“And I said, ‘I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it . . . also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side’ . . . Then he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.’”— Zechariah 4:2,3,14In Zechariah chapter 4, Zechariah sees a lamp stand with two olives trees standing on either side of it—”standing by” the lamp to provide oil for its light. The imagery here is striking!
First, there is the lamp stand. Anyone familiar with sanctuary imagery recognizes at once that this is an appropriate symbol for Christ, who is the light of the world (John 8:12), disseminating the light of truth about who God is and about His love, dispelling the darkness of lies that abound regarding God’s character.
But what are those two olive trees? Notice first that it’s through the trees, through the fruit (olives) they bear, that oil is provided for light. This is a fitting image to represent what God wants from each of us. He desires that we would give Him our life, so that He can provide “fruits” (Galatians 5:22), so that through those fruits He can shine forth the light of His love to this darkened world. Jesus taught this ever so clearly.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works [the fruit of God’s love being awakened in each of us], and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Yet in the context of the book of Zechariah there is more. The sanctuary had been cast down, God’s people oppressed, and truth trampled in the dust. Yet there were two men, two olive trees, that responded to God’s call to return to Jerusalem, restore the sanctuary, and lift up the truth of God’s kingdom of grace and love once again. Who were they? Joshua and Zerubbabel.
I challenge you this week to go back into the Old Testament and read the stories of Joshua and Zerubbabel. Let the stories of these two great men inspire you. According to Daniel 7–12, we too are living in a time when God’s heavenly sanctuary has been cast down, God’s faithful oppressed, and the truth of His character of love cast down to the ground. But this is not where the story in Daniel ends.
“And he said unto me, Until two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings: then shall the sanctuary be vindicated.”—Daniel 8:14
God is calling you, dear reader, to be an olive tree for Him! To rise up from your everyday routine. To let Him produce in you the fruits through which the light of His love is shed abroad. We are being called from our day-in, day-out monotony, to live for something greater than ourselves! To be part of something greater than ourselves! God is desiring that through our encounters with His love in a deeply relevant way, the fruits of that encounter can be produced in our lives, so that through those fruits, He might shine forth both to our world here and to the entire Universe the truth of who He really is.
The call of the ages is sounding. Will you choose to be “an anointed one who stands by the Lord” in this late hour of earth’s history? Will you be willing to spend and be spent for Him? I pray you will, for in no other pursuit will you ever find greater happiness, meaning, or fulfillment.