Encouragement to Zerubbabel (4:1-14)
The next vision is of a seven-headed lampstand standing between two olive trees. The olive trees pour their oil into a central bowl on top of the lampstand. The oil from this central bowl then feeds the seven lamps that provide the light. This means that the lamps do not need anyone to look after them. Light is provided supernaturally through the constant supply of oil from the trees (4:1-5; see also v. 12).
This vision was of particular encouragement to Zerubbabel who, in his task of reconstructing the temple, faced mountainous obstacles. His authority was limited by Persia; he had a shortage of labour and materials; his workers were discouraged by certain Jews who despised the new building as being small in comparison with Solomon’s magnificent temple; and he was surrounded by hostile foreigners who tried to hinder the work. God now gives him a message of encouragement and reassurance. Just as the lamps receive a continuous supply of oil supernaturally, so the temple will be finished through the power of God’s Spirit. God’s power, not human power, is to be the source of Zerubbabel’s strength (6-10a).
Zechariah then records an additional meaning given to the two olive trees. Through the Davidic prince Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua, God will supply spiritual power to Israel. This will enable Israel to send forth the light of God throughout the whole earth (10b-14).