Fresh Insights on “Not By Might Nor By Power, But By My Spirit…”

Zechariah 4:6, Not by might.

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?

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