The temple represents Jesus Christ’s everlasting Kingdom on earth.
verse by verse through Zechariah chapter 4
By Craig C. White
Zechariah chapter 4 is filled with symbolism. It describes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The rebuilding of the temple began in 535 BC, and was completed nineteen years later in 516 BC. The Jews rebuilt the temple under the direction of the Persian Empire. While the Persian King Cyrus commanded the temple to be rebuilt, many stood in opposition. God told Zechariah the prophet that the temple symbolized Jesus Christ’s everlasting kingdom on earth.
Two people were in charge of managing the rebuilding of the temple; Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest. Ezra the scribe wrote a history of its building.
Zerubbabel laid the stones of the foundation. He also finished the temple some years later by placing the head-stone. The head-stone or corner-stone was the last stone that was placed on the very top of the temple. It was somewhat decorated and was the crowning completion of the temple.
The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem was a big deal. The temple was the conduit of Israel’s right relationship with their God. In Ezra 3 below the Jewish people praised God and were moved when the foundation was laid.
Ezr 3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Ezr 3:10-13 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: 13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
God told the prophet Zechariah about the significance of the rebuilding of the temple. God explained that the temple represented God’s everlasting kingdom on earth.
In the verses below the “BRANCH” refers to a descendant of King David who will sit on the throne in Jerusalem forever (Jer 23:5, Isa 11:1). In other words the “BRANCH” refers to Jesus Christ. The stone that God laid before Joshua in verse 9 is the actual head-stone of the rebuilt temple. As we will see, the head-stone also represents Jesus.
Zechariah 3:8-10 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. 9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
God is saying that he will bring forth Jesus Christ. God will bring forth Jesus on two occasions. First Jesus will come to earth and be killed for the payment of man’s sin; a human life for human sin. That is God’s life as the payment for all sin of every person for all time. Jesus’ death can be seen as the foundation of the temple, and also as the foundation of God’s everlasting kingdom on earth. The second time that Jesus comes to earth, God will place Jesus on his everlasting throne in Jerusalem to rule the world forever. The placement of the temple’s head-stone symbolizes the coronation of Jesus in Jerusalem at his second coming. This is the completion of the temple as well as the completion of God’s kingdom. At Christ’s second coming, Israel will live in peace.
The seven eyes on the head-stone (Zechariah 3:9), and the seven lamps Zechariah 4:2 & 20) are seven special angels of God who travel about the earth doing God’s work (Zechariah 4:10). I think that they are the same seven angels who are mentioned throughout Revelation as the angels of the churches. These angels represent God’s heavenly throne and authority.
Rev 4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Zechariah 4:1-2 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
OK now it’s time to explain some symbolism. The temple represents Jesus Christ’s everlasting Kingdom on earth. The laying of the temple head-stone is symbolic of God’s authority. That is to say that by the Spirit, will, and power of God his earthly kingdom will be founded and then established; not by the might of men. The candlestick of Gold is Jesus Christ the Messiah. He supplies the olive oil which represents the Holy Spirit of God.
Zechariah 4:3-5 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
We will discover that the two olive trees and two branches represent two men who are employed by God in the preparation of his temple and again later in establishing his everlasting kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem.
These two olive branches are God’s two servants on earth. Zerubbabel was the head of the tribe of Judah which represents Israel’s royal line of King David, and Joshua the high priest was from the tribe of Levi. The building of this temple is a foretelling of the establishment of Jesus Christ’s everlasting kingdom on earth. Just as Zerubbabel and Joshua were employed by God in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, two other servants will fulfill these roles when Jesus returns and finally takes his place on his throne in Jerusalem. Revelation 11 explains.
Rev 11:3-4 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
We know that one of these witnesses will be the prophet Elijah. Elijah never died, but was taken up into heaven by God (2Kings 2:11). Elijah will return to earth to prepare the way before Jesus Christ at his second coming.
Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
The prophet Elijah is one of the witnesses. Most people suppose that the other witness may be Moses. Revelation 11:16 below describes several miracles that these two witness will perform.
Rev 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
Most people think that Moses will be the second witness because he performed several of these miracles when the Jews were exiting Egypt. Moses and Elijah also appeared together during the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mat 17:1-4).
Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
Mountains in Bible prophecy represent world empires. In verse 7 above the great mountain represents two world empires. First it represents the Persian Empire that stood against the rebuilding of the temple in Zerubbabel’s day. Second, the great mountain represents the final gentile world empire that will be in place at Jesus’ second coming. In both cases God is showing his higher authority over world powers. In both cases God will establish his earthly kingdom! The great mountain, or empire of men will become a plain. In other words, the Empires of men will be leveled flat!
In Zechariah 4:7 God is declaring that his temple and his earthly kingdom will be completed! Zerubbabel will finish the building by placing the head-stone on the pinnacle of the temple. At the end of verse 7 God declares that there will be praise at the placing of the head-stone. The Jews will shout Grace, grace unto it. The placing of the head-stone represents the coronation of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem at his second coming.
The Jews had some support for rebuilding the temple from the Persian Empire. Cyrus the king of the Persian Empire decreed that the Jews should rebuild the temple.
Ezra 1:2-4 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem was a long hard process. The Jews had an order from Cyrus to rebuild the temple but they also had a lot of resistance.
Ezra 4:1-5 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; 2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. 3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Zechariah 4:8-10a Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things?
Small things are the same as humble beginnings. The temple ground lay bare. Things looked bad for the Jews and for their God. Even though things looked bad, God declared that the temple would be finished by Zerubbabel.
Remember that the foundation of God’s everlasting kingdom on earth is the crucifixion of Jesus. Things also looked bad on that day. But because Christ died and rose again, all people have hope for reconciliation with God and life everlasting! Do not despise the day of small things!
Zechariah 4:10b for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
The verse above describes Zerubbabel with a plummet in his hand. A plummet is a stone mason’s tool. Zerubbabel is seen rebuilding the temple. The seven eyes are carved into the head-stone. This verse describes God’s servant Zerrubbabel as he completes the building of the temple by placing the head-stone on its pinnacle!
Zechariah 4:11 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 two 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.
Remember that the two anointed ones are two men who assist in the building of the temple; namely Joshua the high priest and Zerrubbabel the governor. They are also two witnesses who usher in Jesus Christ’s everlasting earthly kingdom in Jerusalem at Jesus’ second coming (Rev 11:3-4). In verse 14 above the words “stand by” doesn’t mean that these two are standing in heaven, but that they are servants or employed by God on earth.
The laying of the temple foundation and Jesus’ crucifixion represent the beginning of God’s everlasting kingdom on earth. The placing of the head-stone and Jesus’ coronation represents the completion of God’s kingdom. Just as Zerubbabel began and finished the building of the temple in Jerusalem, God by his own power will begin and finish building his kingdom on earth. Jesus Christ will be King of kings and Lord of lords on earth!
Psa 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.