Introduction - Zechariah 4:6

Steve Viars July 10, 1990 Zechariah 4:6

 

- tonight we're beginning a new series entitled "Favorite

  Bible passages"

- let me mention some goals we have for this series

 

  1)  To suggest some favorite Bible verses.

       - I realize that there are many folks here tonight who

             - have studied the Word of God for many years

             - memorized dozens of verses

             - have a number of verses that readily come to

               mind when you think of "favorite Bible verses"

       - those verses have been a great comfort to you over

         the years, and a great source of encouragement and

         strength

       - but not everybody is like that

       - some here have only been a Christian a short while

       - if you asked them, "what are your favorite Bible

         verses, they might not have any"

       - when you think about it, if you've just recently

         been saved, how would you have any?

 

       - this series is going to highlight some of those so

         that everyone who participates will have some

         favorite Bible verses if they don't already  (so

         they can have a source of encouragement, strenth,

         hope, etc.)

 

  2)  To gain a better understanding of some of our favorite

      Bible verses.

 

      - I wonder tonight if we asked various folks to share

        some of their favorite verses, and then asked "Now,

        what does that mean, and what does that mean...", I

        wonder how many of us would say, "Ya know, I never

        thought about it before"

 

      - what did Jesus mean when he said in John 3:16, "For

        God so loved the world, that he gave his only

        begotten Son?.  What does only begotten son mean?

 

      - sometimes our increased understanding will come

        through studying the verse grammatically

 

      - thats true of our passage tonight

 

      - at other times our understanding will be increased

        through studying the context of the verses

 

      - when you think of some of your favorite verses, can

        you also think of what the verses around it say?

        Often times we can't and that limits our

        understanding.

 

      - hopefully some of those verses will take on new

        meaning as we look at them in their context.

 

  3) To be reminded of some of the important "old" truths.

     Our favorite Bible verses are favorite for a reason.

     They had some truth that was very meaningful to us.  Its

     good from time to time to be reminded  of those truths.

 

 

     - you realize that the Bible is not like old chewing

       gum.

     - Can you remember back to when you were  child and

       you'd chew a piece of gum all day, go to bed, put the

       gum on the bedpost, wake up the next morning, pop it

       in and off you'd go

     - remember what that tasted like?  There just wasn't

       anything left.  You chew it a while and then you throw

       it away.

 

     - God's truth isn't like that

     - Jeremiah said - It is because of the Lord's mercies we

       are not consumed...they are new every morning...great

       is thy faithfulness

          - there is a freshness to the Word of God, where it

            doesn't matter how long you've known a verse,

            being reminded of those truths is always

            refreshing

          - perhaps thats why Peter said, at the end of his

            life and ministry - "I will not be negligent to

            put you always in remebrance of these things,

            even though you know them"

 

  - I didn't list this one, but of course our purpose in

    studying any passage of Scripture is to look for ways

    that we can be changing and growing, and that will be

    part of this study as well

 

- one more thing I need to say about this series - If you

  have a favorite verse that you'd like to nominate - feel

  free to do so

 

- The verse that we're going to work on tonight is a favorite

  for many, but I realize it may be an obscure one for you

 

- Zechariah 4:6 - read

 

I.  Background Material

 

    - whenever we study the Old Testament, it helps to know

      what time period that particulat passage of Scripture

      was written

    - while I certainly don't think a person should become an

      expert on Old Testament history, let me reccomend a

      couple of dates that I think you ought to memorize so

      you'll be able to think through where a passage fits

      into the history of Israel

 

    A.  Key O.T. Dates

        2165 B.C. - call of Abraham

 

        1000 B.C. - David

 

         931 B.C. - kingdom divided

 

         722 B.C. - Israel (northern k-dom) falls to Assyria

 

         586 B.C. - Judah (southern k-dom) falls to Babylon

 

         538 B.C. - Zerubbabel leads group of Jews back

    B. Who was Zerubbabel?

 

        political leader who led a group of Jews back to

        Jerusalem.  Zech. 4 is addressed to him.

 

    C.  What was Zerubbabel doing in Jerusalem?

 

        (what is the first thing the Jews would want to do?)

 

         - rebuild the temple

 

    D.  What other prophet was active during this time?

 

         - Haggai

 

    E.  What historical book can be read to fill in the

        "historical gaps" for this period?

 

        - Exra

 

        - read Ezra 4:1-5, 17-24

 

        - point of the verses is - here are individuals who

          are in a terribly discouraging situation, and

          they've been working

             - heavy, physical labor

             - trying to their best for the Lord

        - now it looks like the whole project is going to be

          shut down

 

        - we all know what thats like

        - you may be in a situation like that right now

 

        - where you've been trying to grow

        - you've been trying to apply Bible messages you've

          heard

 

        - fighting against the world, the flesh, the devil is

          difficult business

 

        - God had a message for Zerubbabel and his people -

          the message was "Not by might, nor by power, but by

          my spirit, saith the Lord"

 

- question is - What does that mean?

 

II.  The Meaning of the Phrase "Not By Might, Nor By Power,

     But By My Spirit, Saith The Lord"

 

    - this has been a favorite Bible verse for years

    - it has been put to song

    - but what does it mean?

 

    A.  possibilities

 

        1.  We will fail if we try to use our might and power

            in a situation.

 

        2.  We ought to just "let go and let God" and stop

            trying to influence a situation with our wisdom,

            might, and power.

 

        3.  We ought to work as hard as we can using all of

            our wisdom, strength, and power but rely on the

            Holy Spirit as the source of that power.

 

        - note - we're not asking which of these statements

          you agree with - I'm asking which of these

          statements is taught by Zechariah 4:6.  (thats

          Zech. 4:6 interpreted in light of the rest of the

          Scripture, but the verse says what it says)

 

    - you understand that your answer to that question is

      very important

 

    Hypothetical situation - A friend of yours is making a

      decision about changing employment.  He tells you that

      he has been weighing the decision in his mind and he

      even shows you a piece of paper on which he has been

      writing the positive factors of his decision in one

      column and the negative factors in another.  How would

      you take Zechariah 4:6-7 and influenece his decision

      process?

 

        - to be consistent, your answers here would have to

          match what you said about the three posibilities

 

        1) You must stop trying to figure this situation out

           on your own.  Instead, you should just pray and

           ask God to speak to you about this decision.

 

        2) You will never come to the right decision until

           you "let go and let God."  Just ask Him to give

           you peace about the decision.

 

        3) You should consider weighing the situation in your

           mind.  However, make sure you are deciding the

           negative and positive factors based on biblical

           truth.  But by all means, prayerfully continue

           using all your strength and mental ability to make

           that decision.

 

        - remember again, the question isn't, with which one

          of these statements do you agree, the question is:

          which of these statements is most consistent with

          Zech. 4:6

 

- that leads us to this question:

 

    B.  What was God saying when He said, "Not by might, nor

        by power, but by my Spirit?"

 

        Major Question - Was God prohibiting Zerubbabel's use

          of his own might and power?

 

        - in other words, was He saying, As long as you are

          trying to do this using your own strength, you will

          fail?

 

        - or was He saying something different?

 

        Some parallel passages will answer this question:

 

 

        - I'm going to mention a couple of passages that have

          the same construction as Zech. 4:6

        - in other words, they are put together the same way

           (we're still trying to answer the question, was

           God prohibiting the use of Zerubbabel's strength?)

 

        Lev. 22:6 - "...He will not eat of the Holy things

                      but he wash his hands with water."

 

        - in Hebrew, that verse is set up exactly the same

 

        - was God prohibiting the priest from eating of the

          holy things?

            - no, He was qualifying it

            - that makes all the difference in the world

 

        Gen. 32:27 - (Jacob and the angel) - "I will not let

                      you go except you bless me."

 

        - question again - was Jacob saying that he would

            never let the angel go? - No, he's qualifying the

            release.

 

        - now, what does that have to do with Zechariah 4:6?

 

        - the verse would best be translated - Not by might,

          nor by power, except by my Spirit, saith the Lord

 

        - God wasn't prohibiting the use the Zerubbabel's

          strength and power, he was qualifying it

 

        - Zerubbabel - you are a difficult situation

            - it does look like the project is coming to a

              halt

            - you are tired and discouraged

 

        - but I'm going to tell you something that will both

          rebuke you and encourage  you at the same time

 

        - its not by might, nor by power, except by my Spirit

          saith the Lord

 

            - you're not going to be able to handle this

              situation, or any other situation, without my

              divine help and intervention

            - the degree to which you've been trying to get

              this thing solved independant of me, to that

              degree you've been sinning

 

               - if you keep it up, you're going to lash out

                 at them

               - if you keep it up, you're going to respond

                 in sinful anger

               - if you keep it up, you're going to spoil the

                 witness Israel is supposed to be to other

                 nations

 

               - see--be sure you have the "but by me Spirit

                 part in place"

 

 

            - and Zerubbabel - here's the other side

            - if you're thinking about giving up

            - if you're thinking about quitting

 

            - if you're thinking about sitting around to work

              this thing out without your involvement

                - I don't work that way either

                - part of my plan and program in this

                  situation and in most situations involves

                  and includes you exerting your might and

                  strength

 

            - so get up and dust yourself off--we've got work

              to do

 

III.  How Zech. 4:6 Should Affect Us

 

    A.  Encourages Us To Do Things That We Never Did Before

 

        - many of us don't get things done for God because

          we're not using the strength, might, wisdom, and

          the opportunities He's given us

 

        - while some of us wouldn't call it this - at times

          we have an open door mentality to deciding what

          we're going to attempt to do for the Lord

 

        - I'll talk about what's right with that in a minute,

          but its mostly wrong

 

        - we end up excusing lack of activity on things like:

             - I know I should be an Amos like Pastor spoke

               about Sunday morning, but God just hasn't

               opened up any doors yet

             - I know I should speak to so and so about an

               area they need to change, but its just not the

               right time yet

 

        - somehow, some of us feel guilty if we've done

          anything to create the situation, or the

          opportunity

            - I can't bring it about, it has to be all of the

              Lord

 

        - I'm convinced of this - few things would get done

          for God using that mentality

 

        - A church could ever build a building using that

          mentality

        - there's always going to be difficulties, roadblocks

 

        - few people would ever be won to Christ with that

          mentality

 

        - sometimes, closed doors need to be knocked down!

 

        - at least we need to check the knob to see if its

          locked, or to rattle it a little bit

 

 

 

 

 

        - point is - yes its only by my Spirit, but I expect

          you to be using all of your resources in this

          situation

 

        - having done that, God will use all of his

 

        - example - last Sunday, had you answer questions

             (brochures)

            - some might say - well, you shouldn't advertise,

              just let the Lord bring them in

 

        - I think that attitude would be a violation of this

          verse

        - we need to be doing all we can to attract visitors,

          and then and only then, can we or should we expect

          God to work

 

        - that leads to a very important question - what

          evidence can you give of using your strength,

          energy, opportunities for God?

             - especially in situations that are difficult or

               distasteful, like the one we're talking about

               tonight

 

        - Torque wrench illus. - measures how much force

            you're putting on a nut to be sure that you're

            exerting the right amount of force or pressure

 

            - what would happen if we put the torque wrench

              to your work for God or mine?

 

            - would we be satisfying the first part of this

              equation?

 

        - before we move on, I need to put a word of balance

          on this

 

        - there is a small sense in which the open door

          mentality has some merit

 

        - there are times when circumstances would clearly

          indicate that thats not the best time or place to

          move in and work for God

 

        - if a pastor stood up and said, we're going to build

          a ten million dollar building even though we only

          have 60 people and I don't care if the bank says we

          can't afford it, we're going to kick that door

          down, taht would obviously be wrong

 

        - there are even times when it would be inappropriate

          to seek to witness to someone at that moment

 

        - but I would say that most of us are not in that

          ditch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    B.  Provides Encouragement for the Weary

 

        - God spoke these words to Zerubbabel to challenge

          him but also to encourage him

 

 

        - in fact, let me show you the way Zechariah the

          prophet described these words

 

        - read 1:12-13

 

        - these words were good words and comforting words

            - Zerubbabel, my spirit is involved in this

              process

 

            - you can work confidently and aggressively

              because you know that I too am working

 

        - thats exactly what they did - Ezra 6:14 - "And the

          elders of the Jews built, and they prospered

          through the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah.

          And they built and finished it according to the

          commandment of the God of Israel.

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video