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Pastoral 2013

Not by might, nor by power But By My Spirit


After 70 years of captivity, in 536 BC, a group of 49,897 Jews journeyed back from Babylon to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4). They returned with hearts that were determined to rebuild the temple of God, which was destroyed by the Babylonian army. Soon after they arrived in Jerusalem, in the second month of 535 BC, they laid the foundation of the temple of God (Ezra 3:11-13). But soon their enthusiastic efforts were met with opposition from the Samaritans who were denied any part in the temple construction. The work was disrupted for about 16 years.

When the construction works were halted, the Jews became discouraged, and their hearts wandered into selfish and sinful ways. Though people abandoned the work of the temple, the Lord did not forsake it. He raised two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to rebuke and to call the Jews to return to build the house of the Lord. Through eight visions given to Zechariah, the Lord sought to strengthen the Jews’ resolve to rebuild the temple.

4:1-14), the Lord showed Zechariah a golden lamp stand. It was like unto the candlestick (Menorah), which was featured in the ancient tabernacle and in the previous temple built by Solomon, which had ten candlesticks (2 Chronicles 4:7). The candlestick in the vision had some new components. Zechariah saw in the vision a bowl above the lamp stand; and it was connected to the seven lamps of the lamp stand by means of seven pipes. Moreover, the bowl received oil from two olive trees that were found on both sides of the lamp stand. This vision showed that God would once again restore the temple worship and have the lamp stand of the temple shine again through supernatural work of His Spirit.

Because there was a constant supply of oil from the tree, the candlestick of Zechariah’s vision did not need to be manned. (The candlestick that was in the temple of the past had to be manned 24 hours a day.) The priests took turns to make sure that there was always enough oil for the seven lamps to burn continuously without ever going out (Leviticus 24:1-4). But for the lamp stand in the vision, God made constant supernatural provision without any human contribution.

In the midst of the vision, the Lord commanded Zechariah to declare to Zerubbabel, the governor who was in charge of the construction of the temple, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). The constant supply of the oil was a symbolic prophecy of the constant provision of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.

So the message here is that the Lord’s work cannot be done by mere human strength and power. We need greater resources than any man can provide. Zerubbabel and other leaders, like Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1), were incapable of reviving and completing the construction of the temple.

Any work that we, as a church, undertake for the Lord can never be accomplished by our human strength. With all our combined power and abilities, we are still unequal to the task. Every work of God has to be done by the power and help of the Holy Spirit. Only when we are energized by the Holy Spirit can we overcome all oppositions, our frailties, our lack of resources, etc., and complete our tasks for Him.

What is impossible with man is not just possible, but easy with God. God will not fail where man has failed. Indeed, where the Spirit of God is at work, mountains will become plains. So the Lord said in Zechariah 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.” In other words, no mountain will be too great for Zerubbabel. If Zerubbabel relied on the Lord, he would overcome all difficulties. The mountains of man are less than molehills to God. And at the end of it, his heart would be so full of gratitude to the Lord that when the temple was completed and he was given the privilege of laying the memorial headstone (a decorated stone that was laid at the top of the building to mark the completion), he could only cry, “Grace, grace!”! It was by God’s grace we began! It was by God’s grace we continued! It was by God’s grace we finished the work! His grace was sufficient for us! Though we were weak, yet we were strong by His grace! Grace, grace, great grace, amazing grace, that none can comprehend!

As the mountainous task of raising 5 million dollars for the church building fund stands before us, let us pray with submission to the Mighty Spirit of God to help us to conquer it. With prayer and faith, let us look forward to the day of completion, that we may sing for His glory, “Grace, Grace!”