Then 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 of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
We are continuing our look at contrasts in Scripture marked by the conjunction “but.” Last week we looked at the stand taken by Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael while they were in Babylonian captivity. That captivity lasted seventy years. After the Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Persians, King Cyrus issued a decree allowing any Jews to return home to Israel and restore the cities and the land. You can read about that return in Nehemiah and Ezra. The restoration happened in fits and starts marked by opposition, distraction and discouragement.
Eventually a guy named Zerubbabel was named the governor and Joshua served as high priest. God raised up the prophet Zechariah, who prophesied a lot about the Messiah who would come, but he also gave messages of encouragement to the governor and the high priest. Chapter 4 is the fifth message Zechariah records and it is especially for the governor, Zerubbabel. It is one of the most powerfully encouraging messages in Scripture. Here are some of the encouragements in this message.
God has a mighty work for us to participate in. You can argue that Zerubbabel was the governor, of course HE had an important work. Not everyone is a leader. We’ll come back to that in just a second. The reality of this undertaking was that governor was not going to lay every block in the Temple himself, nor was he going to personally rebuild the wall. These words to the leader apply to the people who will follow.
Now about leaders. We are “in-between” in our relationships. There are those we follow and then, there are those we lead. We follow ministry leaders and supervisors at our place of employment. We follow laws and ordinances. We also have the opportunity to lead our children, to be oversee to new hires, to be examples in society or even on social media. In all of those circumstances, let’s embrace the work God has for us.
God knows the work is a big one. After all, He sent the prophet. Zerubbabel wouldn’t have needed a message from Zechariah if the work was easy or ordinary. Rebuilding a temple and a city wall with a bunch of people with little or no experience, who had their own homes and safety to worry about, with limited materials and funds, not to mention the marauding bands of vandals who terrorized the people.
What God has called us to, what God has called you to, is an important work for the kingdom. In a general sense, it’s carrying the gospel out to a world that doesn’t want to hear, a world that has established itself as God’s enemies. More specifically, the work that God has called you to is nothing to sneeze at. You may have hard-hearted family members. You may have hostile co-workers. You may struggle with temptation and hardship. Jesus said we would have trouble and suffering, but He also promised that He had overcome it. (John 16:33)
God promises to accomplish the work. The message to the governor is NOT by power or by might, not by your strength, your talent, your resources BUT BY MY SPIRIT says the Lord of hosts. Now some of the modern translations give you a better idea what that name for God means. Hosts make me think of dinner parties and making sure everyone has enough to eat and drink. It’s not that kind of host. It’s an army, a heavenly army. So God makes this promise and then reassures Zerubbabel (and us) that He can bring it to pass. No one can stand in opposition to God accomplishing His purposes.
When we try to accomplish God’s purposes in our own strength and energy we get discouraged and even burned out. Think about your work right now. Which best describes your gut reaction? Energy or exhaustion? I don’t think God calls us to frustration. That could be a signal to evaluate whose work we’re doing and whose strength doing it in.
The Apostle Paul brought intellect, theological rigor and a strong work ethic to his ministry. But he knew that wasn’t what let people see the grace of God. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Take hold of that message today.