7. Who art thou, O great mountain—The reference is to a lofty mountain outside of Judea in contradistinction to Mt. Zion that in comparison with it was but a little hill. But on Mt. Zion dwelt Jehovah in His holy temple. Hence, Mt. Zion was emblematic of the church and the great mountain symbolized the mighty world-power the final appearance of which will be the antichristian world-state, the Babylon of the book of Revelation. At the time of our prophet this worldpower had taken on flesh and blood in the persons of the kings of Persia. To this world-power Zerubbabel and his despised little flock—Zion—was in bondage. The statement “who art thou, O great mountain” is more of an exclamation than a question. It means: Who dost thou imagine thyself to be, O great mountain, O world-power, that thou exaltest thyself against Zion, my people, Zerubbabel, in the final instance Christ. The boasting of the world-power is foolishness. It is too ridiculous for words. In the language of Ps. 2, “He that sitteth in the heavens laughs.” Yes, Jehovah laughs. The reason is stated in the succeeding sentence (of our prophecy). Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain—Before the governor of the covenant people, that is before Christ whom he typified, the, world-power shall be overthrown over and over through the ages to come and this by terrible revelations of God’s might and power m all manner of dreadful plagues including war. In the meantime Christ will gather His church not by power nor by might but by His Spirit and His word. With the church gathered, the world-power will be made to pass away forever. And there will be new heavens and a new earth on which shall dwell righteousness.
This, of course, is not a new promise in the sense that it had not before been proclaimed. It had been proclaimed over and over only not in this form and by these types and symbols. In substance it had already been published right after the fall. For essentially there is but one promise. But there is more to the promise as here proclaimed to Zerubbabel. And he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, Grace, grace unto you—This scripture can best be understood when placed alongside of the other passages in Holy Writ where mention is made of the headstone. Ps. 118:22, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner,” that is the headstone. Is the reference here in the first instance to Zerubbabel’s temple? That is, is the psalmist speaking of a stone that became the head of the foundation of Zerubbabel’s temple, despite its being rejected by the builders? It is not likely that the headstone of Zerubbabel’s temple (nor of Solomon’s for that matter) went through such a history. According to another view, the reference is in the first instance to the people of Israel as to a headstone rejected by the heathen but chosen of God and precious. A better view is, that the psalmist is speaking directly of Christ, foretelling his crucifixion and death at the hands of the leaders in Israel and His exaltation to the position of head of the foundation of God’s spiritual temple. Thus though rejected by the builders, He became the head of the corner. This, in the words of the psalmist, is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. The headstone then is Christ. So in Isaiah 28:16, “Behold it is I who have laid in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation—He who believes shall not be confounded.” And so in Zech. 4:7, “And he shall bring forth the headstone thereof.” Here; too, the headstone is the cornerstone, that is Christ, and not, as some have it: the gable stone, that is the top stone completing and crowning the building: Appearing in this verse is a Hebrew word for head that is the same as that occurring in the other passages quoted above, so that as joined to stone it must denote the same stone, namely the corner-stone. And this stone is Christ (I Peter 2:6, 7). If so, the pronoun he denotes Jehovah and not Zerubbabel. Jehovah will bring forth the Christ. (On this idea see 3:8). With shoutings, Grace, grace—Jehovah graced Him with His Spirit without measure. Beholding His glory, the glory, of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, His people shouted, Grace, grace. And unto them was now, grace and salvation because of His having been brought forth. And as the Spirit-filled headstone He removed all iniquities of His people on the great day of atonement at Golgotha, swallowing up unto victory all their enemies. And therefore the great mountain shall surely be made a plain before Zerubbabel.
New message of encouragement, 8-14.
8. Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying,
9. The hands of Zerubbbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.
10. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the and of Zerubbabel even those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
11. Then answered I and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12. And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13. And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord.
14. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
8. Moreover—In addition to the promise contained in verse 7.
9. Shall also finish it—The same hands—those of Zerubbabel—that began the building enterprise shall surely bring it to completion. The fulfillment of this promise is recorded in Ezra 6:15, “And the house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” That such is here the promise plainly shows, it seems to me, that the headstone of the preceding verse is not the top most stone completing and crowning the building and that, therefore, the idea also of this verse is that Zerubabbel shall bring it forth, that is carry to completion the building enterprise. For then the prophet so good as literally repeats himself in this 8th verse, which is not the case. The prefatory verse “Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me” indicates that the succeeding two verses (9 and 10) contain an additional promise.
Thou shalt know—The completion of the temple shall constitute the undeniable evidence that the prophet was sent of Jehovah and spake as His organ the word that He put in his mouth.
10. For who hath despised the day of small things?—The construction here is much disputed. What will help us to arrive at clarity here is our first determining what is to be understood by the “day of small things.” First to be considered is the word “day.” It denotes in the first instance the dispensation of grace that had set in with the turning of Judah’s captivity. The “small things” are what Jehovah had already wrought in that day. As moved by His Spirit—for not by might; nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts—the remnant that He had preserved for Himself in Babylon had returned to Jerusalem. And the temple was in process of being rebuilt. These were the small things of that day. Indeed, were these things not so small as to be hardly worth mentioning when compared with what still had to be done before, it could be said that this post-exilic community had been delivered out of all its troubles? Jerusalem was still in a state as sad as ever what with her walls still broken down, her gates burnt, and most of her dwellings rubble. Yes, the Lord had turned their captivity. But comparatively speaking only a handful had returned. And they formed but a small community, poverty stricken and beset on all sides by hostile powers. Yes, it was a day of small things.
“But who will despise this day of small things?” There can be no valid reason why the statement may not be maintained as a question. It is not unlikely that there were those in the community, unbelieving men, who were guilty of this very thing, and that the question, therefore, must be taken as a rebuke and as a call to repentance. For, surely, the day of small things—small from a human standpoint—must not be despised. For it will surely be followed by a day of big things. Jehovah has said it. But the trouble with these skeptics was that they had not the faith to live by His promises. So, looking at the day of these little things, they despised it in their hearts. The real trouble with these people was that they despised the day of big things. With the temple completed, Jehovah will again be dwelling in the midst of His people. Everywhere is distress, but when Jehovah has returned to His holy temple the whole land and every place in it shall be filled to overflowing with goodnesses all the fountains of which are in Him, Zech. 1:17). As towns without walls shall Jerusalem be inhabited for the multitude of men and cattle therein. And Jehovah will be to her a wall of fire round about, and will be to the glory in the midst of her (see Zech. 2:4, 5). Yes, there is a day of big things coming,—a day to be ushered in by the appearing of the church with Christ in glory, and a day in which God’s tabernacle will be with men forever. But it has no appeal for unbelieving. men. This explains their despising the day of small things, not really small, I repeat, but small in the eyes of unbelieving men.
Yet in a certain point of view this day, this present dispensation of the world is a day of small things truly—small, insignificant, apparently without promise, seemingly doomed to come to naught. There came forth a shoot out of the stump of Jesse. That shoot was Christ. Men cut Him away. He died on a crucifix. That apparently was His finish. But in reality it was His victory, the beginning for Him and His people of a day of big things. Set for an ensign of the people the Gentiles now seek after Him. And His rest is glorious (Isa. 2:10). The mustard seed is indeed the least of all seeds. So the kingdom of heaven in this day of small things. It is the least of all kingdoms. But, there is a big day in store for it. For, like the mustard seed, when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge among its branches (Matt. 13:31). The church in the world is only a little flock, despised and persecuted like her Savior in His state of humiliation. But a day of big things is in store for her. She shall be given the kingdom. The holiest of men have in this life but a small beginning of true obedience. But the day is coming when the righteousness of Zion shall go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth (Isa. 62:1). Yet considering of what big things these small things are in the beginning, this day of small things is at once a day of big things.
The succeeding clause is a promise that the day of big things shall surely come and that therefore the man that despiseth the day of small things can have no dawn, unless he repents and changes his attitude.For they shall rejoice and see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel even those seven; these are the eyes of Jehovah, which run to and fro through the earth. The thought may be clarified by a free rendering: “For these seven eyes of Jehovah, which run to and fro through the whole earth, shall rejoice when they see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel. Those seven—The reference is to the seven eyes of the stone (see Zech. 3:9). These—Also this demonstrative looks back to the eyes of the stone. The thought conveyed then is that the eyes of the stone are the eyes of Jehovah, that is, they symbolize His eyes. But they are at once the eyes of Christ, seeing that, as was explained, the stone symbolizes Him. So, the seven eyes are ascribed both to Christ and to Jehovah. Also in Rev. 5:6 these eyes are spoken of as belonging to the Lamb, that is to Christ and to God. For the verse in Revelation goes on to explain that the eyes are the seven Spirits of God sent forth in all the earth. The seven Spirits are the one Spirit that Christ merited for His people. This then is the correct paraphrase of the truth set forth: The triune Jehovah through Christ in His Spirit, closely observing, as He does, all that takes place on this earth, and implying that He works all things according to the counsel of His will, rejoices at seeing the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, that is in the hand of Christ, whom Zerubbabel typified.Plummet—Literally stone of tin. Indicated is a weight of tin, attached to a line and used by builders to denote a vertical direction. The plummet in the hand is commonly taken as indicating the work in which Zerubbabel was engaged, namely in that of building the temple. But a better view is that what it: indicated is not his being addressed to the task of building the temple but of measuring the temple as built (see Zech. 2:2). In the final instance the message then is this: Jehovah shall behold what He has accomplished—through Christ in His Spirit He has gathered His church—and He shall be refreshed. Implied is the thought that the church shall surely be gathered, that thus the day of big things shall certainly dawn for God’s redeemed people, and that therefore the day of small things must not be despised.
11-14. The prophet’s request for an explanation of the two olive trees.
11. Answered—see 1. 10. What are these two olive trees?—Said to be standing upon the right and the left of the candlestick. In verse 3 they are located beside the bowl because it serves for receiving and containing the oil.
12. Without waiting for a reply to his first question he addresses a second one to his companion. But looking away from the olive trees he now concentrates on the two branches. The reason is not stated. It is doubtful whether it was owing to the fact that they were the only branches bearing fruit; or that in some other respect they were different from the rest. A sufficiently plausible explanation is that it was through the two branches that the trees were connected with the candlestick and that, therefore, it need not be assumed that the prophet was distinguishing between the two branches and the trees. There is another translation of 12b: “What are the two olive branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that empty the golden oil out of themselves?” But this is not so good. The Hebrew as literally translated reads: “What are the two branches, which by the hand of the two golden spouts, are emptying from upon themselves the golden (oil)? What be the two olive branches? —The word translated “branches” is used elsewhere for ears of corn. The selection perhaps is owing to the shape of the branches. Which through the two golden spoutsï¿½The last word occurs only here in the Old Testament, and its, meaning is uncertain.Spouts (R.V.) is probably correct; pipes (A.V.) is not so good, a different word is used in verse 2. Doubtless it denotes the receptacle and channel which received the oil from the branches and transmitted it to the bowl; perhaps funnel-like cups, one connected with each branch. Emptying the oil out of themselves—This is then the picture: The means of connection between branches and bowl were the spouts. By the latter the oil was received from the branches and transmitted to the bowl. The means of connection between the bowl and the seven lamps were the 49 golden pipes. By the latter the oil was received from the bowl and transmitted to the lamps.
13. And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these beï¿½This verse is identical to verse 5 (see there).
14. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones—Literally, the two sons of the oil. The last word has the article in Hebrew, indicating that it denotes the well-known oil, namely the oil used in officially anointing. The answer of the interpreting angel may be regarded as applying to the two trees as well.
The symbols of this vision set forth the same truths as those of the discourse of Christ in which He declares himself to be the true vine and His people the branches and His Father the husbandman. Corresponding to the vine are the two branches (including the trees) of our prophet’s vision. The pipes and the lamps answer to the branches of the vine, and the light of the candlesticks to the fruit that the branches bear. If Christ is the vine, then also in the final instance He is the olive trees and the branches of the vision, that is the channel of grace. And if His people are the branches of the vine, then also they are the golden pipes of the vision including the lamps. Should the branches become separated from the vine, they could do nothing. They could bear no fruit. They would wither and die. So, too, the pipes and the lamps in the vision. Should they become separated from the olive trees, they would go out. So, too, the church, should she become separated from Christ. For the seat and channel of the life of the church is not the church, is not the branches, is not the golden pipes and the lamps but Christ. But the fountain of her life is Christ’s Father, the triune Jehovah. The fullness of the Godhead that dwells in Christ is the Father’s. The Father fills Him in order that He may urge the Father’s life in Him into His branches. “Abide in me,” says Christ, therefore, to His people. “For without me, you can do nothing,” and in the words of our prophet, “Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” That stand by Jehovah of all the whole earth. That is where Christ stands everlastingly as Mediator of God and man—He stands before His Father, the Jehovah of the whole earth.
But there is finally this question, namely whether in the first instance the two branches symbolize Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the prince. This is the prevalent view among the commentators. It all depends on whether it can be said that each in his official capacity was in a sense serving as a channel of the Spirit, that is of grace. Perhaps in a sense they did, seeing that each typified Christ in his own way and seeing that Jehovah through them as His organs instructed, blessed and ruled His people.