For years, in my Bible, I have had Zechariah 4:6 marked as significant with a large red check mark, and can even quote this verse from memory (admittedly, it’s short and not difficult to memorize):
So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of YHVH to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says YHVH of hosts.
But only recently, as a younger senior citizen, have I stopped to consider what this verse really means and to wonder, as I look back over six decades, thirty of which have been in ministry including 25 years pastoring, whether or not and to what degree my life’s major ministry and other life activities have measured up to this wise proverb. To be honest, I believe that much of what I have done “for the Lord” has been weighed in the balances and has been found wanting.
Honestly, I have accomplished a lot for YHVH and, to be sure, there is some good fruit that has come from 30 years of ministry, but I can’t help wonder how much was done in my “might and power” as opposed to “by my [YHVH’s] Spirit.” For example, what have been the effects of my ministry upon my marriage and family? Positive or negative or somewhere in between? The answer to this necessitates pause for some serious reflection, which I have been doing lately. This then begs a couple of questions. First, when doing my ministry ostensibly “for the Lord,” was I doing so in the good, better or perfect will of YHVH (Rom 12:2)? Honestly, it would be arrogance on my part to rate myself very highly on the superlative side of this scale! Second, how much of my ministry has been about self and ego—in other words, pride, which is a pitiable and abominable sin in the eyes of YHVH (Prov 6:16–17 cp. Jer 9:23–24)? How much of my ministry has been done in accordance with my own will and impetuosity, as well intended as it may have been, as opposed to the leading of the Spirit?
Even though this is not the main message behind this Zechariah chapter four passage, when pulling this verse out, it can stand alone as a proverb or adage to live by. If we take our spiritual microscope to this verse, one can’t help but to ask oneself these questions.
So what is the real contextual message of Zechariah 4:6?
Deuteronomy 7:12,Because you listen. This verse shows the conditional nature of the Mosaic Covenant. Blessings are conditional upon obedience to YHVH’s Torah instructions in righteousness. It was a person’s choice to obey or not. Either way, the law of cause and effect would come into play. Blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The same is true with the New Covenant. If we place our faith in Yeshua the Messiah,who is the Living Torah, and love him by keeping his commandments (John 14:15), we will not only be blessed physically blessed here and now, but we will be blessed with eternal life. Those who refuse to place their faith in Yeshua and obey his commandments will receive the fruit of their disobedience now, and will also perish in the lake of fire. The law of cause and effect still applies to both the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant, and humans will reap the consequence of their actions based on the choices they make whether good or bad. It’s that simple.
Deuteronomy 7:17–18,Dispossess them…not be afraid. Do we walk by faith or by sight (i.e. relying strictly on human logic or intellect)? Was it logical to think that Israel could dispossess a fortified land full of people mightier and greater in number than themselves? Fear and logic are often the enemies of faith in YHVH’s Word and promises. Without faith it is impossible to please YHVH (Heb 11:6), and the just shall walk by faith (Heb 10:38). What is faith? (See Heb 11:1.) By faith the physical creation came into existence (Heb 11:3), therefore, faith preceded the physical creation and is the “mother” of it. From the “womb” of faith, if you will, came forth all that we see and know. That “womb” is the very heart, character and mind of YHVH Elohim. It is spiritual. We live in a physical dimension. The new heaven, new earth, and the Jerusalem from above, for which we look, will be of a spiritual dimension. Those who plan on being there must learn to walk in that dimension here and now by trusting in the Word and promises of YHVH for all of their needs. What lessons can we learn from the Israelites in this regard?
Deuteronomy 7:18; 8:2, 11,Remember… forget not. An essential element of a strong faith in the promises of YHVH (e.g. prosperity, verse 13; fruitfulness of the womb, verse 14; healing, verse 15; victory over enemies, verse 16; etc.) is to remember YHVH’s past accomplishments in your life: how he has healed you, prospered you, answered your prayers, transformed your life, delivered you from enemies and troubles, given meaning, hope and purpose to your life. In the last days, many are turning away from Yeshua the Messiah (who is also YHVH of the Tanakh, see Acts 7:36–38; 1 Cor 10:4, 9; and compare John 14:15 with Deut 11:1 and Exod 20:6) and are turning to idolatry, doubt and unbelief, secularism, materialism, hedonism, rabbinic Judaism and false religions because they have forgotten what YHVH-Yeshua did for them. Have you forgotten? To forget is a slippery slope that can lead to spiritual oblivion. Take a moment to recall the wonderful things he has done for you. Write them down. Remember them. Thank and praise him for them.
Deuteronomy 7:20–24, YHVH will go before you. Do you really believe that YHVH is leading you into your spiritual Promised Land? What is your mission, calling, destiny and purpose in life vis-à-vis helping to advance the kingdom of Elohim? As he promised to be with the Israelites and to go before them (7:20–24), so his promise commandments and faithfulness are for a thousand generations (7:9), which means they are for you! If you do not have a mission, goal or purpose (the Israelites’ goal and mission was to enter and to possess the Promised Land) then you will wander aimlessly in the wilderness indefinitely.
Deuteronomy 7:25, Carved images of their gods. This shows the link between the two commands contained in the ten statements or commandments relating to idolatry. The prohibition against the worshipping of false gods and making graven or carved images is actually one command with two parts. Men tend to worship idolize what they can see or make.
Acting Defensively as a Cover-Up for Own Sinful Inadequacies
How often do people have a personality and a worldview that is based on a mental and spiritual paradigm that is defensive and self-protective? Someone with such a personality often excuses and absolves themselves of responsibility for their actions by shifting the blame off of self by accusing others for the negative consequences their own actions. The actions of such a person often proceed from that person’s mental and spiritual carnal nature strongholds. It is out of these strongholds (e.g. pride, selfishness, fear, greed, lust, bitterness, etc.) and an attempt to cover their sin (instead of dealing with it through admission of responsibility followed by confession and repentance) that these defensive, self-preservationist actions occur. Those on the receiving end of the person’s defensive, sinful actions will see this person as accusative, angry, contentious, lying, arrogant and fearful. These are the bad fruits of a carnally-minded person.
Moreover, our own sins often blind us from clearly seeing the sins of others. What happens, in an effort to cover up our own sins and absolve and excuse ourselves from responsibility for our own sinful actions, is that we often condemn and accuse others of that which we ourselves are guilty. This is called blame shifting and is a merely a slight-of-hand diversionary tactic to distract the attention of those we’re trying to deceive. By resorting to this defensive strategy, we get the critical eye of others off ourselves and we effectively are able to cover and hide our own sins thus escaping responsibility for our own evil actions.
This is why we have to be so careful when pointing fingers at others for any reason. Perhaps we are guilty of the same sin for which we’re accusing others.
In fact, the wise person, when he sees himself accusing someone of something, will stop for a moment of self-reflection and self-analysis to determine if he is actually reacting in a hypocritical and duplicitous manner. If so, this is an excellent opportunity for one to gain an insight into the dark areas of one’s own soul and to admit his own glaring sinfulness and to confess and repent of that sin. This takes great courage and spiritual maturity, but provides one with a great opportunity to overcome sin and to grow closer to Elohim by becoming more like Yeshua.
Accountability to others is vitally important to help keep us on the narrow path of righteousness and truth and to even aid us in maturing spiritually. With the help of those to whom we make ourselves accountable, we will learn to act under the controlling influence of the Word and Spirit of Elohim. We will be disinclined merely to act out of carnal emotional and mental (often demonically-influenced) impulses that are based on sin-strongholds that exist deep in our soul as a result of past wounds and hurts. These past hurts continually jerk us around by dictating how to act and what to say when we are confronted with difficult, embarrassing situations (Gal 5:16–17). Instead of being led by the Spirit of Elohim to respond appropriately in crisis situations resulting in the fruit of the Spirit being produced (Gal 5:16, 22–25), such a person, instead, tends to react emotionally, impulsively and defensively and the outcome is the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19–21).
This is why accountability to others is important. Other people will help us to see our blind spots and, if we can get past our own pride and proclivity to react self-defensively, to overcome our fleshly, carnal, sinful tendencies, and to walk under the control of the Spirit of Elohim thus producing the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.
As a result, our interpersonal relationships will improve, stress will diminish and the peace of Elohim will fill our lives and will live in an atmosphere of love, joy and peace instead of strife, contention and anger.
2 Corinthians 12:9–10,Strength…weakness…weak…strong. This is another fundamental principle of the kingdom of Elohim that is counter-intuitive to the natural human mind. How can weakness be strength? This seems to be the reverse of what the world teaches us. Strength in weakness is akin to other scriptural principles as well where the opposite of what seems to be true is actually the higher spiritual truth. For example, the Bible teaches us that to become rich (spiritually), we must give our physical wealth away. Or to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, we must become a servant, that is, the way down is the way up. Or to gain (eternal) life, one must be willing to lose one’s life (to lay one’s physical and soul life down at the foot of the cross of Yeshua). Or when we come to the end of ourselves and have no where look but up, this is when we find Elohim.
Similarly, Paul’s statement in this passage teaches us that when we are in physical distress through persecution, infirmities of the flesh or reproaches of men this is when we find the love, strength, presence and love of Elohim. David expressed it this way: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me” (Ps 23:4). In a similar vein, Isaiah declared that when we pass through the floods and fires of adversities, YHVH will be with us, for he will not allow us to either drown or be burned (Isa 43:1–2). Job was perfected in weakness and found strength in Elohim in his time of distress, as was Jacob in his dark night of the soul when he found himself at death’s door and his natural strength failed to deliver him out of his troubles upon returning to the Promised Land. The Israelites found Elohim when trapped between Pharaoh and the sea, as did the three Hebrew children when thrown into the fiery furnace. Countless other biblical examples could be given of true strength being birthed out of human weakness.
Remember this. When you’re strong (in yourself), it’s hard if not impossible to find YHVH’s love, but when you’re weak (and have come to the end of yourself), YHVH’s love will find you, that is, YHVH’s strength will be made perfect in weakness.
I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man…(Eph 3:16)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph 6:10)
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on YHVH Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isa 40:29–31)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your Elohim. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10)
He shall say, “Surely in YHVH I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, And all shall be ashamed Who are incensed against Him.” (Isa 45:24)
2 Corinthians 3:11, Passing away. This is not a reference to the Torah-law itself, but to the old or former covenant (i.e. the agreement or contract YHVH and Israel made with each other) as it phases into the new or renewed covenant. Yeshua initiated the new covenant at his last supper, but it will be finalized with the two houses of Israel (see Jer 31:31, 33 and Heb 8:8) at his second coming when the two sticks or houses of Israel are reunited (see Ezek 37:15–27) at which time he will finalize the new covenant with a reunited Israel (v. 26; see also Isa 54:10; 55:3; 59:21; Ezek 34:25; Jer 32:40; 50:5; Hos 2:18–23). We are presently in the intermediate phase between the two covenants. To view it differently, Yeshua betrothed himself to his spiritual bride (redeemed Israel, spiritual Israel or the Israel of Elohim, see Gal 6:16) at his last supper, but will marry her at his second coming. The saints who are now in Yeshua are under the new covenant as the betrothed bride of Yeshua, but all Israel will be brought into the new covenant at his second coming at which time he will finalize the covenant that he initiated with his disciples before his death.
Attaining Spiritual Maturity in the New Covenant—On Being a Spiritual Mountain Climber
This manna from heaven was revealed and downloaded to Natan in the back country of Alaska while sitting, Bible in hand, prayerfully, overlooking Little Port Walter on Baronov Island [75 miles SE of Sitka], and while on a boat in the Pacific Ocean in the Chatham Straights between Baronov and Admiralty islands.
On Being Spiritual Mountain Climbers
The beginning of the upward spiritual journey of YHVH’s people is memorialized in the counting of the omer, which starts on First Fruits Day occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and culminates fifty days later with the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Heb. Shavuot; Lev 23:4–16). Each new step in this journey is a stepping stone or a launch pad to the next. For the Israelites, the journey started at sea level in the flat-land river delta of Egypt (a metaphor for this world, Satan and death) and then continues climbing higher and higher until it reaches heaven itself—the abode of Elohim.
From the time that YHVH revealed himself to the children of Israel while they were enslaved in Egypt, he has been calling his people to be spiritual mountain climbers. He first called the Israelites out of Egypt and up to Mount Sinai, and then up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. He then called his people to come even higher yet to the upper room on the day of Pentecost, and he is now calling his people to come up even higher to the New Jerusalem that is above us and is the mother of us all. This highest mountain of YHVH is the ultimate source of our spiritual sustenance, the source of the river of life along which the trees of life are situated. From this spiritual wellspring comes all divine revelation and ultimately immortal life as children of the Most High.
The problem is that most people only climb so far in their spiritual journey and then stop, or they grow weary along the way or become comfortably complacent at the level they have thus far attained and never move past that spot. This is dangerous!
To not move forward spiritually is to stagnate and to die. YHVH wants a people that are on the move, who will obediently follow him wherever he leads, and not stop and park along the way only to construct their religious monuments with their fossilized customs, rituals and traditions. Heaven is a long way above the earthly plane, and YHVH wants children who will seek him no matter what, who have a heart to follow him no matter where, and no matter the cost. Although eternal life is a free gift from heaven, it won’t be given easily. It costs nothing, but, at the same time, it costs everything! Man must be willing to sacrifice his all—to lose his earthly life—to gain eternal life. YHVH refuses to give out his priceless gift of eternal life willy-nilly to anyone and everyone! YHVH requires that his saints be determined, tough and gritty mountain climbers who refuse to give up until that summit is reached. He has no pleasure in those who turn back, or refuse to go on. Only those who doggedly overcome the world, the flesh and the devil remaining lovingly loyal and obedient to him will receive the highest reward he has to offer.
The Spirit Versus the a Letter of the Law—the Two Covenants
Let’s now explore what it is to climb the mountains that YHVH has placed before us to ascertain where we are at on the journey and how far we have to go to reach the ultimate summit.
In 2 Corinthians 3:1–18 we read,
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of the Messiah, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living Elohim, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 4 And we have such trust through the Messiah toward Elohim. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from Elohim, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away [brought to an end, ESV; Gr. katargeo], 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away [Gr. katargeo] was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech — 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away [Gr. katargeo]. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in the Messiah. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Let’s now explain this passage to understand better the transition between the “old” and “new” covenants and the differences between the two.
Verse 7, Was passing away [NKJV]/brought to and end [ESV], This phrase is the Greek word katargeo meaning “to render idle or useless, to vanish, to abolish, to put away, to make of none effect.” What was brought to an end or rendered idle? Hold that question in your mind. We will answer it below.
Verse 5,Ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. What Paul is saying here that believers in Yeshua must mature from just a letter-of-the-law orientation in their spiritual walk, to both a letter- and spirit-of-the-law orientation. We know that the letter of the Torah has not been done away with or passed away because Yeshua says so in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5–7), where he teaches, for example, that not only murder (the letter of the law is forbidden), but also hatred for a person (the spirit of the law). He says the same about adultery and lust and so on. We know that this is what Paul believed and taught because he elsewhere instructed us to follow or imitate Yeshua as he did (1 Cor 11:1).
How do we bring glory to Elohim, live in his river of life and help to advance his kingdom initiatives on earth? By receiving his spiritual gifts and then learning to exercise them.
The spiritual gifts Elohim gives to his children are essential in all aspect of our lives from the time we receive the gift of salvation, but beyond that as well. They establish us in him as a fully functioning and important part of his kingdom being advanced on earth. They help us to be his hands, feet and mouth to reach many people for him.
We must know what our spiritual gifts are so that instead of being a side-lined pew warmer, we are a fully functioning member of the body of Yeshua. Knowing our gift and then functioning in most importantly brings glory to Elohim, and as a by-product gives our life meaning, purpose and direction.
The Gifts (Gr. Charismahtohn) of the Spirit
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith. (Rom 12:6)
So that ye come behind in no gift (charisma); waiting for the coming of our Lord Yeshua Messiah. (1 Cor 1:7)
For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift (charisma) of Elohim, one after this manner, and another after that. (1 Cor 7:7)
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (1 Cor 12:4)
But covet earnestly the best gifts [charisma]: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Cor 12:31)
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts (lit. spirituals), but rather that ye may prophesy. (1 Cor 14:1)
Neglect not the gift (charisma) that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.(1 Tim 4:14)
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift (charisma) of Elohim, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (2 Tim 1:6)
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of Elohim. (1 Pet 4:10)
Spiritual Gifts (Charisma) in a General Sense
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift (charisma) of Elohim is eternal life through Yeshua Messiah our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of Elohim and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Yeshua the Messiah, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (Rom 5:15–16 NAS)
Salvation Is Elohim’s Greatest Gift to Man
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift[Gr. charisma], to the end ye may be established. (Rom 1:11)
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual gifts help to establish, make firm, make stable, place firmly a person in the body of Yeshua or kingdom of Elohim. They give one a purpose and function. If you know what your gift is, you’ll better understanding your spiritual call and purpose. This will give your life meaning and direction. This glorifies Elohim, helps to advance his kingdom and keep you in his perfect will and in his river of life for you.
I thank my Elohim always concerning you for the grace of Elohim which was given to you by Messiah Yeshua, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowle.g. even as the testimony of Messiah was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Master Yeshua the Messiah. (1 Cor 1:4–7)
Spiritual gifts from Elohim enrich our lives in all that we say and think.
Misc. Spiritual Gifts (Charisma)
For the gifts and calling of Elohim are without repentance. (Rom 11:29)
Israel was YHVH’s chosen and gifted people.
Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (1 Tim 4:14)
Ministry gifts come by prophecy and the laying on of hands by the elders.
a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own
the gift of divine grace
the gift of faith, knowle.g. holiness, virtue
the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Messiah laid hold of by faith
grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain redeemed believers and enabling them to serve the church of Messiah, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Spirit of Elohim.
From the study notes found in The Spirit Filled Life Bible in an article entitled“The Holy Spirit and Power,” (by Paul Walker), we learn the following things about spiritual gifts from heaven:
All born again or redeemed believers should have one or more of these gifts. Often they are innate character traits a person already possesses naturally, but once they are born again by the Spirit of Elohim, these traits will often be employed for ministry purposes. These gifts are basic life purpose or residential motivational gifts that a person is gifted with for the benefit of others.
Romans 15:4,Patience and comfort of the Scriptures. Just before this passage, Paul enjoins the spiritually strong to follow the example of Yeshua to support those who are spiritually weak (Rom 15:1–3). This can be especially trying when they are of one’s own physical or spiritual household—they are always present and there is no escape from them. Patience or perseverance in such cases is required and is a spiritual test that those who are strong must pass. It may take years or decades to pass this test if one has, for example, a spiritually weak marriage partner or other family member with which one has constant interaction.
In this verse, Paul offers advice on how to cope with this situation.
First, those who would seek the higher ground of spiritual maturity must learn patience, which can become a great jewel in one’s spiritual crown. Patience or longsuffering is perhaps the chief attribute of love (1 Cor 13:4), which is a fruit of the Spirit—doesn’t come easily, but only through the fiery refinement process of hardships brought on by people constantly rubbing us the wrong way. In this passage (Rom 13:4), Paul appeals to the example of Yeshua who endured much and mastered patience as he was reproached for sinners’ (that’s you and me) sake. If we want to strive for the high mark of being like him, we should endeavor to follow his example.
Second, in dealing with weak people, Paul encourages us to find comfort in the Scriptures (Rom 15:4). By immersing ourselves in the Word of Elohim and letting it renew and transform our thinking through the work of the Set-Apart Spirit in our hearts, we can endure the reproaches of weak and difficult people. The Scriptures are a world of their own—a refuge and island of peace in the midst of the roiling seas of adversity, and a firm rock to stand on in the billowing waves of life’s troubles.
May the hope of becoming more like Yeshua and conforming ourselves to the wise instructions of the Scriptures and examples of righteous people found therein give us hope to persevere through our difficulties and come out the other side more conformed to the image of Yeshua who is the epitome of loving patience toward us.