※In the original gospel Makuya* we kindle the menorah to look up to the presence of Christ, when we pray. The meaning of the menorah is described in the Book of Zechariah of the Old Testament and in the Revelation of the New Testament. The following is an excerpt from Ikuro Teshima's lecture on the Book of Zechariah.

Ikuro Teshima

The menorah (seven branched lampstands) used to be placed before the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle of God as the symbol for the living God's manifestation. (See Exodus chapter 25 and 37) According to the Old Testament, the tabernacle and the menorah were made in the pattern as instructed by the LORD God, and so they are spiritually significant.

In the services of the Early Christianity the menorah possessed the central importance as the symbol of Jesus in heaven. Many centuries later, however, the menorah was completely left out in the western Christian churches, and instead, the cross has become the symbol of Christianity. I consider this to be the very fulfillment of Jesus' warning: "I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent" (Revelation 2:5). Nevertheless, the menorah is given to us, the people of Makuya, so I cannot help but praise the name of the Lord.

*When Ikuro Teshima began his independent ministry in 1948, earnest seekers after the true Christian faith came to him and formed a group. Teshima named the group Makuya, the Japanese word for a tabernacle, after the tabernacle of meeting of the Old Testament. (See Exodus 29:4.)

God's Revelation to Zechariah

The mystery of the menorah is revealed in the Book of Zechariah of the Old Testament. The name Zechariah means in Hebrew "the LORD remembers."

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E., the people of Judah were exiled to Babylonia and suffered the misery of captivity there. But in 538 B.C.E. a new Persian King Cyrus rose to power and conquered Babylonia and granted the Jews to return to their homeland.

Even during the period of the Babylonian exile, the Jewish people scantily inhabited in the devastated land of Palestine. There beyond the river of Babylon, here in the mountains of Judea, the people of Israel were on the verge of despair.

Then, the LORD remembered (zachar in Hebrew) the sufferings of His people and determined to proclaim (hagar in Hebrew) the hope of salvation. He called the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the Israelites in the second year of King Darius' reign in 520 B.C.E. [after the exiles returned to Palestine]. The LORD gave His revelation to Zechariah.

And he (angel) said to me, "What do you see?"
So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."
(Zechariah 4:2-3 NKJV)

When the Prophet Zechariah saw this vision, the Temple in the holy city of Jerusalem was torn to pieces and turned into heaps of rubble. More ruined than the city, however, was the heart of the people—the reconstruction of the homeland was still a far distant possibility and no one knew how and where to start the undertaking. Under such conditions, Zechariah was given the revelation.

The Workings of God's Spirit

Zechariah saw the vision of a lampstand, a bowl, seven lamps, and two olive trees, however, he did not know what they were. So he asked the angel what those things were.

Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."
(Zechariah 4:5)

We should also honestly say that we don't know whatever we are ignorant of. To pray to God is not to bring our assumptions or thoughts to Him. God teaches us everything. We should not be ashamed to be ignorant before God. The important thing is whether we are ready to listen to God and to learn from Him. As long as we have this attitude, we will soon receive an inspiration from God.

So he (angel) answered and 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 of hosts.
'… And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'"
(Verses 4:6,7)

Zerubbabel* was then the administrative governor in Palestine. The High Priest of the ruined temple at that time was Joshua*, son of Jehozadak.

Zechariah wondered what the vision meant. Then, the angel of the LORD of hosts highhandedly interrupted the question by saying, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit."

"Might" means the armed might, military force, or wealth and financial power. "Power" stands for the authoritative power or brute physical strength. Jerusalem would not be restored by the military, authoritative, or financial power, no matter how much man would try.

However, when the LORD of Hosts, the Spirit of God who rules all things in nature, would begin to act, then instantly and quite easily Jerusalem would be restored. This was the message from the LORD of hosts to Zechariah.

In fact when a new Persian King Cyrus came to power, the Spirit of God acted upon him to liberate the Israelites. No matter how mighty and ferocious the military and financial power seem to be, they act only on the outer framework of a human society; they have no power to bring a fundamental solution, whereas God's Spirit acts internally to solve problems.

Sometimes we may also be surrounded by those who interfere with our faith, oppress us persistently, and persecute us. And we can neither eliminate them nor guide them by the external power. However, once the divine Spirit acts within their minds, the situation will be drastically changed. They will play an unexpected role to help us since the inner part of their minds will be changed.

*Zerubbabel, a Babylonia-born Jew led the Israeli returnees to the land of Palestine. Joshua, the spiritual leader was also with them. By the cooperation of Zerubbabel and Joshua the temple was rebuilt and the reconstruction of new Jerusalem was achieved with the help of God.

(To be continued)