<< THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS AND THE OLIVE-TREES. >>
And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 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: and two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? … What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof? . What are these two olive branches, which, through the two golden pipes, empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.-ZECHARIAH iv. 1-4, 11-14. –
THE text treats of the spiritual light which shall be in the New Church from the Lord, from the goodness of love, by means of heavenly truths.
Natural life and spiritual life are distinctly different experiences. While a man is engaged in the works and thoughts and phenomena of his corporeal life, he is as if asleep towards the distinctive experiences and phenomena of his spiritual life. The spiritual world is the inward world, the world of life and of causes, while the natural world is the outward world of effects and embodiments of spiritual principles. But, in our ordinary natural experiences we are not conscious of the activities even of our own spirit, within our own body. And so when the Lord suddenly opens the eyes of a man’s spirit, and allows him to see into the spiritual world, it is comparatively as if a man were suddenly awakened from sleep, to renew his consciousness amid the phenomena of his natural life.
And a similar awakening occurs in the mind, when we pass from merely sensuous forms of thought to spiritual phases of thought, and to rational perception of principles, whose comprehension is obscure to us in our natural-minded states. These things are meant by the prophet’s statement that the angel awoke him, as if from a sleep, when he was called, again, to see the symbolic representatives displayed in the spiritual world. And so in the Scriptures natural-mindedness is often referred to as a state of sleep; and when men are called to elevate their minds to spiritual truths, they are called to “awake.” “Awake, and sing, ye that dwell in dust.” (Isaiah xxvi. 19.) “Awake, awake; put all thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem.” (Isaiah lii. 1.)
THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICK.
The prophet saw a golden candlestick and two olive trees, etc. The candlestick was a lamp-stand, The Hebrew word used in the text, is a general term for a light, covering and including lamp, candle, torch, etc.; as, in our language, we speak of a “light,” whether it be by gas, or candle, or oil lamp, or electrical lamp, etc. For instance,. in II. Samuel xxii. 29, it is said, “Thou art my lamp, 0 Jehovah: and Jehovah will lighten my darkness.” And, in Psalm xviii. 22, we read” Thou wilt light my candle: Jehovah, my God, will enlighten my darkness.” And the same Hebrew word is translated ” lamp,” in one case, and ” candle” in the other case. In a natural figurative sense, the vision of the text refers to the work of Zerubbabel, in repairing and refurnishing
the temple. But, spiritually, it relates to the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and to His work in repairing the spiritual church, in the minds of men, by bringing down the life and the truths of heaven. In a specific sense the vision symbolizes the New-Jerusalem Church, in the heavens and on earth. This Church is in spiritual light from the Lord. And in a special sense this Church is the temple of the Lord, in which the Lord is known and worshipped in His Divine Humanity, which is the temple of Jehovah, in the highest sense. In Revelation i. 20, it is said, ” The seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” The candlestick was of gold. Gold corresponds to love to the Lord. And where love to the Lord exists in the church, those who constitute the church are in the perception and use of the highest light of truth, the truth of love, from the Lord, by means of His Word.
THE BOWL, PIPES, ETC.
The lamp-stand had one bowl, on the top, to contain oil, which was thence fed to the seven lamps, by means of seven pipes, one pipe from the bowl to each lamp. The bowl and the distributing-pipes represent the doctrines of the church, from the Divine Word; which doctrines, as vessels, hold the truth and the goodness of love, and serve as means for the practical use of these spiritual things. This bowl was on the top of the candlestick, or lamp-stand, to represent the source of the oil, or heavenly love, in the highest things of life, which come down from the Lord.
There were seven lamps, because seven represents that which is holy. And the seven lamps were the holy truths of the church, from the Lord, through His Word; for, in the supreme sense, the Lord is the holy One. It was revealed to Moses, “Thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold; of beaten work shall the candlestick be made ; . . . and thou shalt make seven lamps therein; and thou shalt light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.” (Exodus xxv, 31,37.)
In general, a lamp signifies a doctrine, from which shines the truth, as light. So it is said, in Psalm cxix. 105, “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path.” The seven lamps on the candlestick were figuratively called “the seven eyes of the Lord,” representing the Lord’s full and holy watchful providence over all things of human life. The church on earth, in the degree in which it has the Divine Truth “unperverted, is “the light of the world,” in a lower degree, because it proclaims the Lord, Himself, as “the Light of the World,” in the highest degree. And, in this sense, Jesus said to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.”
The olive-trees in the vision represented the Celestial Church, the Church principled in supreme love to the Lord, which includes a heavenly love for the fellowmen. The fruit of the olive-tree, the ripe golden olive, full of warm smooth oil, represents the practical love of the Lord, as seen in the love of men, as the Lord’s children.
There were two olive-trees, to represent, in one sense, celestial love, on the right side, and celestial intelligence, on the left side. For the right side refers to the things of the will, or heart, with its loves and affections; and the left side represents the things of the understanding, or intellect, with its thoughts. And thus, in one aspect,
the two olive-trees represented love and charity, or the celestial man’s love to the Lord, and his love to men. Representatively, these two qualities of love, and, personally, those persons in whom such qualities especially predominate, are represented by the picture of the redeemed, in I. Kings xxii. 19, “I saw Jehovah, sitting on His throne, and all the hosts of heaven standing by Him, on His right hand and on His left.”
KNOWEST THOU NOT?
When the prophet asked the angel for information about the things seen in his vision, the angel at first replied by asking the prophet, ” Knowest thou not what these be?” And this counter-questioning occurs twice, during the same vision. Naturally, it would seem that the angel would know that the prophet would not understand these things without instruction. But the angel’s questions were intended to define the prophet’s state of mind, and to draw out his thought, and to fix the matter more firmly in his mind. The prophet then represented the church among men. And the question of the angel ” Knowest thou not what these be?” carried an inference that the prophet should have known such things; i.e., that the church should be in a state of mind to understand the relations of spiritual and natural things, because these things are set forth in the Divine Word, which is with the church, and which would be understood if men were in regenerate and enlightened states.
A somewhat similar case is mentioned in Revelation vii. 13, when john was witnessing the representative phenomena of the spiritual world: one of the elders asked him, “Who are these, that are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?” John then did not understand what he saw, but he wished to inquire; and so he replied, “Sir, thou knowest.” And then” the angel instructed John. This questioning of the angel may well represent the great spiritual fact that our mental questioning, our asking for light and for goodness, although it seems to be our own action, is instigated by the Lord; and we act only as if of ourselves. The Lord’s love and wisdom flowing into us, in the degree of our openness, arouse in us the desire to inquire further, and the effort to understand the things of spiritual life. And yet our Lord permits to us the appearance that we feel and think from our own minds, in order that, as of ourselves, we may make the necessary efforts to acquire the higher character.
The angel instructed the prophet that the two olive branches were “the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” “Anointed ones” were such as were anointed with olive-oil. Because of the correspondence of olive-oil to the goodness of love to the Lord, such oil was used, in the representative church in Israel, according to Divine command, revealed to the church through the prophets. Many things were so anointed, including the tabernacle and many things in it; the altar and its vessels, in the temple; the priests and their garments; the prophets; the kings; the stones which were set up as witnesses; the arms of soldiers, as their shields, etc.; and, finally, individuals anointed themselves to express gladness and love. And, in all these cases, the anointing oil was used to represent the love, as given to men, by the Lord, to fit them for His service. And men who were anointed for the service of the Lord were said to have been ” born of oil;” i.e., filled with the spirit of love.
STANDING BY THE LORD.
These two anointed ones are said to “stand by the Lord.” The objective picture thus drawn is of a king, sitting on his throne, with two trusted servants beside him, one on each side, ready to do his immediate commands, But the spiritual picture is of the Lord, as the Divine King, enthroned in the mind of the regenerate man. And the two “anointed ones,” standing beside Him, are the principles of love to the Lord, on the right hand, and love to the neighbor, on the left hand. These are the servants of our Lord, in men’s minds, acknowledging the Lord as the Ruler, and doing His bidding, in all the particulars of daily life, as they arise, in practical experience. And happy is the mind in which the anointed ones thus stand ready to carry out all things of the Lord’s will.
And in our text God is called “the God of the whole earth.” The earth here represents the church, in the mind of men. And the Lord is God of the universal church, in all its branches. And so Jesus said “All power is given unto Me, in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew xxviii. 18.) And, in the highest sense, heaven and earth are the Divine and the Human, in the Lord, Jesus Christ. And, in the lower sense, heaven and earth are the spiritual mind and the natural mind, in men. And when both of these minds receive the Lord’s love and wisdom, they become regenerate, and of a heavenly quality. And the Lord is then enthroned within them. And beside Him stand the two olive-trees of heavenly love and wisdom. And then, in such a mind, the will of God is done on the earth of the natural life, as it is known and done in the heaven of the enlightened spiritual life. Every day of our life our Lord is seeking to teach us His holy truths; and to lead us into the goodness of heavenly love. Every day, in all His words, and in all His works, He is setting before us the embodiments of His infinite love and wisdom, And the facts of life, as they pass before our vision, are constantly asking us, “Knowest thou not what these be?”
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903