Not by Might or Power But by My Spirit

Zechariah 4


It is often a relief when someone else has the ability to manage a situation that we believe may be above or beyond our capacity. A daughter calls her dad to manage a flat tire situation late at night on her way home. A colleague steps in to handle a delicate business situation for which we unexpectedly are facing. Not only are we relieved but we also understand that this addition of assistance enables us to participate in life and life situations that can and will take us beyond our capabilities—husbanding, wifing, parenting, discipling, serving, teaching. Zechariah is going to learn that God’s plan for building the Temple will be accomplished with the power of God’s Spirit. God will do what God will do and that is so because it will be done in the power of His Spirit. And that makes a profound difference in our attitudes, our perspective, and the priorities we develop and use as we live our lives.

Zechariah is having a series of eight visions, all of them on the same night, and here is vision number four—the vision of the Menorah—the seven-candled lamp stand. Through this vision Zechariah sees the completion of the Temple only because God will make it happen.


Zechariah Awakened 1

This messenger seems to be the previous messenger of the first series of visions and returns again to continue the revelation. Some kind of action is required to bring Zechariah to a heightened sense of expectation for this coming vision. It also could be that this messenger is ‘stirring up’ Zechariah’s spirit to incite him to hear and respond—possibly to continue to work on the rebuilding of the temple. Haggai 1:14 speaks of God stirring up the spirits of Zerubbabel and Joshua to continue that work—dormant for nearly 20 years. His sensibilities aroused, he can make connections between the vision he is about to receive and it’s meaning s he is confronted with its message.

Zechariah’s Vision 2-6

First, is the vision of a Menorah. This is what Zechariah sees. This was a piece located in the Temple and made of pure gold (Ex 25:31-37). It had a central lamp with 3 branches extending on either side—7 lamps in all. Its purpose was to illuminate the interior of the holy place. Here in the visions it appears storing oil located above the center of the lamp. This seems to be a reservoir with pipes distributing oil to the cups on the lamps. In this vision instead of the oil coming form the priests replenishing the cups it flows from its connection to the olive trees. There is no human effort involved at all. This oil is supplied without crushed olives. So this Menorah is different than the one in the Temple. This oil is supplied through the piping from the olive trees into the cups for burning. One Menorah with an oil reservoir suspended above it. Olives are the usual source of oil so the presence of these trees appears to provide the fuel.

Second, baffled by this vision the prophet asks several questions to clarify the meaning of what he is seeing in v 4-5. Again the messenger interprets the images in the vision. The intent of the questioning is to drive home the idea that he cannot understand what he is seeing without supernatural insight into it. So the interpretation of the vision follows.

(1) This communicates God’s mind to Zerubbabel 6a. This is a means of doing that as sure as if God spoke verbally. And this is primarily about Zerubbabel mentioned here for the first time. By the time of this vision around 519 BC work on the Temple had begun in earnest because of Haggai (2:20-23). His prophecies encouraged the people to build on the foundations laid years earlier because Zerabbabel would be elevated there. This also was the Word of the Lord to the people just as Zechariahs vision is.

(2) And what is this word? Not by mite nor by power by my Spirit. The point is that the Menorah is useful only because of the source of power that energizes it. The reservoir including the lamps and the pipes all support this idea. It is the oil and not the menorah that draws our attention. The oil is connected to the Spirit of God—the task of Temple building, which establishes God’s plan and reveals His sovereignty cannot be accomplished apart from divine enablement. Normal human resources and means cannot do what Zerubabbel must do as leader of his people. It must be done by supernatural power. That power is associated with ‘the Lord of Hosts’. The ‘hosts’ refers to the commander of an army—heavens armies. This person’s power is made available to human beings who serve him. All of the imagery points to power beyond ourselves. Just like the Spirit supplied workers on the tabernacle (Ex 28:3); Moses assistants (Num 11:17ff); Israel’s judges (3:10); prophets prophecies (2 Kgs 2). Zerubabbel will now accomplish mighty works by the power of the Spirit.


So what is it that will bring about the work of God in our lives and through our lives? Are we to believe that our physical and human and fleshly efforts will bear spiritual fruit? If I have a profitable business, does that make it more likely that I can help God bring about the outcome He desires? If I have a good education does that mean it is more likely that I can bring about what it is God wants? Fundamentally, it is only the power of God that can bring about the work of God. God will accomplish His plan by the work of His Holy Spirit not human might or power. We cannot save anyone. We cannot sanctify anyone. We cannot convict anyone. We cannot transform anyone. God’s power, His ability, by means of His Spirit—as in the OT so in the NT—accomplishes God’s plan. So do not grieve the HS. Do not quench the HS. Without that power only human results are engineered.


No Obstacles 7

The great mountain here is a metaphor for opposition and resistance that must be overcome and eventually reduced to a plain or valley. With the power of God Zerubabbel will be able to face this mountain, level it to a plain, and completely achieve the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. That work can only be done thru the energy supplied by the Spirit in spite of the immensity and difficulty ahead. A capstone—the final stone of the building--completes the project and the people will shout grace, grace—to signify the faithfulness of God in bringing it to pass! Grace is the ultimate admission of God’s ability and power to do what we could not!

Completion 8-10

Zerubabbel had already laid the foundation nearly 20 years earlier but now the very hands that begun that work will finish it. The result will be this covenant community coming to terms with God’s power in their midst and Zechariah as His prophet! God through the display of His power will endorse the completion of the Temple through the empowering of Zerubabbel to carry out that work. Presently, one could acknowledge that it is easy look down upon this effort especially as one witnesses the meagerness of the Temple and its construction. It is easy to be unimpressed with such a small thing. There was every reason to believe this may come to nothing with little resources and formidable opposition (Ezra). But this is not going to be a natural outcome—the seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in Zerubabbels hands. These seven are the eyes of the Lord—His eyes rejoice when ours cannot because he knows the end form the beginning.

Two Olive Trees 11-14

Once again Zechariah asks questions here about the interpretation of the 2 olive trees and gets an answer v 11-12. He wants to also know what are the 2 extensions of the olive trees emptying the oil by means of the 2 golden pipes. The pipe is feeding the reservoir with the oil from these olive branches and then empties the oil into the cups of each of the menorah branches. The gold is the color of the oil from these. All the elements are significant as they operate to supply the Menorah with its precious oil. Still baffled, v 14 brings one last interpretation. He sees but does not understand the significance of the 2 olive trees. They are ‘the anointed ones’ who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth. The anointing is with the oil of these trees. High Priests and Kings were anointed for service in Israel. This anointing is associated with the Spirit of God speaking of His presence and His enablement for that service. These anointed ones then are standing by the Lord of the earth—constantly at the ready to serve Him as Priest and as King of Israel. In Zechariah’s immediate time this would be Joshua and Zerubabbel. They have been chosen for their respective positions and capacities. So the Temple is completed as the Holy Spirit works through Zerubabbel and Joshua.


What God does He does in the power of His Spirit by empowering people to carry out that work. We do not manage the outcome of that work. That is God’s prerogative. However, we can get involved in what it is God is doing and if so can be assured of being empowered by His Spirit as we do. The outcome is the work of His Spirit but that outcome is usually by means of people being used by God to carry out His Work. So figure out what God is doing and then get involved with that. That is the only place where you will discover His divine enablement and be used in the work of His Kingdom. We know to day that is in the area of the gospel and discipleship. And we can also know people claiming to be of God who are not when they are doing something God has not specifically said He is doing while claiming God told them to do it.