“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).
The Lord sent two men on a mission to rebuild the fallen temple in Jerusalem. Zerubbabel and the high priest, Joshua, were godly leaders who obeyed the Lord and carried out His work with zeal and faithfulness.
At first they had to labor against heavy opposition. Groups of backslidden, idolatrous Jews and jealous Samaritans opposed the work, trying everything to prevent it. Finally, these groups succeeded in getting Cyrus to rule against the two men's mission. After that, Zerubbabel and Joshua grew weary of the struggle, of being opposed, slandered and misjudged. So for the next sixteen years, the work of God stopped.
Yet Zerubbabel and Joshua never received a mandate from God to retire. The Bible doesn't record any edict from Cyrus actually revoking their permission to build. So their work should not have missed a beat. The fact is, God still had all the power necessary to help them go forward.
In such times, Satan always shows up providing a perverted theology to support a compromising lifestyle. The doctrine in this case was: "It's not God's time yet. The word from Cyrus has made that clear. The Lord will let us know when the time is right to build. Meanwhile, let's build up our estates. We need to enjoy our religion!"
Simply put, the people of Israel—including these two godly men—were guilty of blatant unbelief. They lost all their confidence in God to direct and support them.
I see the same spirit of unbelief at work today. Preachers have told me very bluntly, "I'm counting the days till I retire. I've had it with people! I don't want to put up with their stuff anymore. As soon as my retirement date comes, I'm out of here."
No! May this never be the attitude of any true servant of God. The Holy Spirit is a quickening Spirit and if you're living and ministering in the Spirit, then the older you get and the longer you minister, the stronger you'll grow through it all. The work of God ought to become more exciting to you with every passing year!