…“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Zechariah’s fifth vision started when, as Zechariah described it, the angel from the previous visions “returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep” (4:1). The angel showed him a golden lampstand with a bowl and seven lamps having seven pipes on top of it (4:2). He also saw two olive trees on either side of it (4:3), whose purpose apparently was to provide olive oil for the lampstand to burn (cf. 4:12). Moses had made a lampstand for the tabernacle (Ex. 25:31ff). Solomon had made ten of them for the temple (1 Kings 7:49), all of which had been taken to Babylon (Jer. 52:19). However, a careful comparison will show differences between these and the ones in Zechariah’s vision. After asking the angel for an explanation of the vision (4:5), the angel informed Zechariah that they represented an encouraging message from the Lord to Zerubbabel (4:6a), who was the governor who oversaw the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 2:1-2; 3:2ff; Hag. 1:12ff). The message was this: “‘…Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘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!”’” (4:6b-7). He went on to tell Zechariah, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things?…” (4:8-10a).
The “top stone” would basically be the final stone set in place in the construction of the temple. God wanted Zechariah to inform Zerubbabel not only that he would finish what he had started, but that the temple’s construction would be completed not by any human power or ingenuity, even though the Jews were the ones rebuilding it. Rather, they would be able to complete it only through the grace and providence of God’s Spirit, who would remove all obstacles from their path (as symbolized by the mountain becoming a plain). True, the project started out with small results which might have brought despair from those who compared it to the glory of the first temple (4:10a; cf. Ezra 3:12-13), but it would be finished with God’s help and thus validate Zechariah as God’s prophet. The Lord also explained the symbolism behind the seven lamps with seven spouts which Zechariah had seen in the vision: “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” (4:10b). A plumb line is a construction tool designed to put stones in proper alignment. When Zerubbabel used this tool to put the top stone in place and thus finish the temple’s construction, God would see it and be glad.
After asking the angel about the two olive trees on either side of the lampstand and the two olive branches emptying from themselves golden oil, and admitting his ignorance as to what they were (4:11-13), the angel told Zechariah, “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth” (4:14). Some believe “the two anointed ones” are types of the two major biblical covenants, the Law of Moses and the New Covenant of Christ, both of whom have provided guidance from God for centuries. Others believe they symbolize Zerubbabel the ruler and Joshua the high priest, and thus point forward to Christ who is both our High Priest and King and who sits at God’s right hand (Zech. 6:13; cf. Heb. 4:14; 1 Tim. 6:15; Mk. 16:19). I favor the latter interpretation.
The message that they would complete the temple only through the aid and power of God is a good principle to keep in mind for our own endeavors. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…” (Ps. 127:1a). May we always seek the aid of God in all we try to do, and make sure our aims are in accordance with His will.