Explore the Bible Series

July 22, 2007


Background Passage: Zechariah 4:1-6:15

Lesson Passage: Zechariah 4:1-14




Serving the Lord is never easy. Zerubbabel and Joshua faced the monumental task of reversing the spiritual inertia that brought a halt to the renovation of the Temple.External threats had dispirited the builders, and years of selfish preoccupation with their own interests left the Temple in disgraceful ruin.Perhaps these two leaders wondered if they were sufficient for the Lordís work. How does one go about motivating a selfish, lethargic people to recommit themselves to complete their God-ordained task?


Spiritual leadership demands much of the Lordís servants.As the Apostle Paul asked, ďWho is sufficient for these things?ĒLeaders face at least two great enemies: pride and discouragement.It appears that the humiliating, persistent problems in Jerusalem had sufficiently relieved these men of their pride, but now they must have struggled with an overwhelming sense of discouragement. Not only did the Temple still lay in ruin, but their present resources must have seemed woefully inadequate for the great task ahead of them.Of course, their previous failure must have troubled these men.They had begun the work many years before, and, because of discouraging, threatening circumstances, they stumbled badly.Failure, however, need not be final, and, as a token of divine mercy, God sent Zechariah to stir the hearts of these two fallen leaders to return to their divinely-appointed work.


Perhaps some of you face circumstances similar to Zerubbabel and Joshua.Some great failure may characterize your past, and prospects for effective future usefulness may appear unlikely.Others may face some great ministerial opportunity; yet, your resources seem completely inadequate to address the overwhelming needs of the hour.Goliath-like obstacles may tower over you, and the ďsmall stonesĒ at your disposal seem but a small arsenal to do battle with your ďgiants.ĒThese chapters in Zechariah were written for failing, discouraged servants, servants who fear that their years of usefulness have passed.Take heart, dear friend, for the Lord stands ready to restore, renew, and revitalize you, just as he did Zerubbabel and Joshua.








Lesson Outline:


I.                    The Fifth Vision: The Golden Lampstand (4:1-13): Zechariahís night visions continue with this striking image of a golden Lampstand and two olive trees.The Lampstand, of course, is reminiscent of the furnishings of the Holy Place in the Temple.The Mosaic Law placed three items in this portion of the sanctuary: the Table of Shewbread, the Altar of Incense, and the Lampstand.The angel marveled that the prophet did not understand this image, and he explained that this vision was intended to foreshadow Godís blessings on the work of Zerubbabel. The Jews, the angel recounted, must now grow discouraged in the day of small things.The light of the Temple would soon shine again, and God intended to exalt Zerubbabel as a great leader of the people. The seven eyes represent the omniscience of God who sees and knows all things.The two olive trees are Godís anointed ones, and, in all probability, depict Zerubbabel and Joshua. The Reformation Study Bible observes that the Jews experienced great discouragement in the wake of the meager progress made in the renovation of the temple, but the angel reminded them that they must not judge their circumstances by human standards.Brethren, there is much encouragement here for the servants of the Lord.


II.                The Sixth Vision: The Flying Scroll (5:1-4): Next, the prophet saw a large flying scroll, and it contained a curse upon those who steal and bear false witness.The revival that the angel predicted would have significant moral effects on the returned exiles. The revival would indeed come, but conditions could not remain the same.Moral reform always attends genuine spiritual renewal.


III.               The Seventh Vision: The Woman in a Basket (5:5-11): The angel revealed a large basket, and when opened, the basket held a woman.This person, according to the angel, represented the iniquity of the people.Then, two women appeared, and the winged duo transported the basket to the Land of Shinar.Shinar, as you will recall, was the ancient name of Babylon, and the Tower of Babel, a symbol of rebellion against God, was built in this ancient kingdom.Again, this prophetic image depicts Godís demand for moral reform, but it also represents Godís redemptive designs for his failing people.He, according to this vision, intended to remove the iniquities of his people.


IV.             The Eighth Vision: The Four Chariots (6:1-8): These four chariots patrol the four points of the compass.Because of the terrain of the Middle East, Israelís enemies assaulted the Lordís people from a route to the North.The black horses, accompanied by the white steeds, secured the North, thus ensuring the protection of Judah.


Conclusion of the Night Visions (6:9-15): God told Zechariah to collect silver and gold to fashion a royal crown for Joshua.The offices of priest and king are wed in this symbolic act, and the unmistakable image points to the Messiah.The Branch will achieve two things: he will rebuild and restore the glory of the Temple, and he will draw his people who afar off. What a wonderful prophecy!Please recall that Jesusí Hebrew name was Joshua, and this Old Testament figure foreshadowed the glorious incarnation of the Savior.