Sermons

Summary: We are discouraged -- because of the attacks on our nation, the problems in our families, the economy, or financial problems. We can be pessimistic and think things will never improve. We can be optimistic and think we have the power to bring about chan

By the Spirit Of God

Maynard Pittendreigh

Zechariah 4:1-11

We are continuing our study of the Minor Prophets. Last week we looked at Haggai and this week we look at Zechariah.

Both of these prophets are preaching at the same time – late in the year of 520 BC.

Both of these prophets deal with a similar concern – the work of the Lord, specifically the building of God’s temple in Jerusalem.

When you read through Zechariah, you find that it is another one of these biblical books that has no story or plot. It is a report of Zechariah’s eight visions and his prophecies for the Jews who have returned to Israel after enduring several decades in exile in a foreign country.

The Jews have been back for almost 20 years, yet they have not rebuilt the temple. They had started to project right away, with the Persian king’s blessing, but they abandoned it when local opposition convinced the new king that it was not politically safe to allow the rebuilding project to continue.

But now, 20 years later, there is a new king in town. He is supportive of a tolerant, multi-cultural community. He is open to the rebuilding of the temple.

And so Haggai and Zechariah both call for the rebuilding of the Temple.

But it has been 20 years.

The people are bankrupt spiritually, financially, and politically. Their place of worship is in ruins.

What could the Jews possibly do to turn all of this around?

Nothing.

That is the bad news.

Let us hear the Word of God…

Zechariah 4:1-6

1 Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep.

2 He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights.

3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left."

4 I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?"

5 He answered, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I replied.

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.

(NIV)

I saw a part of a television news show the other day. It was on one of the 24-hour news stations, and Chris Matthews and Phil Donahoe were face to face in a heated discussion.

Now I don’t know if you are familiar with these two men, but they are very opposite people. They are both in the news business, and they are both from a Roman Catholic background and they continue to live out their faith and you can see their faith in their work on occasion.

But beyond that, it is hard to see many similarities.

One is Republican, the other Democrat.

One is conservative, the other liberal.

At one point in the discussion, Chris Matthews pointed his finger at Phil Donahoe and said, “You know what makes us so different from each other? I love this country and think it is a great nation. You love this country, and think it is broken beyond repair.”

It is easy to be overwhelmed by pessimism, and to think that things around you are broken beyond repair.

It is easy to sometimes look around and say, “I’ve never seen it this bad. I remember when things were good, but now things are bad and they will never be good again.”

You may be pessimistic at your job.

These are difficult times. Businesses are suffering. I don’t care what business you are in, I’m sure you are feeling the effects of the economy of our nation. I know people who are in businesses in which they are struggling with whether or not to continue to stay open. They wonder how long they can take their loses without shutting down.

It’s easy to say, “Things have never been this bad. It won’t get any better.”

Pessimism.

Or maybe you are pessimistic in your family. Husbands and wives fight and argue. Unfaithfulness tears at the fabric of the marriage. Children are out of control. It is easy to say, “Things have never been this bad. It won’t get any better.”

Pessimism.

Or maybe you are pessimistic about our nation.

We are in a War with Terrorists. Our nation has been attacked, and we keep hearing threats of new attacks.

It is easy to say, “Things have never been this bad. It won’t get any better.”

Pessimism

Or maybe you are pessimistic about your church.

Our church is struggling with finances. We have been talking about this for a long time.

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