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Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings! 3

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Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings! 3

Zechariah 4:8-10

       I come tonight with a prophetic word of encouragement for Pastor & First Lady Glass and all of you who are laboring with him.  We find the prophecy in the Word of the Lord that was given to Zechariah, in Zechariah 4:8-10.

(Before we read this text, we need to understand the context and background of these verses.  So, let’s work on that.)

“The fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c. marked the end of the kingdom of Judah...  Most of Jerusalem’s inhabitants were deported to Babylon for a period of about 70 years, as prophesied by the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11; 29:10).

When the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian Empire (539 b.c.), Cyrus the Great decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple (Ezra 1:2-4; cf. Isa. 44:28).  However, only a small minority of about 50,000 Jews… returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest (Ezra 2)” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).  One of those 50,000 was Zechariah.  “He was probably a relatively young man at the beginning of his prophetic ministry (cf. 2:4) while Haggai might have been considerably older (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Consequently, “Levitical sacrifices were soon reinstituted on a rebuilt altar of burnt offering (Ezra 3:1-6), and in the second year of their return the foundation of the temple was laid (Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16).  However, external oppression and internal depression halted the rebuilding of the temple for about 16 more years of spiritual apathy till the rule of the Persian King Darius (Hystaspis) (522-486 b.c.).  In the second year of Darius’s reign (520 b.c.), God raised up Haggai the prophet to encourage the Jews in rebuilding (Ezra 5:1-2; Hag. 1:1).  Haggai preached four sermons in four months and then disappeared from the scene.  Two months after Haggai delivered his first sermon, Zechariah began his prophetic ministry (cf. Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1), encouraging the people to spiritual renewal and motivating them to rebuild the temple by revealing to them God’s plans for Israel’s future” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).


(That brings us the prophecy that Jehovah gave through Zechariah.)

“Zechariah is the longest and the most obscure book among the Minor Prophets.”[1]  Minor Prophets are called Minor Prophets because of the length of their prophecies, not the importance of their prophecies.  As we come to the fourth chapter of this prophecy, we encounter the fifth vision, which includes a golden lampstand, two olive trees, and accompanying oracles (or prophetic sayings).  Now, the thrust of this fifth vision with its accompanying oracles is clear.  Its purpose is to assure Zerubbabel that he will complete the temple through the Spirit of Yahweh, even though the details of the vision and oracles are unclear at times.[2]

(Now, would you notice with me Zechariah 4:8-10?  Let me read this aloud for us, in the NLT.  Please follow along in what ever translation you have.)

Zechariah 4:8-10 (NLT), “Then another message came to me from the Lord: [9] ‘Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it.  Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me. [10] Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.  For these seven lamps represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world.’”

       The Word of the Lord came to Zechariah, in some kind of alternate state of consciousness, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands shall finish it.”  Even as the Word of the Lord came to Zechariah, so God has sent me to prophesy, “The hands of Pastor Glass have laid the foundation of this house and his hands shall finish it!”  Somebody, praise God for that right now!

       In Jerusalem, the power of the Holy Spirit would accomplish this.  We gather this from a very familiar verse of Scripture, in

Zechariah 4:6 (NASB-U), “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.’”

“…strength to finish the temple would not be man’s physical ability חיל or military might כּחֹ, but would be by the power of the Spirit of Yahweh of hosts (4:6).”[3]

Likewise, Pastor Glass, the work that you are doing can only be finished through the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the manifest presence of Jehovah God!

However, I don’t want you to think that there won’t be any opposition to your work.  When we consider what was going on in the text, “there seems to have been opposition to the rebuilding of the temple.  The opposition is referred to as a great mountain (4:7).

·        The opposition might have come from the “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin” referred to in Ezra 4:1–16.

·        The mountain of opposition might have been the discouraged group who despised the day of small things (Hag 2:3; Zech 4:10).  Or

·        The mountain of opposition might have been a deep schism within the community concerning the rebuilding of the temple.

Whatever the opposition and regardless of its size or power, Zechariah assured Zerubbabel that he would finish the temple.”[4]

       Pastor Glass, whatever opposition that you may face, rest assured that you will finish the work that God has given you to do!

Next, Zechariah let Zerubbabel know, “When this prophecy comes to past, then you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent me to you!

I’m not worried so much about teaching or preaching tonight.  I am worried about delivering this word that the Lord has given me.  I’m the holy UPS man tonight!  Moreover, Pastor Glass, when it comes to past, then you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent me tonight!

(Nevertheless, we now come to the major word for tonight.)

       It is stated in verse 10 of the NLT,

“Do not despise these small beginnings!”

In the other translations, this statement is rendered as a question.  However, the NLT has captured the true import of the statement.  “Zechariah, through the word of the Lord, “reproves their ungrateful unbelief, which they felt because of the humble beginning, compared with the greatness of the undertaking; and encourages them with the assurance that their progress in the work, though small, was an earnest (or down payment) of (their) great and final success, (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).


Those who despised the day of small things may have been older Jews who thought this temple was insignificant compared with the former temple of preexilic times (i.e. before the exile) cf. Ezra 3:12-13; Hag. 2:3) (Bible Knowledge Commentary).  God speaks of this through Haggai in

Haggai 2:3 (NASB-U), “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory?  And how do you see it now?  Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?”

Pastor Glass, there may be those who despise the small beginnings of the present!  They may despise or think little of what God did for you earlier and what He is doing for you right now.  Nevertheless, I’m here to prophesy to everyone, “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings!”  Thirty-one years ago, we began with four members, and look at what God has accomplished.

Yet, you cannot measure the greatness of a church by numbers alone.  You don’t have to be a mega-church to be a major church!

Well, “What is a major church?”

One characteristic of a major church would be the health of that church.  It is not important that you are a mega church, measured as 1800 to 2000 in average attendance on a Sunday morning, but it is important that you are a healthy church.

On the other hand, if you are a healthy church you will be a growing church.

Moreover, a healthy, growing church, no matter the percentage of its growth, is a major church.

Now, when we use the term “healthy,” what do we mean?  Well, there is a must-read book called Natural Church Development, by Christian Schwarz.  In this book, Schwarz gives the results of a worldwide survey of churches, which identifies eight characteristics of church health:

·        Empowered Leadership

·        Gift-oriented Ministry

·        Passionate Spirituality

·        Functional Structures

·        Inspiring Worship Services

·        Holistic Small Groups

·        Need-oriented Evangelism; and

·        Loving Relationships.

In addition, the worldwide survey debunks the myth that a mega church is automatically a healthy church and a smaller church is necessarily an unhealthy church.

       In fact, Schwarz was able to demonstrate that based upon 170 variables large churches compare disfavorably with smaller ones, i.e. smaller churches score healthier than mega churches.  Therefore, if we are looking for model churches, we should look at the countless small churches manifesting high quality, strong growth, and innovative multiplication.  This does not mean that no large churches are doing an excellent job, but they are the exception to the rule.[5]

       Christian Schwarz states, “The research results confirm what many leaders have known intuitively—that healthy churches are growing churches, making more and better disciples in loving obedience to Christ.”[6]  Isn’t this a great definition for a major church?

       Therefore, I say not only to you, but to everyone here tonight, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings!

(Now, the prophecy gives the reason why no one should despise the day of small beginnings.)

       The reason is that the Lord rejoices to see the work begin!  For those of you who are reading other translations, the KJV reads, “For they shall rejoice,” and the NASB reads, “These seven will be glad when they see,” referring to the seven eyes of the Lord.  Therefore, the NLT translation is an excellent translation!

       Jehovah rejoices to the see the work of rebuilding begin.  Jehovah rejoices to see the small beginnings of a work that He has ordained.  God regards “small” beginnings much differently than people do!  Men “despised” the work in its early stage: God rejoicingly regards it, and shall continue to do so.  (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

       There is also another possible translation.  One commentary says, “The Hebrew punctuation, however, favors the English Version, of which the sense is, “They who incredulously ‘despised’ such ‘small’ beginnings of the work as are made now, shall rejoicingly see it going on to completion under Zerubbabel” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

       Yes, there are those who despise the work when it is early, but who will rejoice when they see it come to completion.  That is the nature of church work.  There are those who have been skeptical at every move that I have made, who also rejoice and shout at the dedication of each building!


       These people will not only rejoice to see the work begin, but they will rejoice to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.  “The word translated plumb line (v. 10) is disputed and possibly refers to this final crowning stone (cf. Baldwin, Zechariah, pp. 122-3).  Others say it symbolizes Zerubbabel’s supervising the rebuilding project” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

       Therefore, people will rejoice at the beginning of your work and they will rejoice at the completion of your work; or God will rejoice at the beginning of your work and God will rejoice at the completion of your work.  Any way that you look at it, rejoicing is coming!

(We come now to the final truth of this short passage of Scripture.)

       The eyes of the Lord run to and fro, throughout the earth or around the world, to protect, support, and favor those who are doing His work!

       Pastor Glass, the eyes of the Lord are upon you!  You are the apple of His eye!  You are the pupil of His eye!  He is watching you to protect you!  He is watching you to support you!  He is watching you to favor you with His favor!

(Before, I finish, let me read you one more verse of Scripture.)

       The Bible reads in

Ezra 6:15 (NASB-U), “This temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.”

We have here the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophesy!

       Consequently, even as Zechariah’s prophesy was fulfilled, so shall this prophecy be fulfilled.

       Therefore, “Do not despise these small beginnings!”

(Now is the Day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


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[1]Smith, R. L. 2002. Vol. 32: Word Biblical Commentary : Micah-Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary . Word, Incorporated: Dallas

[2]Smith, R. L. 2002. Vol. 32: Word Biblical Commentary : Micah-Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary . Word, Incorporated: Dallas

[3]Smith, R. L. 2002. Vol. 32: Word Biblical Commentary : Micah-Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary . Word, Incorporated: Dallas

[4]Smith, R. L. 2002. Vol. 32: Word Biblical Commentary : Micah-Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary . Word, Incorporated: Dallas

[5] Christian A. Schwarz, Paradigm Shift In The Church, ChurchSmart Resources, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1999, pp. 46-48.

[6] Christian A. Schwarz, Paradigm Shift In The Church, ChurchSmart Resources, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1999, p. 3.

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