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The prerequisite to serving God must be the type of sanctification and cleansing emphasized in the last vision. Here we see the encouragement to ministry success. Vision #4 dealt with Joshua, the religious leader; Vision #5 encourages Zerubbabel, the political leader who must motivate the people to accomplish the difficult task at hand. The key would be reliance upon the unending supply of God’s resources through His Spirit. There are no mountains of difficulty that he cannot tunnel through.

Remember the simple Sunday School song:

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specializes in things thought impossible.

He does the things others cannot do.



A. (:1) Transition to the Next Vision

“Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep.”

Vision #4 focused on Joshua and the priestly role – the spiritual cleansing from sin and sanctification that is a prerequisite to do God’s work.

Vision #5 focuses on Zerubbabel as the political leader – the resources of God that will enable the work of rebuilding the temple to be completed successfully.

B. (:2-3) The Vision Itself – Two Main Elements

1. The Golden Lampstand

“He said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see, and behold, a lampstand, all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; ‘”

MacArthur: The lampstand is the 7-branched kind used in the tabernacle, with the addition of a bowl on the top if it in order to maintain an abundant supply of oil and spouts to carry the oil to keep the 7 lamps burning. The picture is of an abundant supply.

Merrill: The purpose of the menorah obviously was to illuminate the interior of the Holy Place (Ex. 25:37), but it also spoke of the illumination of the presence of YHWH Himself.

2. The Two Olive Trees

“’also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.’”

Roper: Then, draped over the top of the lampstand are two olive trees, creating a picture of perpetual supply. The olive trees grow to maturity, the olives ripen, the olive oil then drops into the bowl on top and flows through channels to each of the individual lamps–necessitating a good deal of plumbing–all this intended to convey the idea of unlimited resource: the oil keeps flowing, the lamp keeps burning.

C. (:4-5) Request for Insight and Understanding

“Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, ‘What are these, my lord?’ So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’”

No understanding apart from the Spirit of God making things plain to us

D. (:6-7) The Powerful Explanation – focusing on the resources of God’s Spirit and God’s Grace – How Can Anyone be Adequate for Ministry?

Two Key Principles:

1. (:6) Success Comes Only by God’s Spirit

“Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.’”

We cannot overemphasize the importance of the ministry of the Holy Spirit – despite what we see as excesses in some other movements – we do not want to overreact by minimizing His role

Merrill: The focus cannot be on the menorah itself but on its source of illumination, the oil that provides its fuel. The reservoir—the lamps, the pipes—all have to do with this fundamental idea that the menorah is useless without the power that energizes it. Likewise the task of temple building and, indeed, of the establishment of the sovereignty of YHWH and His kingdom cannot be accomplished apart from divine enablement; hence the word of YHWH: “Not by strength and not by authority, but by my Spirit” (v. 6).

2. (:7) Grace Can Remove the Greatest Obstacles

“What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”

Sola Gracie – one of the tenets of the Reformation

Roper: He is referring to the huge pile of rubble that was strewn over the temple area. When it had burned, the temple had caved in and become a great mound of rubble. It seemed to be insurmountable. How could they clean all this rubble and rebuild the temple? Well, Zechariah is told to say to Zerubbabel, “Before you this great mountain will become a plain.” How is this to be accomplished? “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. God’s strength, his resources, would be adequate.

Mackay: Generally the most important stone in an ancient building was the foundation stone, but here it is the completion of the building that is specially marked, perhaps when Zerubbabel superintends the placing of a stone at the top of an arch or gateway, marking the completion of the Temple. It would have been previously prepared and then brought out from the workshop or quarry to fit into its allotted place. With jubilation the people will cry out, “Grace! Grace to it!” extolling God’s freely given blessing on the work now completed, and imploring that he continue to look with favour on the Temple and all that was represented by it.


A. (:8) Additional Words of Divine Encouragement

“Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying”

B. (:9a) Promise of Ultimate Ministry Success

“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it.”

C. (:9b) Confirmation of Divine Prophecy

“Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.”

D. (:10) Assurance that God Knows What He is Doing

1. Don’t Get Discouraged by Man’s Limited Perspective

“For who has despised the day of small things?”

The rebuilding of the temple looked pitiful compared to its former glory in the days of Solomon; but God was at work to accomplish His purposes; we should never despise or underestimate the importance of something that God considers important.

MacArthur: Though the rebuilding of a temple smaller than Solomon’s may have been discouraging to some (cf. Ezr 3:12; Hag 2:3), the Lord announced that His pleasure was upon this work, and that His omniscient care was watching over and taking pleasure in its completion. He said in effect, ‘Don’t despise what God is pleased with.’ This was only a picture of the glorious restoration when Messiah comes to reign. That temple will make all others pale by comparison (cf. Eze 40 -48).

2. Rejoice in God’s Omniscient Perspective

“But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel – these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.”

Mackay: this is the practical impact of the Lord’s close supervision of all that occurs on earth. The project that he approves of will not lack his care and protection until it is completed.


A. (:11-13) Request for Insight and Understanding

1. (:11-12) Twofold Request for Explanation of the Two Olive Trees

a. (:11) Request #1 – Vision described in very general terms

“Then I said to him, ‘What are these two olive trees to the right of the lampstand and on its left?’”

b. (:12) Request #2 – Vision described in much more specific terms

“And I answered the second time and said to him, ‘What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves’”

2. (:13) Need for Insight and Understanding

“So he answered me, saying, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’”

B. (:14) Explanation of the Significance of the Olive Trees

“Then he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.’”