The Forevermore Oil in the Lampstand Vision of Zechariah 4

Then 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 of hosts” (Zech 4:6).

The encouragement given to Zerubbabel on that night long ago in 519 BC holds true for us today as well. Although we are not the Israel-people of God, we are the Church-people of God. Like Israel of old, we are His witnesses and His light shining in a darkened world by the Spirit of God who indwells the Church.

“…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Php 2:15).

Like the lowly post-exilic community in Zechariah’s time, the faithful in the Church have the opportunity to build something bigger than their own lives and that serves the greater purpose in the plan of God. Jesus explained to Peter the magnitude of his plan to build His Church, “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat 16:18). Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the post-exilic community in 519 BC understood the call to faithfulness in the work of God, and so should we….

The work of the church in modern times, like that of the pre-exilic community in Jerusalem in the day of Zechariah, is a monumental (mountainous) task with insurmountable problems and challenges when viewed from the human vantage point. The temptation is to become disheartened and merely build for time, to lose sight of the eternal purposes of God and get lost in the beggarly activities of the mortal life.

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, explained his role in the Church build project of Jesus and challenged those in the Church to faithful participation in the work: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it” (1 Cor 3:10).

It is not an easy task. It takes courage, consistency, and perseverance in the ongoing work of the Lord. Paul warned the Church at Corinth, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor 16:13). Some in the Church today think the work of the local church too small and too insignificant, not worth the time and effort or the expenditure of resources. They are wrong.

Jesus announced to those who would be his disciples that, “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25-26).

The Lord measures success by the willingness to stay the course in the plan of God, not by any other standard. The Church, like Israel long ago, needs a lampstand and olive tree vision from the Lord to inspire its people to faithfulness and perseverance in the work of the Lord. It does matter. It will make a difference in the long run and in the larger scheme of things.

Dr. Don