12/14/T – With Shouts of Grace

Zechariah 4:1-14; Revelation 14:1-12; Psalms 142:1-3; Proverbs 29:26-27

OT: “The angel who was speaking with me then returned and roused me as one awakened out of sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top. The lampstand also has seven lamps at the top with seven spouts for each of the lamps. There are also two olive trees beside it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” Then I asked the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these, my Lord?” “Don’t you know what they are?” replied the angel who was speaking with me. I said, “No, my Lord.” So he answered me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘What are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain. And he will bring out the capstone accompanied by shouts of: Grace, grace to it! ’” Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you. For who despises the day of small things? These seven eyes of the Lord, which scan throughout the whole earth, will rejoice when they see the ceremonial stone in Zerubbabel’s hand.”” (‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭4:1-10‬ ‭CSB)

In another of Zechariah’s prophetic visions, he saw a golden lampstand and two olive trees. Oil from the two olive trees was continuously dripping into the bowl of the lampstand so that the seven lamps could burn without ever running out of oil. When Zechariah asked what the vision meant and what the lampstand and olive trees stood for, the angel gave an odd response. It seemed like the angel didn’t even answer his question – but gave a seemingly unrelated declaration about mountains and capstones.

The issue at hand during Zechariah’s ministry was the rebuilding of the temple. Haggai brought the initial word that called the rebuilding process to commence and Zechariah brought encouragement to keep the project going. I have led numerous projects in my line of work that span months. I also know how it feels after those projects drag on and on and it seems like you aren’t making significant progress. You feel discouraged. You feel like you don’t have what it takes to see the project to completion. You feel like giving up. I imagine that Zerubbabel was feeling those same things. The word of the Lord to Zerubbabel was a vision of a lampstand and two olive trees. Why? The angel first gave Zechariah the accompanying message, and then explained the vision. The message was that the temple would be completed during Zerubbabel’s lifetime. Those mountains that stood in the way of completion would be flattened like a plain. The same man who began the work would be the man who set the final capstone in place. In fact, heaven rejoiced to see Zerubbabel at the helm of the project holding the plum line – but the work would not be completed by Zerubbabel’s strength and might. Completion would come by grace from the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit of God.

After that encouraging message, the angel finally explained the lampstand and two olive trees. The olive trees that were producing the oil for the lamp were the “two anointed ones that stood by the Lord.” The two anointed ones were those who had been anointed by the Lord to lead His people both politically and spiritually. At that moment in time, the two anointed ones were Zerubbabel the Governor of Judah and Joshua the High Priest. God had anointed them to lead the rebuilding of the temple, and it was through that Holy Spirit empowered anointing of grace, as Zerubbabel and Joshua partnered together, that the temple would be completed… not by strength nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord with shouts of “Grace!”

NT: “Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads… They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth… Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth — to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” And another, a second angel, followed, saying, “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen. She made all the nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” And another, a third angel, followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is poured full strength into the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or anyone who receives the mark of its name. This calls for endurance from the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭14:1, 3, 6-12‬ ‭CSB)

At the beginning or Revelation 7, John described 144,000 who were sealed with the seal of God. Those 144,000 was symbolic of God’s remnant of faithful Jews who were left on the earth. The important thing to see about that 144,000 is that they did not have the mark of the beast on their heads, but had the name of God the Father and the Lamb on their heads. Despite all the trials and tribulations… despite all the threats and hardships, the 144,000 did not give themselves over to the worship of the Antichrist, but actually ended up giving themselves to the worship and service of Christ. Those 144,000 who were sealed by God came to faith in Christ during the tribulation and were redeemed. How did they survive the tribulation with their faith not only intact, but strengthened? They endured and persevered by grace as they kept their faith in the Lord God and eventually placed their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

To those on the earth who continued to reject the salvation offered by the Lamb, they received a 3-part warning from 3 different angels. The first angel flew overhead proclaiming the gospel message. In part the proclamation of the gospel may have been a last ditch effort to save some – but more than that, it was a reminder of the message that the people had heard, but had rejected. It was a reminder that they were given a chance at salvation but did not take it. That message of good news became a message of judgement. The second angel came with the message that Babylon the great – the world system that everyone placed their faith in – had fallen and could not save them from the wrath to come. The third angel came with the third and final warning: anyone who had given themselves over to the worship of the beast and had been marked with its name would soon drink the fullness of God’s wrath. Everything up to that point had been measured – but the time had come when judgement and wrath would be measured no more. How do we remain among those numbered with the redeemed and not those subjected to the fullness of God’s wrath? Not by strength or might, but with spirit-empowered endurance by grace through faith in the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your anointing of grace. I thank You that as I remain in You by faith, I remain under Your anointing. You are not an anointed one. You are THE Anointed One. As I remain in You and Your word remains in me, my life is filled with the life-flow of Your grace for every challenge, trial and tribulation I face. Help me to not rely on my strength and might, but to rely on Your Holy Spirit empowered grace that comes through faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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