Two Olive Trees and
a Candlestick

There are many facets of God’s dazzling Word. The following is a study in Zechariah chapter 4 with shining truths which we recently noted, and can apply to ‘our day’.

Verse 1 is a WAKE UP call: "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep." This verse indicates there is a tendency to be asleep concerning this important vision the prophet saw.

V. 2, Open your eyes. Look! "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:"

Gold-en-Oil

The candlestick Zechariah saw was all gold. The one God commanded Moses to make was from one piece of gold. From Psalm 19 we learn that God’s Law (Torah - teaching) is "more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold...." (V. 10). And Psalm 119:128, "...I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold."

The "gold" of the Word and "oil" of His Spirit are inseparable. The light that results from the combination is "on top". It shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot stifle it and cannot comprehend, cannot understand it (John 1:5). There is no fellowship between darkness and light. One has to conquer the other. Only those who give themselves to His Truth and His Spirit can do His will on earth – which is that LIGHT will dispell darkness. The worldling is known by his\her rebellion while obedience to God’s Word is the believer’s earmark of sanctification, distinction, set-apartness – to coin an expression.

Trees of Righteousness

V. 3, "And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof."

The Scripture brims with types, shadows, symbolism, signs. Jesus’ favorite teaching method was by parable. The first rule-of-thumb in interpreting these symbols – or anything in Scripture – is to find the meaning in the Word itself. The symbol of trees is not hard to find. They represent men: King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed he was a tree! (Daniel 4); a blind man who received Jesus’ healing touch saw "men as trees walking." But the clearest illustration is found in three passages of the Hebrew Scriptures:

  • Psalm 1: "Blessed is the man...[whose] delight is in the Law of the Lord...he shall be like a tree" – solidly planted by a river and bringing forth fruit.

  • A similar passage is found in Jeremiah 17:7 & 8, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree...."

  • But the clincher is found in Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preached good tidings unto the meek...." Then after a wonderful list of good things brought about by this God-anointed Gospel, in verse 3 we read, "that they might be called TREES of RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the LORD, that HE might be glorified."

Zechariah saw TWO olive trees. But he didn’t understand what they represented, so he asked,

V. 4, "What are these, my lord?"

The angel answered the prophet in two ways:

V. 6, "Then he answered and spoke 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."

But the prophet still was stumped, and asked the question twice more in verses 11 and 12 with the additional description of "...which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?" – into the bowl of oil which kept the lampstand burning. Then he received the second answer to his question about the two olive trees, but not until he was told that he should already know the answer without having to ask!

V. 13, "And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? [The prophet confesses his lack of understanding.] And I said, No, my lord."

V. 14, "Then said he, These are the two anointed ones [Heb. "Sons of oil"], that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." Two is the number of witness.

Two Witnesses Today

Some Christian commentaries see these olive trees as being only two men. The initial meaning in Zechariah’s day probably was that they represented Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel (religious and governmental personalities). But prophecy almost always has more than one application – the present and the future. These "sons of oil" that continually give of the oil of their "trees" to the lighting of the candlestick proper – are no exception.

Stay with us in careful consideration of the far-reaching witness of these two "trees". A clear meaning emerges depicting: (1) the devout of Israel and (2) true believers from among the nations who give themselves in studying and declaring God’s Word; those who continually "empty" themselves, giving to the world the anointed Laws of the Kingdom of God on earth, thus giving light and dispelling darkness. These represent two "witnesses" of Messiah – in Judaism and in Christianity. Because they stand by the Lord, the oil flows into the lampstand! The Menorah has 7 lights; seven is the number of perfection and completion. All we need is in Him Who is the Light of the World.

From the 11th chapter of Romans, we know that the olive tree represents Israel and believers from the nations are as branches grafted into this olive tree and therefore ALSO of the olive tree. In Zechariah’s vision, the two olive trees could be as the "two folds" Jesus spoke of in John 10:16 when He said, "Other sheep I have which were not of this fold; them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." The two olive trees of Zechariah’s vision have the same purpose: KEEP THE LIGHT BURNING!

When Messiah rules, the lampstand’s light will flash as lightning from the East to the West. No one can control lightning and no one can stop it. So will His Kingdom of light come to this world. Prophetic Scriptures for this "latter days" show this process has begun and cannot be thwarted. Forces are at futile work today to destroy God’s righteous Law – continually trying to substitute something else for it; put it in a shadowy gray area; subtract from it; add to it; pervert it and change it to their own liking and intellectual concepts.

Glowing Truth

When Moses came down from receiving the Law at Mt. Sinai, he did not know "that the skin of his face shone". He had to wear a veil while talking to the people (Exodus 34:29,33). The rabbis declared that these rays of glory originated with Moses at the time he stood in the cleft of the rock and God covered him with His hand (33:22,33). Rashi (venerated and a most popular Jewish father) said, "How overpowering is the effects of sin! Before they erred with the Calf, the Israelites were not overawed by the appearance of the glory of God, although it was like a devouring fire (24:17). But after their sin, they trembled even at the radiance of Moses face" (The Soncino Chumash, page 566).

The text indicates Moses’ face sent forth beams and kept on shining. The powerful effect of God’s Word and presence can only be light dispelling darkness.

When the Menorah light grows dim, conditions result as Sforno* describes in the introduction to his commentary and which motivated him to undertake writing it: "...because our people dwell in an alien land and concentrate their efforts on the accumulation of wealth, feeling that this will protect them from the exigencies of their time. This in turn results in a condition where they have no proper time to consider the wonders and wisdom of our Torah, and even brings them to question the importance of our holy Torah, becoming critical of its teachings for they do not understand it properly" (xi/Introduction).

(Footnote) *Ovadiah ben Yaacov Sforno of Cesena, Italy in the 15th century. He came into contact with the Christian community and apparently moved with ease and comfort in high society. His philosophical work Or Amim (Light of Nations) became famous. (From Sforno Commentary on the Torah translation and explanatory notes by Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz).

Light, Begin & Return

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, LIGHT was the first spoken into existence. The Jewish Talmud again quotes Sforno and explains, "...the unique powerful light of the seven days of Creation which was capable of generating growth without the benefit of seed and which will shine again in future time. According to tradition, this special light was deemed fit only for the righteous and was therefore ‘stored’ away by God, to be used at the end of days."

When God is setting up His menorah of light and truth in Jerusalem again, let not any who call themselves followers-of-Christ seek to circumvent its light. Since WW I, the Lord has been building that candlestick. The foundation, the holder of the Light is of His making.

Isaiah 30:30: "And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering and tempest and hailstones."

This anointed Son of God is so much greater than our puny minds can fathom. Let us stretch our minds and spiritual concept of Him.

One more word of positive comfort concerning Israel today. Since the beginning of this ingathering, the nation has been pressed, pushed and pressured on every side by her enemies and by the nations of the world in their deliberations in the UN.

Fifty years ago Israel became a sovereign nation again after 2500 years. "Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."

[Please note carefully the following verse: It is clear that He will not allow a "late term abortion."]

"Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? Saith the LORD; shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God" (Isaiah 66:8,9).