the Old Testament prophet Zechariah 4:6, and King Darius. God Rules, O.K.?
Zechariah 4:6 is probably one of the most familiar verses in the Minor Prophets, but how many of us understand its context? “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by
My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
(a) Zechariah’s name means ‘one whom the Lord remembers’. The application can be seen in the names of his father and grandfather, 1:1. “Berekiah” means Jehovah blesses. “Iddo” means ‘in His own time’.
We know Zechariah returned from the Jewish exile in Babylon from Nehemiah 12:4, 16. He was “head of a priestly family”, verse 12. He had been born a captive, an exile. Now he had come back to his peoples’ homeland and capital (though he personally had never been there before). A displaced person, a refugee, and a third culture kid, all rolled into one!
We know Zechariah was contemporary to Haggai, the dates 1:1 of each being just two months apart. He would have been known to Ezra and Nehemiah.
We also know Zechariah was a young man, 2:4.
Application: Spoken to, used by God as “a young man”. God has people born to live at the time He plans to use them. I am 53 years old. You know your age. Young people are important to God.
Illustration: By the time I was 21 years old I had been in charge of a small London church Sunday School for two years, I had given testimony throughout South East England with a gospel music group, preached in England, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Philippines, and was just about to be married and travel with Brenda to begin (what turned out to be) 27 years’ of service with AFC in Britain. Hear this: Mission leaders. God used me as a young man. Do you know why? Because people gave me the opportunity. Too much of God’s work is stifled by unwise blocking of young men and women.
Zechariah was a returnee, a traditional priest, a cutting edge prophet, part of a team, a young man used by God. Experience is only gained by people given experience!
(b) The prophecies are a challenge to understand. The familiarity of our text Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit”, is matched by the mystery of the rest of the book – the longest of the Minor Prophets!
Application: Just because things are difficult to understand doesn’t mean they’re not worth studying!! Men love challenges (women too!). 12 months ago Fawcett and Branson ballooned around the world; two decades ago Mother Theresa worked with abandoned children; 40 years ago Richard Wurmbrand witnessed for Christ in communist conditions in Romania; 50 years ago Jim Elliott, went to the Auca Indians who’d never heard of Jesus; etc. We know their names. Do you know why? Because they did not know ‘impossible’ was a word for today – and they made possible God’s work by being available to Him.
Apocalyptic prophecy is like the literature of underground people revealing their suffering under a foreign power. There is a clash where the physical world and the spiritual world collide. The images uncover truth.
Illustration: The symbols have meaning like the icons on a computer. Once you know them they are easy to work with. At least six prophecies of Jesus – will be seen in last (next) message of this series. (See Men who speak of Jesus – Micah 2:2-5).
The focus is always what God is doing. The name “The Lord Almighty” NIV, “The Lord of Hosts” AV, RSV, “All-Sovereign God” LXX, appears 37-48-52 times! Zechariah’s aim is to encourage those who are rebuilding God’s ruined temple in their work. 1:1-6 reminds us that historically God challenged the wayward Israelites “Return to Me” and then “I will return to you”. Hear this Church Workers, the ruins and defeats and disasters, God says, are because you or those before you, have left My ways. You are living and working for yourselves, not for Me. God’s judgement fell on disobedient Israel. They had life – but life first in exile, and now life among the ruins of what ought to be the Temple that declared the presence of the great and glorious sovereign God. Not life as God intended it to be.
Application: Do you ever wonder why things are not what you think they ought to be? Zechariah has a message for you!
“Zechariah’s heart was captivated by hope that lifts folk above immediate difficulties and into the coming glory.” In 9:9-17 are predictions that the coming King (Jesus we know fulfilled these things) is on the horizon to save and deliver. Scholars/churchmanship may differ on the finer points of eschatology, but there is a unity that Jesus is the Saviour! e.g. contrast Ramadan – work for self-salvation, Christmas – wait for your Saviour, Jesus. Zechariah 9:12 uses the phrase “Prisoners of hope”. It is like being a victim of marriage! Yes, I’m locked in to being with Brenda for the rest of our lives – but that’s not a punishment. It’s a delight. And as a Christian I am a prisoner to the hope that God is outworking His purpose to bring King Jesus to rule over all things and everybody past, present and future.
After the call to return, Zechariah shares visions he had. He writes of what he saw, what he was shown – usually by an angel of the Lord.
Chapters 1:7-6:8. We’re going to conclude with a look at the central vision 4:1-14, but notice where it fits in. The other visions show God measuring, then cleansing Jerusalem; they show God destroying Babylon and sending all wickedness to join in being destroyed; they show ultimately all nations at rest with God.
This 5th vision shows God at the centre of everything. Zechariah and the people can do everything God is calling them to do! He provides. God is the fulcrum of the balance of power. God is the central sun around which all events orbit in their assigned places. Zerubbabel governed. Joshua was the priest. Zechariah prophesied. Nehemiah organised. Others built. Ezra read and exhorted. Zerubbabel, not mighty like David, nor powerful like Saul, but God was with him. He spoke encouragement.
Zechariah 4: 2, 3.
1. The vision is of a golden menorah, a Hebrew word for the 7 branched candelabrum used in the Temple. This is even today the emblem of Judaism and the badge of the state of Israel.
It represents God is at the centre. The seven lights are fed by oil from a bowl at the top, via seven channels – pipelines. On either side of the bowl – the source of the fuel for the light – are two olive trees.
(a) Vs2, vs10b – “seven lights and seven channels” are “the eyes of the Lord”. God surveying God’s world giving Him complete knowledge of everything.
(b) Vs3, vs12-14 “the two olive trees … pipes pouring golden oil”, “anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth” are God’s servants who take His word and His Spirit to wherever He sends them. “The Lord of the whole earth” endlessly supplies His servants with all the resources needed for His work to be done. God supplying. Keep in mind: God sees God’s servants and God supplies.
Illustration: Story of General Gordon defending Khartoum. Asking for reinforcements. British Government delayed. Kitchener was despatched. Too late? Or was it? For Gordon yes, may be. For Khartoum, no. The servant is expendable in the service of the Master! While that may be a poor British error – God’s work is more important than God’s servants!
2. The mountain. “O mighty mountain”, vs7. Zechariah was urging Zerubbabel to build the Temple, but the problems were mountainous. Haggai speaks of people who said “the time has not yet come”. They ignored the shame and disgrace of God’s worship being in ruins.
Ezra 5:3-5 speaks of Tattenai, and a group of official associates who question Zerubbabel’s authority. They wanted the names of all involved in what they wrongly saw as a revolt against King Darius.
These mighty mountains – “it’s not right now”, “you haven’t got authority”, “let’s know your accomplices to threaten them” – according to Zechariah 4:17 would not be insurmountable obstacles to Zerubbabel.
They would fade away as Zerubbabel persevered. God would give enough grace for the work to continue.
3. The finish. What Zerubbabel has started he will finish.
Illustration: near our home. 3-storey neighbours. Hospital?
Foundations are to be built on! “The plumbline in the hand of Zerubbabel” refers to the measuring of the completed job. The small beginning will lead to a significant work!
‘How can you be so sure?’ you may say. I work for national peace. I work for social development. I work to build the church. Whatever. How can you be so sure it will work out when the mountainous obstacles seem never ending?
Answer: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, say the Lord Almighty.”
Application: Think about the 'mountain' you face. Your most intransigent problem at work.
Now say with me – out loud. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” Say it again!
Application: Think about the mountains in your family, the unsaved loved ones, the misunderstanding parents.
Now say with me – out loud. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” Say it once more!
Application: Think about the goal you have of being used by God every day of however many years He gives you. Dream big dreams for God.
Now say with me – out loud! “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”
Key words in Zechariah are Repent, Return, Rebuild.
And over Zechariah 4:6 I would add Rely. A solidly staid trust in our great God.
Now say it for the penultimate time tonight! “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”
Zechariah 14:9, in a prophetic view of the future – the Hope of which I am a prisoner to – “On that day … the Lord will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name.”
Now say for the final time tonight – with your heart full of dedicated, enthusiastic hope:
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”
Let’s go, and live to make it happen!
God Rules, O.K.?
Khartoum International church 1st December 2002.