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Bible Commentaries

Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Zechariah 4

Verse 6


‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.’

Zechariah 4:6

We speak of this Person and that of the Holy Trinity as distinct, but in their work they are the same. The Holy Spirit cries, ‘Abba, Father!’ in our hearts, and takes of Christ, and shows Him to us.

I. First, why are we justified in believing that the Holy Spirit should be present working in our midst?—And I must ask you to throw your minds back for a few moments to the earliest records that we have of the Holy Spirit’s work. Let us recall the time when this earth was chaos, when it was still, as we may say, in solution, and we are told the Spirit of God brooded on the face of the waters. When we are asked how this cosmos, this Divine order, this beautiful world which we see to-day was brought out of that chaos, we may say it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

We go on, and we come to the Old Testament time of the Prophets. What do we see the Holy Spirit do then? Man after man He takes, often of the roughest kind, men of no education; but the Spirit of the Lord comes upon this man and that, and uses him for His work. And there is no understanding how these simple, uneducated men did such marvellous work, unless they did it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then came the next work of the Holy Spirit. God’s great revelation is at hand. But who is to prepare for the mighty Incarnation? Who is to work it out? Who is to bring it to pass? ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and the Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.’

The Incarnation is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Incarnate Son comes forth upon His ministry. In whose power is He to resist temptation? In whose power is he to work His miracles? In whose power is He to preach? We are told that he went in the power of the Spirit to preach the Word. He worked His miracles in the power of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor.’ And yet all the time the Incarnate Son of God points on to an even more intimate nearness of the Holy Spirit. ‘He is with you,’ He says, ‘but He shall be in you.’ ‘It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Holy Spirit will not come.’ ‘I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.’

And then comes that wonderful day, the birthday of the Christian Church. Any one who watches the work of Pentecost must acknowledge the power of God the Holy Ghost, and the promise was fulfilled. Has He gone back to heaven? Has there been a day on which we commemorate the return of God the Holy Ghost to heaven? Thank God there has not. The whole history of the Christian Church is one great evidence of the presence of the power of the Holy Ghost.

II. What, then (that brings me to the second question), if we are certain that He is here, what should we be expecting Him to do in the parish and individual soul, if He is at work among us?—First, in the parish at large, if the Holy Ghost has had free scope among you there must be a growing unity year after year, because the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Love. There must be more harmony between Church-workers, less and less friction, if the Holy Ghost is at work, between Christians. Ever unceasingly is the Holy Ghost trying to make Christians love one another. ‘Now abideth,’ He ever whispers, ‘Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.’ If the Holy Ghost is working among you there must be an ever-increasing mission zeal among you every year, more and more determination, at any sacrifice, to spread the kingdom of Jesus Christ in this world; you will have been interested in your own business, but ten times more interested in the business of the Kingdom of God. There will be a more generous devotion to mission work, a keener interest to know whether that tribe or nation is coming in to hear the Gospel or not. The Holy Ghost, if He is at work, and allowed full work, spreads undying mission zeal among God’s people.

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Zechariah 4". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.