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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Vision of a Golden Lampstand (Zech. 4)

In this vision, the prophet is shown a golden lampstand with a continuing supply of oil for the seven lamps through the bowl and lips that were on the top of the lampstand and the two olive trees beside it. This lampstand represents God’s people and this vision was sent to encourage their civil leader, Zerubbabel (the vision in the previous chapter had been sent to encourage their religious leader, the high priest Joshua).

The main detail mentioned in the encouragement is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Because he was present, every difficulty, even those that seemed as large as a mountain, would be overcome. Clearly Zerubbabel was facing large problems, ones that no human agency could get rid off. But the Lord sent a message that he could deal with the difficult situation. If Zerubbabel persevered, he would eventually finish the rebuilding project surrounded by cries of praise to God.

It would take about four more years for the building project to be completed. The four years involved hard work, but the builders had the encouragement of God’s promise to stimulate them.  When it was finished, two consequences would be (1) confirmation that Zechariah was the Lord’s prophet who had given accurate predictions about the success of the rebuilding and (2) even those who had been dismissive of the rebuilding project would rejoice at its appearance. After all, the best remedy for lack of faith is to see a divine promise fulfilled.

Zechariah also asked the angel about the significance of the two olive trees (vv. 10-14) and especially two branches of the trees that were beside two pipes that carried the oil.  He was told that the branches illustrated two anointed ones who stand by the Lord. Probably they depict Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the civil ruler. They had a privileged position, but they were not to be regarded as equal with God. Instead they also needed the help of the Holy Spirit.

It was a good thing for Judah to have leaders in church and state who were anointed by God. In themselves, both leaders had their weaknesses, but through God’s grace they achieved their God-given goal of rebuilding the temple. We too can know divine help as we serve the same God as they did.

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