By His Spirit
Think of the one area in your life right now in which it seems that it will take everything you have to make it through. Maybe it’s a class in graduate school or seminary. Perhaps it’s a season of struggle in your marriage and family. You might have a health issue that is debilitating. One of your relationships might be strained. Maybe you are caring for a family member, friend, or aging parent and you are exhausted. The finances in your bank account might be dwindling faster than they can be replaced. Or perhaps you feel as if you’re not making much of an impact on those to whom God has called you to minister. What do you do when you see all of the obstacles before you and none of the opportunities? Where do you turn when it seems to be a day of small things? The prophet Zechariah provides the answer.
Zechariah prophesied after the exile, during a time when God’s people were rebuilding the temple. In Zechariah 4 the prophet’s fifth vision of a golden lampstand with seven lamps and two olive trees on the side is described. The vision is actually God’s Word to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, reassuring him that the Spirit of the Lord would be the One to deliver Israel from its enemy. Verse 6 provides the symbolic meaning of the vision, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). The Spirit of God would faithfully and continually supply the people’s needs for the rebuilding of the temple, just as the oil in the reservoir of the lampstand continually supplied the means to keep the lamps burning. Though the people’s strength and power would fail and waver at times, they were not to be discouraged. Because the Holy Spirit was the source of strength for the rebuilding of the temple, they could rest in Him and rely on His power.
You and I would be wise to remember that it is not by our might or power, but by God’s Spirit that we will accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives. If our hope is in our abilities or giftedness, or the resources of the people of God, we will be discouraged. But if our hope is in God, we will be encouraged. In whatever God has called us to do, we must rely on His power, rest in Him, and relinquish the results to Him.
Just as Zerubbabel laid the foundation of God’s house, so Zerubbabel would complete it (Zech. 4:8). The plumb line is in his hand. The seven lamps in Zechariah’s fifth vision equal the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth. With the Holy Spirit’s power behind the work of the temple, there is nothing that can stop it. Zerubbabel, God’s chosen leader, will lead God’s people to complete God’s temple by the Holy Spirit’s power. What a testimony to the faithfulness and power of God! There is nothing in this world that can stop God from accomplishing His plans and purposes.
When Zerubbabel holds the plumb line in order for the last stone to go into place, the people will realize the truth of God’s word to them, that God’s Spirit saw the work through until its completion. Those who “despised the day of small things shall rejoice” (Zech. 4:10). Let us, then, be slow to despise the day of small things in our lives. Remember, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). When you are tempted to think that you need to do the work that only the Holy Spirit can do, especially in the lives of your husband or children, friends or family members, neighbors or coworkers, stop. Rely on God to convict and convert while you encourage and exhort.
At the end of the vision, Zechariah asks the angel to explain the meaning of the two olive trees and their two branches (Zech. 4:11-14). In reply the prophet learned that “these are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth” (v. 14), likely referring to Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. These men were godly leaders and intercessors. They prayed on behalf of God’s people for His power to sustain the work of rebuilding the temple. So too, the church today needs godly leaders that are intercessors on behalf of God’s people, praying for God’s power to sustain them.
For what are you relying on your own power and might to make it through today? What do you despise as a day of small things? Or where do you see all of the obstacles and none of the opportunities? Ask God to open your eyes to see His grace, and to rejoice in His work that He is bringing about by His Spirit. Those mountains that seem to be in your way today are not obstacles to God’s plans and purposes. He can easily turn them into plains. But regardless of how He chooses to work in your particular situation, if you will look to Him, you will learn that the way through is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit www.sarahivill.com.