‘By My Spirit’May 20, 2019 - 12:00 am
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” — Zechariah 4:6
This month, Israel honoured its fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in securing and protecting God’s Holy Land, and celebrated its 71st anniversary as the modern Jewish State. Join us as we explore through the timeless teachings of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein how God has watched over His land and His people since biblical times.
One of the many highlights of any tour to the Holy Land is a visit to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Standing outside this historic building is a massive menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, which has long been a symbol of Judaism.
The significance of the menorah can be traced to the commands that God gave to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. The purpose of the menorah was to provide light in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Following the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem, the menorah also became a representation of the spirit and anointing of God. The prophet Zechariah was shown a vision of a menorah and an angel said to him, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD” (Zechariah 4:6).
Thus Zerubbabel, the leader of the newly restored Jewish nation, was led by the Spirit of God, represented by the menorah with its seven lamps, and was given guidance and favour in rebuilding the nation of Israel. Since God is the source of all light and wisdom, the seven glowing branches of the menorah call our attention to God’s guidance and blessing of His people, Israel.
The menorah also plays a central role in the miraculous story of Hanukkah, which celebrates the victory of the Jews over their Greek oppressors, and the miracle of the olive oil. As tradition says, when the Jews purified the Temple, they found only one flask of pure olive oil, enough to keep the menorah burning for just one day. But miraculously, the oil lasted eight days and nights until more oil was found. So as early as the second to first centuries BCE, the menorah first served as a national symbol for the Jews.
When the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, the menorah was chosen as the nation’s emblem, symbolizing the continuity and eternality of the Jewish people. But I am even more proud that the verse Israel’s forefathers chose to inscribe on our national symbol is the same verse as the one given to Zechariah: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”
It is a beautiful reminder of the Jewish people’s conviction in this post-Holocaust era to live, and if necessary, to live by power — but power that is imbued with God’s purity, holiness, and wisdom. The menorah is yet another testimony that throughout our history, God has preserved and provided for the Jews, not by our effort or power, but by His Spirit.
My hope is we all will remember that it is not by our own efforts, but by God’s enabling Spirit, we are able to accomplish His purposes. May that conviction guide us and bless us as we rely on God for His continued wisdom, light, and protection.