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Lowell Brueckner

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By My Spirit


Zechariah, chapter four, verses 1-6. An expository study

Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936)
The heart of every Christian should burn with a longing to see a pure moving of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many are more interested in what man can do for them. Jonathan Goforth, the great missionary, who saw revival in Mongolia and other parts of China, made the following comments in his book, By My Spirit, after attending a worldwide missionary convention:  Never have I experienced such keen pain and disappointment as I did that day. Of the many who addressed that great missionary gathering, not more than three emphasized God the Holy Spirit as the one essential factor in world evangelization. Listening to the addresses that day, one could not but conclude that the giving of the Gospel to lost mankind was largely a matter of better organization, better equipment, more men and women… the dethronement of the idol of ecclesiastical self-sufficiency was apparently too great a price to pay.

A Vision

The angel didn’t talk to Zechariah in a dream; he woke him in order to speak to him (v.1). It is not my intention to say that God never speaks by dreams, because the Bible gives us examples, in which He does, but they always take place in extraordinary situations. In this book we read of various visions and angelic visitations, but remember that God is giving revelation that will form part of the Bible and, in Zechariah’s case, he is prophesying of the coming of the Messiah and of events related with the end of this era. The book will instruct millions of people in the entire world for many centuries. More than being an extraordinary message, it is unique and inerrant, perfectly inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If in this 21st Century someone would tell me that an angel had paid him a visit, I would be delighted and rejoice with him. However, when someone becomes fascinated with angels (I have known some to be fascinated with demons and deliverance), we can begin to wonder if something strange is taking place. I read a book written by someone, who had so many angelic visitations that he even had names for them. To tell you the truth, I put such material in the category of extra-biblical experience.

Similarly, to see people continually preoccupied with dreams leaves me thinking that they have deviated from a normal relationship with the Lord. In the time of Jeremiah there were those who were fascinated by dreams (Jer.23:22-32). The safest and most normal way for God to speak to us, without a doubt, is by means of the Bible and, normally, He speaks when we are awake. Zechariah, literally, had opportunity to consciously participate and involve himself with all that happened in his visions. Be that as it may be, without a doubt, God wants us to be spiritually awake. Paul writes two awakening messages to the church: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Rom 13:11) and  “Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’" (Eph 5:14). 

The angel, who awoke and spoke to Zechariah, is the same, who interpreted for him in earlier chapters, beginning with 1:9. This vision (v.2) concurs and is symbolic of the things that the Apostle John saw, which had to do with two witnesses, who would appear in the last times (Rev.11:4). In the prophecy of Zechariah, we see a clear relationship between what was happening in his day and what will occur at the end of the period, in which we are living. It has not yet taken place.

Zechariah sees a golden candlestick , a receptacle on top, seven lamps and seven channels flowing to the lamps. The candlestick is identical to that, which was in the temple and represents God’s people (Mt.5:14; Phil.2:15… we can see how each New Testament expression found its roots in the Old).  In Zechariah’s day, the nation of Israel was the light for the nations. God symbolizes that which is best… that which comes from God in its pure form. The oil is the symbol of the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit that keeps the lamps burning.

The receptacle on top receives the oil and distributes it by seven tubes, which are connected to the seven lamps (some see 49 tubes… seven for each lamp). Seven is the number of perfection and in that number God must always be taken into account. These are physically connected by the central stand. In Revelations, the Apostle John sees each lamp, representing a church, separated one from another in a rough circle. However, since Jesus is in the midst of them, they are united in spirit (Rev.1:20).

There is an olive tree on either side (v.3). They are living fountains of oil, supplying combustible power. “They never wanted, nor were ever glutted, and so kept always burning clear. And the bowl too was continually supplied, without any care or attendance of man… nobody needed to attend this candlestick, to furnish it with oil (it tarried not for man, nor waited for the sons of men), the scope of which is to show that God easily can, and often does, accomplish his gracious purposes concerning his church by his own wisdom and power, without any art or labour of man, and that though sometimes he makes use of instruments, yet he neither needs them nor is tied to them, but can do his work without them, and will rather than it shall be undone.” Matthew Henry. “To be a light in the world… maintained with pure oil, distilled from the olive - trees, not pressed out by man, but continually, abundantly, and freely flowing from God.” John Wesley.

What follows now (v.4) is the fifth question of Zechariah, which is answered by the angel with another question: “Do you not know what these are?” Zechariah humbly responds, ‘No’ (v.5). This part of the account also has a reason. It shows that the istrument that God will use should not be hampered by human interpretations that might corrupt the revelations of God. Besides, it is utterly necessary that the man will show is insufficiency for the ministry, to which God has called him. He is there to learn; he is an earthly disciple, who is learning of heavenly things.

The vision demonstrate a work that is purely of the Holy Spirit. We can see that by the following points: 1) In the oil that is a symbol of the Spirit. 2) In the fire, also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. 3) In the fact that no natural process is involved and therefore, it is not limited by natural laws. By a supernatural, mysterious power, the oil flows directly from the trees to the lamps. We saw the same lack of process, when Jesus, as He began His ministry with the Holy Spirit upon Him, turned water into wine without the need of a natural process. We saw it in the work of the Spirit in creation, creating all things in its full maturity and completeness, without a time process. The light of the stars, for example, already reached the earth, even though the stars were flung to a distance of millions of light years. Just so, each things was created complete, functioning through a limitless and infinite God.  

The entire scene in this vision first carried a message to Zerubbabel en his day, but God is giving it to everyone and it is one of the most vital principles of the entire Bible: “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” It manifests eternal truth that must be adopted by God’s people everywhere and at all times, as a motto for the individual life, and also as a characteristic of every united effort for God. It characterizes all the genuine revivals that have occurred in the history of the church. Everyone of them might be called ‘a move of the Spirit’.

 This is the longing of each true Christian, especially the one who has in one way or another lived through a revival.  No one can describe or define to others the joy and wonder that God’s people experience, when the Holy Spirit descends and men must step aside. They are days of heaven on earth. The oil flows directly from the olive trees to the lamps, which are lit with heavenly glory. Men are involved, but they are not in charge of the plans or of the attributes, which are manifested. Christ takes His place at the head of the body, which is the church. Man’s part is to obey and act as the Spirit dictates, but in order to do that, the same Spirit must enable him. Everything works on a higher level. The supernatural becomes common and everyday experience. The fear of God penetrates human beings, sinners tremble, repent and are gloriously saved. There are powerful baptisms in the Holy Spirit with demonstrations of the gifts, which accompany Him. Love and joy reign. 


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