Faith and Mountains: God's Work
Recently I had the chance to visit Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington, which is one of the largest mountains in the United States. Mt. Rainier was literally the biggest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. It could be seen from long distances away and towered far above everything in its vicinity. The mountain was as tall, wide and thick as the eye could see. The mountain was not only untouchable, but impenetrable and immovable. The qualities of mountains make them ideal symbols for the obstacles of life- oftentimes immovable and towering far above anything else in life. The Bible uses mountains as a symbol for the seemingly mountainous assignments God gives us and of life’s greatest struggles.
This post will focus on the work that God wants us to do and how we can accomplish this with his help. See this post for the mountains of struggles in our life.
The people of Judah had finally returned from a long exile in faraway lands. Under the care of the Israelite governor, Zerubbabel, Persia has allowed Judah to return home and administer their own province, Judea. One of the most important assignments for Zerubbabel is to rebuild the temple that was destroyed by Babylon during the invasion of Jerusalem (589 BC). The prophet Zechariah has a vision concerning Zerubbabel’s mountainous task of rebuilding the temple. In this vision, an angel shows Zechariah a lamp stand, with oil being poured into each of the lips; surrounded by two olive trees.
|A lamp-stand similar to the one Zechariah would have seen in his vision.|
“ ‘What are these, my lord?’, ‘Do you not know what these are?’, ‘No, my lord’ " - Zech 4:4-5 ESVSo the angel tells Zechariah exactly what God is trying to teach him through the imagery of the lampstand and trees:
"This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says Yahweh of Hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!" ...The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it... For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice and [see] the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel"- Zech 4:6-10aFor Zerubbabel, rebuilding the temple was a mountainous assignment- let alone rebuilding it to match the splendor of the original. Not only would a new temple require logistical and material resources, but the temple was to be a symbol of the national pride of Israel- the splendor and glory of God himself. Zerrubabel only had limited resources that had to be spread across numerous amounts of construction projects needed to just barely restore Israel to minimal glory, he didn’t have the resources Solomon had when building his temple. God wanted Zerrubabel to rebuild this temple, but the assignment was a mountain- towering far above everything else and seemingly impossible to perform. Through the symbolism of a lampstand (representing God’s power and presence- Zech 4:10), God’s message to Zerubbabel was clear:
“Not by might, nor by power, but my spirit ...What are you o great mountain? Before [you] it shall become a plain”- Zech 4:6-7It was not through well planned budgeting and skillfully negotiated supply contracts that this next temple would be built. In fact, upon completion of the temple there would be great rejoicing (Zech 4:7b, 9-10). Somehow, through God’s power the second temple, though not as majestic would not only be completed, but as great as (if not greater than) the first temple. Yes, Zerubbabel still had to plan money and spend countless hours to ensure the temple was built; but he knew God was fully able to allow the goals’ completion. The key is that it was not Zerrubabel’s work that completed the temple, but by God’s provision Zerubbabel was able to complete the task God had given him.
Is there a mountain in your life God wants you to overcome? What is that one thing God wants you to do that seems so difficult and so impossible? By depending fully on God’s power, you can have mountain moving faith, where the seemingly impossible becomes possible. If you just wait for God to move the mountain for you, are you really having faith? Go, do what God has told you to do and he will move the mountain for you. Maybe it won’t meet your expectations, but God will make it for his glory, even if it is “a day of small things”.
“...if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”- Jesus (Matt 17:20)