For the week of June 1, 2002 / 21 Sivan 5762
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 8:1 - 12:16
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14 - 4:7

It's Not Up to Us

"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).

Many of us were taught since childhood that success in life is dependant upon our efforts. The more educated we are, the better trained we are, the stronger we are, the more persistent we are - these are some of the factors that will benefit us the most.

The Scriptures teach us, however, that we were not made to rely upon ourselves and our capabilities. This is one of the lessons in this week's portion.

Zerubbabel was the Jewish governor during the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem at the time of the return from captivity in Babylon. He faced a very difficult task, and there was much opposition.

Most of us face life situations based on assessments of our abilities and resources versus whatever the obstacles are. We would expect Zerubbabel to take an inventory of his human resources and other things at his disposal and compare them with whatever was threatening to ruin the project.

But Zerubbabel was called by God to focus not on human capabilities and resources. The words: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," were to remind him that he had a resource beyond the natural human sphere. He was to rely on God's power to enable him to do the job.

These words also were to remind him not to be discouraged by the perceived abilities of those who were against him. The success of this project was to be determined by God, not by people.

This is not to say that we should not put effort into life. The Scriptures teach that we must do our part and do it well. Zerubbabel was not simply to sit back and to do nothing, as if God intended to miraculously build the temple without them. When we depend on God, we are released from a misplaced sense of responsibility, which allows us to fully do our part. To rely on God means to be courageous and determined no matter how the situations of life seem to be going.

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