SONS OF OIL
Heavenly Father, the rush of life, the din of noise, the ache of sorrow, can all overwhelm me.
Read ZECHARIAH 4
The Gold Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees
4 Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. 2 He asked me, “What do you see?”
I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. 3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
4 I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
5 He answered, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I replied.
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
7 “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”
8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.
10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone[a] in the hand of Zerubbabel?”
11 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”
12 Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”
13 He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I said.
14 So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to[b] serve the Lord of all the earth.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning!’1
In Zechariah’s fifth vision, the lampstand’s seven lamps are lit with oil coming from two olive trees on either side. That oil symbolizes God’s Spirit and represents his power enabling Zerubbabel, Judah’s governor and a prince in David’s line, to complete the Temple. Zerubbabel is shown that the work can only be done with the help of God’s Spirit, but God chooses to work through human agents like him. Therefore he will succeed, though opposition and mockery stand in his way.
Christians have found great comfort in these verses. Critics pour contempt on us for what they call our narrow-minded beliefs based on a flawed, antiquated book. They view the church as a collapsing house of cards, undermined by reason and logic. Moral scandals involving church leaders add fuel to the fire they have lit beneath our foundations, claiming that Christianity is hypocritical, insignificant, intolerant – people are leaving the church in droves!
True, in Western lands, most churches face the challenge of empty chairs. This is not so in other places – praise God – but in countries where faith flourishes many believers face open persecution. Wherever we live, Christians are marginalized and derided. This chapter encourages us to keep our eyes raised heavenward as we carry on regardless, working for God. The ‘two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth’ (v 14) have been identified variously with governor Zerubbabel and high priest Joshua, or the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, or Moses and Elijah etc. ‘Anointed’ here is literally ‘sons of oil’. We might not be of the same ilk as those great servants of God, but in our faithful service to God we too can be ‘sons (and daughters!) of oil!’
AW Tozer famously stated that if the Holy Spirit withdrew from today’s church, 95 percent of our work would continue without us knowing the difference! Pray for fresh anointing!
Lord, I frequently prefer to organize my life on my own terms. Help me to focus on you and bring you to the center of my life.