2. Temple-building: Conquest and Creation. (a) Conquest, A corollary of Construction: In the double oracle of Zechariah 4:6-10,40 the two Sections (vv. 6b and 9) declare that the temple will be completed by the power of the Spirit, exercised through his messianic agent, “Zerubbabel.” This declaration is made in the face of difficulties whose presence is reflected in the challenging questions issued in the two B-sections (vv. 7a and l0a). It is evident that construction of the temple, promised again in the C-sections (vv. 7b and 10b), is going to involve conquest of the enemy.
“Who41 are you, O great mountain before Zerubbabel? (Before Zerubbabel you will become) a plain” (Zech. 4:7a). This is the kind of interrogative challenge the apostle Paul used to defy all that threatened God’s elect. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35). No hardship, nothing in all creation; we are more than conquerors through our God who is with us (Rom. 8:31-39). The apostle was echoing Psalm 118. “Yahweh is for me; what can man do to me?” (v. 6). Zechariah 4:6-10 and Psalm 118 share the primary theme of God as the strength of his people (cf. Psalm 118:14 and Zech. 4:6) and the distinctive motif of the stone in the messianic temple that signifies the overcoming of opposition (cf. Ps. 118:22 and Zech. 4:7b, l0b). Note also that in Psalm 118:13 the enemy whom the Lord cuts off is addressed in the second person singular (cf. Zech. 4:7a). These correspondences suggest that Psalm 118:6 is the inspiration for Zechariah 4:7a as well as for Romans 8:31.
The hostility (not merely rivalry) of the great mountain becomes more explicit if “before (lipney) Zerubbabel” is taken with what precedes. The mountain power is then pictured as putting the battle in array against Zerubbabel (cf. the use of lipney in 1 Chr. 14:8; 2 Chr. 14:9). If “before Zerubbabel” is taken with what follows, the mountain is depicted as being humbled in the presence of a superior Zerubbabel (cf. the use of lipney in Exod. 9:11; Deut. 1:42; Judg. 2:14; 20:32; 1 Sam 4:2). Our translation of verse 7a above reflects the possibility that this is a case of the poetic device in which a word written once applies in both directions, sometimes with different meanings.42
Interpretations of the great mountain include: the pile of ruins on Zion that had to be cleared away in the preparing of a foundation platform for the temple; the difficulties in general that beset the building enterprise; and the particular local adversaries of the project. But the context of the night visions favors the view that the great mountain symbolizes the hostile imperial power seen as a satanic counterfeit of Zion, the temple mountain of God and seat of his sovereignty (cf. Zech. 6:1).43 Especially relevant is the treatment of the horn-nations in Zechariah’s second vision: the titanic world power lifts up its head-horn on high against the living God of Zion but its idolatrous challenge is brought low by God’s expert agents of vengeance.44 In the fifth vision the leveling of the self-exalted imperial power is conveyed by the word “a plain.” Isaiah 40:4 speaks of mountains leveled into plains and Isaiah 41:15 encourages lowly Israel, warred against by enemies (vv. 11-14), that the Lord their Redeemer will make them his instrument to reduce these “mountains” to dust. In Zechariah 4:7, however the phrase “before Zerubbabel” is connected to the rest of the sentence, the picture is one of conflict between Zerubbabel and the great mountain, so that the leveling of the mountain to a plain marks an overcoming of the world-power before Zerubbabel, a casting down of Satan’s kingdom by the messianic king.
God’s challenge to the hostile world, “Who are you?” (v. 7), is issued at a time when the covenant community is outwardly weak. The world mountain towers over them. The restoration of the temple on Zion is just beginning (cf. Hag. 2:3). This is reflected in the parallel challenging question of verse 10a: “Who is despising the day of small things?” God’s challenge sets the stage for the announcement of a total reversal on both sides; not only will the high world mountain be brought low but lowly Zion will be exalted—Zerubbabel will complete the temple of heavenly glory (cf. Hag. 2:9). God will shake heaven and earth, overthrowing royal thrones and world kingdoms, while making Zerubbabel as his own signet ring (cf. Hag. 2:21-23).
Conquest of the world is the corollary of temple building. Holy war must clear the way for the holy work of building God’s house.
(b) Construction, A Copying of Creation: The theme of the construction of God’s kingdom-temple that follows on the victory against the world mountain is found in both the A-sections (Zech. 4:6 and 9) and C-sections (Zech. 4:7b and 10b). Together they declare that Zerubbabel begins and finishes the temple. Verse 9a provides a clear, comprehensive statement to this effect, and verses 7b and 10b supply graphic details of either the founding or completing of the building, depending on how one understands the two stones.
Some understand “the head (haroshah) stone “brought forth by Zerubbabel as the cornerstone (cf. “head of the corner” in Ps. 118:22). On the basis of customs elsewhere in the biblical world, others take it as a former stone, i.e., a stone derived from the previous temple on this site and deposited in the foundation of the new temple to assert the continuity of the two. Van der Woude interprets it as “the stone Beginning . . . the primeval stone from which the creation of the world commenced,” an allusion to the mythological idea of a primal hill that emerged from the chaos waters as the starting point and center of creation.45 On this view too verse 7b would refer to the foundation stage. But the laying of the foundations of the postexilic temple (which is the immediate, typological perspective here) had already taken place. Also, what we expect in verse 7b as the corollary of the leveling of the lofty world mountain (v. 7a) is the exaltation on high of the lowly house of God. The reference would then be to the completing of the temple and the stone would be the final topstone.46 An expectation that haroshah will have the meaning “top” here is prompted by the haroshah, “its top,”47 in verse 2, referring to the menorah. Further, the concluding words of verse 7b have been understood as a public acclamation such as might attend the completion of a project (cf. 2 Sam. 6:15), in the present case, the closing ceremonies dedicating the temple (cf. 2 Chr. 7:4-6). The exclamation, “Hen, hen,” would be appropriate to such an occasion whether interpreted as praise of the beauty of the edifice or petition for God’s continuing blessing on the temple (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:29, 43).48 On the other hand, Ezra 3:10, 11 records joyful shouting at the laying of the foundations of the postexilic temple.49
The occasion of the challenging question in verse 10a is a time of “small things,” characterized by disparaging comments of the gainsayers, a relatively early phase in the temple restoration project. The stone mentioned in verse 10b, the stone in the hands of Zerubbabel described as habbedil, will also belong to that earlier stage. Bedil means tin and the major ancient versions interpreted this stone as a plummet.50 A plumb stone could refer to any stage in the building process. Other identifications include: one of the sacred objects, including precious stones or metallic tablets, deposited in foundations; and a set aside or chosen stone (cf. the verb badal, “separate, divide”), whether the stone of verse 7b, understood as a stone taken from the ruins of the former temple, or as a special stone selected to be a keystone.51 With emendation to bedolah, “bdellium,” the stone could be a symbolic signet.
Zerubbabel’s temple building, like all temple construction, had as its archetype God’s original creation of the cosmic temple. As we have seen, the Genesis prologue exhibits in prototypal form the standard literary pattern of temple building texts.52 The Zechariah 4:6-10 account parallels the Genesis prologue in such fundamental features as the dual role of paradigm and power assigned to the Spirit in temple construction and the emphasis on the commencement and completion of the project. Of incidental interest here is the similarity of the record of Zerubbabel’s temple building in Zechariah 4:6-10 and the creation event as reflected in the Lord’s interrogation of Job (cf. Job 38 and 39). Each account contains these elements: challenging questions put to human wisdom and power (Job 38:2, 4, 5, passim); laying the foundation (Job 38:4) with mention of a particular stone (in Job 38:6, the cornerstone); reference to a line, measuring or plumb (Job 38:5); acclamation over the architectural achievement (Job 38:7).
Throughout its history temple construction is depicted as creation activity. A short survey of the matter will be presented in the following chronicle, which will also note the recurring correlation of conquest to temple building.
(c) Chronicle of Conquest and Construction: (i) Covenant of Creation: Although the creation of the cosmos as a house of God was the archetypal temple building, it differed from all postlapsarian temple building in that it was a purely constructive process with no prelude of conflict and conquest. The mythological versions of the creation tradition posit evil as present in procreation reality and characteristically make the creator-god’s vanquishing of rival forces of chaos a preliminary step in the creational ordering of the cosmos and the associated building of the hero-god’s palace. But Genesis 1, allowing no place for evil before creation, reveals the creation to have been an exercise of simple sovereignty, with no pre-existing rival powers to be overcome by the eternal God.53
However, there was also the temple building commission given to Adam, and under the terms of the Covenant of Creation there was a probationary conflict to be endured and an enemy to be overcome before the temple program could proceed. By this time satanic evil had arisen in the world and Adam’s immediate task was to confront and judge the challenge of that evil and so maintain the sanctity of Eden. Only then would the program go forward of filling the earth with the family of Adam and Eve, the living people-temple. Royal temple building was a covenantal grant proposed on the basis of a probationary obedience in warfare against the devil. Faithful service issuing in triumph in this holy war was prerequisite to construction of God’s holy house.
(ii) Ark Covenant: The ark was a symbolic replica of the cosmos-temple; Noah’s building of the ark-temple was a re-enactment of creation.54 This (re)creation aspect of the event is brought out by the literary form of the flood narrative, whose structure and style parallel the creation narrative in the Genesis prologue. Also, the physical phenomena of the episode recall in a remarkable, if limited, way the original creation history. There is a return to the situation of unbounded waters dealt with in “day two,” a re-emergence of the dry land, and a reappearance on the earth of the representatives of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and of man. Of special interest in view of the role of the Spirit (ruah) in temple building in Zechariah 4 is the role Genesis 8:1 assigns to ruah (echoing the ruah of Gen. 1:2) in the restructuring of the earth out of the deluge waters. These cosmological correspondences were recognized by Peter who boldly expounded the flood event as the creation of the heavens and earth that now are (2 Pet. 3:5-7).55
Antecedent to this creation of the present heavens and earth was the conquest of the opponents of God’s rule, the persecutors of his people who had dominated the old world.56 Noah had opposed the antichrist world in his prophetic witness, declaring its condemnation, and God, the ultimate temple builder, triumphed over the enemies in judgment, destroying them by drowning their world in watery chaos. The vanquishing of the satanic powers was thus a precursor of the arrival of the ark-temple, the holy kingdom-city, at its sabbath rest on the high mountain in the re-created heavens and earth.
(iii) Old Covenant: With Moses as his messianic agent, Yahweh triumphed over Egypt and its gods in acts of judgment, which Scripture figures as a divine slaying of the satanic dragon (Ps. 74:12ff.; Isa. 51:9f.; cf. Ezek. 29:3ff.; 32:2ff.). The Egyptian sea is also identified with the draconic powers whom the Lord defeats in redemptive judgment for the salvation of his people.57 At the same time, the mastery of the sea by the Glory-Spirit, consisting as it does in the dividing and bounding of the waters so that the dry land appears, is a reproduction of the creation process. A re-creation setting is thus evoked for the temple building that takes place under Moses, whether we are thinking of the forming of the nation as the holy house of Israel, God’s people-temple, or of the erection of the tabernacle. Agreeably, the tabernacle is designed to be a replica of the cosmic temple created in the beginning.58 Tabernacle construction is a copying of creation; however, being a redemptive (re-)creation event, building of the tabernacle was preceded by the conquest of pharaoh and his forces, the manifestation of Yahweh’s supreme sovereignty in anticipation of his enthronement in the exalted sanctuary to be prepared for him.
(iv) Davidic Covenant: At its typological level the Davidic Covenant proferred temple building prerogative and continuance of dynasty on the condition of the continuing faithfulness of God’s royal representatives.59 Indeed, God’s making of this covenant of grant was itself a benefit bestowed on David for faithful service he had already rendered, particularly in fighting the wars of the Lord (cf. 1 Kgs. 3:6). Significantly, the account of the revelation of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7) follows upon the record of his conquest of the enemies of the theocratic kingdom, his capturing of Zion, and his locating the ark of the covenant there (2 Samuel 5 and 6). David’s military service was the ground for God’s granting to his dynasty the privilege of building the temple. Thus, conquest was the prelude to temple construction.
The same pattern emerges when the matter is viewed from the perspective of the Lord as the divine warrior. The battle was the Lord’s; David was merely his agent. And in the building of the temple too the human king was only the agent of the Lord, whose house it was and who was its ultimate architect and builder. It was as the victorious divine warrior that God proceeded with the building of his temple as the seat of his enthronement as King of kings. Pointing to the pattern of divine conquest as prelude to divine temple construction is the statement in 2 Samuel 7:1 that it was Yahweh who had given David rest, making him victorious over all enemies round about. The Lord had initiated the conquest of his theocratic domain under Moses and Joshua (cf. 2 Sam. 7:5-7) and had now finished it through his servant David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:9-11), and it was this completing of the conquest that opened the way for his ordering the erection of his more permanent house of enthronement (cf. 2 Sam. 7:7, 13). Appropriately, the covenant oracle providing for the building of the Lord’s holy palace was cast in the genre of the victory hymn.60
(d) Conclusion: Under the typological figure of Zerubbabel’s temple building, Zechariah 4:6-10 prophesies of Christ’s temple building. Zerubbabel’s carrying forward the temple project from foundational commencement to dedicatory consummation is a redemptive repetition of God’s original creation of his cosmic temple. And the leveling of the imperial mountain before Zerubbabel as he engages in raising up the head of God’s house on Zion exemplifies the pattern, constant from the first to the second Adam, that finds the slaying of the dragon to be the precursor of the erection of God’s royal residence.
The New Testament depicts the work of Christ as a fulfillment of this typological paradigm, particularly so in the drama of the Apocalypse. It is Christ, the Son of Man who has decisively overcome the satanic dragon and has been established in supreme heavenly authority with cosmic dominion (cf. Rev. 1:12ff., 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 12:1ff.; 20:1-3), who then proceeds to fashion the seven menorah-churches, the true temple-city, by his authoritative, creative word through the power of the Spirit (cf. Revelation 2 and 3). At the climax of the Apocalypse, the consummating of this holy architectural enterprise in the manifestation of the new Jerusalem, the glorified temple-city, follows as the sequel to Christ’s “final judgment-conquest of the dragon and his hosts (Rev. 20:10; cf. v. 2), by which the son of David secured rest forever from all the enemies round about.”61
C. Messiah—Anointer with the Spirit: Mediator to the Menorah. 1. Mediator Symbolism: Zechariah had received the interpretation he requested for the two olive trees and, in particular, their product, the olive oil (Zech. 4:4). This symbolism represented the theophanic Spirit, the archetypal pattern for the menorah-church and the power for fulfilling the menorah mission (Zech. 4:1-10). The prophet’s interest then focused on the coupling of the trees with the menorah (vv. 11-14). Commentators who have mistakenly identified the menorah as a symbol for the Lord are understandably uncomfortable with the consequences of that for verse 12. For on their view verse 12 would depict deity (the menorah) as dependent on a flow of energy (the oil) from his servants (the trees). Some would resolve the problem by dismissing verse 12 as a later editorial addition. Of course, even without the explicit account in verse 12 of the flow of oil through the connecting apparatus, the thought would naturally present itself that the two flanking olive trees served as the source of oil for the menorah. Moreover, as we shall see, that thought is also conveyed by the identifying phrase “sons of oil” in verse 14.
“What are these two olive trees?” asks Zechariah (v. 11). Then, repeating his question, he adds the term shibboleth to the description of the trees (v. 12). In this passage shibboleth is usually translated “branches,”62 but elsewhere it regularly refers to an ear of grain, though it is apparently applicable to the harvestable inflorescence of other plants. A grammatical question also requires attention. In the phrase “the two shibboleth’s of the olive trees,” the genitive (the olive trees) is usually regarded as subjective. Thus construed, the shibboleth’s are a part of the trees; hence the customary translation “(end) branches” or “tufts.” The genitive should, however, be taken as explicative, the olive trees specifying the particular genus of shibboleth, i.e., an olive tree kind of shibboleth.63 In effect, the shibboleth’s are then a metaphor for the olive trees, likening them in their flowering of fruit, about to be harvested and processed, to a spike or inflorescence of grain.
A second noun shibboleth means “flowing (or deep) stream” (cf. Ps. 69:2, 15 [3, 16]) and the rest of the symbolic picture in Zechariah 4:12b suggests that the prophet’s question plays on this double meaning. In relation to the conduits that connect the trees to the menorah, shibboleth would signify the flowing stream of olive oil that issues from each tree. As they pour out their golden oil through the channels the olive trees become olive oil rivers. In the combination of the two meanings of shibboleth the images of the tree of life and the river of life merge (cf. Ezek. 47:1-12; Zech. 14:8; Rev. 22:1, 2; John 7:37-39).
A curious parallel to Zechariah’s treatment of shibboleth is found in Isaiah 27:12 (which may well have been his inspiration). There again shibboleth seems to refer to olive trees rather than grain.64 The Lord is pictured gathering his people like fruit “from the shibboleth,” that is, from the olive tree inflorescence. But the second meaning, from the flowing stream, is required by the following words describing the extent of the harvest: “(from the flowing stream) of the River (Euphrates) to the Wadi of Egypt.”
In Zechariah’s vision the process of pressing the fruit of the shibboleth trees to extract their oil for the menorah is not delineated; it is contained, hidden as it were, in the compression of the olive trees ripe for harvest and the streams of olive oil within the pun on shibboleth. More evident is the copious quantity of oil that results from the wondrous transformation of the trees into streams. The large volume of oil flow indicated by the term shibboleth (cf. Ps. 69:15 ) is also intimated by the term tsantaroth, which denotes the two golden shafts through which the oil is channeled to the menorah.65 Definitely, the picture is not that of two end tufts adjoining narrow pipes into which they trickle oil. The indications of a supply of oil in abundance support the interpretation of the two shibboleth’s (in their arboreal meaning) as the two olive trees in their harvestable fullness.
Responding to Zechariah’s inquiry about the two shibboleth-trees, the angel identifies them as “the two sons of oil who stand by the Lord of all the earth” (v. 14). Fittingly, “sons of oil” signifies a plentiful source of oil. “Sons of ” expresses here the idea of a source, as it does in Isaiah 5:1, where a fertile hill is called “a son of fatness (or oil).”66 Yitshar, the term for oil, denotes fresh olive oil, and it consistently connotes abundant harvest. The angel’s answer thus confirms the understanding of the symbolism of the shibboleth trees as the (mediatorial) source—an inexhaustibly rich source—of the oil.
But what historical persons are meant? Who are the two sons of oil?67
Since the shibboleth-trees are the source of the oil, not the recipient, their identification as “sons of oil” does not signify that they were anointed ones. In fact, not yitshar but shemen would be used for anointing oil. The misunderstanding of the sons of oil as anointed ones has led to the common interpretation of the two as the royal and priestly offices, represented in Zechariah’s day by Zerubbabel and Joshua. But if the trees are the (mediatorial) source of the oil that streams to the menorah, if the sons of oil are not the anointed but the anointers, we must think of prophets, not kings or priests. “The prophets, outstandingly the paradigm prophet Moses, were God’s chief agents for anointing.”68 Moreover, in Revelation 11:4 it is the two prophetic witnesses that are explicitly said to be the two olive trees. Further, the description of the sons of oil as “standing by the Lord of all he earth,” that is, as his servants, comports with the familiar designation of the prophets as God’s servants (cf. Amos 3:7; Jer. 7:25; 25:4; Rev. 10:7; 11:18). This description also points to prophetic identification in that it denotes the status of those admitted into the divine council (cf. its use for angelic members of the council in Zech. 3:7), a special privilege of prophets.
Why there are two prophet-trees is a matter of the total design of the vision, which mirrors the symbolic setting of the Glory-Presence in the holy of holies with its dual-cherubim pattern (of which, more presently). We need not seek particular candidates, therefore, like Haggai and Zechariah, or Moses and Elijah (although their careers do supply the details of the picture of the career of the two prophet-witnesses in Rev. 11:3ff.).
Though the symbolic representation of the divine Presence is to be found not in the menorah but in the olive trees,69 Zechariah 4:12 shows that these two trees as such represent the prophet-mediators of the Spirit and, therefore, it is more precisely the oil of these olive trees which is mediated through them to the menorah that symbolizes the Spirit-Presence. The Mosaic prophets were part of the menorah community70 and yet in their office were distanced from the covenant people and became the representatives of God, the mediators of his word and the mediators of his Spirit-Presence to the community. Hence they appear in Zechariah’s vision, in the form of the two shibboleth-trees, as the insignia of deity, in a manner analogous to the two cherubim figures that stand by the enthroned Glory in the holy of holies. Cherubim and prophets, members alike of the retinue of the King of Glory, bespeak his Presence. It is in keeping with this that the dual, overarching pattern of the theophanic cherubim is reproduced in the Zechariah 4 vision of the two prophets of the Spirit-Presence.71 Here is the justification for speaking of the two olive trees as a symbolic depiction of the theophanic Glory.
It is evident that the Old Testament prophets could only in a typological manner be the source or mediators of the Spirit. “‘The two sons of oil’ in Zechariah 4 may be identified with the Old Testament prophets only in the limited sense that they were prototypal of the Lord Christ, the archetypal-antitypical prophet, who in the fullest measure possessed the Spirit, who was one with the Spirit, who was in truth the mediatorial source of the Spirit for his lampstand-church.”72 And once it is recognized that ultimately the two shibboleth-trees are Christ, they may be identified without qualification as representing the divine Presence. The trees and their oil—Christ and the Spirit.
2. Messianic Mediator: Christ’s mediating of the Spirit-oil to the menorah-church, typified at the close of the fifth vision, sets in motion the working of the Spirit symbolized in the first part of the vision—the Spirit’s functioning as creator-paradigm who fashions the menorah-church in his Glory-likeness and as the divine power by which the church performs its menorah mission. With these prophetic themes, Zechariah’s vision directs us to the Great Commission and Pentecost. The church’s world witness is undertaken in obedience to the charge of Christ, who summons it to imitate him, the model light of the world. In the great Commission he calls his disciples to be colaborers with him in building the menorah, in fathering the church in his image, the perfect image of the Spirit. Then by pouring out the charism of Pentecost, the messianic mediator implements his covenantal commissioning of his church.
(a) Christ and the Covenantal Commission: What we commonly refer to as the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) is of larger significance than “commission” would suggest. It is more broadly a covenantal pronouncement. It performs a critical role in the inauguration of the new covenant, a role similar to that of the revelation on the two tables of the covenant in the establishing of the old covenant.73 In both cases the setting is that of covenant ratification.
At Sinai there was a declaration of the terms of the treaty (eventually written on the two tables) before the ratificatory act (Exodus 20-23; 24:3). This provided the Israelites with the knowledge necessary for them to take the oath of acceptance, which, with the accompanying altar ritual, ratified the old covenant (Exod. 24:3-8). A communion meal celebrated by Israel’s representatives in the presence of the Lord on the mount of Glory sealed the establishment of the covenant relation (Exod. 24:9-11). And the divinely inscribed treaty tablets, deposited at the footstool of God’s throne in the tent of Glory (Exod. 34:27-29; 40:20) constituted a permanent documentary witness to the covenant as in effect.
Jesus’ covenantal declaration on the occasion of his ascension was also in the context of covenant ratification, not however as preparatory to but consequent to the ratificatory act. Ratification occurred at the Lord’s shedding the blood of the new covenant on the cross. Jesus’ pronouncement recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 served to confirm the already accomplished fact of ratification. It was the promulgation of the new covenant, a summary formulation of its terms and a declaration that this new constitutional order was now in operation. In addition, the new covenant like the old is sacramentally sealed in a communion meal and its status as ratified and in force is attested in divinely inspired documentation, the four Gospels deposited in the canon of new covenant Scripture.74
Analysis of Matthew 28:18-20 indicates that it exhibits the essential structure of the old covenant documents deposited in the holy of holies—the two tables of the covenant and the “book” of Deuteronomy. Like them it contains: (1) the claims of the covenant Suzerain, establishing his sovereign status in the arrangement by assertions of who he is and what he has done for his people in the past; (2) his commands, stipulating the duty of his servants; and (3) threats and/or promises, which can function as constraints on the loyalty of the covenant servants or as commitments on the Lord’s part.75 We will trace in more detail these basic treaty elements in Matthew 28:18-20, and in the process will also observe points of contact with the contents of Zechariah 4.
Jesus began with his coronation claims, declaring himself invested with cosmic authority (Matt. 28:18b). It had come to pass according to the Scriptures. In the Psalms God disclosed the eternal covenantal grant to the Son: coronation as theocratic king on holy Zion and entitlement as inheritor and judge of the nations to the uttermost part of the earth (Ps. 2:6-9). He would be enthroned at God’s right hand, ruling in might in the midst of his enemies, judging among the nations, adoringly served by his priestly people (cf. Ps. 110). In prophetic vision the Son of Man was revealed as annihilator of the satanic beast, granted by the Ancient of Days universal glory and power, everlasting dominion, an imperishable kingdom, the worshipful submission of all peoples, nations, and tongues (Dan. 7:9-14). Similarly, Zechariah highlighted the universal sovereignty of the coming messianic mediator of the Spirit and author of the menorah mandate. The prophet portrayed him stationed by “the Lord of the whole earth,” whose seven eyes “run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zech. 4:10, 14).
At the promulgation of the new covenant, close upon his covenant-ratifying death, Jesus announced to his disciples that these Scriptures were that day fulfilled in their ears; the Father had given him all authority in heaven and earth.
The New Testament resounds with praise of the Son who has received universal dominion as the reward of his faithfulness in the covenant made with the Father in eternity. Fulfilling the messianic obligations stipulated in that covenant of works, he had been made in human likeness and had been obedient unto death on a cross. Therefore the Father had now bestowed on him the promised and merited reward, enthronement at the Father’s right hand, the dignity of lordship in administering the new covenant, the name above every name at which every knee in all the universe must bow (Phil. 2:6-11). In similar vein Jesus is extolled in Hebrews 2 as the one who, made a little lower than the angels, had suffered death and because of that was now crowned with glory and honor, all things put in subjection under his feet. To him, the covenant fulfilling second Adam, thus belongs the eschatological glory originally proferred the first Adam in his covenant of works in Eden (vv. 6-10).
The risen Savior stood before his disciples as the victor, the slayer of the dragon, the conqueror of Satan and his power of death (cf. Rev. 12:5-11). He was the living one. He was dead—behold his hands and side—but was now alive forevermore, possessor of the keys of death and Hades (cf. Rev. 1:17, 18). He was the Son of Man exalted to the pinnacle of heaven with authority over all creation (Matt. 28:18b). This self-identification of Christ the Lord in the hour of his ascension, confronting his disciples with who he was and what he had done for them, constituted his claim on their covenantal confidence and commitment.
Proceeding from his holy claims to his sovereign charge, Jesus issued the new covenant commission (Matt. 28:19, 20a). Formally, this corresponds to the commandments section of the Mosaic covenants, but functionally it differs as the gospel of grace and truth that came by Jesus differs from the law given through Moses (John 1:17). Israel’s obedience to the stipulations of the works arrangement mediated by Moses would be accepted as the legal ground of their continued possession of the typological kingdom. But Jesus does not summon the church to earn the eternal kingdom by obedience to the demands of the new covenant. Rather, it is as the one who, by the active and passive obedience of his life and death, has already merited salvation and the glory of the kingdom for his church that Jesus addresses to his disciples the great commission.
Nor is it only in this functional respect that the stipulations of the old and new covenants differ from each other. The central corporate commissions of these two covenants belong to two vastly different eschatological times. The mission of Moses introduced an age of (typological) final judgment and agreeably his covenant commission to Israel was: Go ye and destroy the Canaanites. With the inauguration of the antitypical kingdom at our Lord’s first advent an age of salvation was introduced, and with a view to that Jesus’ great commission to the church was: Go ye and disciple the nations.76
Jesus’ great commission is a menorah mandate, a charge to the church to shed abroad the light of its gospel witness. Followers of the Light of the world are to be lighting individual menorah flames and multiplying lampstand churches all over the earth. In so doing these replicas of “the (model) faithful witness” are fathering a growing family of witness-children in the Lord’s image—the redemptive fulfillment in the Spirit of the original assignment to mankind to multiply and fill the earth with God’s people-temple.
Jesus spells out the discipling task in terms of baptizing into the triune name and teaching his lordly commands. The aim is to extend throughout the globe the scepter-claims of the King of grace and so elicit everywhere a confession of Jesus as Lord, the confession that is made unto salvation (cf. Rom. 10:9, 10).
The great commission calls the church to a construction project, a building of the holy temple of God. Risen from the dead, slayer of the dragon and so validated as true King of kings, Jesus fulfills the ancient typological pattern by advancing from victory in the battle ordeal against the enemy of God to the erection of the house which (in his case) is at once the throne site of his sovereignty and God’s holy dwelling place. He is himself the Masterbuilder, but he commissions his people to enter into this work of redemptive re-creation with him, promising them that afterwards they shall also sit down with him on his throne (Rev. 3:21). As in previous temple-building episodes in Scripture,77 this divine commission to construct God’s temple is covenantal. The menorah-temple mandate of Jesus is issued in the context of his promulgating the new covenant and occupies within it the place of covenantal stipulation.
Our Lord’s closing promise to be with his people to the conclusion of this world-age (Matt. 28:20) corresponds to the section of sanctions, the third major component in the formulary for old covenant documents. Threats of curse and promises of blessing addressed by Moses to the Israelites were calculated to constrain the obedience by which continuation of God’s favor would be secured and his dire judgments averted. While from Israel’s perspective the sanctions were constraints to covenant loyalty, viewed from the Lord’s perspective these sanctions were his commitments to enforce the terms of the covenant. They were divine guarantees that he would punish rebellion to the third and fourth generation and that he would infallibly confer his promised blessings on covenant-keepers to the thousandth generation. Akin to that kind of guarantee of blessing was Jesus’ climactic promise to be with his church always. It envisaged the church, however, not as under probation and having to earn the perpetuation of God’s blessings but as the persevering people for whose salvation Jesus was the surety and whom he was sending forth into the world as the Father had sent him into the world (John 17:18). Matthew 28:20 is Jesus’ commitment to that apostolic community of witnesses, the commitment of a constant presence, which assures the success of their menorah mission.
By the promise, “Lo, I am with you,” our Lord identified himself as one with the I Am who so identified himself to Moses (Exod. 3:14), promising, “surely I will be with you” (Exod. 3:12) and “with your mouth” (Exod 4:15b). The settings of the two promises are similar: the commissioning of Moses to witness to the name of Yahweh before the hostile world power and the sending forth of the church to witness to the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before a world that hated them because Christ, whom the world hated, had chosen them out of the world (John 15:18-21). In each case the commissioned party is assured of all sufficient enablement for an otherwise impossible task, the assurance of the divine Presence with them and with the witness of their mouths.
Jesus’ promised presence would be in and through the Paraclete-Spirit whom he promised to send, the Spirit of truth sent forth from the Father to witness to the Son (John 15:26), teaching the witnessing church all things and guiding it into all truth (John 14:26; 16:7-14; cf. Exod. 4:15c). Our Lord’s covenantal commitment thus identifies him as the realization of Zechariah’s vision: as the source of the oil channeled to the menorah in a perpetual supply “unto the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20b); as the Prophet-Mediator of the Spirit, the seven eyes of the Lord whose sovereign superintendence encompasses “all the earth” (Zech. 4:10b, c), matching the scope of the menorah mission to “all the nations” (Matt. 28:19a), the Spirit-might by which the hostile world mountain is leveled and the exaltation of the house of God accomplished (Zech. 4:6ff.).
(b) Christ and the Covenanted Charism: At Pentecost, Jesus the true son of oil poured out the fire-fuel of the Spirit from his heavenly throne and flaming tongues lighted upon the heads of the assembly of commissioned witnesses (Acts 2:2). The Zechariah 4 vision of the menorah with a jubilee of flames had come to life. Here was a reproduction of the symbolic picture in historical reality. The actual menorah lamp was lit. Jesus had inaugurated the church’s menorah-mission of world-wide witness, testifying to the new covenant in his blood, showing forth his death until he comes.
The fiery Spirit with which Jesus baptized the church at Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:5) represented the enabling presence of Jesus promised in his covenantal commissioning of the disciples (Matt. 28:20b; John 14:16-20). In epiphanic form this divine presence was similar to that seen by Moses at his commissioning. But while the flaming Glory burning in the unconsumed bush was a token of the redemptive grace of I Am, the tongues of flame on the apostolic assembly spoke of the Spirit’s might available for menorah mission.
By virtue of this presence of the Lord in the Spirit, the church would be empowered to carry out its world-witness commission. For this promise of the Father the disciples must wait. Before they were to go, before they proceeded from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, the Spirit must come (Acts 1:4). For the Spirit was the Witness who would convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). By the presence of the Spirit with their tongues the witnesses of Jesus would be able to stand before rulers and authorities and confess the Son of Man (cf. Luke 12:11, 12). The inauguration day of the menorah mission already demonstrated the effectiveness of the apostolic witness through the power of the Spirit in convicting an international array of sinners of their desperate plight (Acts 2:37ff.; cf. 1 Cor. 2:4; 2 Cor. 3:1-6; 4:7). And the fruits of this Pentecost day were an earnest of the world-wide harvest that would follow.
For the Pentecost charism the disciples must wait because the menorah mission was one of reproducing the glory of the Light of the world, of fathering children of light. And only the Spirit can accomplish this regeneration, this birth from above, this re-creation in the Glory likeness.
Moses’ shining face, while a typical foretaste of this transformation, was the flower on a stem that was to be cut off. It was the glory of a covenant that was to be invalidated (2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 13)78 because it was not of faith but works (cf. Gal. 3:12), a covenant of the letter, written on tables of stone, that could not fulfill the promise of righteousness but was rather a ministration of condemnation and death (2 Cor. 3:6, 7).
The new covenant, however, is not of works but of grace, a ministration of the Spirit writing on the heart, a ministration of righteousness and life (2 Cor. 3:6, 8, 9). Unlike the old covenant, the new is not terminated in abrogation but endures unto consummation (2 Cor. 3:11). Its glory is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6), the model menorah, and that glory shines on our hearts, transcribed there by the Spirit, and transfigures us into the same glory-image (2 Cor. 3:18). By the Spirit he sends on Pentecost, Christ replicates his likeness in us, so lighting the menorah of myriad lamps unto the glory of God.
Typologically, the episode in the Sinai history (Exodus 19ff.) that affords the best parallel to the Pentecost event is the twofold anointing of the tabernacle: the symbolic anointing with oil by Moses (Exod. 40:9-16) and the anointing with the Spirit-cloud as the Glory filled the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34). Linking this old covenant “Pentecost” and the new is the description in Daniel 9 of the mission of Messiah-Prince (vv. 25-27) in the prophecy of the seventy weeks. There, the final purpose of the appointed period of ten jubilees is the anointing of the holy of holies (v. 24).
For Moses to be mediator in the Glory-Spirit’s covering and filling the tabernacle was the seal of his mediatorial vocation. Similarly the Pentecost event in fulfillment of Jesus’ covenantal commitment to send the Spirit was the confirmation of his claim to be Lord of all, with cosmic authority (Matt. 28:18). For to be mediator of the promise of the Father demonstrated that he was enthroned with the Father in the heavens, head over all. Pentecost proclaimed that God had made him both Lord and Christ. It attested that, as prophesied in the psalm, the Father had declared to Jesus, “Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet” (Acts 2:34-36; cf. Zech. 4:9).
The two lampstand-witnesses carry out their menorah mission in the confidence that Jesus their Lord is Lord of lords and that he is present with them by his almighty Spirit (Rev. 11:4-6). It is he who ordains that they shall maintain their Gospel testimony to all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations throughout the present Great Commission age (Rev. 11:3). Though the beast that comes up out of the abyss at the behest of the dragon will then silence them (Rev. 11:7b-11), it will not be until they have completed their global historical task (Rev. 11:7a). And the Lord who has loosed Satan with his beast agent from the abyss will quickly quell this Har-Magedon challenge and exalt his own witnesses to glory (Rev. 11:11, 12). Age of testimony—hour of trial—eternal triumph. That is the eschatological course of the menorah-church, patterned after the mission of the Light of the world.
At Pentecost the hands of Zerubbabel-Messiah laid the foundation of the menorah-house of God—and his hands shall finish it (Zech. 4:9). Let the heavens ring: Glory in the highest.
*This is a continuation of an article begun in Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp. 3-15 with a second installment in Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp.3-22.
40 On this structure see Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), p. 8.
41 The mi here might be rendered as the indefinite, “whatever (you are).” So Adam van der Woude, “Zion as Primeval Stone in Zechariah 3 and 4” in Text and Context: Old Testament and Semitic Studies for F. C. Fenshaam (ea. W. Claassen; JSOT Supp. 48; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988), p. 240. (Hereafter, Primeval Stone.) Favoring the interrogative meaning is the parallel mi in Zechariah 4:10a.
42 See below the discussion of shibboleth in verse 12.
43 Cf. Jeremiah 51:25. The religious dimension of the political reality in view is suggested by the use of the Akkadian equivalent of “great mountain” as a title for various gods, including Enlil and his temple. See B. Halpern, “The Ritual Background of Zechariah’s Temple Song,” CBQ 40 (1978), p. 187.
44 See Kerux 7:1 (May 1992), pp. 23-33 for a discussion of this, showing the Babel-Daniel background of the motif of God’s judgment on the pseudocosmic mountain.
45 Primeval Stone, p. 241.
46 Cf. Kerux 7:1 (May 1992), p.32
47 The Hebrew has a mappiq in the final He.
48 Hen can mean either grace or beauty (cf. Prov.17:8).
49 Appealing to ancient versions van der Woude translates teshuoth as “splendor” rather than “shoutings” (Primeval Stone, pp. 240, 241).
50 Cf. Kerux 8:2 (September 1993), p.28.
51 Van der Woude (Primeval Stone, p. 243) renders it as the stone “Separation,” another name for the stone “Beginning” (v. 7b). Appealing to the use of badal in Genesis 1 for the separation of the waters, he sees in the stone “Separation” a reference to the rising of the cosmic mountain from the primal sea.
52 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 11,12. See also my The Structure of Biblical Authority, p. 86, where Proverbs 8:22ff. is adduced as a portrayal of the creation process as a building of the divine wisdom’s house.
53 For further discussion of this, see my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 17-20.
54 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 12, 13.
55 On these literary and cosmological parallels, see further my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 136-139.
56 Cf. Kingdom Prologue, pp. 132,133.
57 Cf. Kerux 5:2 (September 1990), pp. 14-17 and The Structure of Biblical Authority, pp. 79-82.
58 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 13, 14 and Images of the Spirit, pp. 35-42.
59 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 15, 16.
60 On this and the similarities of 2 Samuel 7 to Egyptian hymns of victory see The Structure of Biblical Authority, pp. 82-84. (Re-)creation aspects of the Solomonic temple building are noted in connection with the discussion of the tabernacle in Images of the Spirit, pp. 39-41.
61 The Structure of Biblical Authority, p. 86.
62 This rendering was used provisionally above; cf. Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), p. 3.
63 Cf. GKC, 128, 1.
64 Note that the harvesting is “one by one.”
65 Tsantaroth is taken as related to tsinnor, “water channel” (cf. 2 Sam. 5:18; Ps. 42:7 ), on which see T. Kleven, “Up the Waterspout,” BAR 20, 4 (1994), pp. 34, 35.
66 Shemen is used here for “oil”.
67 On the following see further Images of the Spirit, pp. 86ff.
68 Ibid., p. 87.
69 Cf Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp.4f.
70 Accordingly, in Revelation 11:4 the two prophets are also identified with the two lampstands.
71 Cf. Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp. 4, 7.
72 lmages of the Spirit, p. 88. In their servant status too as those “standing by the Lord,” the prophetic sons of oil typified the Messiah as Servant of the Lord (cf. Zech 3:8). In Revelation 11:4 the two witnesses identified as the two olive trees symbolize the witnessing church of the new covenant not as typological of Christ, like the Old Testament prophets, but as the body of Christ, which represents him, the head of the body, in his world witness and is thus identifiable with him.
73 “The ten commandments,” the common designation of the contents of the stone tablets, likewise does not bring out the full nature of these documents as entire treaties.
74 Cf. The Structure of Biblical Authority, pp. 172-203.
75 Cf. my Treaty of the Great King, pp. 13-22 and Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), p. 18.
76 Blind to this simple, fundamental difference, practitioners of consistent theonomist theory would apply the policy expressed in Israel’s commission to the present new covenant age, and thus, in effect, they advocate that the church, as soon as it is possible, should obliterate the mission field rather than harvest it.
77 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994), pp. 9-17.
78 In all these verses the verb katargeo refers to the old covenant. The passage does not, therefore, say anything about the glow on Moses’ face as such fading away or becoming somehow inoperative.
Westminster Theological Seminary in California