The Completion of the Temple of God
Zechariah chapter 4
by Carolyn ruth Chapman
A. The Temple Lampstand
God is a purposeful God. From eternity past, God designed a plan for man and the unfolding of that plan was and is in His hands. The great architectural design for the Temple and for Jahweh worship remains at the center of God’s will for mankind. Zechariah’s focus was upon God’s purposes for Israel and the temple of his day; yet these truths symbolically have a great fulfillment for all His chosen people, Jew and Christian.
The Lampstand was no idol image. The lampstand had purpose within the temple worship. The lampstand gave light in the holy place penetrating the darkness so that the priests might see to fulfill the liturgical rituals of worship as God had commanded. The lampstand was the only source of light in the Holy place. God’s light should remain always the only source of light for our life and our worship.
There was definitely a difference between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. Many priests served in the Holy Place that was lighted by the seven lamps of the lampstand yet in the Holy of Holies the high priest entered into the light of the shekinah glory that shone about the ark of the covenant and represented the light and presence of the Almighty.
It was never the design of God that the worship of Jehweh would occur in the darkness. Darkness represented evil and ignorance. The priests lit the lamps and refurbished the pure olive oil that the place of worship would never exist in the darkness. The holy place was where the priest came to worship with the showbread or ‘bread of the presence’ and with incense upon the altar.
It was important for the priests to maintain that light. We as priests of the Lord have the solemn responsibility to maintain The Light in the world. We are lights in a dark world. Light brings understanding, knowledge, perfection, righteousness and holiness to a world that lacks these qualities. Every believer is a priest unto God. Just as the olive oil had to be 100% pure, so we as priests of a Holy God must manifest these qualities that the character of God might remain visible and not vanish in a world of darkness. The lampstand of temple worship represented that eternal plan of holiness and righteousness that would not be destroyed in a world of sin. God will ensure that the light of His glorious holiness will not fail but will ultimately find completion. The temple will be completed.
So down through history the plan of God is still finding it’s completion. Israel and the laws of God were a light to the world. Jesus was the true Light of the world that brought grace to the nations and forgiveness of sin. In Him is no darkness. The church is now the light of the world to reflect truth, mercy, forgiveness and holiness to all mankind that the light of the gospel might shine into every heart. Yet the heavenly plan for the lampstand will see further fulfillment in the later days.
B. Two Olive Trees
was very intrigued with the two olive trees or branches that stood beside
the lampstand. These two olive branches represented God’s faithful servants
Zerubbabel and Joshua.
Chapter three was devoted to the priestly order of the Temple. Joshua the high priest was chosen of God to minister before the people. His ministry would operate by the power of God’s Spirit. Joshua was symbolic also of our great high priest Jesus Christ who had the spirit without measure.
Zerubbabel was governor of the land of Israel. His ancestral descent was of the line of King David and also of the Levitical priesthood. He was a leader king and priest by birth. Christian believers are also kings and priests unto God by the second birth. In this manner Zerubbabel was a type of the believer.
His name means ‘seed of Babylon.’ Zerubbabel was born in Babylon as a seed of Babylon but he was one of the exiles who returned to Israel during the Persian reign of Cyrus. He may have been a seed born in Babylon but his heart was for the God of Israel. Are we not all a ‘seed of Babylon’ for we are born in sin and shaped in iniquity?
It was Jahweh that had stirred the hearts of Zerubbabel, Joshua and the people to rebuild the temple. This was God’s plan and purpose. However, many difficulties were encountered when they endeavored to rebuild the temple. The building of the temple met opposition from the Samaritans that lived in the land. These Samaritans wanted to help Zerubbabel rebuild the temple. They considered themselves qualified to do the job because they too worshipped God and made sacrifices to Him. But Zerubbabel refused their help.
“You have nothing in common with us in building the temple.” Now the Samaritans had just claimed that they did have something in common. They claimed to worship Yahweh also. A serious problem did exist. Although the Samaritans did worship Yahweh there existed syncretistic ideas of worship that conflicted with the orders and commandments of Yahweh. The temple was to be the only place of worship and of sacrifices but the Samaritans had established a worship center in Mount Gerizim and had worshipped like the heathen at the high places. They were called to be a holy people but the Samaritans had intermarried with the heathen nations about them.
Have we as Christians today allowed the Samaritans to build the temple with us? Have we instituted into our worship the ideas and principles of the world and of liberal Christianity? Have we followed God’s plan for renewal by the power of His Spirit?
It wasn’t just a temple that was rebuilt but the old order of worship was being restored. It wasn’t just mortar and clay but a renewal of worship in the hearts of the people. Not only were the priests to be holy but the remnant of the people were to be dedicated and separated unto God as well.
Because of the difficulties that arose with the rebuilding of the temple, this vision was very encouraging for Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua. After eighteen years they began to wonder if the temple would ever be built and whether the God of Israel would undertake for them. This vision affirmed God’s plan. The temple was to be rebuilt and finished. The capstone would find its place upon the top signifying the completion of the task. Zerubbabel would be the man to begin and complete the task.
Not only would the temple be finished but completed by the power of God’s Spirit. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” What is worship without the divine power of the Spirit of God. The lampstand was useless without the oil. Worship before God was powerless without the power of God’s Spirit. The pure oil constantly fed the lamps with power to light their world. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to light our world with the light of the gospel.
Gazing into the future fulfillment of this power, we have witnessed also the indwelling power of the Spirit as He has given growth, renewal, life and power to all who believe in Jesus Christ. The temple and dwelling place of God for the church has been through the spirit. Worship has now seen a greater perfection. Without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, there would be no true worship for we are to worship in spirit and in truth. It is finished. The temple is finished. Worship has been brought into the heart and spirit of man by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “ Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”
In verse eight we must notice the balance within worship that brings glory to God. Firstly, Zerubbabel was given great power. Mountains would become plains. God has chosen to use man in the building of His Kingdom. Although Zerubbabel was chosen by God to complete the divine will of God, the glory was given to God. “Grace, Grace.” These were the shouts of the people. God’s will for men can find no realization without the Grace of God. There is no relationship in worship without Grace. There is no completion of any temple without Grace. By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have been justified with God.
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:16
We are all the ‘seed of Babylon.’ We have been redeemed from the world. When that happens there will be difficulties and opposition to the plans of God. But just as Zerubbabel was encouraged by the word of the Lord, we can be assured that the temple will be rebuilt. God’s design from eternity will find its complete fulfillment one day. What God has begun upon the cross will find completion in eternity. What God has begun in each believer’s life will find completion. The temple will be rebuilt.
C. The Two Anointed ones
The interpreting angel in verse fourteen confirms the identity of the two olive branches. These are the ‘two anointed ones.’ Anointed ones mean ‘sons of fresh oil.’ The two anointed ones are individuals who are anointed by God with the oil of the Spirit.
These two anointed ones refer to Zerubbabel and Joshua. They also stand beside the Lord of the whole earth. Because they are ‘standing,’ it is possible that both are called to minister as priests unto God. We know that both Joshua and Zerubbabel were of the priestly line.
The two anointed ones have greater reference to the future and to the two anointed witnesses of God during the tribulation. Compare these verses of Zechariah with these following verses from Revelation
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. Rev 11:1-6
There are Four Similarities
1. The measuring of the Temple
2. Two olive trees
4. They stand before the Lord of the earth.
For the first 3 ˝ years or 1,260 days of the days of Jacob’s trouble two servants of the Lord are greatly empowered by God to work miracles for Israel and Jerusalem. These two witnesses and prophets of Jahweh rebuild the temple in the Jerusalem. They bring protection to God’s people the Jews. They pronounce judgment upon their enemies.
At the end of that 3 ˝ year period, the witnesses are murdered by the Antichrist who then sits upon the throne of the temple as God and demands worship from all men of the earth. For 3 ˝ years the Antichrist empowered by Satan, demonstrates unbelievable destruction and abomination.
Some have compared the two end-time witnesses to Moses and Elijah because of the similarities of miracles. Could there not arise two servants of the Lord who are similar to Joshua and Zerubbabel? One shall be the priestly prophet like unto Joshua and the other a kingly prophet like unto Zerubbabel who will rebuild the temple of Jerusalem. Will the next Zerubbabel be a “seed of Babylon” born from among the Gentile nations but one who has found life in the land of Israel and who will bring restoration to the people of Israel?
When you look at the times and the seasons before us, what is there to hinder the rebuilding of the temple? There is only one thing. The mosques upon the temple mount must be destroyed and that may be very soon. I believe that an earthquake will clean the temple mount of all foreign faiths and practices. The temple will be rebuilt. What God has declared will come true. The same assurance for a completed temple during the days of Zerubbabel remains sure for the temple that will be built very shortly by two prophets like unto Zerubbabel and Joshua. These two will be anointed by the oil of the olive tree and they will be a lamp in a dark world for the glory of God.
Zechariah 4:9 tells us that Zerubbabel will lay the foundation stone and the cap stone. Therefore, in the last days, during the days of one like unto Zerubbabel, the temple with be rebuilt and completed. God will manifest His grace towards His people Israel. So down through history the plan of God is still finding it’s completion.
D. Despising the Day of Small Things
Why should we despise the day of small things? What God has begun in a small way will be completed in a big way. “How easy it is for the unbelieving to see nothing in the very place where God finds all His delight.” (Bibliotheca sacra, 1999) Why should we despise the smaller beginnings of God when the wisdom of God is far greater than man’s puny understanding. He knows all things. He knows the beginning from the end. The despiser of small things wants to see the completion now when God says “not now but soon.”
Why should we despise the day of small things? “Nothing that a man of God is called upon to do in the will of God is unimportant or insignificant.” (James Orr, ISB Encyc.) God always has his anointed ones to stand and minister before the Lord. Human insufficiency and inadequacy can find perfection because of the power and might of the Holy Spirit who is our anointing. The temple will be completed. Yahweh worship will sing the perfected praises of God. The will of God shall be ‘done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Why despise the day of small things when the eyes of the Lord are scanning the whole earth? He is aware of every move of the righteous and every move of the enemy and He is in control of all things. Why should we doubt the word of the Lord when he has spoken? “Not by might nor by power but by my spirit saith the Lord of Host.” His power is greater than all the hosts of hell, heaven and earth. It is foolish to despise the day of small beginnings. The Temple will be rebuilt …. and then…….on into the millennium ….. and …..on into eternity…….the worship of Jahweh will continue …… and find its perfection and beauty in righteousness and holiness. The Divine Presence of God will dwell with His people. “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”