|Zerubbabel - Abiud - Eliakim by Michelangelo; 1511--1512|
New Living Translation (NLT)
Reading the entire 4th chapter of Zechariah, we get an overall picture that God was trying to paint through the prophet, in a message delivered to Zerubbabel. The entire prophecy includes a lampstand and two olive trees, from which fresh oil was constantly flowing through straws. The theologians of the world might tell you that the items represent the church, and probably the Holy Spirit constantly flowing. Frankly I'm not sure what they say, because in spite of how many eloquent commentaries there are out there, I didn't read a single one of them. Really, I think I'd rather share what this says to me, because I take it kind of personally.
Zerubbabel was the grandson of Jehoachin, the Judean king who had been dethroned and taken into captivity. He and his friend, the high priest Jeshua, had led the first wave of exiles back from Babylon to their homeland, and had begun rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem.
As the returning Israelites settled into the towns and villages, they gathered with one purpose in mind... to rebuild the temple, starting first with the altar of God. They were leery of the locals who had been living in the area, but they didn't let it stop their work. The construction of the altar began in early autumn, and when completed, the Jews were relieved to begin offering sacrifices to God.
It was during the spring of the second year after they had returned that Zerubbabel's crew began construction on the Temple's foundation. What a day of celebration that must have been when the work was complete! The priests put on their robes and blew trumpets, the Levites clashed their cymbals, and all the people sang thanks to the Lord, praising Him because the foundation of the Temple had been laid.
But the celebration was short-lived. It wasn't long before the enemies of Judah and Benjamin started protesting the work that the former exiles were doing on the Temple, during the reign of King Cyrus of Persia. The bad guys kept harassing and thwarting the work for years, through the reign of Xerxes, and until the work finally ground to a halt under Artexerxes.
And then after what seemed like forever, King Darius took the throne, and things started turning around. That's when God gave this message to Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah. It was a message of hope, a word of encouragement. Let me ad-lib a bit...
Don't worry about how long it's taking, Zerubbabel, it's in My mighty Hands! Through you, I will accomplish what I set out to do many years ago. Don't be discouraged by how long it has taken, and don't be in a rush to get it finished. The Temple will be finished on My time table! Don't be discouraged at having to take such small steps. I don't even want you to take grandiose measures! The glory will always be Mine. But because you have a desire to do this work for me, it is My joy to ensure that you succeed.
See, God doesn't need our help. He never has. But he takes great pleasure in allowing us to work with Him. It's kind of like his analogy I heard one time, about a dad who is under the kitchen sink trying to fix a leak. Suddenly Junior toddles over and tries to crawl into the tiny space next to his father, with his plastic wrench. Daddy doesn't need Junior's help, but he knows two things; This moment with the two of them crammed into the cabinet together is a time of bonding between father and son, and secondly, the son is learning a valuable skill by imitating the work his father is doing under there.
That's the relationship we have with God when we're living our lives to please Him. A parent-child relationship. You, me, and our Heavenly Father.