“So 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 Almighty. What are you, o mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”
Then the Word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this Temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range throughout the earth.)””
Over the past fifty or sixty years it seems as if the Christian Church here in the west has fallen on hard times. By nearly every measure we use we seem to be in decline. Fewer people are attending worship services, our influence is declining, and hostility to our beliefs is increasing. For many, there is a growing longing for those glorious days of the past when things were so much better. We pray for revival, which is a vital necessity at all times. We engage in personal evangelism, trying to lead as many as possible to salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Still we find ourselves feeling increasingly out of step with the world around us.
The question we must confront in our present situation is whether our current struggles are really that unusual. Recent research shows that we live in a time when there is an abundance of persecution directed against Christians. We know that there have been other times in which there has been a lot of hostility directed against the faithful. The Bible describes an abundance of times when believers have faced hostility for their faith. One such time was the time described by the Old Testament books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah where the Temple was being rebuilt by those who had returned from the exile. It was being rebuilt while the believers were facing an abundance of hostility. For believers like Zerubbabel, the descendant of King David who was a leading figure in the Hebrew community it must have seemed to be a hopeless task. What was he to do in such an environment?
It was here that God’s Word came to him reminding him that the task was not his, it was God’s. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” There was only one way the task was going to be accomplished and this was through the gracious working of God’s Spirit. This is not to say that Zerubbabel did not have tasks that he must carry out in faith. He did in fact have many. The assurance he was given however was that God was at work in this task to which he had been called. God assured him of the ultimate success of his work.
As we examine the few verses that head this page we see that God’s promise is that the rebuilding of the Temple is an example of something truly significant that God is going to do in the future. The Temple is a step along the way to an incredibly powerful event which was even then drawing close. This was the building of the Kingdom of God through the coming ministry of the Messiah. God’s promise to Zerubbabel points ahead to this great event. The struggle that God’s people returning from the exile were facing was in fact the same conflict that the Son of Man would face when He came and which we are currently are facing in our time as we testify to His gracious gift to us.
In each case the solution to our dilemma is the same. This is to put our faith in that thing which God is doing in the Christ. At all times success is guaranteed because it is the Sovereign, All Powerful God who is doing the work. Therefore we are called to prayerful obedience to God’s call to service. He has called us to testify in every place that He puts us to the wonderful grace that has been given to us in Christ. The question is this; do we truly believe that the Spirit of God is actively at work in us, through us, and around us, accomplishing God’s great purpose in Christ? If we believe this truth will we follow Him into the difficult places He leads us, sharing the love of Christ with those whose lives are broken and corrupted by sin? This has always been God’s plan of redemption.