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God's Spirit gave courage as Israel rebuilt after exile

August 3, 2022

Daily Scripture

Zechariah 4:2-7

2 Then he said to me, “What do you see?”
I said, “I see a lampstand
made entirely of gold.
It has a bowl on top.
The bowl has seven lamps on top
and seven metal pipes for those lamps.
3 It has two olive trees beside the lampstand,
one to the right of its bowl and one to the left.”
4 I responded to the messenger speaking with me,
“What are these, sir?”
5 The messenger responded to me:
“Don’t you know what these are?”
I said, “No, sir. I don’t.”
6 He answered me:
“This is the Lord’s word to Zerubbabel:
Neither by power, nor by strength,
but by my spirit, says the Lord of heavenly forces.”
7 Who are you, great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain.
He will present the capstone to shouts of great gratitude.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Even some preachers don’t know much about this part of the Bible. Zechariah, Zerubabbel—who are these guys with rare names? “The prophet Zechariah…began preaching around 520 BCE. He was a contemporary of the prophet Haggai.” * These two prophets supported the priest Zerubabbel, who led in rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple after Persia let the Israelites return from exile (cf. Ezra 5:1-2). Zechariah’s vision showed the key role of God’s spirit empowering the small, rather poor community.

  • Scholar N. T. Wright noted, “The words for ‘wind’, ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ are the same (this is true in both Hebrew and Greek). This wind is the healing breath of God’s spirit, come to undo the long effects of primal rebellion.” ** Today’s reading (and other prophets’ messages like Joel 2:27-29) showed how Israel’s prophets depended on God’s life-giving Spirit. How does it expand your sense of the Spirit’s work to realize Jesus’ teaching wasn’t new, but built on a long prophetic foundation?
  • Zerubabbel and the people in Jerusalem faced a tough task, with extremely limited resources. God sent the prophet Zechariah with a key message: “Neither by power, nor by strength, but by my Spirit.” When have you faced (or are now facing) situations where you don’t seem to have enough power or strength? How might Zechariah’s message suggest a different approach? Are you willing to listen?

Lord God, through your Spirit give me the courage and responsiveness to make the world better in whatever ways, large or small, you call me to. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Randy Greene

Randy Greene

Randy Greene was a member of the Resurrection Experience team at the church and helped shape all of our online tools for connection. He is a graduate of Central Seminary in Shawnee and loves to write stories about faithfulness. He left the church staff earlier this year, but first wrote this insightful blog for us in 2020.

I think maybe I’ve been looking for the Holy Spirit in the wrong place my whole life.

In the Christian tradition in which I was raised, I learned to equate the Holy Spirit with an overflow of emotion or an ecstatic burst of unintelligible language, and those experiences of God were unpredictable, so they were suspicious. The Holy Spirit, therefore, was basically limited to being the source of our conscience. She was the still, small voice, and not much more.

As I matured, I recognized that my understanding of the Holy Spirit was too small, but I didn’t know where to find him.

Then I heard back-to-back sermons from different pastors discussing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In Pastor Adam Hamilton’s sermon, he talked about the Spirit as being the breath of life itself, the animating presence of God in all creation. In another sermon that I listened to an hour later, my friend David McDaniel spoke about the presence of the Holy Spirit being the power of life found in moments of connection with the people around us.

These two ideas from very different pastors spoke to me and, I think, have begun to reveal the Holy Spirit to me.

Maybe anywhere I find and receive life, I find the Holy Spirit. Maybe the fruit of the Spirit-–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control-–is not just evidence of the Spirit’s work, but the lineage of the Spirit being in us. Maybe every time I give or receive love, I am experiencing the Spirit. Maybe every moment of joy on my daughter’s face is an experience of the Spirit. Maybe every demonstration of self-control is an experience of the Spirit.

If that’s true, then it brings all new meaning to my understanding of “growing in the Spirit” and of living in her power. Instead of listening for a vague inner voice, it means looking for ways and spaces to share love, joy, peace, patience… with the people around us. We actually get the privilege of being the embodiment of the Spirit of God within the world. We get to participate in bringing dry bones to life.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Carol J. Dempsey, O.P., Introduction to Zechariah in The CEB Study Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013), p. 1523 OT.

** N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11–21. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 151.