“‘. . . .but by My Spirit. . . .'”

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Dear Travelers,

Treat yourself to an extra helping of your favorite dessert if you know the book, chapter and verse of the citation above. Super-size that dessert if you know to whom the LORD directed this declaration (no peeking but both answers are below).

It is, perhaps, the most oft quoted verse from one of the least read books in the Bible (that’s a hint). If Bible verses were automobiles this text would be a Lamborghini. Its elegance and style, cannot conceal a divine challenge to be bold. One does not get behind the wheel of a Lambo to drive slowly. However, unlike driving an Italian super car, this text dares us to trust in a power beyond our control.

Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

The exhortation given in this verses challenges the trinity of rugged individualism, self-reliance and self-determination. Given that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, doing things by our own might and by our own power comes naturally. Every parent who has dared to help a young child tie his or her shoelaces knows this. Experience has taught that every attempt to help is met with a rousing protest of, “I do! I do! I do!” Shrewd parents may buy shoes that latch with Velcro, or slip-on, however, this only encourages the self-reliance challenged by this verse.

Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

The particular context in which this verse appears deals with the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem after the exiles returned from captivity in Babylon (another hint). From a human perspective the challenges confronting the governor charged with the temple’s reconstruction were daunting: a mountain of rubble had to be cleared, a new foundation to build on, enemies all around, and to make things more difficult, even the exiles scoffed at the audacity of the project.

Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

The principle emerging from this verse is clear: with God all things are possible. We must put our trust in the One who formed us in our mother’s womb. God created us to be dependent on Him for our individuality; for reliance on His grace rather than our ability to save ourselves; for trust in His purpose as the sole determination of our destiny.

Are you unemployed? “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts. Are you struggling with a chronic illness? “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts. Are you battling an addiction? “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts. Are you working through the healing process as the result of physical, verbal and/or sexual abuse? “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts.

The trinity of rugged individualism, self-reliance and self-determination can take us only so far. If we are to make it all the way home we need the grace, truth and power of the eternal, holy and glorious Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

You think about that.

Answers: Zechariah 4.6; Zerubbabel

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