On Various Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Text: Zechariah 4:1-10. "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
8 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
10 For who hath despised (mocked, belittled) the day of small (little, seemingly insignificant) things (beginnings)? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth."
Introduction: On October 19th, 1899, a seventeen year old Robert Goddard, climbed a cherry tree in his backyard and experienced what he later called an epiphany. Looking at the stars, he imagined how wonderful it would be, to make a rocket which had the possibility of reaching the moon or even Mars. In his diary he wrote, "...when I descended that tree, my life was suddenly and powerfully filled with purpose." As an American physicist and inventor, Robert Goddard's early musings about building a rocket large enough to reach the moon, were met with considerable skepticism. When his missiles fizzled, his colleagues would taunt him and sarcastically ask, "Well, Robert, how goes your moongoing rocket?" Even after he launched the first successful liquid-fueled rocket named Nell that flew 184 feet in March of 1926, many skeptics remained unconvinced. Then in 1929, Robert Goddard successfully launched an 11-foot, liquid-fueled missile. How did the public respond? The local paper covered the story beneath a cynical headline: "Moon Rocket Misses Target By 238,799 1/2 Miles." The next year, equipped with a $100,000 grant, Robert Goddard and his wife Esther moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where the land was vast, the skies clear, and where the locals minded their own business. Thanks to the early research of Robert, we have sent rockets to the moon and back, and even beyond to Mars! Do not mock the day of small beginnings!
Five centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, the children of Israel returned from exile in Babylon to find Jerusalem in ruins, and their beloved Temple destroyed. Zerubbabel was a primary leader among that first group of exiles. Under his leadership, the people began to rebuild the Temple. The foundation was quickly laid, but because of political problems, the Temple was never completed. Neighbors fought the project tooth and toenail, finally succeeding in getting a restraining order to halt construction. Enemies mocked. Supporters became discouraged. For years, the site stood abandoned and silent. Sixteen years passed, and the Temple was still not completed, and stood as a monument to failure. We can only imagine the humiliation and discouragement Zerubbabel must have felt as he worked sixteen years, only to fall short of his goal. I'm sure it all seemed a big waste of time, energy and resources!
Then one day the "word of the Lord" came to a "man of God" named Zechariah. The prophet began to speak words that pierced the heart of Zerubbabel, and filled him with fresh hope. Zechariah said to Zerubbabel, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel. Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty." The Temple would be completed, not by human might or power, but by the power and purpose of God. Zerubbabel could feel his heart pounding as the message continued. Zechariah proclaimed, "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground." All of the obstacles which were standing in the way of the Temple's completion, would be removed! Zechariah continued, "Then Zerubbabel will bring out the capstone, the final touch to a finished Temple to shouts of God bless it! God bless it! The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this Temple, his hands will also complete it!" Zerubbabel surely thought, "Zechariah is so right! The Temple project had seemed like an immovable mountain. But with God at work, that mountain can be moved! Now I know the Temple can be finished!"
The final words of the prophecy, jolted Zerubbabel. Zechariah said, "Do not despise the day of small things. Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel." Zerubbabel had come to despise that early start. How weak, how insignificant, how naive he had been. Yet, in spite of all that, God had been in those small beginnings! Better yet, Zerubbabel would be part of the finishing process. He would actually lay the capstone of the Temple!
The word "despised" in verse 10, means to hold in contempt, or to mock. It means to regard something or someone as insignificant. What little thing, what talent, what gift, what failed dream, what false start, have you come to mock or despise? Have you given up on yourself, on some goal, some dream or worthy cause? Is your life full of regrets and fears that have come to immobilize you and hold you back? Do your past failures and present weaknesses keep you from trying again? Today the "Word of the Lord" comes fresh and timely to you saying, "Do not despise the day of small things. Do not mock the day of small beginnings"
This is a message that brings hope for you. Why? God delights in taking the insignificant, and making something out of it. Down through history we can see the pattern.
The rod of Moses was a small thing, but the rod of Moses became the rod of God, and was used to deliver a nation.
Gideon, took a small army of men, 300 in number, and conquered a huge well equipped, fighting machine.
Samson, took the jaw bone of a donkey, a small thing, and slew a thousand Philistines.
David, who was small in stature, took five small smooth stones, and terminated a one man army, the giant Goliath, who had intimidated thousands!
A handful of meal and a measure of oil, sustained a widow through years of famine, when God blessed it.
The witness of a small, insignificant Jewish slave girl, reached the heart of Naaman, the leprous king of Syria. Her influence turned his heart toward the God of Israel, and brought both physical and spiritual healing to his life!
What about the manner in which Jesus our Savior came into the world? The incarnation of Jesus Christ came with God's signature. It had "small beginnings" written all over it! Usually the entrance of a royal dignitary, demands great fanfare. We see this in the world of sports. When the home team is introduced in the court or stadium, there is loud music, flashing lights, and of course a fog machine! When Jesus entered the world, He came without fanfare! The God of Heaven became a small thing, a baby. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the least of the cities in Judea. Even in Bethlehem, the Lord Jesus denied Himself the comfortable Inn, because He preferred a manger. His birth was announced to lowly shepherds, ...not kings. By design, Jesus was born into the home of a blue collar worker, a carpenter from the common town of Nazareth.
As Jesus grew to manhood and entered His ministry, He constantly authenticated small things. The men Jesus chose and ordained as apostles, came from the ranks of the common, ordinary people. Jesus took barley loaves, the bread of common people, along with a few small fish, and fed the multitudes. Jesus praised a widow and her small offering, over the grand attention getting presentations of the well to do. Jesus challenged His disciples to have just mustard seed faith, and then watch what God could do!
Time and time again the Lord God has taken the small things, the things overlooked, the things often mocked and despised, to accomplish His eternal purpose! As a matter of fact, the Lord seems to prefer it when the odds are stacked against Him! Here is hope!
Never underestimate God's ability to accomplish mighty things with small and seemingly insignificant people! Do you mock what a child can do? Do you think it insignificant? God doesn't! 85% of the people who come to Jesus Christ, do so before the age of eighteen. 72% of the people whose parents bring them to church, tend to become believers. We should not despise the little hearts. Their trusting hearts still look to us for knowledge and guidance. God knows each and every child. God knows what each child is capable of accomplishing, if someone will simply invest a little time, love, and truth. What part will you play this week in setting a child's feet on the path the leads to Jesus Christ?
Never underestimate God's ability to take our small acts of loving service performed in His name, and greatly impact the lives of people! In Matthew 10:42, Jesus said, "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." It is most often those little deeds of kindness, little gestures of love and concern, that make such a big difference in people's lives!
Never underestimate God's ability to take even take our frailties, failures, and false starts, and rebound them to His glory! God can by His great grace, use the weak things, the despised things in our lives! We serve an equal opportunity God, therefore there is hope for us!
This is a message that provides help for you. Our text begins with a vision sent to the prophet Zechariah by an angel. As with previous visions, Zechariah is asked to articulate what he sees in the vision. (I suppose God, who is ever the teacher, is testing the prophet's comprehension level!) Zechariah responds that he sees a solid gold lampstand or Menorah. The Menorah is something that would have been very familiar to the prophet, and to the Jewish people. There was a golden Menorah placed in the Tabernacle and the Temple, by the instruction of God. The Menorah in Zechariah's vision however, ...was somewhat different. It came with a bowl at the top of it, and seven channels feeding into it, so that oil could be poured into it from the two olive trees or branches. This was a Menorah with it's own built in fuel supply! The Menorah and the vision spoke a powerful message intended for Zerubbabel. The message is simply, "...not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit."
As we hear this message, we are reminded of the admonition in Psalm 127:1a, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it." Yes, the work would begin again, but this time it would be energized and sustained by the power and purpose of God! When human resources fail and end, is where God begins! When man has done all he can do, that is often the time God chooses to manifest His power!
The Temple would be built, but "...not by might." The word "might" used here is very comprehensive in it's meaning. It suggests force or coercion on a human level in the form of an army, or money to bribe, or political power, or sheer energy and determination of the human will. The Temple will be built, ....but not this way!
The Temple would be built, but "...not by power." The word "power" is translated in other places as lizard or chameleon. It speaks of human adaptability and intellect. The Temple would be built, but there were to be no tricks, no shrewdness or compromises.
What is left? The Temple would be built by the motivation and moving of the Holy Spirit of God! It would be the Spirit of God working behind the scenes and upon the hearts of men to accomplish the work! The Holy Spirit of God would be as "...seven eyes running to and fro through the whole earth." The Lord by His Spirit would provide complete and comprehensive knowledge, wisdom, insight and power! The Lord by His Spirit had already worked upon the hearts of Cyrus and Darius, to give freedom and favor to God's people. Proverbs 21:1 says "The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; He turneth it whithersoever He will." When the Spirit of God goes to work, things begin to happen! The Lord by His Spirit wants to renew you who are discouraged and have given up; you who have tried in your own strength and failed. The Lord by His Spirit can use the most unlikely people to supply and sustain you and His work. The Lord by His Spirit can recruit and bring in new workers to share the load. The Lord will help you, but His help comes when you abandon yourself to a daily relationship with Him, resting in His power and strength!
The victory will not come by our resources or by our own resolve, but by the Spirit of God. The apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." The famous missionary Hudson Taylor was once asked, "Why do you think God chose you to start China Inland Mission?" He replied, "God picked out somebody who was so weak, that apart from Him, I knew I could do nothing." God despises the proud, but gives grace to the humble of heart. He uses the people who realize they are small, so that apart from His all-sufficient grace, we are inadequate. God can do great things with the those who view themselves as small and insignificant! The Lord can take us right where we are, with what we have, and accomplish His plan and purpose! The only ability the Lord needs from us, is our availability!
What mountains are you facing? The task before you could seem like mission impossible, but with the help of God, mountains can become mole hills! In Matthew 17:19-21 the disciples of Jesus came to Him having attempted to cast out a demon. They asked Jesus, "Why could not we cast him out?" Jesus told them that their failure was due to their own unbelief! He said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Those mountains in your life can go! When we get serious, God gets serious! It is by sincere, earnest, fervent prayer, that we abandon ourselves and lay hold on the presence and power of God to do what we cannot do!
This is a message of spiritual, emotional healing for you. The enemies of Israel must have laughed and mocked Zerubbabel every time they passed by the abandoned site of the Temple foundation. It stood as a reminder, a monument to his failure. We can only imagine the feelings of shame, defeat, and disillusionment that ran through the heart and mind of Zerubbabel. He thought, "Why did God let this happen? Does God no longer care about His house of worship? Has God given up on His people? Has God abandoned us?"
The voice of the Lord came to his life however, and with it came healing. Out of his weakness would come strength! Out of his despair would spring new hope! God's Spirit began to blow upon the ashes of Zerubbabel's failure, and a new vision, zeal, and dream fired up in his life!
Zerubbabel was probably like the rest of us when our dreams fail. What little self-confidence we have, ebbs away. We seal ourselves from more pain by withdrawing from the world. We view any attempt to heal or hope with a spirit of cynicism and skepticism. We protect ourselves from getting our hopes too high again, and settle into depression and pessimism. We look at the ground rather than the sky, at the past rather than the future. We can get so discouraged, we don't even want to try again.
God has made our bodies and given them the ability to heal themselves. This same God can heal your torn and tattered life and spirit. With God's help and presence, everyday is a new beginning! No matter what has happened in the past, no matter how negative, hurtful, sinful and sorted, the Lord is powerful not to erase it from our lives, but to transform it into a source of strength and power! The very thing that once held you down, can by the power of God's grace and Spirit, propel you into the future, when you are fully committed in your relationship to Jesus Christ!
As you look at your own life, your own situation, you must ask yourself the question, "Do I despise the day of small things?"
Small things could be some person in your life, someone you are overlooking. It could be someone you are under estimating. It could be someone you have discounted.
Small things could be some talent or gift in your life, something you are overlooking, neglecting.
Small things could be a failed opportunity, a false start, good intentions gone awry that has become a mountain standing in your way, blocking another opportunity to begin again, another start.
Small things could be yourself, who you are and where you are in your present situation.
As you look at your own life, your own situation, you must ask ourselves the question, "Do I mock the day of small beginnings?" Your labor in the Lord is never in vain! Those little deeds of kindness, those small investments are not forgotten!
The challenge is to find that small thing and then claim the promise, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." Who knows what God can do! Who knows what God can build, when you give your whole heart and life to Jesus!