Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God has designed His born again people so that they may be empowered for glory & service. The church's glory will not be acquired by human might & power but only by the Spirit of the Lord



[Ezra 4:1-5, 24]

God has designed His born again people so that they may be empowered for glory and service. The lampstand for us today symbolizes the Church of God as it will shine in splendor when it is filled with the Spirit of God. For the church's glory will not be acquired by human might and power but only by the Spirit of the Lord (CIT).

The previous verses beautifully illustrated this spiritual principle by the imagery of the lampstand, symbolizing the Church, the bowl and the two olive trees showing the automatic and spontaneous supply of oil which came totally apart from human agency, foreshadow the fullness of the Spirit's outpouring.

The promise of the outpoured spiritual empowerment had direct application to Zerubbabel who was attempting the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the Temple of God. Though enemies of God's plan were many and mighty and its friends and furthers few and feeble, God, because of His divine grace, by His divine Spirit, would see it accomplished.

In like manner the Church today needs to seek and find again the empowering of God & go forward in Him even if it means it must only do small things because of the tremendous opposition of the world forces to its purpose of giving light to a dark and hostile world.




(MacClaren, Exposition of Holy Scripture. p.269f)


The application of the vision of the lampstand and the two olives that constantly supply it oil is given next beginning in verse 6. Then he answered and said to me, "This is the Word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying 'not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of Hosts."

Zerubbabel was of the lineage of David, the grandson of King Jehoiachin (Ezra 3:2) thus he was a king or heir to the throne (Jesus was his descendent Mt. 1:12). He had led the remnant back from captivity to the land of Israel (537 BC), and shortly thereafter laid the foundation of the temple. He was the chief political (civil) ruler over Israel in that day (Hag. 2:4-5; Ezra 2:2). Like the high priest, Joshua, in the previous vision, Zerubbabel the king is representative of Jesus Christ the priest-king (Zech. 6:13) who will one day rule over and minister to His people. The Word of the LORD to Zerubbabel was also a word to Christ and to us.

The Word of the Lord began with not by. The negation or negative emphasizing the total insufficiency of human strength and resources is striking. Nor by again highlights the negative. Until we comprehend the negative we will not seek the positive. (That is why we must confess sins before we receive grace-forgiveness).

Once we realize what will not accomplish God's will, we can learn what is His will. But by indicates the instrument or means of agency, or how His will can be accomplished.

First, God's will is not accomplished by might. Might (hayil-hul) normally means be strong, or firm (Job 20:21, Ps. 10:5). It can also be rendered human resources, which includes wealth, physical strength, force, ability or efficiency. Often it is translated army - showing the might of numbers. It can mean force, be it of men or means, or men and means.

Power means force just as might means force. But not in a collective or numerical sense such as army. Power is the ability to persist purposefully, a resoluteness, resolve and consistency.

‘Might' refers then to material wealth & military capability, while ‘power' refers to the resolve of it. Together they represent the full extent of human resources which could be deployed to deal with a task, be it by an individual or the combined life effort of a multitude. Yet all man can do in and of himself is unable to accomplish God's task. Not by anything man can do, can man do anything for God (Jn. 15:5). A greater agency must be secured. God ends the hope that true success, success of eternal value, can be achieved by anything other than God. How is God's work to be accomplished then? It takes the supernatural or the divine factor to accomplish the work of God.

God's work must be by God's Spirit (ruach). It is by the supernatural enabling of God alone that men can accomplish the work of the Lord in the world. God's Spirit is the only absolutely necessary resource on which we must depend. [Read 2 Cor. 10:3-5.] From first to last God's work is a spiritual work. It is only through God's Spirit that anything of eternal value is accomplished. The power needed for spiritual victory is of God and not of man. God's work is accomplished by the invisible, intangible, unchangeable, but present, potent, and personal Spirit of God.

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