Are You Ready To Let the Spirit Empower You For the Work? 











Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah, and more specifically, begins with the first verse of the fourth chapter, and continues through to the eleventh verse of the fifth chapter. The fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Zechariah has perhaps one of the most noted and quoted passages in all of Scripture. There are very few biblical scholars and students of the Scripture who aren’t aware of its presence within Scripture, and many have crafted sermons, teachings, and messages around it. There have been a number of men and women throughout the years who have read the Lord’s words which were spoken unto Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah, and have translated them into a message of hope and encouragement—either for their own individual lives, or for the lives of others. What’s more, is that most—when reading and quoting from this particular passage of Scripture—quote only verse six, and perhaps even verse seven. Consider if you will what is recorded in the sixth verse of this particular passage of Scripture—“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zecharaiah 4:6). There are a number of men and women who will isolate this verse, and separate it from the rest of the text surrounding it—that which is before it, and that which comes after it. At times, the seventh verse is used in direct connection with that which we find in the sixth verse, for the seventh verse is perceived to have a direct connection with what we read in the sixth verse. These are the words we will find in the seventh verse of this chapter—“Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it” (Zechariah 4:7). The problem with isolating the sixth verse, or perhaps even the sixth and seventh verse together is that by doing so, we completely miss out on the context that not only sets up these words, but also proceeds it.
 If you read the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Zechariah, you will clearly recognize and understand that one cannot simply isolate the sixth and/or the seventh verse by themselves without carefully considering that the sixth and seventh verses are directly linked and connected with verses one through five, as well as verses eight through ten. This is how the passage looks like when you read it within its proper context beginning with the first verse, and continuing through to the tenth verse: “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerbbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone therefore with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:1-10).

 WHEN THE VISION IS THE WORD OF THE LORD! WHEN THE VISION DESCRIBES THE WORD OF THE LORD! When you begin reading the first five verses of this chapter you will find the same angel which had previously talked with Zechariah come unto him once more, and waking him. Zechariah describes the angel’s activity within his life as waking him, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. It’s actually interesting to consider that not only did the angel wake Zechariah, but the angel also proceeded to immediately ask him what he saw. AWAKENED TO SEE! AWAKENED TO BEHOLD! There is actually something rather unique here, for as you read this passage of Scripture, you get the sense that the prophet was wakened in order that he might see that which the Lord desired to show and reveal unto him. I can’t help but get the strong sense that the angel was sent to waken Zechariah in order that he might see that which he perhaps would not be able to see while asleep. The more I consider this particular encounter within the life of the prophet Zechariah, the more I can’t help but get the sense that Zechariah was wakened in order that he might see—and not only see, but also to see and understand. When Zechariah was wakened from his sleep, the angel didn’t merely ask him what he saw, but as a result of Zechariah not understanding what he saw, the angel proceeded to reveal the meaning behind the vision. There is a great part of me that can’t help but wonder how many men and women among us right now need to be wakened—and not just wakened for the sake of being wakened, but being wakened in order that they might see and understand. There were specific times in Scripture when the Lord spoke to certain individuals while they lie down to sleep through specific dreams and visions. One such example is found in the life of Abraham when the Lord caused Abraham to enter into a deep sleep, and while in that state, the Lord passed through the parts of the offering and sacrifice in order to enter into and confirm His covenant with Abraham. It was while Jacob was sleeping in Luz—later to be called and known as Beth-el—that he saw a vision of a ladder coming down from heaven with angels ascending and descending upon it. It was while Samuel was sleeping in the tabernacle at Shiloh the Lord called out to him—not once, not twice, but three times. It was while Joseph was sleeping the angel Gabriel came unto him in a vision instructing him concerning the child that was to be born of Mary.

 When I read and consider the text and language that is found within the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Zechariah, I can’t help but get the strong sense that the word which was revealed and spoken unto Zechariah not only concerned Zerubbabel who was governor over the returned exiles in the land of Israel, but also centered upon the house of the Lord that was to be built in the midst of God’s people. It’s worth noting that during the days of the returned exiles, the Lord raised up two distinct prophetic voices in order to encourage the work of rebuilding the house of the Lord. What’s more, is that not only do I believe the Lord raised up prophetic voices to encourage the work of the Lord, but also to hold the returned exiles accountable for the work. When you read the prophetic book of Haggai you are immediately confronted with the strong reality that the returned exiles had abandoned and neglected the work and responsibility of building the house of the Lord within and in the midst of the people of God. The prophet Haggai was raised up in the sixth month of the reign of Darius king of Persia to directly confront the complete and utter disregard for the house of the Lord within the land. The returned exiles had perhaps begun the work of rebuilding the house of the Lord, yet they had allowed themselves to get caught up in the building of their own houses that they completely neglected the work of building the house. WHEN DID BUILDING YOUR HOUSE BECOME MORE IMPORTANT? WHEN DID YOUR HOUSE BECOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD? The Lord raised up the prophet Haggai to speak directly to the people—those who had returned from exile and captivity, and had begun to dwell once more in the land of their inheritance, promise and blessing. The prophet Haggai was raised up by the Lord of hosts to encourage the revival of the work of rebuilding the house of the Lord, for that work had lie dormant for far too long. It’s worth noting that Cyrus the Great—that Persian king who issued the decree permitting the Jews to not only return to their homeland, but to also rebuild the Temple. If you study the history of the kings of Persia—beginning with Cyrus himself—you will discover that Cyrus began his reign in 550 B.C. and reigned until 529 B.C. Immediately following Cyrus the Great was Cambyses II who reigned from the year 529 B.C. until 522 B.C., thus revealing his reign lasted only seven years. Cambyses would be followed by Darius ! who would begin his reign in the year 522 B.C., and would continue his reign until 486 B.C., thus indicating his reign lasted thirty-six years in total.

 The reason it’s important to study the dates of the reigns of these three kings is because it provides you with a clear understanding concerning the length of time it took to rebuild the Temple of the Lord within the land. If you study the prophetic book of Haggai, you will discover that the word of the Lord came unto Haggai in the sixth month of the second year of Darius the Mede, which reveals something truly intriguing about the work of rebuilding the Temple. If the work of rebuilding the Temple did in fact begin the first year of Cyrus the Great when he issued the decree that permitted the Jewish people to return to their own land, and to rebuild the Temple, and if during the second year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the work still had not been completed, that means and suggests the reality that for nearly thirty years the returned exiles and captives of Israel had been sitting on the work for thirty years. HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO SIT ON THE WORK OF THE LORD? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SITTING ON THE WORK OF THE LORD? HOW LONG HAS THE WORK OF THE LORD LIE DORMANT WITHIN YOUR LIFE? It’s interesting to note that the prophet Haggai didn’t speak to them concerning the work not having begun at all, but rather, that the work had become stalled and was now stagnant among them in their midst. WHEN THE WORK OF THE LORD GROWS STAGNANT AND STAEL IN YOUR MIDST! There is a tremendous part of me that can’t help but wonder how many ministries and churches are and have been in the place where the work of the Lord has grown stagnant and stale in their midst. If the Lord raised up the prophet Haggai during the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia, that would mean the work had essentially been going on for thirty years. The Old Testament book of Ezra begins as the final chapter of the book of Second Chronicles leaves up—with a description of the decree Cyrus the Great issued in the first year of his reign as king of Persia. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that thirty years had passed, and that after thirty years, the work had still not been completed. In all reality, I can’t help but wonder how far along the returned exiles and captives had even come in the work of rebuilding the house. I would love to know what the returned exiles and captives have to show after thirty years of being back in the land of their inheritance.

 There is actually something that is quite interesting to consider in light of all this—a reality that must include the prophetic book of Jonah, as well as the prophetic book of Haggai. When considering these two prophetic books together, there are two distinct questions that I can’t help but ask. The first question that I am confronted with is how long it takes you to start the work which the Lord has called you to do. When you examine the life of Jonah, you will discover how the word of the Lord came unto him and instructed him to journey unto Nineveh and preach repentance and a warning of judgment. Initially, the prophet attempted to flee—not only from the presence of the Lord, not only from the assignment the Lord called him to, but also from the mercy and grace of the Lord. Jonah attempted to board a ship headed toward Tarshish until a storm buffeted the ship upon the waters and appeared to threaten the lives of all those who were aboard the ship. Eventually Jonah was cast off the ship and was swallowed by a large fish that was prepared by the Lord to preserve him. When I consider the life of Jonah, the question I am confronted with is how long it takes you to start and begin the work of the Lord. Jonah was not in a rush to begin the work of the Lord, and as a result, he not only experienced a storm upon the sea, but he also spent three days and three nights in the belly of a large fish. When you consider the returned exiles and captives of Israel, the question is not how long it takes them to begin the work, but how long it takes to complete the work. There is not a doubt in my mind that there were a number of men and women who jumped at the chance and opportunity to leave the land of their exile and captivity and return to their own land. This brings us something quite interesting—the concept that there are those among us who are anxious to return to rest, but not anxious to return to work. There are a number of men and women who are anxious to return to inheritance, to promise, and to blessing, yet they are not in the least bit anxious to return to responsibility. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand that the exiles and captives didn’t merely return to rest alone, but also to responsibility.

I am convinced that we have been led to believe that rest includes the absence of work, for after all, we read of the Lord’s actions on the seventh day. In the opening three verses of the second chapter of the book of Genesis we read these words concerning the Lord’s response to the seventh day after He had spent six days creating the heavens and the earth. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3). What’s more, is that we have been led to believe that even the words of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews further confirms this reality of rest absent any type of work and/or responsibility. Consider if you will the words which the author of this epistle wrote to the Hebrews: “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given themrest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:1-11).

THE WORK THAT ACCOMPANIES THE REST! It’s incredibly interesting to read the words of the author of this epistle, for within this chapter they encourage the readers to “labour therefore to enter into that rest.” Please don’t miss or lose sight of this reality, for the author of this epistle suggests that there is a rest that is to be experienced and enjoyed by the saints, however, in order to experience that rest, we are to engage in a labour to do so. When the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River and entered into the land—while the land of Canaan represented a rest that was available for them, there was still a work that needed to be done to actually enter into and experience that rest. What’s more, is that when you read of their encounters east of the Jordan River, you will also discover that there were certain battles that needed to be fought, and certain enemies that needed to be defeated. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews spoke of laboring to entering into the rest, and I can’t help but consider the incredible truth that there is a work that is involved in experiencing the rest that is being and has been prepared for us. What’s more, is that we dare not, we cannot, we must not convinced ourselves that rest is absent any type of work or responsibility. I am inclined to think that there were a number of men and women who were excited and enthusiastic to return to their rest within the land of inheritance, yet that excitement and enthusiasm quickly dissipated when that return to rest carried with the responsibility to rebuild. What do you do when the return to rest carries with it both an assignment, as well as a responsibility? How do you react when the Lord did indeed return you to your rest, yet that rest was quickly met with the responsibility of rebuilding? I would dare say that one of the most important and pointed reasons why it took nearly thirty years to rebuild the Temple is because there were a number of men and women who found themselves at odds when they recognized the responsibility that was associated with rest. The question I asked when considering the life of Jonah is how long it might take you to even begin and start the work, but the question I find myself asking when considering the prophetic book of Haggai is how long it takes you to complete the work? I am convinced that any individual can begin and start the work, and perhaps even carry out the work skillfully for a period of time, yet when it comes to completing the work, they fall short and allow the work to suffer.

I am reminded of the words which Jesus spoke when speaking before the great multitudes which came unto Him—words which are recorded for us in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke. “And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33). The words which Jesus spoke in this parable speak of a man who set out to build a tower, and even laid the foundation of that tower, yet was unable to finish the tower because he did not first calculate the cost of what was required. I would dare say that this might very well describe what took place during the days of Darius king of Persia, and the reason the Lord raised up Haggai and Zechariah. Those who returned to the place of their rest may have been aware of the work that needed to be done within the land, and may have even been aware of the king’s decree and desire to make that work happen, yet at some point in the middle of the work they found themselves considering the cost and burden of the work to be too great. What about you? Have you found yourself in this place right now? Have you found yourself in the place where the cost, the burden, the weight, and the responsibility of the work had become too much for you, and as a result, the work itself has suffered? What do you do when the work that is before you—even the work you have been called to do—costs more than what you originally thought, or may even seem to cost more than you are willing to give? The Lord raised up two distinct prophets after thirty years of engaging in the work—not only to encourage the work, but also to ensure the work is carried out to completion.

What I absolutely love about the words which Zechariah spoke in this particular passage is not only how it directly relates to the work, but how it shows the work is even to be completed. After thirty years the work of rebuilding the Temple had still not been completed, and men and women were more concerned with building and living in their own houses than they were with building the house of the Lord. The words which Zechariah spoke unto Zerubbabel are absolutely astounding, for it reveals what lies at the very heart of the work to begin with. Jesus speaks of not counting the cost before attempting and engaging in the work, yet Zechariah—according to the word of the Lord—reveals something equally as important and necessary. How many men and women allow the work to suffer, and fail to continue, and even complete the work—not because they stopped the work, but because they attempted to do the work without and apart from the person and presence of the Spirit? You will notice that the Lord of hosts declared unto Zerubbabel that it was not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the living God. This is absolutely astounding, for you will read in the New Testament epistle to the Galatians how the apostle Paul speaks of beginning in the Spirit, yet ending in and with the flesh. When it comes to the work of rebuilding the Temple, I would dare suggest that the work was begun without the Spirit, and as a result of the absence of the presence and power of the Spirit, the work suffered, and even lie dormant for an extended period of time. I can’t help but think of how many works and endeavors within this generation have completely ceased, and have lie dormant for an extended period of time because the work was begun without, apart from and absent the person and power of the Spirit. We play an incredibly dangerous game when we attempt to begin a work without and apart from the person and presence and power of the Spirit, for we are forced to rely upon our own arm of flesh rather than the Spirit who enables us to carry out and complete the work. What work with your life has suffered and has lied dormant because you thought you could begin the work in the flesh apart from the Spirit? How many of us are overly confident in our flesh, and perhaps even our own supposed and alleged strength, and only when we realize the task and assignment that is before us is greater than we anticipated do we truly understand what is going on?

STOP THE WORK, OR DRAW STRENGTH FROM THE SPIRIT? I am convinced that we are ultimately faced with two decisions when we find the task and assignment that is before us to be greater than we thought, or perhaps even anticipated. If we ever reach the point and place where the task and responsibility that is before us is perhaps greater than we anticipated, or requires more of us than we might be willing to give, we can either draw from the power and presence of the Spirit of the living God, or we can retreat within ourselves and completely hide ourselves from the work that is before us. There are countless men and women who may very well have started a work in their own flesh, and at some point during their attempt at that work, they found the cost to be greater than they had anticipated, or perhaps were even willing to pay. Such individuals can either draw strength and stamina from the Spirit of the living God, or they can allow the work to suffer by allowing to lie dormant within their lives. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women are right now living in the place where the work of God is lying dormant within their lives because they have not only chosen not to begin in and with the Spirit, but they have also chosen not to draw from the strength, the power and the might of the Spirit of God. I am utterly and completely convinced that what we find within this passage of Scripture is an invitation—an invitation to resurrect a work that perhaps did not begin in and with the Spirit, but could continue, and even be completed with the Spirit. I find the words which the Lord spoke through the prophet Zechariah to be incredibly powerful to any and all who thought they could begin the work without and apart from the Spirit, yet quickly found themselves being unable to complete the work because of such a reality. What’s more, is that not even Jesus Christ the Son of the living God could carry out—much less complete—the work assigned unto Him without and apart from the Spirit. In fact, Scripture gives every indication that Jesus did in fact begin the work and ministry to which He had been called by and through the Spirit of Almighty God. Consider what is recorded at the very beginning of the fourth chapter of the New Testament Gospel of Luke, and what is recorded after Jesus returned from being tempted by the devil. IN the first verse we read these words—“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1). In the fourteenth verse—immediately after the temptation we find these words—“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and therew went out a fame of him through all the region round about” (Luke 4:14). Finally—and I leave you with these words—we find Jesus further describing the activity and presence of the Spirit within His life—“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19)

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