Dalton Jenkins / General
Zechariah (Ne. 8:4); Assurance; Comfort; Jews (return from Exile) / Zechariah 4; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 91; Isaiah 65:24
Zechariah 4:6 ESV
6 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.
Zechariah 4:6 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It is a reminder to me that no matter what I will face, God is in charge. All my limitations are not enough to limit God’s power to work in my life. All my fears disappear in the presence and power of Almighty God. I hear the verse in Philippians 4:13 echoing in my mind every time I read Zechariah 4:6, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” COVID-19 pandemic changes our lives. However, it does not and could not impact who God is and what he can do.
All my limitations are not enough to limit God’s power to work in my life. All my fears disappear in the presence and power of Almighty God.Tweet
COVID-19 stripped us from all our securities that were outside of God. The global impact of COVID-19 has challenged us in all areas of our lives. We have lost many of our loved ones. Our lives have been placed on hold and, in some areas, are disrupted. We need reassurance that we are not alone. We need reassurance that God is still here with us. Let us look at the story of Zerubbabel, as is written in Zechariah 4. There are five points we should consider as we seek reassurance during this pandemic. Many of us have never had this kind of experience and most likely will never experience this kind again. As we strive to be assured, let us be reminded that God never changes. Nothing in the past, in the present, nor in the future impacts who God is. Not only do we need God, but we also need real companions. We cannot be connected spiritually and not maintain physical connections. We will need this combined connection to deal with the apathy in leadership.
Nothing in the past, in the present, nor in the future impacts who God is. Not only do we need God, but we also need real companions.Tweet
Leadership is not just a pastoral activity, but we all are leaders in our rights. As we pursue God’s appointment, we must listen to the message of hope that comes from God. Through this message, we will receive the reassurance that the task we are assigned will be completed with God’s help. To conclude this blog, we will briefly examine the impact of God’s anointing that is available to us. We all need reassurance, especially during a pandemic.
Zechariah 4:6 (ESV) is a simple verse buried in a much more detailed text. It’s an answer that was given to Zerubbabel by God through the prophet Zachariah. It says this,
6 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.
This text reads like Revelation. A dream with certain representations that are figures that mean something. In this vision, the angel is asking Zechariah probing questions. What does this mean? When he asked the angel a question, the angel would then ask him another question. When you compare this dialogue to Revelation, you see the angel giving instructions to John, and he is writing it down. In Zechariah, we see a more interrogative approach. This kind of dialogue expressed to the prophet the whole meaning of the dream.
What we have here in Zechariah is not just a dream with symbols and figures and representations. This is a dream and someone who is explaining to the prophet the meaning of the dream. In other words, it wasn’t to keep him in darkness, but it was to enlighten him, to assure him of what was to come. When we talk about the goodness of God and speaking in this way, Isaiah 65:24 tells us to “call on me, and I will answer. It shall come to pass that before they call,” God says, “I will answer; and while they are speaking, I will hear.” This verse is another verse of assurance that says God is always there for you.
I am looking through this text, trying to understand the context of what was going on. It is said that this book is the most comprehensive of all the minor prophets, and it comprises over 211 verses [i], while Hosea is the second-longest of the Minor Prophet [ii]. This book of Zechariah presents something of importance and value to us that we can apply to our lives today. When I look in the context of what was happening in those days, this book is what we call the post-exile prophetic utterances. At this point, this prophet received this word to give to the king. In other words, this happened after the exile of the children of Israel.
In his dedication prayer, Solomon prayed in 2 Chronicles 7:14, and he said, “if the people should turn their backs and cry, then Lord, please hear from heaven.” Once he finished praying in chapter six, the Lord responded with the exact words he prayed. Solomon was thinking about the future because he knew the people. He knew that the people would someday or sometimes turn their backs on God.
Just as Solomon had feared, the children of Israel turned their backs on God, rejected God’s commandments. God allowed the enemy, the Philistines, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, to overpower and captured them. Nebuchadnezzar was one of the great kings of Babylon. He devastated Israel, broke down the temple, took out all the gold and precious things, and left the place all tattered and torn. Then he took all the elite people, the young, energetic ones. Those who were princes and princesses were taken to Babylon. He also took those that looked like they could serve, brought them, and placed them in his kingdom.
One theologian says that he believed that Zechariah was left back and grew up during exile. While many were cast away, he was a young man who was brought up in exile. Zerubbabel grew up in a time when the temple was destroyed. He grew up, and he saw destruction all around him, which became part of his reality. I think about some of the children today who are in school and are growing up in this pandemic. The impact of this pandemic on these children will have a lasting effect. This period is going to be etched into their memories. The destruction and the devastation that took place will be part of their experiences.
GOD NEVER CHANGES
Amidst all that has happened in our world today, we must be reassured of the God we serve; he never changes. The God we serve supersedes all things. And so, even though the prophet Zechariah understood what was happening, he still served God. He could have become disheartened and disgruntled. He could have said, well, look at the broken walls, look at the tombs of my ancestors that have been exposed. Can you imagine him walking the streets and hear him saying, this used to be, this was here? The impact this experience had on a young man is unimaginable. But God had his hands upon him. It doesn’t matter what you’re facing, what you’re going through. If God has his hand upon you, you can go through it. You can become what God wants you to be despite what you’re facing.
It doesn’t matter what you’re facing, what you’re going through. If God has his hand upon you, you can go through it. You can become what God wants you to be despite what you’re facing.Tweet
Zechariah became a prophet. Regardless of his past experiences, Zechariah excelled. It is important to note that it wasn’t that there was a lack of prophets, so God only chose the available one. No. There were a lot of prophets, but God used this man for this time. He embraced what God wanted him to be, like David. God used him in a mighty way. God used him to speak encouragement to the man of God who was leading the country at that time. We must become encouragers. We must become carriers of good news. God is looking for men and women who will become the voice of God, proclaiming good news and hope. That’s who Zechariah was.
Another prophet who faced similar circumstances was Nehemiah. He worked in the king’s court; he was the king’s cupbearer. One day Nehemiah requested to go back to his homeland and help to rebuild the wall. The background story to this is interesting because even the temple was destroyed. All the consecrated items in the temple were taken out, brought to the captive lands. Their homes were destroyed. Their sepultures were opened and exposed. When they were sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild, they began to rebuild their own homes. The returning citizens left the temple in disrepair because they got comfortable. The temple was still left broken down. Zerubbabel saw all this disrepair and realized that there was a lack of concern for the things of God. As I studied this, I was reminded that we must make sure that we take care of the things of God in all our endeavors. Here are the things that matter in this world: our service to God and the things of God, and the responsibilities God has given us. It is all about pleasing God.
I’m reminded of the story that Jesus talked about the man who had a huge harvest, and he said in Luke 12:18–19 (ESV)
18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”
The moral of the story is that we should not become so tied up in our pursuit that we neglect what God has put in our hands. We face our realities knowing that God is in charge and never changes. Our God is the same, whether you face situations like Nehemiah, Zechariah, or the rich man in Jesus’ story. Your experiences are nothing that God cannot handle. He is reliable!
WE NEED GENUINE COMPANIONS
In this part of scripture, Zechariah 4:6, we heard Zechariah having a conversation. This part of the conversation is essential because there are so many times we want to correct people and speak into people’s lives, but they have not permitted us to do so. Therefore, they don’t receive your correction; they don’t receive your challenge. I am moved by the fact that Zerubbabel and Zechariah had a good relationship. The king and the prophet had a good relationship so that the prophet could have dreamed a dream, and the king would listen to it. I’m cautious about dreams. Dreams sometimes are meant to tell us things, and sometimes it is just a result of what we consume mentally. However, dreams also are one of the ways God speaks to us. We must be careful in understanding the context of a particular dream since it’s based on interpretations. You must make sure you know what you’re interpreting.
In this scripture, we learned that Zechariah had a series of dreams. This dream was the fifth of the series of dreams that he had. It wasn’t just a one-off. In Zechariah 1, he had a vision of a red horse riding among the myrtles. In Zechariah 1:18-21, he had a vision of four horns and four craftsmen. Then in Zechariah 2, he has a vision of the surveyor with the measuring line. In Zechariah 3, he has a dream about the cleansing and crowning of Joshua. In Zechariah 4, he dreams of the golden lampstand and the two-olive tree. In chapter five, verses one to four, he had a dream with the flying scroll. In Zechariah 5:5-11, he had another vision of a woman. Lastly, in Zechariah 6, he had a vision of chariots. We can see that dreams have their place in how God is communicating to us.
In the series of about eight visions that he had, one of those visions had described a lampstand under two olive trees standing on either side of the lampstands. He interpreted the vision. This message was about providing for and rebuilding the temple of God.
What a companion Zechariah was that God could use him to encourage the king. God entrusted him with the vision and encouragement for the king. Can God entrust you with encouragement for someone else? Can God share the vision of greatness with you for someone else? A good friend is sometimes hard to find.
Can God entrust you with encouragement for someone else? Can God share the vision of greatness with you for someone else? A good friend is sometimes hard to find.Tweet
DEALING WITH APATHY
Facing apathy was challenging to Zerubbabel and many leaders of his time as they sought to rebuild the temple. The people had become complacent. They showed little concerned about the condition of their homeland. Can you imagine that people would just live in this disrepair? Things are all broken up and deteriorated around them. As long as their house was okay, they did not see any need to fix what was still broken. Please do not allow yourself to be comfortable with places of brokenness. Resist the urge to turn a blind eye or to become concerned with only persons in your circle.
Please do not allow yourself to be comfortable with places of brokenness. Resist the urge to turn a blind eye or to become concerned with only persons in your circle.Tweet
Zerubbabel was faced with apathy and complacency. He now had to figure out how to rebuild the temple. As a leader, he was concerned about the place of worship. He was concerned about the house of God. As a child of God, as Christians, we must always be concerned about the house of God. When we talk about the house, it’s not just the building. We are talking about the people of God. The people are the church, not the edifice. We must be concerned about one another, concern about a place where we can gather. As the text says in Proverbs 27:17, iron sharpens iron. We can get together as one and serve and praise God with all our minds and our souls.
One exciting thing in the text that we see is how we should deliver messages. Sometimes we get intimidated about the responses we will receive. Should I say to somebody what the Lord said to my heart? Then you begin to question yourself, is this what God is saying to me? Is it what God’s saying to me, or is it my thoughts? Messengers are constantly questioning themselves to be confident that the message they will deliver is the one God has given to them. In this message, there was concern about the state and the present condition of the temple. The people were less concerned about the temple because their homes were already built.
We see this similar concern with David. When God gave the children of Israel peace, David had built up his palace, and everything was going well. However, David got concerned because he said, “I am living in a timber house, but the Ark of God is in a tent.” Then David inquired of the Lord; he said, “I want to build you a house.” And God said, “no, David, it’s not your place to build it. I have a man that is going to build my temple, but I like your concern.” David says, “well, if I’m not going to be able to build it, then Lord, I’ll provide for it.” This lesson can be applied in this story. King Zerubbabel could have said my palace is okay. I have got people who are caring for me. Why am I worried about the temple? A true man/woman of God who has a heart for the things of God cannot sit still when the things of God are in disarray. Your heart and your mind are concerned; you are concerned about current conditions.
A true man/woman of God who has a heart for the things of God cannot sit still when the things of God are in disarray. Your heart and your mind are concerned; you are concerned about current conditions.Tweet
I am writing this article in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic. In the USA, over 700,000[iii]persons have died from the pandemic. Many persons have been severely sickened because of this disease. Many lives have been uprooted, and things are not the same. I was just thinking the other day, and I said, even when COVID has passed, things will never go back to what we called “normal.” Life and the way we operated have entirely changed.
COVID19 has taken over the entire world; our lives will not be the same. Many are not taking this reality well. Many people are suffering mentally during this time. What will happen to those people when this is passed? I can imagine Zerubbabel; as I was thinking about this crisis, I kept thinking about all these people suffering today. I think of all the frontline workers who work in the hospitals and the nursing home. The trauma that they must have suffered. What is going through their minds when they hear the codes being called. They hear all the suffering and the sounds and smell of death.
I heard from some of the frontline workers as they told me that they could hear the sound of death in the hospitals. One person recalled her experience suffering in the hospital suffering from COVID19. Some of the scariest times were in the middle of the night; one could hear someone dying. You know that they have the same disease you have, and they just passed away. You were laying in the bed, not knowing if you were going to survive that night. Now those who have come out of that experience have to live with this experience.
What made the trauma even worse in the early months was that you couldn’t even go to the funerals. So, you don’t know if the person who’s lying there is your loved one or not. You’re just taking it at face value. You didn’t even have a proper burial. I mean, they didn’t even have services at the church or services inside of the funeral homes. They just had them in the parking lots and gravesides; then, they would go directly to the burial ground. People didn’t have time to grieve and to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones. We need to hear from God. We need to listen to a word that will give us some comfort. We need to understand that God knows about the things we go through. Maybe you are like Zerubbabel, faced with devastation but want to serve God. Faced with the fact that you might not have the folks that you need to encourage you, but you have God. Faced with the fact that all your plans might have been destroyed you can take comfort in the fact that God is with you. If God is with you, then you’re all right.
Faced with the fact that all your plans might have been destroyed you can take comfort in the fact that God is with you. If God is with you, then you’re all right.Tweet
[i] Hwang, J. (2016). Zechariah, Book of. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
[ii] Hwang, J. (2016). Zechariah, Book of. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
[iii] https://covidusa.net. 10/01/21
[iv] Silva, M., & Tenney, M. C. (2009). In The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, M-P (Revised, Full-Color Edition, Vol. 4, p. 918). Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation.
[v] Smith, R. L. (1984). Micah–Malachi (Vol. 32, p. 166). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.