September 2022

'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Sprit' 

Zechariah 4.6 (RSV)

Zechariah is a priest from a family of priests, and both a visionary and prophet and his writings largely date from 520-510BC during the reign of King Darius. His ministry covers the return of the people from exile in Babylon as they settle back into their former lives and with support from King Darius, try to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed in 587BC.

Darius had devolved responsibility for overseeing the rebuilding to a civic leader called Zerubbabel, who when we come in on the account, was in need of encouragement because the work had stalled. Zechariah had a series of dreams which included this one just as he was waking up, where he becomes aware of two Olive Trees which constantly feed oil through 7 pipes into the 7 lampstands in the Temple.

If this had been real, it would have saved whoever was on duty, a lot of time and effort as this was a constant need in order that the lamps were kept clean of soot and never went out. So Zechariah asks an angel who had appeared to him, what was the meaning of all this? The angel explained that this was how Zerubbabel would accomplish the work of God in the rebuilding ... Not by might or by power, but by the Spirit of God.

Thus, Zechariah learns that what is needed is purity of heart from the people and faithfulness. God relies not on their human cleverness, strength or ability to rebuild the temple but the strength of the Spirit of God.

Whatever the challenge, it’s often tempting to be independent, to rely on our own reserves and resources, and do things in our own strength, but its only when we are exhausted and can’t see which way to turn that we begin to realise that in the words of Psalm 121,  ‘that ‘our (true) help comes from the Lord’….the maker of heaven and earth

It’s right and proper to use our own strength or ability or resources to help ourselves or others, but ultimately working in conjunction with God, allowing the Spirit to work in us and through us will better achieve God’s purposes.