Wednesday: Not by Human Power
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Read Zechariah 4. What hope is being presented to the people?

Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

In this vision, Zechariah sees a lampstand fed by two olive trees, which refers back to the candlestick located in the Holy Place of the wilderness tabernacle (Exod. 25:31-40). The seven lamps are arranged around a large bowl that serves as a reservoir of oil.

The bowl, with its bountiful supply of oil, symbolizes the fullness of God’s power through His Spirit. The seven lamps shine with abundant light, a symbol of God’s abiding presence, which dispels all darkness. Just as the olive oil is conducted directly from the trees to the bowl of oil at the top of the lampstand without any human agency, so the power which comes from God is constant and sufficient and also needs no human agency.

The message of the vision given to the prophet is that the temple in Jerusalem will soon be rebuilt. God’s Spirit, not just human efforts, guarantees the completion of the work. This bold message is given in spite of the fact that the obstacles faced by the builders appear to be as great as a “mountain” (vs. 7).

The prophet is not told who is represented by the lampstand, but we can be sure that the two olive trees represent the two leaders of Judah, Joshua and Zerubbabel. In worldly terms, Zerubbabel’s position never could match the royal power and might of his ancestors David and Solomon. From a human point of view, all efforts and resources available to the builders were inadequate. Yet, God’s Word promises that a king is not saved by the size of his army, nor warrior by his great strength (Ps. 33:16). In this way the leaders are told that it is only when the Spirit leads that every detail of service can glorify God.

In this prophetic passage, Christians are given an important principle to remember: God may call us to difficult tasks, but through the work of His Spirit He can accomplish His purpose (see Phil. 2:134:13). By the Spirit, God provides the power to do His work now as He did then. This is accomplished not by human might or force but by the Lord working through those who are open to be used by Him.

Read carefully Zechariah 4:6. Why is it so important always to keep in mind our utter dependence upon God? What can happen when we forget that all that we have, or can do, comes only from the Lord and His power working is us?

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Wednesday: Not by Human Power — 15 Comments

    • I like that line of that brother may it be our prayer, that we may experience an extraordinary life.

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  1. i wish all knew the simple and straight-forward science of salvation which depends wholly on the Power of the Holy Spirit

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  2. As much as God promises us that if we ask Him He will give us the desires of our heart, He will only grant our wishes if they align with His will because He knows what can and cannot get us in trouble. So if you do not have your wishes granted sometimes, please do not be discouraged but be just as thankful. This is hard for all of us and am the biggest offender. It is only later that I understand when I do not get some of my wishes granted. That is because, sometimes God shows me down the line why He did not honor my wishes. Then I understand and begin to be very thankful when I should have been in the beginning anyway. In all situations, muster courage and be encouraged. This sinful world is transient. God bless!

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  3. My prayer is that lets let GOD work to be done in our lives as we acknowledge HIS work in our life's.

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  4. We usually want to be independent, and this attitude helps us charge ahead. We do not feel our need to depend on God and we do not see how dangerously we live as we carry this attitude of independence forward. Many of us are smart and capable, and so we deceive ourselves into thinking that all is well. However, we are needy, poor and blind without depending fully on Him. We will never know all the blessings we miss because we do not feel the need. God help me to depend on You, and thank You for the gift of Your presence and power. The love relationship kept constantly connected in the right perspective is the secret--constant prayer.

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  5. The Vision Of Hope

    This lesson has a lot of unfulfilled prophecies, while Zechariah was giving messages of hope to the returned exiled, I have seen that the prophecies has a more direct fulfillment for the last days
    Zec 1:8-10 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.
    Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.
    And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.

    Since the horses are sent by the Lord to walk to and fro through the earth, and since they have the ability to speak, all this very obviously reveals that the horses are symbolical of the Lord's messengers, of those whom He sends to the nations.

    The red, speckled, and white -- several species of horses, depict a group of servants of varied races and nationalities. The horses, therefore, cannot be taken to symbolize either the Hebrew servants of Zechariah's day, or those of Christ's day because the Lord's servants in those days were all of one race -- Jews, not red, speckled, and white. Having fulfilled their mission, the horses reported that they "have walked to and fro through the earth" and that in spite of it the earth is sitting still and at rest -- doing nothing about it.

    In Zechariah's day the message bearers were all Jews (a people of one race and one nation), the symbolism is positively applicable to a day in which God appoints evangelists of various races and nationalities, whom He send to and fro through the earth -- to all nations.

    All these identifications point out that the horses represent the First-day Adventists who arose between the years 1833 and 1844 and who then fulfilled this symbolical prophecy by proclaiming the second advent of Christ to every Christian mission, world over, but having confused the cleansing of the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14) -- the purification of the church, the work of the Judgment, harvest, by separating the wheat from the tares (Matt. 13:30), the good fish from the bad (Matt. 13:47, 48), the wise virgins from the foolish (Matt. 25:1-12), the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:32), the wedding garment dressed guests from those who had not the garment (Matt. 22:2-13). This Judicial work commences first among the dead (book work only, of course -- Dan. 7:10), then among the living (actual bodily separation -- cleansing -- Ezek. 9).

    As Daniel's prophecy of chapter eight, namely the 2300 days, pointed out that the Judgment work was to commence in 1844 A.D. but as it was mistakenly understood that the world was to come to an end instead, they were greatly disappointed when the set date came and nothing happened. So it was that as the set date approached they returned from their mission fields with full confidence that they had finished their mission, -- that they had "walked to and fro through the earth" -- and that there was time no longer, that the world was then to end.

    Concerning the scope of their work The Great Controversy, page 368, has this to say: "The writings of Miller and his associates were carried to distant lands. Wherever missionaries had penetrated in all the world, were sent the glad tidings of Christ's speedy return. Far and wide spread the message of the everlasting gospel, 'Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.'"

    Thus it was that the horses (messengers) thought their work was finished, but the angel who really knew the facts, and saw God's people still in captivity, still away from their homeland, while the heathen were at ease, pleaded for action:

    Zech. 1:12 -- "Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?"

    The prophet Jeremiah's prediction that the Jews were to spend seventy years in Babylonian captivity, the time had ended although they were still in Babylon. But since this symbolical prophecy finds its fulfillment in our day instead of in Zechariah's day, the angel's plea for "mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah," therefore, finds its direct application in this day.

    There is, however, this parallel: The time of the Babylonian captivity overlapped some years the time of returning to Jerusalem, in like manner John's prediction that the church should return to the vineyard after having spent 1260 years in the wilderness (in the lands of the Gentiles) (Rev. 12:6), had ended and even overlapped since the year 1798 and there was no sign as yet for her returning.

    And as we were in no condition to accept additional Truth, the results are that the church is still in the wilderness concerning which Inspiration said, "If the people of God had gone to work as they should have gone to work right after the Minneapolis meeting in 1888, the world could have been warned in two years and the Lord would have come." -- General Conference Bulletin, 1892.

    It looks like our wilderness sojourn is about to end and that soon will we stand on Mt. Zion with the Lamb (Rev. 14:1). From this analytical point of view is again seen that the angel's plea for mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah is applicable directly to the people in our day, and only indirectly to the people in Zechariah's day.

    Zech. 1:13, 14 -- "And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy."

    Rather than saying, "Zion...shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps" -- Mic. 3:12, the Lord expressed His great jealousy for them, and commanded His servants to "cry yet" and say:

    Zech. 1:16, 17 -- "Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem."

    After the disappointment in the year 1844 the messengers of Truth in Christ were told to "cry yet" (continue to preach) and say "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem."

    Rev 10:9-11 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
    And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
    And he said unto me, Thou (Seventh-day Adventist) must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

    Zech. 4:5, 6 -- "Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the Word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
    The angel disclosed two things: First he made known that the symbolism is concerning the Word of the Lord (the Bible) to the servants of God; second, that His Word is revealed, not by man's might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
    Plainly this symbolism as a whole represents the system by which the Lord transmits His revealed Word to His people. That we might have a thorough understanding of this Divinely designed system, we need to know what each component part of the illustration stands for. The Spirit of Prophecy gives the clue.
    In The Great Controversy, page 267 is explained that the "olive trees" represent the "Old and New Testaments;" Testimonies to Ministers, page 188, says that the golden oil represents the Holy Spirit; and on page 337 of the same book, along with Revelation 1:20, says that the seven lamps represent the church, and that the seven tubes (the ministry) convey the oil to the churches.
    The trees represent the Word of God (the Bible -- both Old and New Testaments -- two trees).
    Here is seen that the whole symbolical set up is for the purpose of depicting the accomplishment of but one thing -- of keeping the seven lamps (the entire church membership) supplied with spiritual oil (Bible Truth) so that it might give spiritual light all round about, that the church might lighten the world with the revealed Word of God.(Rev 18;1) And since the ministry's duty is to feed the church with spiritual food, the fact is that the seven tubes represent the ministry at work, taking the oil (revealed Truth) from the bowl to the seven lamps, the churches. Now the truth that in the illustration the tubes (the ministers) do not take the oil directly from the olive trees (the Bible), it positively indicates that the bowl in which the oil is deposited represents the container or the store in which the compilations of Inspired Bible interpretations are stored, and that from it, not from the olive trees, the ministers help themselves with oil and carry it to the seven lamps (to the church).
    The two golden pipes, therefore, can be only a representation of the inspired channels which are capable to extract the oil (light of Truth) from the trees (from both Testaments) and store it in the bowl (books) for the tubes (ministers) to convey it to the candlestick (to the churches).
    The symbolism, therefore, points out the system which Heaven has ordained for dispensing the Word of the Lord to His church: that the Spirit of Prophecy at work is the only remedy against isms in the church and in the world.

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    • Thank you for the explanation, esp. re: the lampstand and trees. I was confused by the SS author's statements:

      (paragraph 2 or 3, (depending on how read starting sentence))

      "Just as the olive oil is conducted directly from the trees to the bowl of oil at the top of the lampstand without any human agency, so the power which comes from God is constant and sufficient and also needs no human agency."

      and (paragraph 5)

      "The prophet is not told who is represented by the lampstand, but we can be sure that the two olive trees represent the two leaders of Judah, Joshua and Zerubbabel."

      It didn't make sense, to me, that in one paragraph we're told that man is not involved and in a later paragraph that the lampstand was fed by two men. It didn't make sense to me that the power of God was fed by two men. Maybe the SS author could comment further to help me understand the lesson better.

      I will delve into the EGW writings quoted to better understand, (egwwritings.org). Thank you for your help.

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  6. We often times only say we believe in God but deep down we are so selfish especially when we don't get what we want, I pray that we as a people will strive to make a difference by first seeing how sinfull we are and ask God to make our hearts and minds pure. And in everything let's remember "Not my will but thy will be done".

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  7. "The prophet is not told who is represented by the lampstand, but we can be sure that the two olive trees represent the two leaders of Judah, Joshua and Zerubbabel."

    Just one question concerning this, how can we be sure that the trees represent the leaders of Judah? This is a vision with reference to the temple not just to the completion of it. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and does it originate from Joshua and Zerubbabel? Besides have we forgotten the two cherubim on top of the mercy seat or the many other places in the sanctuary where the number two shows up?

    I think if I was the Sabbath School committee I would have been very silent on naming who the two trees were since Scripture only states, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth" (Zech. 4:14 NKJV). That is the same general language that John employs in Revelation which connects to Zech 4, "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth." (Rev. 11:3-4 NKJV).

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  8. @Dorothy and Tyler,

    Both of you noticed a sentence the lesson that must have slipped in while the editors were asleep at their desks.

    The implication in the text is that the two olive trees supplied the olive oil (representative of the Holy Spirit) to the bowl on the top of the lamp stand which supplied oil to all seven lamps. Thus the olive trees could not possibly represent any human beings -- at least not by Protestant standards.

    Thank you, Tyler, for the link to Revelation.

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  9. I totally agree with you Lennox and Tyler. This lesson is a depiction of the system of interpreting the written word of God and transmittimg it to the church.
    " The continued communication of the Holy Spirit to the church is represented by the prophet Zechariah under another figure, which contains a wonderful lesson of encouragement for us" TM 509.1
    A further help on the meaning of the lampstand and the Olive tress can be found in TM 510.1 and I quote, "As olive trees empty themseves into the golden pipes, so the heavenly messengers seek to communicate all that they receive from God.The whole heavenly treasure awaits our demand and reception; and as we receive the blessing, we in our turn are to impart it. Thus it is that the holy lamps are fed, and the church becomes a light bearer in the world.
    Further proof of the symbolism of golden oil. Quote from TM 188.2 " The golden oil represents the Holy Spirit. With this oil God's ministers are to be constantly supplied, that they, in turn may impart it to church"
    "When the anointed ones empty themselves through the golden pipes, the golden oil flows out of themselves into the golden bowl, to flow forth into the lamps, the churches. This is the work of every true, devoted servant of the living God. The Lord God of heaven cannot approve much that is brought into the pulpit by those who are professedly speaking the word of the Lord. They do not inculcate ideas that will be a blessing to those who hear." TM 336.3
    From this study, we see how we can come to a unified and proper understanding of the scriptures so that God can empower the church to fully reflect the character of Christ and be a light to the world. A complete channel of communication thus revealed. GOD-CHRIST-ANGELS-PROPHETS-MINISTERS-CHURCH.
    May the good Lord bless us all and give us the zeal to search His word deligently.

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    • Much already has been written above about the two anointed ones, though I think it requires further investigation. I would like to put emphasis at the other end of the line, so to speak, to assist Tyler and others.

      "From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zech. 4:6. {COL 408.1}

      A similar passage we have in Rev.1
      "Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
      Rev 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. "

      In both events there is a "flowchart" of a process of communication from heaven to earth as expressed by Renford before me.
      In Rev.1, from God, to Jesus, to angel to John. In Zechariah 4, from God to two olive trees to golden pipes to bowl to golden lamps to human intrumentalities consecrated for service.
      In the book of Revelation the human instrument consecrated for service on Earth was John. So in this chapter Zechariah and Zerubbabel are the human vessels who carry the oil of heaven on Earth. John and Zechariah not only received visions but were witnesses of heavenly agencies at work for the salvation of the fallen race.

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  10. There's one thing I have come to understand,thus, we all have to worship God because we are [all] dependant on Him.
    David then reminds us all, we depend [Ps.121:2] on God who was,and now is and is to come, as our Creator.

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  11. I seriously disagree with the interpretations by the authors of the SS lesson of Zechariah 4 prophecy.
    Let us look at a different conclusion.(please note this conclusion has the necessary references to check out)

    1. Read: Zech. 4:1-6,11-14.
    Read and identify each part and function of the prophecy.
    CANDLESTICK w/ SEVEN LAMPS (verse 2)
    BOWL (verse 2)
    SEVEN PIPES (verse 2)
    TWO OLIVE TREES (Verse 2, 11-14)
    TWO PIPES (Verse 12)
    All items are of gold

    2. Purpose Of The Symbols:
    To keep the lamps burning by supplying them with sufficient oil. The prophecy, described with its various symbols (pipes, bowl, lamps, etc) are described as God's word— that through this system His Spirit is to finish the work, rather than power or might. (Verse 6).

    3. Source Of The Oil: The two olive trees
    a. The trees represent the Bible—Old & New Testaments.
    b. Zech. 4:14 — they are the two anointed ones.
    c. Rev. 11:3,4 — they are the same as the two witnesses.
    d. GC 267 — they are the two witnesses representing the Old and New Testaments.

    4. The Destination Of The Oil: The candlestick or the seven lamps.
    Rev. 1:20 — The seven candlestick (each having seven lamps), represent the seven churches of the New Testament. See also: AA 585, Matt. 6:14.
    Summary:
    A candlestick or seven lamps represent God's church. Therefore, the purpose of the symbolism is to keep God's church ablaze with his word.

    5. What Keeps The Church Burning Brightly:
    The oil - the Holy Spirit of truth. Although traditionally we have accepted "oil" to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit, it is more specifically the Holy Spirit of truth— the word of God explained and used in the hearts of his people.
    COMPARE:
    TM 188 — the oil is the Holy Spirit.
    TM 234 — the oil is the righteousness of Christ
    TM 65 — the righteousness of Christ is pure unadulterated truth.
    TM 337,338 — the oil is truth.
    John 14:17
    John 15:26
    John 16:13 }the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of TRUTH.
    Note: If the trees represent the Bible (Old and New Testaments) then what
    comes from the Bible?—REVEALED TRUTH. Since oil comes from the trees, then the oil must especially represent present-truth—truths needed for the time in which we live—the product of the Bible (trees).

    6. How Is The Oil Retrieved From The Scriptures?
    a. Through the Two Pipes —the messengers with the gift of
    interpretation —the Spirit of Prophecy.
    b. Amos 3:7 — God's secrets are revealed through his prophets.
    c. TM 510 — the two pipes are human instrumentalities
    d. 2 Pet. 1:16-21 — no prophecy of the Scriptures is of private interpretation, but must be revealed in the same manner as it was given—by the Holy Spirit through human agents. See also 7T p.249.

    Summary: The two pipes must be interpreters who alone can reveal the mysteries, symbols, and prophecies of the Bible. NOTE, that ONLY the TWO PIPES are allowed to go into the trees and withdraw oil—truth.
    That is, although some things are plain in the Bible, only God's inspired agents can accurately interpret the "prophecies of the Scripture" ( 2 Pet. 1:19-21) because it was dictated by God's Spirit
    and can only be interpreted by God's Spirit (Amos 3:7). Thus, the TWO PIPES are a symbol of the prophets whom we now primarily recognize.

    7. What Is The Bowl?
    The published works of the inspired messengers—the storehouse of their revealed truths.
    Summary: It is from the bowl that the oil is stored and then retrieved to feed the lamps. Thus the bowl is a reservoir for the oil-revealed truth. From what reservoir do we find revealed truth? Is it not from the WRITINGS of the messengers whom God used to help us understand the Bible?
    —inspired interpreters

    8. The Seven Pipes
    Summary: The seven pipes take oil from the bowl NOT FROM THE TREES. This shows that ministers and teachers are required to teach the Bible in light of revealed truths given to us by the messengers of God—they must teach the Bible in harmony with the inspired interpreters. They are NOT to engage in private interpretation. They are therefore, to impart oil (truth) to the lamps (church) that is substantiated by Inspiration, and that truth is found only in the bowl (the inspired writings).
    Unfortunately, most leaders are not teaching strictly from the bowl. They instead figuratively place their tubes into the trees (Bible) by teaching their own ideas and opinions. They ignore the parts of Inspiration which do not suit them. That is, they do not fully accept and teach the writings of Sis. White.

    In order for the church of God to illuminate the world with the righteousness of Christ, it must accept the truths revealed from the Bible through the inspired messengers.

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