Why is Might and Strength Not Important in Serving the Lord? #356
Hello friends and Happy Thursday! Today’s episode might be a bit short, as I am writing and recording it on the 16th, which is my wife and I’s 25th anniversary, and we are looking forward to celebrating at a local bed and breakfast, so let’s go!
Today we will read 2nd Chronicles 19 and 20, Zechariah 4 (our focus passage), John 7 and Revelation 8. One note in our John passage before we focus on Zechariah. We see a very interesting statement made by skeptics of Jesus in John 7:
“Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? 42 Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived?”
This is interesting because John never answers this charge and doesn’t really discusses the birth of Jesus at all, nor reference Luke and Matthew, who do discuss the birth of Jesus, and tell us it happened in Bethlehem. (remember that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were all 4 written by different people at different times!) Why is this interesting? I think it is a demonstration that the books of the Bible weren’t written as fabrications of history. This is a loose end that John doesn’t tie up for us, which I believe is a hallmark of authenticity.
On to Zechariah 4. One of the most powerful principles in Scripture is articulated here, so let’s read the chapter and see if you can identify it.
Did you catch it? Here it is:
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Armies.
This principle is articulated all throughout the Bible. The battle belongs to the Lord…Jesus teaching on abiding in John 15 (apart from me, you can do nothing.) Some trust in horses, some trust in chariots, but we will trust in the name of the Lord. We just saw King Asa of Israel get rebuked by God for turning to the strength of a foreign king for deliverance, rather than trusting in the Spirit of God for deliverance. For Old Testament saints, New Testament saints, and Christians living in 2020, this is a constant temptation. In our fleshly human reasoning, we will always seek to fall back on human might and human power, because it is more visible, more concrete, and more tangible (and, controllable!) but the highest of human power pales in comparison to the might of the Lord. Let’s turn to brother Charles Spurgeon to help us see this truth clearly:
AT this hour a mountain of difficulty, distress, or necessity may be in our way, and natural reason sees no path over it, or through it, or round it. Let faith come in, and straightway the mountain disappears and becomes a plain. But faith must first hear the word of the Lord—“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” This grand truth is a prime necessity for meeting the insurmountable trials of life.
I see that I can do nothing, and that all reliance on man is vanity. “Not by might.” I see that no visible means can be relied on, but the force is in the invisible Spirit. God alone must work, and men and means must be nothing accounted of. If it be so, that the Almighty God takes up the concerns of his people, then great mountains are nothing. He can remove worlds as boys toss balls about, or drive them with their foot. This power he can lend to me. If the Lord bids me move an Alp I can do it through his name. It may be a great mountain, but even before my feebleness it shall become a plain; for the Lord hath said it. What can I be afraid of with God on my side?
C. H. Spurgeon, The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Being Precious Promises Arranged for Daily Use with Brief Comments (New York: American Tract Society, 1893), 330.
A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God’s warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, “I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory,” defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for “it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armour stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve him in his own way, and in his strength, or he will never accept their service. That which man doth, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth he casteth away; he will only reap that corn, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before he will put his own into thee; he will first clean out thy granaries before he will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in his battles but the strength which he himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.
“When I am weak then am I strong,
Grace is my shield and Christ my song.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).