In 1738 John Wesley was struggling with his faith. He asked Moravian Peter Bholer if he should quit preaching faith because he himself struggled with faith. Peter Bholer told John Wesley keep preaching. When Wesley asked him why Bholer responded, “Preach faith until you have faith so you can have faith to preach faith.” This has been an enduring quotation because you just have to jump in their somewhere, regardless of where you are at the moment.
Now I am preaching the power of the Spirit from Zechariah 4:6 ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” I am not going to analyze where I am right now but dive in like Peter Bholer admonished to Preach power in the Spirit until you have power in the Spirit, so when you have power in the Spirit you can preach power in the Spirit.
This year I want to major on the minor. Usually we say major on the minor in a negative way, but this time it is a good thing. I mean I plan to focus on the Minor Prophets. Zechariah is the principal minor prophet. The little Revelation. There is so much throughout the book of future in Christ. This Apocalyptic book is there to offer a future hope. There is the ultimate victory for God’s people and their enemies defeated.
This period of history precedes the “400 silent years.” It was the close of the Old Testament. It has been described not as running out of steam but going out in a blaze of glory. Look at the books of the Bible that focus on this narrow band of history; Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Daniel, Esther and Malachi. The “silence” broken when Zachariah has his tongue loosed when he says the forerunner to the Messiah will be named John.
Look at the Persian Kings period timeline:
When a remnant returned from exile in Babylon the people built the altar and work on the temple progressed for fifteen years. Then those living in the land discouraged the work. The people who returned to build turned inward and built their own houses. Zechariah and prophet Haggai speak to return to the Lord. Haggai tells them their selfish focus is like putting their money in purses with holes.
If we are going to accomplish anything in the spiritual realm that will make an eternal impact then it will require genuine Abiding in our Lord. That has been our Modus operandi and we see how Zechariah knew this was the key for God’s people and calls them to return to God. The governor leading the building of the temple Zerubbabel had a huge work to do. It was going to take more than hard work. It requires the power of God, “by my Spirit” says the Lord.
Return to Me. Zechariah 1:3
Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.
I heard a message on Zechariah 1:3 that was powerful. It was a buckle your seatbelt exciting message. It was a message that stuck with me for many years later. The illustration for the passage was from the animal kingdom.
Everything returns to the Lord but his people. Migratory birds never miss a year. Sea turtles come back to the same beach. Even Salmon fish don’t forget to return from the sea up the river they were born.
But for the Lord’s people there is spiritual apathy with no sense of urgency for the task at hand. There are priorities on the things of the world. God has not forgotten his people. He calls them to return.
That powerful message that so impacted me to return to God with the illustration from the Salmon and the migratory birds had a spiritual fall that was public and embarrassing. He asked how the Salmon could be smarter than we are. Then he was so far off the path. We all need to be reminded to return to the Lord not just that pastor who fell.
And with the call to return to God guess who shows up. The Lord Christ shows up among the myrtle riding a red horse, pre-incarnate Christ. When John the Baptist arrived on the scene to prepare the way for Jesus, the awaited messiah, John preached repentance.
Zechariah is preaching repentance yes, but return. Return to God. Why because we drift. It is the second law of thermodynamics. Everything goes from a state of order to disorder. When we find ourselves in the spiritual drift the Lord says, return to me. For God’s people there is spiritual apathy. There is no sense of urgency. They have taken on misplaced priorities.
The Lord’s people found themselves in a discouraging place. They drifted from God. When we return to God he returns to us. This is abiding in Christ and bearing fruit that remains.
In the Power of the Holy Spirit Zechariah 4:6
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.
We must do the work of the eternal realm in the power of the Spirit of God. If you put an iron poker in the fire it will become as hot as the fire. You take that iron poker out of the fire and it glows red from the heat. If a piece of paper even comes near the heat of that iron poker it would ignite into flames. It has that power because it has been in the fire.
We must abide in the Lord to have the power of the Lord. We must be in the spiritual fire and when someone comes into contact with us the power of God works because the Holy Spirit is working through us.
The first temple of Solomon had massive manpower and finances behind it with King David making preparation for the buildings success. Now this is just a remnant. Building this temple are small things in comparison to Solomon’s Temple.
Don’t despise small things when God is in it. Finishing the task right here with a remnant. Zechariah 4 Vs 10 “Who dares despise the day of small things? It is not the day of small things when you have the power of God.
We can sharpen our methods and prepare our strategies for ministry, but unless the Lord works it is not going to have spiritual power and will be ineffective. Psalm 127 says unless the Lord builds the house, the workman labor in vain. It is vain to rise up early and stay up late eating the bread of anxious toil.
Peter and John said Silver and God I have none, but the power of God. They knew it was not by might or power but by the power of God. May we not say, power of God I have none, but we have a lot of silver and gold. We must abide and know the power of God to accomplish our work in the eternal realm.
Let us go with you Zechariah 8:23
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’
Zechariah 4:6 is well-known and often quoted and Zechariah 1:3 is familiar to us. But Zechariah 8:23 is the hidden gem. It is one of those verses you read and think why have I not seen this verse before?
If we really apply the Zechariah 1:3 and 4:6 in our lives the results will be what we read in Zechariah 8:23. People will grab us to find out the secret. Where did you get that joy? How is it you have that peace? I want what you have. I want Jesus Christ in my life to have the spiritual experience you have in your relationship with God. They will grab you by the collar and not let go until you share the gospel with them.
You probably have come across someone and you can just sense they know the Lord in a very intimate way. When I was a young man we invited a speaker to address our group on spiritual awakening. It was obvious that he lived everything he was saying about a close powerful walk with the Lord. I wanted to go with him because of the way his life demonstrated the presence of the Lord.
I got my chance a couple of years later. He was leading a morning prayer time every Tuesday that was walking distance from where I lived. I went every Tuesday I could because I wanted to meet with him because I sensed such a powerful presence of the Lord in his life. We can be like that when we return to God and live in the power of the Spirit.
We want to live our lives so returned to God, so full of the power of the Spirit that anyone from atheists to people from other religions would grab us. I want what you have. They would recognize all their religious duty does not bring power of God they see in our lives.
There may be spiritual frauds out there. They only fool people for so long. People seek and find the genuine spiritual authority. Why did the woman touch the hem of Jesus garment? She knew he had the power of God, she not only heard about it but she could just sense it. She recognized the power of God, she grabbed hold of the hem of his garment and she herself experienced the power of God.
Zechariah saw a day when believers would have this kind of presence of God in their lives. That is why not just Zechariah, but all the prophets longed to trade places with us. We live on this side of the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. The kingdom of God is within you. You have the hope of glory. It is no wonder others are attracted to Jesus through your life when you really live close to God.
In my own testimony when I came to Christ it was largely because I met people who I could tell really experienced God in their lives. I want that. I want to grab your shirt and go with you. I want that peace. I want that assurance of eternal live.
When you share the gospel expect people to look into your eyes. Does he really live of the live of grace in Jesus Christ he is talking about? If so then come what may they will die to self and forsake everything they have to obtain that one eternal treasure. They see in you what their own religious leaders long for but do not have.
You can’t buy that kind of presence of the Lord. This kind of spiritual authority comes when you abide in Christ. It comes when you genuinely walk with the Lord. It is a life returned to God in the power of the Spirit.