God Empowers Us to Do the Work

Alexandra Hoover

Day: 15 | Plan: Return to Refuge

Today's Reading: Zechariah 4

Zechariah 4:6-7 (ESV) "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. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'"

There have been more than enough times in my life where I go about purely surviving off of my strength and will, and not my heavenly Father's. Like when I thought that if I read enough parenting books, I would somehow gain more patience and strength for my kids on my own. Every time I choose my way over seeking God's approach, I am reminded that His strength and wisdom are greater than mine.

In Zechariah 4 we get to learn and see how God's strength is Plan A for us to walk out this life and mission. It begins with the angel of the Lord waking Zechariah from a deep sleep to give him his fifth vision. Zechariah describes what he sees in the natural: a golden lampstand, a bowl on the top, seven lamps with seven lips. He is lost in the meaning of this, so he asks the angel of the Lord for clarity.

But he doesn't get the interpretation he's hoping for. Instead, the angel of the Lord continued with the prophetic message:

"This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'" (Zechariah 4:6-7)

God was giving His children the work of rebuilding His temple. (Haggai 1:1-11) The rebuilding of the temple was significant because of its meaning: The Persian king had conquered Babylon and gave Jews permission to go back and build the temple. God was showing mercy to the Israelites, and returning them to Jerusalem! It meant that His covenant and promise to Abraham was still intact, that God was their King, and that their hope of a future Savior was still intact. It was a much-needed reminder and confirmation of God's heart and will for His covenant family.

Zechariah 4 reminds us that the things God calls us to are fueled and driven by Him, not ourselves or our strength. We cannot do anything good apart from Him, regardless of what our flesh and mind may think and feel. Just like Zerubbabel and Joshua would experience opposition, discouragement and turmoil, we will also experience the same in our day-to-day lives. But God will strengthen us and promises to make every mountain a plain. (Zechariah 4:7)

It is not by might, but by the Holy Spirit 's strength that God's work will get done.

The Scripture goes on to tell us that once the temple was built, people would know that God was the one who did it. Not our glory, not our accomplishment, but His. So many times, we forget that we are in God's story.

The angel of the Lord also stresses to Zechariah that they should not despise the small things. (Zechariah 4:10) What great wisdom and perspective, not only for the context that they were in but also because of how applicable it is for us in our day-to-day. We must learn to trust the process and beauty of things, even when the small beginnings don't seem sufficient or enough. We do this by laying down our flesh patterns of comparison — always looking to what we think is better or more — and believing in the call that is right in front of us, and even more so, believing in who has called and equipped us.

In this context, the temple that was being built seemed small and minuscule in comparison to the temple Solomon had built. It was another reminder for them to not focus on what their surroundings or circumstances were, but what they knew God had called them to.

Zechariah's vision continues, and we circle back to the actual meaning of the two olive trees and the lampstand. Through conversation, Zechariah notices the branches are just a vessel, and the actual source is the olive tree. Meaning, ultimately God is our source and our foundation.

Just like John 15:5 tells us, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

The outpour and fruit we see are not of our own doing, but His. And the ones who were to rebuild the temple were to be branches, believing and abiding in and through God's overflow.

The chapter ends with Zechariah seeing that God had set apart two servants to walk out the work of rebuilding the temple. He was going to deliver a message of encouragement and power to the anointed ones, those set apart from the world for Him — for His glory, good works and our good. (Zechariah 4:14)

God has anointed us, has given us the Holy Spirit, to live holy and set apart for kingdom works. God does the work, from beginning to end. We can trust and believe the one who is living inside of us to guide us and strengthen us in all that He has called us to in building His kingdom!

Prayer: God, thank You for Your grace and mercy. For choosing us to be Your vessels, Your hands and feet here on earth to rebuild Your kingdom and Your family. God, I ask that You remind us of Your strength and sovereignty. That we may remember and know that You are the vine and we are the branches, dependent on You, Lord, and Your abundant strength and power. Help us to abide in You, as Your children, set apart for Your good works. In Jesus' name, amen.

Have you been enjoying the Return to Refuge First 5 study? It isn't too late to buy an Experience Guide! With historical backgrounds, cultural context and daily study questions, you'll learn even more about the Minor Prophets!

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