Matt. 5:14-16)

* Revelation 1:12-20 "I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

* Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

* Ephesians 5:8-14 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

* Galatians 5:22-26 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."

* Since the Holy Spirit has been poured out at Pentecost all of those who believe and obey Jesus are anointed with the Holy Spirit. We are lights of the Lord. We are the lamps; revealing God's gospel.

* Revelation 11:3-6 "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want."

II. The Flying Scroll (5:1-4)

Flying Scroll

See picutre of a Flying Scroll to the right.

>4. What did Zechariah see next? (1-2)

* Zechariah 5:1-2 "I looked again--and there before me was a flying scroll! He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide."

* "I looked again" -The same time as the previous vision.

* "flying scroll" -Scrolls were used to record important information for continual and further use. They are rolled up and stored in special boxes or cylinders. This roll is not in storage. It is not scrolled and flying in the air so all can learn and repent.

>What was written on it? (3)

* Zechariah 5:3 "And he said to me, "This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished."

* "curse" -A curse is the sentence that is the result of sin. The covenant between the Lord and his people at Mount Sinai contained blessings and curses based on obedience and disobedience.

* "over the whole land" -Judah was called holy earlier in the book because the Lord was with them. However, the people were not holy. They were sinning and so under a curse. God's words go forth with power.

* "every thief will be banished" -Banished from the presence of the Lord and the promised land.

* "everyone who swears falsely will be banished" -People swear to make their word seem true. Jews in Zechariah's time were lying and then swearing in the name of the Lord that they were telling the truth.

* The Bible has elsewhere stated violating part of the ten commandments to represent breaking them all. The two mentioned are in the middle of the two sections of the ten commandments; the section concerning God and the section concerning other people.

>What does it mean?

* Zechariah 5:4 "The LORD Almighty declares, 'I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in his house and destroy it, both its timbers and its stones.'"

* "it will enter" -The curse will enter the house.

* "destroy it" -The house, the thief, and liar was trying to build up will be destroyed.

* "both its timbers and stones" -All the house would be destroyed. Centuries later the house of the Lord, the temple in Jerusalem was completely destroyed because of these very sins. Sins are symptoms of a wrong heart, mind, and soul. Jesus said, "All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:8-10)

III. The Women in a Basket (5:5-11)

woman in basket

See picutre of a woman in basket to the right.

>5. What did Zechariah see next? (5-6)

* Zechariah 5:5-6 "Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, "Look up and see what this is that is appearing." I asked, "What is it?" He replied, "It is a measuring basket." And he added, "This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land."

* "a measuring basket" -In Hebrew this is an ephah meaning a jar or basket used to measure out around 5 gallons of grain. (Ruth 2:17) A normal ephah sized container would not be large enough to hold a person. This one was enlarged for the purpose of the vision.

* "This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land" -Iniquity is gross wickedness. The land of Judah was full of wickedness.

* All have sinned and the Lord knows all of them. He knows our heart and he deals with it in one of two ways. He forgives it by grace through faith or his wrath comes down on it if we reject his grace.

>What was inside it? (7)

* Zechariah 5:7 "Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman!"

* "the cover of lead" -Lead is the super-dense compared to other metals. The great weight was keeping wickedness at check. The returned Jews were sinning, but not as much as they could have been.

* "in the basket sat a woman!" -Its not clear why iniquity is portrayed as a woman. One commentary has suggested that perhaps its because the Hebrew for the word wickedness is feminine. Another possibility was because Judah is sometimes refered to the Lord's bride.

* Evil has a face and though it may be hidden and done in secret it is there none the less and the Lord knows all about it. Proverbs 26:26 states, "His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly."

>What did she represent?

* Zechariah 5:8 "He said, "This is wickedness," and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth."

* "This is wickedness" -repeated.

* "he pushed her back into the basket" -The verb gives the indication that wickedness tried to escape, but the angel retrained her. The Lord holds back sin. He restrains us.

* 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 "And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming."

>6. Who lifted the basket up?

* Zechariah 5:9 "Then I looked up--and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth."

* "there before me were two women" -Angels. Some angels are men and others are female. This does not mean that they are married or have little angels. Jesus said, "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." (Mark 12:25)

* "They had wings like those of a stork" -Storks have very large strong wings.

* "they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth" -The sin was being taken away by God's grace.

* Psalm 103:11-12 "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

>Where was it going?

* Zechariah 5:10-11 "Where are they taking the basket?" I asked the angel who was speaking to me. He replied, "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place."

* "To the country of Babylonia" -In Hebrew this is Shinar. Shinar is the ancient name for the valley that Babylon and a few other cities were located in. (Genesis 10:10)

* "to build a house for it" -Implying a temple for wickedness.

* "when it is ready" -The temple for wickedness was not ready yet.

* "the basket will be set there in its place"

>What does this vision mean?

* Since Babylon (Shinar) was the location of the tower of Babel, a house to store wickedness would be fitting. Babylon was the land where Judah had been exiled. Now they were coming out and earlier Zechariah strongly encouraged God's people to leave it for soon Babylon was going to be destroyed. It can be assumed that any temple including the one for wickedness would be destroyed. This is symbolic of the Babylon to come and its destruction as recorded in the book of Revelation. When Jesus comes Babylon will be destroyed and the power of sin in his people will be removed. God has evil in his power, he restrains it and he will destroy it.

* 1 Peter 1:3-5 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

IV. The Four Chariots (6:1-8)

Zechariah Dore 4 chariots

See picture of Zechariah's vision of four chariots by Dore to the right.

>7. What did Zechariah see next? (1)

* Zechariah 6:1 "I looked up again--and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains--mountains of bronze!"

* "I looked up again" -Just after the vision of the woman in the basket and the banner before it.

* "there before me" -Zechariah was watching them as they raced toward him.

* "four chariots" -Chariots were used by armies as the first sent out in a battle. Occasionally diplomats with important messages used them. They were the fastest form of travel at the time.

* These horses have clear difference than the earlier ones Zechariah saw. One in particular is that the earlier ones came in the evening and these are going out at sunrise perhaps symbolizing a new era.

>Where did they come from?

* "coming out from between two mountains" -They are coming from heaven. Babylonian mythology could be behind this for it depicts the sun god rising between two mountains.

* "mountains of bronze" -The temple had two bronze pillars. (1 Kings 7:13-22) Since the temple was a shadow of heaven it can be assumed that heaven's door is between two bronze mountains.

* Since God dwells in light the bronze would have reflected the light.

>What were the color of the horses?

* Zechariah 6:2-3 "The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled--all of them powerful."

* "red horses" -The first vision of horses also had a red horse. These horses are not going to be sent out beyond Zechariah.

* the second black

* the third white

* "the fourth dappled" -grey and bay

* "all of them powerful" -vigorous

>8. What were the chariots? (4-5)

* Zechariah 6:4-5 "I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these, my lord?" The angel answered me, "These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world."

* "These are the four spirits of heaven" -Spirits can also be translated wind. (Hebrews 1:7) They are going out with a important message.

* "going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world" -The Lord God sent them.

>Where were they going?

* Zechariah 6:6 "The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south."

* "the black horses is going toward the north country"

* "the white horses toward the west"

* "the dappled horses toward the south"

* None of the horses are going to the east. The red ones are not sent anywhere. However, commentators state that this verse starts out with which which which is improper Hebrew. So they say that perhaps this verse stated the red horses went east and the text is missing.

>What can we learn about the Lord through this?

* "Lord of the whole world" -The Lord is in control of the whole world. Satan has rebelled. But Jesus is still in control. Nothing happens that he doesn't allow. His purposes is good and mysterious.

>9. What happened to when the chariot with black horses went to the north?

* Zechariah 6:7-8 "When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, "Go throughout the earth!" So they went throughout the earth. Then he called to me, "Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north."

* "they were straining to go throughout the earth" -Eagerly awaiting the command to go forth.

* "Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north" -The Spirit has been at work since the fall of man to bring men back to God. When this is finished His Spirit will rest.

>What might this mean?

* A day is coming when men will no longer struggle with the Lord's Spirit. They will not resist his wooing. They will be his children, his people. Even the great enemy to the north, Babylon with its temple housing wickedness will be destroyed so that the Lord's Spirit will no longer be at war.