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Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Chapter 4

Now the angel that talked with me came again, and he waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and he said unto me, What do you see? And I said, I have looked, and behold there's a candlestick of gold, and there's a bowl on the top of it, and there are seven lamps, and the seven pipes are leading to the seven lamps, which are upon the top of it: And there are two olive trees by it, the one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? And the angel that talked with me said, Don't you know what these are? And I said, No, my lord. And 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? for before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof shouting, Grace, grace unto it ( Zechariah 4:1-7 ).

So this next vision is like a Rube Goldberg contraption. One of the jobs of the priests was to daily fill the cups of the menorah, the lampstand, the golden lampstand in the tabernacle with oil. Because God commanded that the light should never go out. The golden lampstand within the tabernacle was a symbol that Israel was to be the light of the world, or that God would through them shine forth His light to the world. Even as Jesus said to the church, "Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid, neither do men light a candle to put under a bushel, but on a candlestick that it might give light to all that are in the house. So let your light so shine before men, that when they see your good works, they'll glorify your Father which is in heaven" ( Matthew 5:14-16 ). God's people He has always intended to be a light in this dark world. That is why God said, "Don't ever let the light go out." So every day the priests had to pour the oil into these cups, and any task that you do everyday can get monotonous. Dishes, diapers, whatever. You do it everyday, it becomes tedious. So man is always using his inventive mind to get out of work. We are always figuring out contraptions by which we can make our work a little easier. Isn't that true? You're working on some kind of a job, and you say, "Well, now, if I did this, and fastened this here, you know I could make this..." and always make it a little easier.

So Zechariah being a priest was struck with this brilliant idea, "If there were just plumbing, pipes connected to the olive trees, it would go right into the bowls, then the oil could flow right out through these pipes and keep the bowls full. There would be a constant supply of oil. So when Zechariah saw this contraption with the pipes coming from the olive trees into the bowls, he said, "What in the world is this? Constant supply of oil, never running out of oil?" He said, "Don't you know what this is?" "No." "This is the word of the Lord by Zerubbabel saying, 'It's not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord.'"

Now in allegories, parables, dreams, visions, oil is always symbolic of the Holy Spirit, that is why the Lord said, "It's by My Spirit saith the Lord." That is, there is a constant source available, power for you through the Spirit.

The work of God, for the filling of the oil and so forth was the work of the Lord assigned to the priest, but the work of God is not to be accomplished by might, or by power, but the work of God can only be accomplished by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, it is extremely important before we engage in any work for God, that we seek to discover the leading of the Spirit. The secret to any successful work for Jesus Christ is discover how the Spirit is moving and move with the Spirit. For it is not by might, nor by power.

The word might is the assembling of armies, the organizing of forces, or committees to organize forces. The word power is the word force itself. Now, we see so many people trying to force the work of God, trying to force the gospel on their friends, trying to force the issues. I've often said to people who've asked me, concerning how can you know the leading of the Lord, and how can you know what God wants to do? I've said, "God so often leads us through open doors, and if God opens the door, go through it. But if He closes it, don't break it down." That's where we make our mistake. So often we think, "Oh, God wants me to do this." And a door will close, and we say, "All right, I'll bash that one down, and I'm gonna push it through. I'm gonna make it go." More energy, and effort, and money has been spent in trying to make a dead program go.

I spoke a few years ago in Lubbock, Texas at a Southern Baptist church. Pastor Jones back there, and he said, "You know, I came to the place in my ministry when I was so tired of pushing a program, we decided that we weren't going to give artificial support to any more programs in the church. If it didn't run on it's own initiative, we were gonna let it die a decent death." And he said, "You'd be amazed at how many things died around here! Just not gonna push programs anymore. We're just gonna let the Spirit operate and govern in the church that which He wants. If it doesn't run on it's own initiative, we're just gonna let it die with dignity." Their Sunday school even died. I said, "Well, what about that?" He said, "Great, we love it." They'd gone to junior churches and all. But it's, I think, legitimate. I think that the church has made a terrible mistake in trying to push programs, trying to force a program to work. Trying to organize, and mobilize the forces to get the work of God done. "It's not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."

When we had built a little chapel a block away, and things were going great. Into triple services, had enlarged the sanctuary putting 500 chairs out on the patio, and the place was just jammed all three services on Sunday morning. We were faced with a dilemma. Winter was coming, "What are we gonna do?" Fellow in the church said, "I would put the syndicate, we bought ten acres over on Fairview, and we've just lost it." He said, "We've been trying to make deals on it for years, nothing works." He said, "I believe that God wants that for the church. I think that's why the Lord had me go with the syndicate to just hold the thing four years ago so that the church could have it." He said, "I would be very glad to just accept my losses if the church got that ten acres." He said, "We just couldn't keep up with the payments anymore." In fact, they took a four-year note from the lady who owned it, and in four years he just didn't have the money to go on.

They had purchased it four years earlier for $456,000 dollars. I said, "Well, we don't have that kind of money. There's no way we can afford ten acres." Then I got to thinking, "Well, let's see, if we sold off five acres, we could probably get our money back if we could buy it for a decent price. If we could, say, move into what their position was, even to buy it for $456,000, maybe we could sell off half of it, and all we need is five, that's five acres more than we'd ever need for the church." I had tremendous faith. One of the fellows in the church said, "Oh, that's just too much money. We just don't have it. We can't do it. We just, you know, you can't borrow. Churches have a difficult time borrowing money."

So a fellow in the church came to me and he said, "I believe that the woman who owns that property would sell it for $300,000 cash." He said, "You see, her taxes have lapsed, and she's been living off of the money, the interest that these guys have been paying her, and now that she doesn't have the money coming in. She's in bad shape, and actually the taxes are due, and she can't pay them. I think she'd take $300,000 cash just to get out of it, and that will last her well for the rest of her life, because she's in her late seventies." I thought, "Oh, she'd never take $300,000 cash, she just foreclosed on a $456,000 dollar note, and they bought it four years ago. The price has gone way up since then." He said, "Would you give me permission to offer $300,000 cash in the name of the church?" I said, "Sure, of course, why not. Foolish man!" He called me up on the phone all excited, and he said, "She accepted it!" I said, "Great, what do we do now?" "Where do we get $300,000 cash?" He said, "Well," he said, "I have a note that I think she'll take. It's a first trust deed on some apartments, and it's for $90,000 and I'll be glad to loan that to the church for one year interest free." The church had $60,000 in the bank, and he said, "I think the savings and loan, because it's such a good buy, will loan you half of it on a property loan for two years." So we went down to the savings and loan and it was such a good buy they said yes they would loan us $150,000 for two years and 11% interest." So we bought it.

Now, this was obligating us pretty heavy, because this was just bare farmland at that time. We knew that we had to put a parking lot; we had to put street improvements on Sunflower Boulevard, sidewalks over there. We had to put, you know, we had to put the buildings in and everything, and we knew it was gonna run a parcel of money. So I would drive home from church coming up Sunflower Ave. here, and I'd park at the left turn signal, to go on down Fairview. I would look over at this bare ten acres, and I'd start getting heart palpitations. I'd say, "Chuck, what are you doing obligating those people for that property? And the purchase of the property is just the beginning. What are you getting yourself into?" I'd begin to think, "I wonder if we can back out of it. I wonder if there's something we can do to get out of it. What am I doing? What am I doing?" I just would start getting frantic thinking about the money that was gonna be needed for all of this. And as I was sitting there, my palms began to sweat. I thought, "Oh, please light, turn green. I can't stand this! I can't stand looking at that property over there! Wiping me out!"

The Lord would speak to me, and He'd say, "Whose church is it?" I said, "It's Yours, Lord." He said, "Then what are you worried about? If it's My church, what does it matter to you if it goes broke? What difference does that make to you if it's My church?" I said, "Well, I really don't know, Lord. I guess it doesn't make any difference. Your church? Fine. You created the problem, take care of it!" By the time I hit the San Diego freeway, I had such glorious victory just praising the Lord for His church!

I was driving up the street, parked at the corner, looking over here, and the first payment was coming due on the uh... we were paying interest only on the $150,000 that we borrowed from the savings and loan, and it was $1,100 a month, which wasn't bad at all. It was well within our budget; we could handle it. But I said, "Lord, it's Your church, huh? Do You think that's a wise way to spend Your money? What are You getting from that? That's just interest, Lord. That's just going right into their coffer and You're not going to see that again. Do You think that's a wise way to spend Your money, Lord? As long as it's Your church, why don't You pay off the $150,000? You ought to be able to do that."

I got home, and my wife said, "Honey, Ed Riddle called. He wants you to call him back." Ed Riddle was the realtor who was in the syndicate that bought the property and lost it, told us about it. So I called Ed. He said, "Chuck, I just got a call from Shell Oil Company." He said, "They looked on the records and they thought our syndicates still owned the property, and they want to buy the corner for $150,000." He said, "Do you suppose the church would be interested in selling off the corner for $150,000?" You notice the Shell station on the corner.

I'll tell ya, after that I didn't worry again. His church, and He's been doing a fantastic job taking care of it. It makes it so easy for me, because I can just kick back and watch the Lord develop His church. Because it's not by might, not by our organized efforts, it's not by our forcing issues, driving and forcing it, but it's just the glorious power of the Holy Spirit. "By My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."

"And the mountains, they'll become a plain before Zerubbabel, those mountains will disappear, those mountains will just level right out before him."

You know, it's glorious the way the Lord can level the mountains before you. It's interesting that so much of our worry is about things that are yet in the future. "Yes, I've got enough for today, but oh, I don't know what I'm gonna do next week! You know, God's taken care of me up till now, I'm here. God's taken care of me up till now, but it's not right now I'm worried about. I'm worried about next week, next month!" But it's interesting that so often those things that we spend so much time worrying about, by the time we arrive there, the mountain has already been removed and it's just a plain; it's flat land. How God can remove the mountains before us, it's glorious when the Spirit of God is working in your life.

Now with Zerubbabel, the word of the Lord, it was a word of encouragement. He had been discouraged in the building of the temple. He had given up; they had quit. "Can't be done." They had organized the men. They had organized the efforts. They had men that were in charge of cleaning up debris, men that were in charge of carrying rocks, and they had organized the whole efforts. They were pushing and forcing the men. They weren't doing anything. They weren't getting the job done; they gave up. It was just too much. And the word of the Lord came and said, "Hey, it isn't by your organized efforts. It isn't by your force, but it's by My Spirit saith the Lord."

The women who were on their way to the tomb said, "Who is going to remove the stone?" They were worried as they talked among themselves, "Who's gonna roll away the stone on the door of the sepulchre?" All worried about it. When they got there, what did they find? The stone was already rolled away. So typical of so many of our worries. "What are we gonna do when we get there?" We find that when we get there, the Lord's been there already and took care, has taken care of everything for us. The mountains turn into plains before the Lord.

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall finish it ( Zechariah 4:8-9 );

Zerubbabel had given up; he had quit working, but the Lord said, "Look, he started it, and he's going to 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? ( Zechariah 4:9-10 )

Now this, of course, was one of the discouraging things. As they laid the foundations, the old men started wailing, "Oh, terrible," because they remembered the glorious Solomon's temple. Now these people are building this little dinky thing. All the young guys that had never seen Solomon's temple, they were so excited, "Oh, look the foundation!" They were all excited, but the old men were there wailing and weeping. Quite a scene. But those who were wailing and weeping discouraged those that were building. "Oh, such a little thing. It's nothing." "And who hath despised the days of small things?"

Now there are many times we are wanting to get ahead of the work of God in our lives. God brings us in our spiritual growth along in a very important pace. But there are many times we're not satisfied with the pace that God has set. We want to get ahead of it. So often we despise the days of small things in our own lives.

A person comes up to me and says, "You know, I really feel like I want to serve the Lord, and I'd like to serve the Lord here at Calvary Chapel." I usually will say to them, "Wonderful, go over and talk to Mike in our Sunday school. We're in need of Sunday school teachers, and there's an excellent opportunity for you to serve the Lord." "Oh, well, uh, that's not what I had in mind. I was thinking if Romaine maybe wanted to quit, or if you wanted to resign, I could pastor Calvary Chapel." They despise the days of small things. They want to do a big work for God. There are a lot of people sitting around not willing to do the little things. Waiting for the big door to open, waiting for Billy Graham to call and say, "I'm ready to step out, and I want you to come and take over, and preach at these great meetings." "All right, I've been waiting for that!" Yes, but you're not prepared for that, you see. God starts us out in the little things. I started out teaching Sunday school classes. Then I was advanced to teaching and leading a youth group. Started out in small things. Too many people despise the small things. But if you're not faithful in the small things, God'll never be able to raise you up to the bigger things. Don't despise the days of small things. Whatever it is that God has called you to do, get in and do it for the glory of God. And if you are faithful in the little things, then God will make you ruler over the bigger things.

So there were those who despised the days of the small things, and that's true today. That's always sad, because you'll always be restricted and limited. You'll never grow. You'll never develop until you're willing to get in and to be satisfied with the least thing that God has called you to do and be faithful to those least things to which the Lord has called you. "For who hath despised the day of small things?"

they shall rejoice, and see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; and these are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro throughout the whole eaRuth ( Zechariah 4:10 ).

These seven eyes are the seven spirits which stand before the throne of God in Revelation, chapter 5.

Then I answered, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What are these two olive branches, which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out by themselves? And he answered me and said, Don't you know what these are? And I said, No, my lord. Then he said, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole eaRuth ( Zechariah 4:11-14 ).

The two anointed ones; these are the two witnesses of the book of Revelation. Read it in chapter 11. These are the two olive trees, the branches that stand before the Lord of the earth there in Revelation. God's two witnesses in the last days, and we pointed out that Malachi tells us that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses, and it is possible that Zerubbabel himself will be one of the other two witnesses according to the prophecies of Haggai. It would appear that perhaps Zerubbabel will be one of the other two witnesses in the last verse of Haggai, chapter 2, verse Zec 4:23 . "In that day saith the Lord of hosts, I will take thee O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and I will make thee as a signet, for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts." He's speaking of the last days, and the overthrow of the kingdoms of the world. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Zechariah 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/zechariah-4.html. 2014.
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