December 27 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“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.’” ~Zechariah 4:6

OLD TESTAMENT

How will God restore His people? Not by human might or power, but by His spirit! What an encouragement to Zerubabbel, the governor, who had the thankless task of trying to rouse the people to rebuild their lives. God gives the prophet Zechariah a vision of seven lamps fed by an elevated central bowl that is always overflowing with oil. There is a constant source of energy providing a constant source of light. The olive oil is sourced from two olive trees representing the governor or secular authority and the high priest or religious authority (see Zech. 4:14 and notes).

The vision is another way for God to communicate His promise to provide enduring strength to His people through His Spirit. Whatever mountains they face, they will level (Zech. 4:7). Whatever discouragement they face, especially from those who call their work “a small thing,” they will overcome (Zech. 4:10). Men will one day rejoice over the work God’s people accomplish, all because the Spirit of the Lord is at work among them.

In fact, a flying scroll (envision an advertisement pulled behind an airplane) announces judgment on everyone who opposes the work (Zech. 5:1-4). Wickedness will be packed up and shipped off to Babylon (Zech. 5:5-11). The kingdom of God’s people will be rebuilt and someday ruled by the Messiah, who will rule the nations from the very city of Jerusalem. Zechariah’s vision blends the near future with the distant future. Restoration begins now—in his lifetime—and stretches into eternity to the new heavens and the new earth.

The governor and the priest had their work cut out for them providing leadership for this beleaguered people, who desperately need restoration. But HE strengthened them for their good work. In fact, God Almighty was a constant source of strength for His leaders and for the Israelites, as He is for us. Relying upon the Lord does not mean that you “let go and let God,” as the saying goes.[1] (It’s a catchy phrase but terrible theology.) It means that if you have returned to the Lord and you want to be restored, “there ain’t no mountain high enough” to keep that from happening. Put one foot in front of the other and diligently obey the Lord (see Zechariah 6:15). He will return to those who return to Him. He will restore and bless them right now and forever!

[1] Relying on the strength the Lord provides does not mean we become passive in our own restoration. No! It means that we roll up our sleeves and do all that He calls us to do (see Zechariah 6:15) while praying for His Spirit to help us do what we cannot do on our own. It is a cooperative effort, and with His help we will succeed.

NEW TESTAMENT

Babylon, as we have already learned, represents the great city of Rome. Rome persecuted the people of God, and although the city is rich and powerful, God would bring her down for the way she hurt the saints. If you are having a difficult time following the back and forth timeline, remember that all of these events are future from John’s perspective. From ours, some events, like the fall of Rome, have already taken place while others await fulfillment.

This prophecy is in John’s future and in our past. We have previously touched on the lesson God’s people can take from this passage. It bears repeating more emphatically. All secular powers are under the sovereign rule of God even now. Yes, even before His grand entrance, He controls the rise and fall of nations and the rise and fall of political powers. We need to stop wringing our hands and watching Fox News in frustration! Sometimes He allows His people to go through dangers, toils, and snares (for a season). His grace has led us safe thus far, and His grace will lead us home. Soon the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will enter this world.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.