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Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings 2

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Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings 2

Zechariah 4:8-10

       I come tonight with a prophetic word for Pastor Schlabach 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.

(If we want to fully understand this word, we need to understand the context and background of this verse.  So, let’s work on that.)

The fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c. marked the finale 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).  “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 regnal year of Darius (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.  With this prophetic encouragement the people completed the temple reconstruction in 515 b.c. (Ezra 6:15)” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

“Zechariah is the longest and the most obscure book among the Minor Prophets.”[1]  The fourth chapter of this prophecy of Zechariah is the fifth vision of this prophecy, and includes a golden lampstand, two olive trees, and accompanying oracles.  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.  The details of the vision and oracles are unclear at times.[2]

(Now, would you notice with me Zechariah 8-10?  Let me read this aloud for us, in the NLT.)

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, as it has come to me, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands shall finish it.”  The hands of Pastor Cal have laid the foundation of this house and his hands shall finish it!

       This would be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We gather this from

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 will be by the power of the Spirit of Yahweh of hosts (4:6).

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.  The similarity of the language of Zech 4:7 and that of Isa 40:4 and 42:16 is unmistakable.  The language is eschatological.  Zechariah was speaking about more than just rebuilding the temple.  He was thinking of the coming of the kingdom of God.  The idea of moving mountains of opposition to the kingdom of God is prominent in the NT (Matt 17:20; 21:21–22; Mark 11:22–23; Luke 17:6; 1 Cor 13:2).[3]

Yahweh says to Zerubbabel, through Zechariah, “Then you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent me to you!”

For who has despised the day of small things?  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 (down payment) of 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 (cf. Ezra 3:12-13; Hag. 2:3) (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Pastor Cal, there may seem to be a mountain of opposition against you!  That mountain may seem unscalable and unconquerable.  There may also be those who despise the day of small things.  They may despise or think little of what is God is doing through you earlier and even right now.  But, I’m here to prophesy to everyone here, “Don’t despise the day of small things!”  A church cannot be measured by size 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 the church.  It is not important that you are a mega church, 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.  And a healthy, growing church, no matter the percentage of its growth, is a major church.

Research shows that the lack of quantitative growth in most cases indicates a qualitative problem.  Above a certain qualitative level, there are no stagnant or declining churches at all![4]

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 debunk the myth that a mega church is a healthy church and a smaller church is an unhealthy church.

       In fact, Schwarz was able to demonstrate that based upon 170 variables large churches compare disfavorably with smaller ones.  Therefore, we should look at the countless small churches manifesting high quality, strong growth, and innovative multiplication.  If we need models, we should look for them in this category.  This does not mean that there are not large churches that are doing a very 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?

(NLT) The Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

(NASB) These seven will be glad when they see

(KJV) For they shall rejoice

So differently do men and Jehovah regard the “small” beginnings of God’s work (Ezra 3:12; Haggai 2:3).  (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

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).

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

(NLT) To see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand

(NASB) the plumb line in the hands of Zerubbabel

(KJV) and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel

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).

(NLT) The seven lamps represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world

(NASB) these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth

(KJV) they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth

because Jehovah’s eye is upon Zerubbabel and the work, to support Him with His favor.  Contrast, “great is the day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:11) with “the day of small things” here (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

run to and fro, &c.—Nothing in the whole earth escapes the eye of Jehovah, so that He can ward off all danger from His people, come from what quarter it may, in prosecuting His work (Proverbs 15:3; 1 Cor. 16:9) (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

“with (the aid of) those seven,” namely, the “seven eyes upon one stone” (Zech. 3:9): which are explained, “They are the eyes of the Lord which,” &c. [Pembellus].  (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

9. Zerubbabel . . . shall . . . finish it— (Ezra 6:15) in the sixth year of Darius’ reign.

(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

NT New Testament

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

[4] Christian A. Schwarz, Paradigm Shift In The Church, ChurchSmart Resources, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1999, p. 21.

[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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