Question: I have been almost as confused about this passage of Scripture as Zechariah when he asked, "What are these two olive trees?"
- Zechariah and Haggai were contemporary and sent to the leaders and the people to finish building the temple they had started 15 years earlier. Satan had sent his opposition, which had caused the work to stop. (Ezra 4).
- Joshua. From Haggai 1:12, we learn that he was the son of Josedech. In Ezra and Nehemiah, he is called Jeshua (Ezra 3:2). His grandfather, Seriah, was High Priest when Jerusalem was captured and the city destroyed in 586. He was executed at Riblah by Nebuchadnezzar and his father taken captive to Babylon. It was here that Joshua was probably born.
Ezra 2:64,65 states there were 49,897 that returned to Jerusalem in 536 B.C. On their arrival, Joshua would naturally have taken a leading part in the laying of the foundation of the temple in 535 B.C. Satan’s opposition (Ezra 4; Zechariah 3:1,2) stopped the work for 15 years.
A. Introduction to Zechariah, Chapter Four.
- Chapter Four is God’s Word to Zechariah for the leaders and the people in order to stir them up. God’s protection is promised, as they are to start immediately to complete the building of their temple.
- Chapter Four also contains a brief picture of three future prophecies given over 2500 years in advance.
- The Jewish people rebuild the temple very soon after the Rapture. The religious but, unsaved Jews, are given by the godless world leaders, their protection and blessings by a false covenant that will be broken after 3-l/2 years.
- Prophecy concerning the Millennial Temple and King-dom Reign of Jesus Christ.
- The Two Witnesses of God that prophecy against the false temple and worship.
B. “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words.”
There is much truth in the above statement; so, I thought a picture of the elements described in Zechariah, Chapter Four, might be of some help in understanding the prophecies of this chapter.
“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,” (1)
“And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:” (2)
“And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.”
C. Visual Aids For Prophecy.
In this prophetic chapter, God uses various items as a figure of speech to illustrate various factual events. These items are: a golden candlestick, seven lamps, seven pipes, two golden pipes, a bowl, two olive trees and two olive branches. As one studies the Word of God, you will find that the FIG TREE is used in reference to Israel’s national privileges. The VINE concerns Israel’s spiritual privileges, and the OLIVE TREE represents Israel’s religious privileges.
Now let us see if we can identify what this picture in Chapter Four illustrates:
- “A golden candlestick with a bowl on top.” (V.2) The Hebrew for “bowl” is “gullah” and defined as; “a fountain, bowl, or globe, (all as round).” A candlestick extends up from its base. The bowl on top would indicate God overseeing everything in His creation. Isaiah 4:22 explains this.
"It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: (V. 22)
To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. (V. 25)
- “The seven pipes extend from God and topped with seven lamps.”The Hebrew for “pipes” here in Verse Two is “mutsaqah” and means; “something poured out or cast in a mold. In Verse Twelve, the word “pipes” is a different Hebrew word with a different meaning, as will be explained later. Seven lamps and seven pipes is significant, as in the Bible, numbers have a meaning. Four is the number of the earth. Five is the number of grace. Six is the number of man, and seven is in reference to God’s divine completeness. In other words, God “sitteth upon the circle of the earth” to oversee all of His creation.
“The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” - Psalms 115:16
Nothing in man can escape the eyes and knowledge of God Almighty.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” - Hebrews 4:13
Speaking to Israel, the LORD has said”
“...for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.” - Ezekiel 11:5b
God has now waited fifteen years since the work on building the temple had stopped. Satan and his followers had stopped the work after the foundations of the temple had been laid. God now lets Zechariah know that he will take care of Satan in Zechariah 3:1,2.
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” (1) And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee:...”(2)
Now, on to Zechariah 4:6, where the Angel continues to give God’s Word to Zechariah, who is to encourage Zerubbabel.
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
The leaders and workers will not have to fight Satan’s opposition with their power and might, or force. Satan’s op-position was so intense, and had mounted up to such a degree, as to be illustrated by the size of a mountain. God said, “I will remove all of Satan’s obstacles, so that the mountain will become as a plain and not one obstacle will remain," as described in Zechariah 4:7.
“Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.”
Zerubbabel is going to “bring forth the head stone” showing the leaders that he is starting the work to finish the building of God’s temple for the people. What excitement when the people see the work begun, as they shout for joy and cry out, “Grace, grace unto it.” For it is only by the Grace of God that it will be built. The Lord continues His prophecy of the temple in Verses 8,9, declaring that it will be completed.
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,” (8)
“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.” (9)
This temple was not anything compared to Solomon’s temple, which was magnificent! But these Jewish people, who had been in captivity for 70 years to the nation of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, were thrilled to again have a place to worship.
“For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” - Zechariah 4:10
To see the plummet, "PLUM" (a weight) "MET" (with line attached) in the hand of Zerubbabel, they knew the temple was going to be completed. It was not just talk; but, a reality.
- a. “With those seven,” shows that with the help of the Lord, with His protection and guidance while overseeing everything, the temple was completed five years later.
- “Those seven, they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
This last statement in Verse 10 is a basic statement, summarizing what the picture in Verse Two is illustrating, concerning the Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omni-sapience of our Wonderful God who...
"...so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” - Zechariah 4:3
These are also described in Verses 11 to 14.
“Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?” (11) And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?” (12) And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.” (13) Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (14)
These are the same as the Two Witnesses, whose activities are described in Revelation 11:3,4.
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” (3) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. (4)
Their introduction, prophetically, was basically given over 2500 years ago in Zechariah, Chapter Four; as we will examine here. Then a little over 1900 years ago, specific details of their ministry during the Seven-Year Tribulation was prophesied by the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle John in Revelation, Chapter 11. This is what is known to Bible students as Progressive Revelation.
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”- 2 Peter 1:21
First, I would like to point out that Zechariah had no idea what the Lord was talking about concerning these two Olive Trees. Notice his words in Zechariah 4:11.
“What are these two olive trees...”
Then, again in Verse 12.
"And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches...”
And, again in Verse 13.
“And he (the Lord) answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.”
Daniel, like Zechariah, had many prophecies given him to record. Some were fulfilled; and many were yet for a future time. Daniel’s words to the Lord are in Daniel 12:8, and God’s response is in Verse 9.
Daniel: “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (8)
God: “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”(9).
The Apostle Peter had this to say about some of the Epistles penned by the Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” - 2 Peter 3:16
These Two Witnesses are described in Verse 3 and 11 as Olive Trees, not bushes or shrubs. Bushes and shrubs are easily moved, or cut down, but not trees. Trees have their roots deep in the ground. Described as trees, their spiritual roots are grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His words. Psalm 1:1-3 would be descriptive of each of these Two Witnesses for the Lord in the Tribulation.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (1) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (2) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”(3)
Zechariah 4:12 is a very interesting verse.
“And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?”
Notice that the Two Witnesses were illustrated as two olive trees in Verses 3 and 11. Now, in Verse 12 they are spoken of as “olive branches.” The Hebrew for “branches” is “shibboieth” and means “a stream, (as flowing), a flood, to flow and to grow out of (as an ear of grain).” In other words, these Two Witnesses branch out everywhere! They are moving as a stream or river flows, witnessing everywhere, like a flood.
Notice the word “through” in Verse 12. The Hebrew word for “through” is “yad,” which is a prime word and is defined as, “a hand, the open one [indicating power, means, direction, and etc.].”
Notice the “two golden pipes.” The Hebrew for “pipes” here is “tnastarah” and means “to be hollow as a water spout, or hollow tube, or gutter.” Gold is a precious metal. Pipes are a hollow tube through which something can flow, and there are two of these. These simply, by object illustration, reveal to the world how precious their testimony is; flowing from their mouth and illustrated by their hand gestures.
Notice that they “Empty the golden oil out of themselves.” In other words, they are to speak, or give out everything that the Lord has given them to proclaim. They are to hold nothing back. The last thing given concerning these Two Witnesses is in Verse 14.
“Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
Revelation, Chapter 11, gives the details and conclusion of their ministry.
For more information on the subject of Bible Prophecy, you will find Pastor Younce’s book, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, A Book on Bible Prophecy” helpful. It has many charts and diagrams to make things clear. You can read it free here: Click Here to Read Online