It’s natural to take verses that have inspirational wording out of context, and apply them to our given situation. We long for encouragement, and these pithy sayings help provide that. We’ve looked at a few of these before: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,” and “I know the plans I have for you,”and “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” There’s really nothing overtly wrong with wanting to find encouragement and strength from these passages.
The problem lies in never understanding what those passages truly mean. Unfortunately, our faith has been reduced down to the ability to quote a Christian cliche, without ever moving past the cliches and into the truth.
One such verse that we do this with is Zechariah 4:6:
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts.
Yes, this is an encouraging verse. And yes, this verse can be applied to our lives. We need to learn and be reminded that our victory and strength lie not in our own ability, but in the Spirit of God. So, on that level, this verse can be applied to our lives.
But what is the verse really about, anyway?
The context of this passage is the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, after the return of the exiles from Babylon. The High Priest, Joshua, and the grandson of the last king to rule over Judah, Zerubbabel, are working together to rebuild the worship of the One True God in Jerusalem.
But the prophecy of Zechariah 4 is a future prophecy about the coming Kingdom of God. There is Another who will arise. This one will function not only as Messiah of all of Israel, but as the High Priest as well. He will be the “capstone” or “cornerstone” that the builders rejected (Psalm 118:22).
His House won’t be one that is built upon armies and political intrigue and the work of men, His House will be one that is built upon the lives of those who will endure forever. It is a different “house.” One that will be eternal and will come by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This House won’t be made out of building materials. It will be built out of the lives of all those who have yielded themselves to His Kingdom. Consider what Peter said in his first epistle:
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:4-10 ESV
Stand firm in the truth that, because of Jesus, we will rule and reign and worship in a Temple that is not built by hands upon the foundation of stone, in a Kingdom that does not come by the political maneuverings of schemers and politicians. Together, we are being built into a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for His own possession.
Not by might, nor by power. But, by the very Holy Spirit of God.