But By My Spirit
BY TIMOTHY LOPEZ
Key Verse 4:6
So he 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 Almighty.
Everyone in life is looking for a leader in some shape or form. In the face of our day to day tasks and trials in the world, we know that on our own, we cannot make things work. We need someone to lead us. We need someone who inspires us, and someone who helps us bring things to order. Not only God’s children, but even many in the world acknowledge this. We live in an age where no more than ever many are looking to be led in one way or another. In the social media world, you can see that everyone is following somebody. Some followers will watch every single video that a person puts on the web because they feel inspired and helped with their present situation. In relation to employment, how abundant are the jobs out there that in some manner of speaking, are looking for leaders as applicants. Many positions are demanding for someone who put things in order and be an effective influence on those around them. “What can you bring to our company,” they ask. We hear the cries on the streets of our nation, looking for what they consider is the right leader to step in and do something for this country. “What can the next leader bring to our country?” we ask. Our families, our friends, the tasks before us, and even our lives demand that someone step in and step up to make things right. Most importantly, we know that the Lord has given us a great work to do. It is the grand work of building his ministry and his kingdom. But if we have no leader, and if we do not lead, how can we ever move the mountains that seem to be planted before us day after day preventing us from furthering this work. This passage couldn’t have come to us at a more relevant time than now. It spells out for us what a leader needs to do, and who he or she needs to be. Now there’s no doubt that our Lord Jesus is the best and greatest leader. He’s the Prince of Peace that we all long for and long to be like whether we know it or not. And we have a great benefit to our relationship with him. When we ask Him with the right motives, He generously gives us his Spirit who sows inspiration into our hearts until we can put ourselves and the work around us into godly order and beauty.
Look at this passage. In the times of Zechariah, we know that there are two of whom the Lord had appointed to lead Israel, Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the governor. In the last passage the high priest Joshua represented himself and Israel, and their sinful state before a holy God. But God graciously and justly removed their filthy garments of sin and redressed them in a glorious priestly garment, symbolizing their sin being removed and that they were now fit to stand before the Lord of Lords. Wow isn’t that great news! We should be overwhelmed with the mercy of God on Israel and on us. But picture for a second that you’re in crowds, and Zechariah is sharing with you that the Lord has forgiven your sins and removed them from you. In Israel some no doubt would be elated at such news. But others might think, “Well that’s nice and all that our sin is removed, but we’re still experiencing hardship here. What about the practical things we have going on that are right in front of our faces? This temple has so much to be completed. We don’t have much strength. Our enemies are relentlessly hindering us. How are we ever going to complete this work?” So, the question is, how does what’s happened in the heavenly courts translate to our circumstance here on earth. How does this bless us here?
So, Zechariah’s visions turn from focusing on Joshua the high priest to Zerubbabel the governor. In Israel’s present circumstance, things for weren’t easy to say the least. For Zerubbabel and his associate’s things seemed practically impossible. Their troubles looked so great that they thought of themselves as helpless. Zerubbabel may have finally given up on Israel and the temple work. The replenishing of the nation and the work of rebuilding seemed like it was never going to happen. So therefore, the intention of this vision to Zechariah was to show that God would himself would do it, and how He would complete this work. It would be done by his own perfect power and Almighty hand. Though the assistance with this task seemed feeble. And though Israel’s daunting enemies seemed so strong and powerful. God promised that he would surely do it.
Let’s review something we learned last Sunday. Let’s read verses (1-3). To refresh our memories. This lamp that Zechariah saw, was similar to the lamp that was to be in the Holy Place in the tabernacle, then later in the temple. The priests had the laborious task of supplying this lamp with oil all day long. In other words, they had to always keep watch because under no circumstances would they leave this lamp without any oil. That’s because this lamp represented God’s presence in the temple and among Israel. War or no war, famine or no famine, that lamp was to never go out. To those who don’t understand the significance of this, this task might be despised. So, it couldn’t be anyone who did this. It had to be a priest who understood the dire need of God’s place among them. We as believers, who think it’s difficult understand OT things might be able to understand this. What about the things that we do in our lives that keep us sensing the presence of the Lord? Things like scripture meditation and prayer. Things like worship and singing praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Things like reflecting on the word of God and fellowshipping with our church family. These seemingly small tasks would be despised to someone who doesn’t understand what they mean. To those who know, these things are done with great diligence and priority to keep us in touch with God’s presence in our lives. And under no circumstances should we ever put them aside or loathe them, though they seem laborious. It is probably the most important labor we could set our hearts on. Because without them we would surely become a stranger to God’s hand in our lives. You’d be surprised, how far a way a believer can drift from the voice of God. It’s not a nice experience. We’re better off having troubles around us and to be near to God then to have to have ease and comfort while leaving our souls starved and parched. There is more to this vision that we’ll talk about later. But for now, we’re just capturing the gist of what this lamp means to Zechariah.
But even then, Zechariah isn’t fully clear on what he sees. He knows what they are, but doesn’t know what they signify. Let’s read verses 4 & 5. “I asked the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these, my lord?’ 5He answered, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ ‘No, my lord,’ I replied.” Zechariah inquires of the angel about what he sees. This is not a bad thing. This lamp is something that Zechariah knows very well though it looks more radiant and glorified. But he didn’t assume that he knew what it meant. Though Joshua and Zerubbabel are Israel’s leaders, Zechariah is also no doubt just as important to God’s plan as they are. But even he in humility doesn’t interpret God’s vision (God’s word) according to his own understanding but keeps an open mind that’s willing to learn something different and fresh. He’s willing to learn whatever the Lord would want to teach him despite all his experiences. That’s a wonderful quality in a leader. But still, the angel doesn’t appear to really recognize this quality, as gives Zechariah a gentle rebuke for being a little dull. “Common Zach, my man, don’t you know what these are?” But his attitude remains completely humble. That’s very desirable for someone who wants to learn the heart and mind of God. It’s not good enough for us to just read the word and leave it as it is. We must ask questions and dig for the meaning and message. “What do you mean by these things, Lord?” “What are these signs about? The 12 disciples were usually pretty good at this. After the crowds would leave, they would question Jesus further about the things he had been teaching. Jesus called it a treasure hunt! And as leader, for one to subject himself to those whom God has put over him is honorable indeed. Even if the leader is the senior prophet who is privileged to hear God’s messages, he must still subject himself to those God appoints over him. Then the lessons he learns will be a blessing and inspiration to others.
So after this little dialogue, the angel gives him the meaning of the lamp stand. Let’s read verse 6 which is our key verse. So he 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 Almighty. This was God’s word to the discouraged leader Zerubbabel. Sometimes God’s word is specific. As might have an isolated application. Like God’s word to Namaan. Elisha told him to wash himself in the Jordan river seven times and that his leprosy would be cured. Elisha’s word to Namaan isn’t the cure for all leprosy, it was just for Namaan at that time. And though this the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, that is not the case here. Yes, this is God’s to word to him, but it is a word that is universal. In other words, it’s a principal that holds true with all times and places and people. Let’s take the topic of salvation for example. How were you saved? How did it happen? Did you save yourself by your own might or power? Raise your hand if you saved yourself. Did you one day decide to woo Jesus with your charm and good looks so that he would have compassion on you? Did you one day wake up and decide that you are not going to sin today so that God would accept you? Of course not! Not one of us in this room has accomplished our salvation by our own might and power. It was by his done by his Spirit. He drew us in. You might have not even been aware that he was drawing you to him. But He drew you in and opened up your heart to the Scriptures. To begin to understand these things– to understand his love and compassion despite our own filthy sins. He brought people and circumstances across in your life to help you put these pieces together. And finally, he even gave you the ability to have faith. Scripture tells us that even faith is a work of God. We can’t even take credit for the faith that we have residing in our heart. So therefore, if it is by the Holy Spirit that we are saved, then do we really think that it is any different with anything else? There is really only one way to accomplish the work of God, especially through leaders whom God has appointed. And guess what? It’s not by might. It’s not by cleverness. It’s not our good or bad past experiences. Thank God Almighty, that is only by His Spirit.
Once we have this point clear in our hearts and minds, the next question to ask ourselves, is what is it that the Lord has us working on? Or what does he have us building? This verse is not to be used for our own personal gain. But it’s for the Lord’s work. Let’s read verse 7. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’” Zerubbabel as we know is charged to oversee the building of the temple. He was credited for building the temple. But look at how his difficulty is mentioned here. It’s mentioned as a great mountain. Immovable, and impassable. In other words, we can’t ignore it, we have to deal with it right here and right now, no holding back, or the work of God will not go on. This angel, though correctly labeling out Israel’s struggle, despises it. Who could despise such a mighty mountain in their life? Yes, I know that we have very different and personal struggles. But, don’t you know that you can despise it? When David was a boy, he saw that the mighty Goliath had stopped the work of God. He was immovable. They couldn’t pass him by, he had paralyzed the work of God, so they had deal with him ASAP. But when David saw him, and said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And similarly, this mountain for Israel was despised because it had stopped the work of God. But the angel assured Zechariah that it was to become a leveled plain before Zerubbabel, just as the circumcised Philistine became leveled before David. And guess what, so shall our mighty mountains and Goliaths become leveled. How does this happen? Only with eyes of faith in the word of God, while relying His Spirit. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” (Mk 11:23) And as Isaiah says, “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” (Isa 40:4) This would happen for Zerubbabel, and God promised that he would bring out the capstone, or better yet as the icing on the cake, or the finishing touches, would be accompanied with praise and thanks and glory to God. Any crown of victory we receive we must always remember to cast it at the feet of Christ, because it is all of His grace.
Let’s read verses 8-9 together. Maybe Zechariah, after hearing the wondrous prophecy had some doubts. His fleshly nature started to kick it into gear, and he began to doubt perhaps that even an angel was in front of him. So, the angel again reassured him, basically saying, “Yea you’ll see. And when it happens, you’ll know that it was me that told you so.” God was faithful with his work with Zerubbabel. Perhaps he laid the very first stone, and he would live to see it finished, and his hands would be the ones that did the finishing. But might I remind us that Christ is our Zerubbabel. He is both the author and finisher of our faith. And because it is Christ who is the author, the “who” should be the assurance that work will be finished. And He will finish it well. Because when it comes to the Lord, every good and perfect gift is from Him. As Paul said, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
Look at verse 10. “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone.” The angel is here calling out anyone who despises the seemingly small tasks. The building of the temple was despised you know. It didn’t look like the temple of old. It didn’t look like the masterpiece that Solomon built with his great wealth. But Jesus taught us, that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. So small and easy to miss. Though it seems like it’s the smallest of seeds, it becomes the largest plant in the garden. Our Lord never despised the small things. Though his disciples seemed to be on different pages then himself– some of them on different planets at times– Jesus never lost faith in what God was doing in their hearts. He knew that these immature grown men would one day be able to one day handle the work of God, because he himself would be the finisher of God’s work in their hearts. Every leader who has a vision of something great, can fall to the temptation of despising the small processes and labor’s. When Jesus tested his disciples, and questioned them about feeding the five thousand, he wanted them to put together something small to start out with. Which ended being the 5 loaves and 2 fish. My manager at my job had a good knack for building a team. He was humble about it, but others saw that we were the best team in the U.S. and they wanted him to do what he did for us with the other teams. He didn’t want to. He committed to stay with us. And when they tried to force it on him, he left. But one thing that made him a great leader was that he didn’t despise the small things. He hired me. And though I felt like I was in over my head with these new tasks and responsibilities, he always spoke to me as if I was just as qualified as any other person. He defended me in the face of others. And he took responsibility for mistakes that I made when it seemed to be really all my fault. Seeing that I wasn’t despised, helped me step up at my work and handle tough and difficult circumstances and build my confidence. I don’t think he could really see that he had these qualities. But I could see it. It is a great quality of a leader to not despise the seemingly small things, or tasks, or people that the Lord places around them. It will no doubt plant faith in those around them.
In verses 11-14 we see that Zechariah has one final question about this vision. Now Zechariah was encouraged, and was equipped to encourage others, which was the intention of this vision the angel had shown him. But He’s still curious about a couple other particular things in this vision. This is by no means vain curiosity, but just out of his love for the word of God. He loves exploring and understanding the divine things of God. He’s enjoying feeding his soul at this moment as he’s having a sweet time with the vision of God. He sees two olive trees by the lampstand. He asks about those but gets no response. He looks more closely and notices something more fascinating. He asks about the branches from the trees with the gold piping pouring golden oil. Then he realizes this lamp isn’t just burning any oil. It’s burning golden oil! So he’s thinking to himself, “What in the world is really going on here with this lampstand?” There are many different interpretations about this. But the one that my heart is set on is this. If the lampstand shines the light of God, then you can be part of this lampstand shining the light of God. And that means our little church can shine the light of God in our town, wherever there is darkness here. If this is true, then the two anointed ones who supply this oil should be none other than the Lord and the Holy Spirit. They stand and minister to the Father, so that his light shines. Some say that the oil could even symbolize Christ’s blood being poured out for us, and grace of God that makes the light of God shine in our hearts while we’re in this dark world. These are the two anointed ones. They are only ones that can enable the light of God to shine anywhere.
As leaders, and all of you are one, we should look to our Redeemer and Counselor, in all our endeavors. If we have mountains, whether it’s raising your kids, raising your sheep, making your marriage work, whatever it may be, we should look to our Redeemer and Counselor to move them. We should look to him to enable us to place the last and final touches on what he’s called us to build. And when all is said and done, we should lay our crowns of victory at his feet. Because all we have is of Him.