“…not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6)
Adolph Saphir, in his exposition of the epistle of Hebrews, points out that there were many articles in the tabernacle which were types of Christ: the brazen altar and the sacrifice that was burned upon it, the showbread, the veil, the ark, and the mercy seat. He points out that Jesus Christ is so great and wonderful that none of these things alone would be a perfect type of Him, but that each type had to be aided by further types in order that we might get a full conception of the greatness of His person, His purity, and His power. It is the same with the Holy Spirit; and, if we study the Scriptures, we shall find many types that picture Him.
In a previous article, “GOD’S ABUNDANT PROVISION,” we saw that the refreshing water that flowed from the living “Rock” spoke of the Spirit. However, we have another symbol of the SPIRIT – the “oil.” “Oil” is used for many things. It is used as food. It is used for light. It is used for purification. It is used as a beautifier. It is used as a lubricant. It has healing virtues, for the “Good Samaritan” used both “oil” and wine upon the wounds of the injured man found on the road to Jericho.
Go with me into God’s wonderful book, the Bible, to the fourth chapter of Zechariah. The prophet speaks of himself as one awakened out of sleep. Friends, the church of Jesus Christ has been as the prophet for many centuries – utterly unconscious to the possibilities of a life in the Spirit. There is an urgent cry sounding forth, “Awake, you who sleep…” (Ephesians 5:14).
The vision that the prophet saw was of a golden candlestick or a lamp stand. It was made of gold with a bowl upon the top with seven lamps. There were seven pipes, which led to the seven lamps. By the side of the lamp stand there were two olive trees, which emptied their golden “oil” out of themselves through two golden pipes into the bowl of the lamps. The prophet inquired of the angel who spoke with him, “What are these, my lord?” The angel seemed surprised at his ignorance, and answered, “Do you not know what these are?” The prophet, confessing his ignorance, said, “No, my lord.” Then came the word of explanation, which was to be passed on to the ruler of Israel, Zerubbabel, who was governing through great difficulty. The angel said to the prophet, “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, ‘NOT BY MIGHT NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS.’”
How could the lamp be a burning and a shining light? It could only be by the constant supply of oil. How can God’s people give forth a bright and constant testimony? How can they be “…the light of the world,” letting their light shine in such a way that men will give glory to their God? It can only be accomplished by a constant and continuous supply of the Spirit of God of which the “oil” speaks. Their faith is not to be in anything that belongs to the human realm – the might of men or the power of earthly government. These things are passing away and worthless when it comes to spiritual values. The whole secret of the worthwhile testimony – the whole secret of the holy fire of God’s witnesses – is “THE OIL, THE BLESSED SPIRIT OF GOD.”
Zerubbabel lived in difficult days with mountains of opposition. It was with great difficulty that he was rebuilding the temple and reestablishing the broken kingdom. Here was the solution of every problem, the coming of the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, the great mountain of difficulties would become a plain. Friend, are there great mountains ahead of you? Are there tremendous difficulties before the church? Bring them all out and pile them all up. Everything that brings concern, everything that even troubles you, pile them all up. Even though they make a mountain a thousand times great that Mt. Everest, before your Leader, who has the limitless power of the Spirit behind Him, that mountain will become a plain.
Zerubbabel’s difficulty was the completion of the temple. The foundation had been laid; but with all the opposition around him, how could the temple be finished? It was a difficult task for the human, Zerubbabel, but a very small task for the human endued with the Spirit from above. It was with this word from the Lord that the temple could be erected with “…shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
When we read the Great Commission and see the Master’s program, it is easy to be overcome with despair. How can it be accomplished? It cannot be accomplished by human might or power. That which is impossible to the human is a very simple thing to the Spirit of God. God’s purposes and plans will be fulfilled to the last “jot and title.” HOW? – BY LETTING THE SPIRIT OF GOD, HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY. What “might” cannot accomplish – what “power” cannot do – is a small thing to the omnipotent Spirit of our mighty God.
Return with me to the vision of Zechariah. We see golden pipes through which flows “A CONTINUOUS SUPPLY OF OIL.” Day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, and year-by-year, we can continually burn and shine because of the constant, continuous supply of “oil.” Men have closed the channels. They have become independent of the divine supply. They have substituted scholarship, their own ideas, organization, and a thousand other things for the supply of the Spirit of God. In the process, the church has become powerless and the laughingstock of the world. All of this is because they have lost the God given vision – “NOT BY MIGHT NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT…”
Ah, but God is gracious, ready, willing, and even anxious, to once more give that which is needed – the wondrous supply of the heavenly “oil.” What is it that clogs the golden pipes? Is there sin, envy, jealousy, evil speaking, or hatred? All of these things will hinder the flow of “oil.”
At a time of great moral decay in Israel, the word went forth from the Lord, “Now, therefore, ‘says the Lord,’ turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…” (Joel 2:12&13). The instructions came, “Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach…’” (Joel 2:17). What would be God’s response to this repentance? God promised a blessing. In fact, His promise was, “…I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” (Joel 2:28). They were to meet God’s conditions, and, once again, the “oil” would flow.
What is true of the church of Jesus Christ, as a whole, is also applicable to every individual. The question arises: “Is there anything in the golden pipes that hinders the continuous supply of God’s Spirit?” Is there pride? Is there ambition? Is there love of power? Is there covetousness? Is there lust of the flesh? Is there the desire for fame? If there is, the same remedy, which God showed Israel, must be applied. There must be repentance and confession. But thank God, where there is repentance and confession, God applies the every effective blood of Jesus Christ, and will cleanse us from every sin. There will be the removing of that which hinders the flow of the “oil” of the Spirit.
When Jesus taught His disciples the prayer of Matthew 6:9-15, He did not suggest that they pray, “Give us today ten thousand bushels of wheat, so that we shall have plenty of bread to last a long time, and then we can be independent.” No! He taught them to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Each day there is to be a fresh supply. The Israelites could not gather a yearly supply of manna. Yesterday’s supply stank if it were kept. Each day there was fresh manna. Each day there is to be fresh bread. Each day there must be fresh “oil.” From the throne of heaven, where the Father and the Son dwell, there must come the constant supply of “oil” that we may be, and continue to be, burning and shining lights for our Master.
That is the secret. Do not rely on any of the power and might of the earth, which are worthless. The only thing that counts in the service of God is the Spirit of God coming down from the Father and the Son. There will be victory over all difficulties as we receive this constant supply. Before Him, every mountain will melt into a plain. With Him, there will be the completion of the task appointed by the Master. There will be the fulfilling of all His will. The last task will be finished with the cry, “Grace, grace.” The secret is very simple – THE CONSTANT, CONTINUOUS SUPPLY OF THE SPIRIT. Just as the branches draw constantly the sap from the vine, and, as they draw the sap, they abound with luscious fruit, so are we to constantly draw from the heavenly olive trees a continuous supply of “oil.” Then we become His branches and produce precious fruit.