Today we read about God’s power making his people strong against opposition. In a world in which our collective human strength and resilience is revered, we are reminded that our battle is spiritual and we can only stand in the strength of God. Let us be God Strong…
3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.
5 Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’
Zechariah 12:3, 5
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
Zechariah’s prophecy is that God will make the people of Jerusalem strong in the face of opposition. This, of course, is not actually about the people of Jerusalem; it is about the Lord. It is God’s strength and God’s presence. God’s power is at work in Jerusalem to make it immovable.
There is a movement in our world to join together with resilience in the face of opposition. We have all heard of Boston Strong, and there have been Jersey Strong and Army Strong, and other slogans of collective strength. There is an idea in these movements that when the opposition comes, we can band together, muster strength from within, and stand our ground. Even if we are defeated physically, we will not be defeated mentally. Strong. Resilient.
Why are you strong? Is this about internal strength and resilient power?
That’s not what Zechariah was talking about. In fact, we will find upon review of the scriptures, that strength belongs to God. Joshua was strong and courageous because the Lord was with him. Gideon was powerful because of God’s strength in battle. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t push over the soldiers with human strength. He identified himself, saying. “I am He,” and they fell down at the voice of the one who created the universe.
Our world will continue to push us to be strong in human ways toward human ends in which we can be strong enough to perhaps not even need God. This is dangerous. In fact, I will say it is deceptive. If our battle was against flesh and blood – against the people who oppose us – or against the rulers and authorities of this world, maybe that strength in ourselves may bear fruit. We will have human victories which will encourage our hearts to continue looking in.
Our battle, however, is not against flesh and blood; our battle is against spiritual forces, in which we can stand our ground in the strength of God alone.
Let us be strong because the Lord is our God. Let us be strong because we are armed in his power and not our own. Let us be God Strong.