We may think of strength in practical terms as in physical stature and ability or mental confidence through knowledge and practice but this is a natural view and is not what truly sustains us. It is the power of Christ’s Spirit that gives us inner strength; a fortitude that keeps us pressing forward in hope. When we are weak then He is strong. “For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God for we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.” (2 Cor 13:4). We are constantly faced with our inabilities, knowing that we lack and do not have the resources we need to be able to overcome in the battle(s) we face in life. We need strength to believe, strength to get up when we get knocked down, strength to persevere, strength to withstand the enemy. Basically, we need the power of God who is the source of all strength (1 Chron 29:12; Ps 68:35). STRENGTH we find is a title given to Yahweh “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent” (1 Sam 15:29). I love the biblical stories of men and women who overcame great adversity through the empowerment of God. Despite years of silence where there may have been no manifestation of their personal promise. Our biblical heroes may have been discredited, ridiculed and scoffed at but we see God through His providence using the weak things of this world to confound the wise. One such story is that of Zerubbabel.

 Zerubbabel was the first governor of the repatriated Jews (Hag 2:21); a descendant of King David and an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Mt 1:12).  In 586BC, Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon and the original temple that Solomon had built 400 years prior was destroyed. They took captive and exiled the Jews, including Zerubbabel, forcing them on a 1000 mile march to Babylon. I can imagine these people being worn down with malnutrition, sickness, wounds from battle and dying along the way. After arriving in Babylon many began assimilating into the Babylonian culture of comfort and ease. Fifty years later, King Cyrus of the Persia conquered Babylon. He was stirred up in his spirit by the Lord to make a proclamation that any person from Judah held in captivity could return to Jerusalem to help rebuild Solomon’s temple. Zerubbabel, with King Cyrus’ blessing led a remnant group of Jews that were moved with compassion in their spirits to return back to Jerusalem to help rebuild the temple (Ez 1:1-8).

 As they approached Jerusalem, the people of the land may have said, “Who are these pathetic looking people coming out of the wilderness”? After finding out these people were the remnant Jews that were returning from Babylon to rebuild the temple; this might have given them reason to scoff, laugh at, and despise their intentions. After arriving to a hostile crowd they began the work of rebuilding the altar and foundation to the temple.

 No sooner had the altar and the foundation stones of the new temple been laid then spiteful opposition arose to stop the work. “Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia” (Ez 4:4-5).

 For approximately the next 16 years Zerubbabel had to overcome discouragement, doubt, fear, and accusations with the thought that he may never see the temple rebuilt in his lifetime. By sight only the altar and foundation stones for the temple had been laid. Any attempt to continue the work of building the temple itself would have been quickly shut down. Where was Zerubbabel going to find the strength he needed to accomplish such great endeavor?

 Around this time Zechariah the prophet received a vision from God that he was instructed to tell Zerubbabel (Zech 4:1-10). The temple would be rebuilt by the perfect work of the Holy Spirit that flowed through the weakness of Zerubbabel!! “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (vs.6). God’s Spirit would equip Zerubbabel with supernatural strength and provision to finish the work of rebuilding the temple.

 The second temple would be built within the next 4 years (516BC), after King Darius reaffirmed the original Decree by King Cyrus. The mountain of obstacles that previously hindered the temple from being rebuilt would be leveled as a plain before Zerubbabel, “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!” (Zech 4:7) Zerubbabels own hands would finish the work he had started some 20 years earlier (Zech 4:9-10). Most likely not what Zerubbabel had expected when he first set his hand to the work but it was God’s plan. “Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy” (Ezra 6:16).  

 God also has a unique work for you and me to do while we are here on the earth. Don’t be discouraged if you do not see progress in the work. Over time God will make it plain, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim 1:9). We have been set apart for a divine purpose. God has something he wants to do through our lives. Invite God to be conformed to His Son in your soul.  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18).  In trials, temptations, adversity and wilderness times or success, notoriety or blessings that God adds; we must agree with Paul to be content whether we are abased or abound and trust that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phi 4:11-13).  “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment” (Lu 1:37). As my good friend Natalie Nichols has said, “Our job is to rest, knowing nothing is impossible and GOD IS FAITHFUL! His job is to determine when and how he fulfills.”


4 Responses to “Zerubbabel”

  1. Angele Schrom Says:

    Greetings – thanks for this well-done posting. Please accept this, my English is a second language to me. German is my first language but I am trying to learn getting down English. See you later!

  2. Gaylord Lantzy Says:

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  3. Fred Glynn Says:

    There was gold for a crown for Zerubbabel, the king-to-be of Judah, and silver for a crown for Joshua, the high priest. But when the temple was dedicated, Zerubbabel had disappeared and Joshua wore a gold crown. The battle between the monarchy (which had long been suspended) seems to have come to an end with Zerubbabel’s premature demise. And who was responsible? Apply the principle of cui bono and you get Joshua!

  4. Wendy Pedersen Says:

    These are encouraging words. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that in our failures and hardships we can find strength and courage in Christ. We must press on remembering his faithfulness, thanks for reminding me. I am grateful you found strength to share your story and your peace.