Today's passage is Zechariah 4:1-14. Let's go!
Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)
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.
On verses 1-6: An angel wakes Zechariah from his slumber (v1) and Zechariah sees a fifth vision. In this fifth vision, Zechariah sees a golden lampstand. Usually to keep a lampstand burning, priests would have to keep coming back to that lampstand to fill it with oil. However, what Zechariah sees is a lampstand that keeps burning without stopping and without needing people to refill it with oil. Rather two olive trees to the right and left of the lampstand provide an endless supply of oil (through an intricate system of pipes, bowls and channels) so that oil keep flowing to the seven lights on the lampstand. As a result, the seven lights on the lampstand keep burning without any human effort.
What can we learn from this? In the Bible, the lampstand is often a symbol for God's people, the church, while oil is often a symbol for the Holy Spirit.
God wants His people to accomplish things not by their own strength or might, but by the Holy Spirit. That's why God's message to Zerubbabel is "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." (v6)
How do you know if you are trying to accomplish things by your own strength versus by the Holy Spirit? One indicator is God's peace. Often when I'm trying to accomplish things by my own strength, I am not at peace; rather I worry, I'm anxious, irritable, and easily frustrated. But when I'm depending on the Holy Spirit, there is a peace and joy in me despite whatever stress or challenges I may be facing.
A second indicator is in my priorities. If I am making God my priority and organizing my time such that I put God's kingdom first, that usually is a good indicator that I'm trusting God and doing things by the power of the Holy Spirit as opposed to in my own strength.
A third indicator is my obedience. If I obey God's commands instead of just doing what my flesh wants to do, I remain in God's love and am trusting in the Spirit's power more than in my own strength. If I do not obey God's commands in a certain area of my life, I am not relying on the Holy Spirit's power but my own.
God has poured out His Spirit on us. May we learn to depend on the Holy Spirit more and more.
Zechariah 4:7-9 (NIV)
7 "What are you, O 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!'"
8 Then the word of the LORD came to me:
9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.
On verses 7-9: What "mighty mountain" is God talking about in verse 7? He's referring to the ongoing challenge that Zerubabbel and the Jews have been facing for the past 16 years: trying and continuously failing to complete the rebuilding of the temple. Yet God says to that "mountain" of a problem, "what are you, O mighty mountain?" (v7) Then he promises that under Zerubabbel's leadership that mountain of a problem will become level ground (v7) and the temple indeed will be complete, as suggested by verse 7 and even more clearly by verse 9.
Maybe you've been facing a problem that seems to have no end. Maybe you've been pursuing a dream in your ministry, your home, your family, your future. You went in faith but things didn't work out the way you hoped. Do not despair. In God's eyes even the biggest mountain can be turned into level ground before you if you have faith. As Jesus says in Matthew 17:20: "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to a mountain, 'Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Zechariah 4:10 (NIV)
10 "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. "(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)"
On verse 10: God does not look down on small beginnings (or "the day of small things") and neither should you. Don't despise small things. Remember that the kingdom of God often begins as small as a mustard seed before growing in the largest of plants (Matthew 13:31-32).
Zechariah 4:11-14 (NIV)
11 Then I asked the angel, "What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?"
12 Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?"
13 He replied, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I said.
14 So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."
On verses 11-14: When Zechariah asks what the two olive trees standing to the right and left of the lampstand represent, he is told that they represent "the two anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth" (v14). Many scholars agree that "the two anointed to serve the Lord" is most likely a reference to Zerubabbel the governor and Joshua the high priest. Together Zerubbavel and Joshua, who hold the king-like and priestly offices that the Messiah would one day hold, are pointing us to the day that a Messiah would come and be our priestly king.
Thank You Heavenly Father for giving us Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that we don't need to rely on our own strength to face the challenge in front of us. Rather we can rely on the continual supply of strength, peace, faith, wisdom and hope that the Holy Spirit provides. Thank You that by Your power even the biggest mountain can be made level. In Jesus' name, AMEN!