What challenges are you facing today? What future fears do you have? Are there mountains looming over you? There is only one way to endure, advance, and overcome these things in our lives: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” Our strength is not found in our abilities, finances, or intellectual sharpness…it is found in the power of the Spirit. Be encouraged by this end of the year message from Pastor Ray, and be changed!
To understand our study, it is necessary that we first of all have a brief background of the time when the book of Zechariah was written and why.
The name Zechariah means, “The Lord remembers.” The historical background and setting of Zechariah are the same as that of his contemporary, Haggai. Zechariah and Haggai began their ministries only two months apart (Hag 1:1) in the fall of 520 B.C. In 538 b. c., Cyrus the Persian freed the captives from Israel to resettle their homeland (cf. Ezra 1:1–4) and about 50,000 returned from Babylon. They immediately began to rebuild the temple (cf. Ezra 3:1–4:5), but opposition from neighbors, followed by indifference from within, caused the work to be abandoned (cf. Ezra 4:24).
Sixteen years later (cf. Ezra 5:1–2), Zechariah and Haggai were commissioned by the Lord to stir up the people to rebuild the temple. As a result, the temple was completed 4 years later in 516 B.C. (Ezra 6.15). Zechariah joined Haggai in rousing the people from their indifference, challenging them to resume the building of the temple.
But Zechariah was concerned with more than bricks and mortar. The fundamental issue was the covenant between the Lord and the Israelites. God would not be satisfied with just a rebuilt temple and city. He wanted a restored relationship. Because their ancestors had failed miserably in obeying the law—by not worshiping Him in spirit and in truth and by not acting justly toward one another—God called on the surrounding nations to punish His people. Now the question was whether the returnees had learned the hard lesson and would do any better at complying with the terms of the covenant.
4.1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
- As a man who is wakened out of his sleep: Zechariah had that woozy feeling that you get if you are awakened suddenly from a deep sleep.
4.2 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:
4.3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
- God gave Zechariah a vision of the golden lamp stand that was meant to stand in the temple. Since Zechariah and his people were there to rebuild the temple, it made sense that God spoke to them in images related to the temple.
- What did Zechariah see? This lamp stand was apparently similar to the lamp stand placed in Israel’s tabernacle (cf. Ex. 25:31–40), and the 10 lamp stands of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 7:49). The tabernacle lamp-stand had no reservoir and had to be filled with oil by the priests. One of the more tedious duties of the temple service was the constant care of the lamps on the golden lamp stand. They had to be continually refilled with oil, cleaned of soot, and their wicks had to be maintained.
- But this lamp stand was different! There were seven pipes to each of the seven lamps that were supernaturally filled with an endless supply of oil from the two olive trees on either side of the lamp stand.
- What fed the lamp? Oil, which symbolizes the work of The Holy Spirit. What a beautiful picture this paints for us as a church family. Oil brings about lubrication and eliminates friction—just as the fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22). In addition to being a source of lubrication that eliminates friction and discord, oil brings about healing. Just as the Good Samaritan poured oil in the wounds of the man who had been beaten, James instructed the elders to anoint with oil those who were sick (5:14).
- I also draw your attention to the fact that the vision is one that speaks of the perfection, completion, or fullness of God. 7 is the number of perfection in Scripture and it is found three times in the vision; seven lamps, seven pipes and seven eyes. This symbolism is divine assurance that the task of rebuilding the temple will be carried through to completion by the supply of God’s Spirit.
- The 7-stemmed lamp stand is a type of the 7 churches, also called lamp stands in Revelation 1 of which Jesus is in their midst. Lord willing, we will see some amazing parallels between the divine empowerment that Zechariah needed to build the temple of God and great need of divine empowerment to do the work of The Lord today.
4.4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
4.5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
- What are these, my lord? Zechariah saw the vision, but didn’t understand what it meant. What he saw was unusual but simple – a lampstand with lamps supplied with oil directly through pipes coming from two olive trees.
- It was important for Zechariah to know the interpretation of this vision; because the meaning of the vision was that the work of rebuilding the temple and the moving of the mountain like obstacles before them could only be accomplished by the power of The Spirit of God and the abounding grace of God.
- If we recall the historical background and the feebleness of the handful of discouraged men, the shortage of resources and the presence of the enemies round them, we can only imagine the sweetness encouragement that this promise of God towards them meant.
- The practical meaning of the vision is given here in verses 6 and 7. It is a vision of how Zerubbabel will accomplish the work: not by might. Nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
4.6Then 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. 4.7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
- Who was Zerubabbal? Zerubbabel was the civic leader of Jerusalem and had the responsibility to finish the work of rebuilding the temple. The work had stalled, and Zerubbabel needed encouragement to carry on the work.
- The task before him was filled with many obstacles. Fears, lack of resources and indifference. In symbolic language, he is told that he would be able to move mountains; but it would not be human power or human might that would move those mountains, but the power of The Spirit.
- Though God uses human instruments to do His work, His intent is to negate any human claim to strength or might in accomplishing His work. Scripture declares, he who boasts, let him boast in The Lord. Jesus said, The flesh profits nothing (John 6.63).
- When Paul said that he labored hard in ministry there in 1 Cor 15.10, he quickly inserted the fact that it was due to the grace of a God given unto him. Beloved, it is only by God’s gracious provision of His Spirit that any significant work is done in the kingdom of God.
- God does not accomplish His purposes on earth through our cleverness, or our programs, or any other natural abilities, but solely by His gracious Spirit.
- Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! The work of rebuilding the temple was so massive it seemed like a great mountain. Here God promises that His Spirit will level that great mountain leveled into a plain with shouting’s of grace.
- Shoutings of grace, grace. In other words, when the work of rebuilding the temple is accomplished, it will be declared that God’s favor was upon them. Whenever the work of God is done through human might or power, the attention and focus is on the human instrument, but when the work is done by the invisible but continual supply of the Spirit of God, then it is all to the glory of God’s grace.
4.8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
4.9 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.
- Every promise made in the word of God will be fulfilled to the letter. In this case he who had begun the house should finish it, thus proving that a prophet had been among them.
- Human hands and human effort are most certainly used by God to accomplish His work, but the strength, grace and wisdom to do the work comes from God Himself in the gracious supply of His Spirit.
4.10 For who hath despised the day of small things? 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.
- Who hath despised the day of small things – It was a day of weakness, a day of small things; but they should not despise it, for it was the day of Jehovah’s energy. God’s work always begins with little seeds. Alexander Maclaren
- “Bible history is the record of God using small things. When God wanted to set the plan of salvation in motion, He started with a little baby named Isaac (Genesis 21). When He wanted to overthrow Egypt and set His people free, He used a baby’s tears (Exodus 2:1-10). He used a shepherd boy and a sling to defeat a giant (1 Samuel 17) and a little lad’s lunch to feed a multitude (John 6). He delivered the Apostle Paul from death by using a basket and a rope (Acts 9:23-25). Never despise the day of small things, for God is glorified in small things and uses them to accomplish great things.” Wiersbe
- 1 Cor 1.26-31 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
- My prayer is that The Spirit of God would cause us to have a simple, yet passionate love for Jesus and to see His glory manifested in and through our church family, in this community and around the world.
- The eyes of The Lord run to and from through all the earth. What is God looking for? For the eyes of The Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him (2 Chron 16.9).
- Beloved, God’s work is not to be despised no matter how small it is. If it is God’s work it is important and significant. Don’t be intimidated by the “mega-ministry” mentality. Don’t be intimidated by what the world calls a waste. Precious saints, the things that we do today in the Name of The Lord and for the glory of The Lord have extremely long-ranging significance. It is often thought that what happens today is not really of nothing in the sight of God because they do not make front page news.
- What you and I are doing as a church family here may be considered a small thing in the eye of the world but we’ve got to learn to take the divine viewpoint. I assure you beloved that God does not think in terms of big or small. He only thinks in terms of being faithful to Him
- For any of you who are reading this and have yet to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord. If there ever was a day when men despised the small thing that God was doing it was then. When the Son of God was crucified through weakness and hung there as the redeemer for our sins, nobody thought it was the day that it was at that time. Only a few bothered to stay and look. But there God was preeminently interested in that little hill out to the north of the city of Jerusalem. There all of the consummation of the ages was taking place. The greatest thing that has every happened in the universe happened at a place and at a time which was despised by almost all of the people of the day.
- Christ died for sinners. He died to pay for our sin debt. He rose from the dead to give us life. He bids you come and drink of His living water.
Regarding our continual need to be filled with The Spirit of God if we are going to truly accomplish God’s will on earth as it is in heaven, as it is written in Ephesians 5.18, Vance Havner wrote, “We say we depend on the Holy Spirit, but actually we are so wired up w/our own devices that if the fire does not fall from heaven, we can turn on a switch & produce false fire of our own. If there is no sound of a rushing wind, we have the furnace all set to blow hot air instead. God save us from a synthetic Pentecost!”
This vision is a timely reminder for us as a church family as we draw near to the end of the year 2013. We may be drawing near to the end of the year, but the work of The Lord continues. The obstacles before us are great. God is looking for laborers in His harvest.
It has been said that God doesn’t use people who are full of themselves, but people who are filled with The Spirit of God.
The great need of the church as we move into the year 2014, is not more programs, but people who are yielded and empowered by The Spirit of Jesus Christ.