Revelation Chapter 11:4
Revelation 11:4 – These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
John tells us that the two witnesses are the “two olive trees and two lampstands” who stand before God. Zechariah describes these two olive trees:
This imagery is drawn from Zech. chapters 3 and 4 (see notes there). Zechariah’s vision had both a near fulfillment (the rebuilding of the temple by Joshua and Zerubbabel), and a far future fulfilment (the two witnesses, whose ministry points toward Israel’s final restoration in the Millennium).
“Two olive trees, and the two candlesticks”: Olive oil was commonly used in lamps; together the olive trees and lampstands symbolize the light of spiritual revival. The two witnesses’ preaching will spark a revival, just as Joshua’s and Zerubbabel’s did in Israel after the Babylonian captivity.
What a dynamic and compelling message from God these two amazing witnesses will bring to “all nations!” No one can write them off as crazies, for they display incredible supernatural powers and defy the Antichrist and his underlings to stop them. No doubt they will be seen daily on international television in every corner of the earth as they warn mankind of God’s coming judgment.
Verses 5-6: They will perform miracles similar to those performed by Moses (compare Exodus 7:14-20; 8:12), and Elijah (1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1:10-12; Luke 4:25; James 5:17). They are protected from harm for three and a half years. Their miraculous powers are apparently for the purpose of authenticating their divine message (as in the case of Jesus and His apostles). Their message will be twofold:
(1) Jesus is the Lamb of God (Savior); and
(2) Jesus is the King (Ruler).
The miracles show that the King is coming again to set up His kingdom, and therefore Israel must repent.
Zechariah 3:1-5 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
Zechariah 3:6 – Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among these who stand here. ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘Everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.'”
Zechariah 4:1-7 – Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.” So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, “What are these, my lord?” Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So he answered and 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 of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘”
Zechariah 4:8-14 – Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” Then I answered and said to him, “What are these two olive trees – at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?” Then he answered me and said, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”
The two olive trees were Joshua and Zerubbabel. Joshua was the high priest during the days of Zechariah the prophet. Zerubbabel was of the seed of David chosen by King Darius of Persia to rule over Judah as governor. In short, these two chapters in Zechariah look forward to the coming Messiah, or the “Branch,” who would be both a ruler of the seed of David and high priest. This prophecy found fulfillment in Jesus, but Zerubbabel and Joshua held those positions in their day, acting as types of the coming Messiah. Also, God anointed Zerubbabel and Joshua to lead the people in rebuilding the temple after the exile:
Haggai 1:1-2, 14 – In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built….”‘” So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God….
The anointing of Zerubbabel and Joshua speaks to the purpose of their mission. The word translated “anointed” literally means “oil.” So it makes sense that the two olive trees in Zechariah were also called the two anointed ones, since the oil typically used in Scripture comes from olives. The usage of the word shows that some who are “anointed” are chosen for a specific purpose. As a formality, oil was typically poured over the head of the anointed one. People anointed their kings with oil to symbolize that they chose the king to rule and reign over them:
2 Samuel 2:4 – Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, “The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul.”
2 Samuel 19:10 – “But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?”
2 Kings 23:30 – Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.
God sent His prophets to anoint kings of His choosing – even evil kings!
1 Samuel 9:16-17, 10:1 – “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.” So when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people….” Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?
1 Samuel 16:13-14 – Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.
1 Kings 1:34, 39 – There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon….’ Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!”
1 Kings 19:13-16 – So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel….
The high priest was also anointed by oil:
Leviticus 21:10-12 – He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; nor shall he go near any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or his mother; nor shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.
The prophet Elijah anointed another prophet to take his place:
1 Kings 19:16 – …And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
These passages show that anointing with oil was an outward ritual to show that a person was chosen for a specific purpose. Incidentally, those whom God anointed weren’t necessarily His servants. In fact, several of the kings were downright evil and not all the high priests in Israel’s history had a heart for God. Nevertheless, they all accomplished the purpose for which God chose them through the power of the Holy Spirit that came on them. In this context, it makes sense that God wanted those He chose anointed with oil, as oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture.
As an aside, today in the “dispensation of grace” the Holy Spirit doesn’t merely come on people like in the Old Testament, but indwells all believers with no physical oil involved:
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
1 John 2:20, 27 – But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things…. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
Jesus was also anointed by the Holy Spirit and not oil:
Acts 10:36-38 – The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all – that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah that Israel was looking for. Incidentally, the Hebrew word translated “messiah” is the same word translated as “anointed.” The only time we find this Hebrew word translated as “messiah” is in the passage below, otherwise, Jesus is always referred to as God’s anointed in the Old Testament:
Daniel 9:25-26 – “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.”
So we see that oil symbolized the Holy Spirit in the anointing ceremonies for those whom God chose for a purpose. Going back to Zerubbabel and Joshua, God not only called them His anointed, but described them as two olive trees. The two olive trees stand on either side of a lamp stand. As discussed in Revelation 5:8, the bowl is God the Father, the golden oil is the Holy Spirit, and the lamp stand is Christ:
Zechariah 4:11-14 – Then I answered and said to him, “What are these two olive trees – at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?” Then he answered me and said, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”
God calls His two witnesses olive trees like in Zechariah, but He also calls them lamp stands:
Revelation 11:4 – These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
Recall from Revelation 1:12, the Greek word translated “lampstands” can also be rendered candlesticks or lamps. A lamp stand bears light, but it is not the source of the light. As discussed in Revelation 1:4, the Holy Spirit is the source of the light for the lamps on the lamp stand. In other words, the works that we do through the Holy Spirit, given by God, shine as lights to the world:
Philippians 2:13-15 – For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Likewise, the two witnesses will bring a source of light to the world plunged in the darkness of the Tribulation:
Amos 5:18-20 – Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him! Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?
The world rejected Jesus when He came into the world because He was the light that exposed the world’s evil deeds:
John 3:16-21 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
The world will also reject the two witnesses whose plagues and testimony torment them because they reject the message of the Gospel. The world would rather stay in darkness and continue in rebellion, even in the midst of judgment:
Revelation 11:6-7, 10 – These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them…. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
Revelation 9:20-21 – But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Revelation 16:9 – And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
As discussed in Revelation 7:3, trees represent people throughout Scripture. Olive trees are the source of the oil that represents the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Zerubbabel and Joshua represented as trees show that they were full of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God said that the Holy Spirit would give them power to finish the temple:
Haggai 2:4-5 – Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’
Zechariah 4:6-9 – So he answered and 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 of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘ “Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.”
So the two witnesses are full of the Holy Spirit, being both olive trees and lamps whose source of oil is the Holy Spirit. Since Zerubbabel and Joshua filled the roll of the two olive trees in Zechariah, will they return as the two witnesses in the Tribulation? Perhaps, but the context of the olive trees is that the Holy Spirit empowers them to fulfill a specific purpose. God anointed Zerubbabel and Joshua to build the second temple, but this is not the two witnesses’ mission, as they arrive after the Tribulation temple is already standing:
Revelation 11:1-3 – Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
We saw in this section that the two olive trees are two men full of the Holy Spirit whom God chose for a specific purpose. While Zerubbabel and Joshua fill the role of the two olive trees chosen to build the temple, they also symbolize the coming Messiah, being both of the royal bloodline and high priest. The two witnesses are also olive trees, but they are also lamp stands that share the light of the Word, or “the law and the prophets,” with the world. Therefore, the two olive trees might represent more of a position held by different people at different times in history filled by people chosen by God for a specific purpose through the power of the Holy Spirit instead of two specific people. That said, Zerubbabel and Joshua cannot be ruled out returning as the two witnesses in the Tribulation. In fact, there are several good candidates that may fill this roll, including Moses and Elijah, as mentioned in the last section. To read a speculative discussion on who the two witnesses might be and why, click here.
image courtesy : Revelation 11-4 zechariah-vision-courtesy-jw-org
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.