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1. waked me--The prophet was lying in a state of ecstatic slumber with astonishment at the previous vision. "Came again, and waked me," does not imply that the angel had departed and now returned, but is an idiom for "waked me again."
2. candlestick--symbolizing the Jewish theocracy; and ultimately,
the Church of which the Jewish portion is to be the head: the
light-bearer (so the original is of "lights,"
Mt 5:14, 16;
to the world.
3. two olive trees--supplying oil to the bowl. The Holy Ghost, who
fills with His fulness Messiah (the anointed: the "bowl"), from whom
flow supplies of grace to the Church.
4. The prophet is instructed in the truths meant, that we may read them with the greater reverence and attention [CALVIN].
5. Knowest thou not, &c.--Not a reproof of his ignorance, but a
stimulus to reflection on the mystery.
6. Not by might . . . but by my Spirit--As the lamps burned continually, supplied with oil from a source (the living olive trees) which man did not make, so Zerubbabel need not be disheartened because of his weakness; for as the work is one to be effected by the living Spirit (compare Hag 2:5) of God, man's weakness is no obstacle, for God's might will perfect strength out of weakness (Ho 1:7; 2Co 12:10; Heb 11:34). "Might and power" express human strength of every description, physical, mental, moral. Or, "might" is the strength of many (an "army," literally); "power," that of one man [PEMBELLUS]. God can save, "whether with many, or with them that have no power" (2Ch 14:11; compare 1Sa 14:6). So in the conversion of sinners (1Co 3:6; 2Co 10:4). "Zerubbabel" is addressed as the chief civil authority in directing the work.
7. All mountain-like obstacles
(Isa 40:4; 49:11)
in Zerubbabel's way shall be removed, so that the crowning
top-stone shall be put on, and the completion of the work be
acknowledged as wholly of "grace." Antitypically, the antichristian
last foe of Israel, the obstacle preventing her establishment in
Palestine, about to be crushed before Messiah, is probably meant
Da 2:34, 44;
9. Zerubbabel . . . shall . . . finish it--
in the sixth year of Darius' reign.
10. who . . . despised . . . small
things--He reproves their ungrateful unbelief, which they felt
because of the humble beginning, compared with the greatness of the
undertaking; and encourages them with the assurance that their progress
in the work, though small, was an earnest of great and final success,
because Jehovah's eye is upon Zerubbabel and the work, to support Him
with His favor. Contrast, "great is the day of Jezreel"
with "the day of small things" here.
11, 12. Zechariah three times (Zec 4:4, 11, 12) asks as to the two olives before he gets an answer; the question becomes more minute each time. What he at first calls "two olive trees," he afterwards calls "branches," as on closer looking he observes that the "branches" of the trees are the channels through which a continual flow of oil dropped into the bowl of the lamps (Zec 4:2), and that this is the purpose for which the two olive trees stand beside the candlestick. Primarily, the "two" refer to Joshua and Zerubbabel. God, says AUBERLEN, at each of the transition periods of the world's history has sent great men to guide the Church. So the two witnesses shall appear before the destruction of Antichrist. Antitypically, "the two anointed ones" (Zec 4:14) are the twofold supports of the Church, the civil power (answering to Zerubbabel) and the ecclesiastical (answering to Joshua, the high priest), which in the restored Jewish polity and temple shall "stand by," that is, minister to "the Lord of the whole earth," as He shall be called in the day that He sets up His throne in Jerusalem (Zec 14:9; Da 2:44; Re 11:15). Compare the description of the offices of the "priests" and the "prince" (Isa 49:23; Eze 44:1-46:24). As in Re 11:3, 4, the "two witnesses" are identified with the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. WORDSWORTH explains them to mean the Law and the Gospel: the two Testaments that witness in the Church for the truth of God. But this is at variance with the sense here, which requires Joshua and Zerubbabel to be primarily meant. So Moses (the prophet and lawgiver) and Aaron (the high priest) ministered to the Lord among the covenant-people at the exodus; Ezekiel (the priest) and Daniel (a ruler) in the Babylonian captivity; so it shall be in restored Israel. Some think Elijah will appear again (compare the transfiguration, Mt 17:3, 11, with Mal 4:4, 5; Joh 1:21) with Moses. Re 11:6, which mentions the very miracles performed by Elijah and Moses (shutting heaven so as not to rain, and turning water into blood), favors this (compare Ex 7:19; 1Ki 17:1; Lu 4:25; Jas 5:16, 17). The period is the same, "three years and six months"; the scene also is in Israel (Re 11:8), "where our Lord was crucified." It is supposed that for the first three and a half years of the hebdomad (Da 9:20-27), God will be worshipped in the temple; in the latter three and a half years, Antichrist will break the covenant (Da 9:27), and set himself up in the temple to be worshipped as God (2Th 2:4). The witnesses prophesy the former three and a half years, while corruptions prevail and faith is rare (Lu 18:8); then they are slain and remain dead three and a half years. Probably, besides individual witnesses and literal years, there is a fulfilment in long periods and general witnesses, such as the Church and the Word, the civil and religious powers so far as they have witnessed for God. So "the beast" in Revelation answers to the civil power of the apostasy; "the false prophet" to the spiritual power. Man needs the priest to atone for guilt, and the prophet-king to teach holiness with kingly authority. These two typically united in Melchisedek were divided between two till they meet in Messiah, the Antitype. Zec 6:11-13 accords with this. The Holy Spirit in this His twofold power of applying to man the grace of the atonement, and that of sanctification,%%%