Text: Zech 4:1-10
Summary: Do not grumble in the days and years of small things. Instead, be thankful for today and put all of your hope in Jesus for a bright future.
1 And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he 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. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” 8 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Father, make us into a type of people who do not despise the day of small things. While we recognize that 2020 has been a very difficult year worldwide, especially in these days in America, we pray on behalf of our country. Lord, you’ve called us. You’ve positioned us. You’ve hand-picked us for such a time as this to live in the year 2020 in America. Lord, it is our job to pray for our country. So we ask that you would stir the hearts of everyone to turn toward you. We pray for the Church of God to repent and return to you. We pray for every man, woman, and child to surrender, repent, receive your forgiveness and receive salvation. Lord, teach us today about gratitude and hope, trust, and obedience. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
It’s been a difficult year. And I don’t know if there’s ever been a year like 2020 where the entire world has been shutdown. These are very unprecedented times. And of course, you’ve been reading the news how racial tension is now flaring up. We pray for God’s peace. We pray for God to calm down the hatred and all the plans of the enemy. In the book of Esther, Haman, who wanted to destroy the Jews, built gallows in order to hang Mordecai. It turned out that Haman was hung on the very gallows that he had built for Mordecai. And I’ve been praying that God’s enemies will be hung on the very gallows that they’ve been erecting in order to destroy the Christian.
Zechariah is famous for a couple of verses. One verse is Nehemiah 4:6. 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 another famous verse is Nehemiah 4:10. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice. And we know this is a picture of what we talked about a little bit last week in Ezra. The people were coming out of exile from Babylon and now they are subjugated under Persia, but they are allowed by the Persian king to start rebuilding. And Zerubbabel was commissioned to rebuild it.
Let’s read Ezra 3:12.
12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
And this was just the first stage of the rebuilding. Only the foundation was made. And compared to the former temple, this temple looked very shabby. After all, it was only the foundation. And the older people in their midst who were gathered there saw that this temple was nothing like the glory of the former temple. And they were weeping. Then as we read on in Ezra 4, adversaries start coming against the rebuilding of the temple.
Then King Artaxerxes by the end of Ezra 4 stops the rebuilding. In Ezra 5, we read that Haggai and Zechariah begin prophesying. Zerubbabel starts to resume the rebuilding. What we may not realize just by reading through Ezra 3, 4, and 5 is that from the rebuilding the foundation only to the resuming of the rebuilding effort, a span of 20 years had passed.
And that is exactly what Zechariah is referencing in Zechariah 4:10. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice. Notice that the Lord takes 20 years and then He sums it up into a single day. For us, a 20 year period can feel like forever, but to the Lord, it is just a day. It’s just a day of small things.
And it says that these people who despise the day of small things shall rejoice. And so the role of God for us in 2020, and actually every day of our life is to give thanks. To rejoice. It is God’s will for you to be a thankful person. For not to despise the day of small things. To despise something is when you look at a situation or you look at an assignment or you look at a season and you say, this thing is too small, and you despise it. You think it’s so low or beneath you, because you think of yourself as a grand person who can fulfill grand assignments.
So the season that God Himself puts us through, we end up despising it. And all the time, God is trying to prepare us, shape us and mold us into a faithful person who can actually fulfill the assignments of God. We miss all of that because we’re complaining and grumbling. And then when it’s time to move, will God choose you to fulfill his assignment when you’ve been grumbling for 20 years? That’s the picture that Zechariah is describing here. It’s a day of small things. And for the most part, the people have been grumbling for 20 years.
I think the reason why Zerubbabel was chosen is that he was not like the rest. He was a righteous man. He had faith in the Lord. And he was thankful for even the days and the years, the 20 years of small things. So for me, my main point for today is to not despise the day or the years or the decade of small things. But give thanksgiving. Give thanksgiving for today, and place all of your hope in Jesus for a bright future.
You know, Satan wants us to look backward. And as Christians, we shouldn’t look backward. On occasion, we should look backward to see the faithfulness of God. But Satan wants us to look backward and see all the missed opportunities and fill your life with regrets and say, I wasted my life. That is what Satan wants. He wants you to look backward.
Christians, when we look backward, we see the faithfulness of God and we give thanks. But most of the time, we don’t have to look backward. Today is the day of salvation. We look for today. And we commit our hearts that we’re going to give thanksgiving today. We commit our lips, we’re going to give praise and we rejoice today. That is God’s will for His people. And we have an incredible faith and a hope for a bright future.
The Lord has His assignments already laid out for each one of us. And the assignments that He has for me are different from the assignments that He has for you. Everybody has a unique destiny and unique assignments. And you don’t know if it’s going to be a single assignment. You don’t know if it’s going to be an assignment that spans decades or most of your life. It’s all up to the Lord. God is looking for people who are thankful, who do not despise the day of small things.
And so I want to ask you during these weeks of lockdown, or during these six months of 2020, have you given thanks? Have you given thanks? God is looking for people who give thanks. We may despise 2020. We may despise this lockdown. We may get frustrated. And in our weaker moments, yes it happens. But for the most part, we have to repent of that and say Lord, I want to give thanks. You allowed this to happen to the nations, to the world in 2020.
You allowed me, you hand-picked me and saved me before the foundation of the world. You said, Ray, you are going to be living in 2020. It was all predetermined. God already had everything laid out and He’s trying to see, Ray, will I be thankful to the Lord? Is Ray going to be thankful to the Lord? That is what He wants. Not to despise the day of small things.
When we despise the day that we have, or the year that we’re in, or the season that we’re in, basically it’s exposing pride. It’s exposing a selfish ambition. We’re basically expressing to the Lord that this thing is not right for me. I am too big for this. This is not comfortable. I don’t enjoy this. I’m not going to give thanks. And grumbling is a sign that you are despising the day in which God has given to you.
The world in which He gave to you, the era in which you live, if you despise it, you’re basically expressing your pride and your rebellion against the Lord, who has predetermined before the foundation of the world that He’s going to save you and He’s going to put you in 2020. How would you fare if you were in Babylon during the captivity? How would you fare in Zacharias’ day if you were under a Persian king still subjugated? How would you fare if Zerubbabel received a vision from the Lord and then for 20 years it was on hold?
I do believe that God gives inspiration. He gives desires that are from Him. He gives dreams and visions of what can be in the future and what will be in the future. But have you surrendered your timing to the Lord? Do you despise this time? There are many assignments that He will give in our lifetime. And I can’t foreshadow and predict what it’s going to be, when it’s going to be, how long it’s going to be. That is all up to the Lord. But I know certain things that He’s given to me. And I haven’t seen it fulfilled. And all I see is a day, a year, a decade, a small thing. And I could actually complain and grumble and despise the preparation and the training and the will of God. Or I can submit and give thanks. It is my choice.
And now I just want to speak to men because I think what I’m about to say is a male problem primarily. We have a lot of ambition. We have a lot of greed. We have a lot of pride, not everybody. As a generalization. There’s a lot of greed. A lot of selfish ambition, a lot of pride. And whatever the Lord gives to men in particular, we’re not satisfied because it’s too small of a thing in our eyes.
If you’re a single man or woman, is it a small assignment that the Lord has given you a season of singleness? Or do you despise it? Because to you, it is too small. It is a time as a single to cultivate a heart that loves Jesus. Once you get married, you will find that your heart is split. That’s what it says in God’s word. And it’s harder to focus because your heart is divided. And you can’t set your own schedule because you have a wife and maybe kids and your schedule is out the door. But as a single, it is a season to cultivate a heart that loves Jesus with a pure heart and loves only Jesus and nothing else and nobody else. It’s not a small thing to be given a season of singleness. But you may look at it as a small thing. And you may start grumbling. It is a choice whether you and I are going through every season and say, I choose to give thanks in a day of small things.
It is not a small thing to get married. I used to think it’s a small thing. What’s the big deal getting married? Because I married a grown-up. I’m on my own. She’s on her own, and we’re all serving the Lord. It’s a small thing and so I I neglected the marriage for so long. Because to me, it was a small thing. Instead, I focused on ministry. To me, that was much bigger. That was much more glamorous and many more people are impacted. Not just one but I can impact a crowd of people. To me, that is a bigger thing. Marriage is a small thing, and I despised it.
Having children is not a small thing. But we may look upon having children, as a small thing. You may despise it. Many men despise their children, sadly. And instead, they invest all of their energy in their career. Before it was a pursuit of their wife. After they get the wife, they despise the wife. Then they really look forward to having children. They get children, God blesses them with children. They despise the children. Instead, they look for something bigger and better like their job, like promotions, like more money. That is a bigger thing for someone with a lot of stuff.
Even for a pastor, to be faithful to a wife, to minister to your wife as Christ did His church, in partnership with the wife to raise up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, to consider that a big assignment, many pastors say, no, that is a small thing. I will grow my megachurch and I will burn out. But that is a glorious thing. I’ve invested my life in reaching people on the other side of the world. Isn’t that what God wants? Does He want the big thing? No, He wants people who, in the midst of small things in the day or the year or the decade or a couple decades of small things, give thanks in all circumstances.
I think the reason why Zerubbabel was chosen is that he was unlike the rest of the people who despised the 20 years of small things while the temple lies in ruins. All that was built as a foundation, and it’s just a rock heap. Zerubbabel was somebody who for 20 years could give thanks. As New Covenant believers, every day we can give thanks for Jesus and all the blessings that we’ve received in Christ. Every day is a day of giving thanks. Again, I want to ask, have you given thanks in 2020? How much has thanksgiving dominated your daily walk with the Lord? Have you given thanks?
Don’t look so much at the last six months and how terrible it’s been. Don’t look at the last year, the last 20 years, how terrible it’s been. Look for today. Today, be thankful. And then look forward to a bright future in Christ. Put all of your hope in Jesus. I don’t know if we will have a glorious future here on earth the way that Zechariah saw with his own eyes, or that Zerubbabel experienced with his own hand. I’m not sure if we’re going to see a glimpse of some glory here on earth. But I can guarantee if you’re a believer, all of us have a future glory of being with Jesus and seeing the new heaven and new earth and living with Him for all eternity. It is a bright future. So focus on today and the future with Jesus. That will keep your heart from grumbling.
6 Then he 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. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
When we despise the day of small things and we look forward to a different and a more grand building project, whatever it is in your life, oftentimes we’re not grateful and we’re restless, and we’re chasing after something, without even checking with the Lord and asking, is it time? Do you want me to do this? Is it time? We just rush off because we’re just not happy with what we have. We’re restless. And so we chase after this bigger building project. And when that happens, we rely upon our power and our might. And in the end, it’s like looking at a mountain of rubble. Like Zerubbabel, he could have done it on his own, picking up stone after stone with his own might.
How tiring that would be. How difficult that would be. And if he did it with his own power and his own might, he never would have completed the project. How many things do we chase after? And we think this is it, this is from the Lord. And you exercise so much energy, your power and your might. And in the end, it just fizzles out. Shouldn’t it be a clue that we just pursued our own projects and we pursued our own plans, that we did it with our own power and our own might?
And we lifted one stone at a time and we might have had some energy in the beginning but the momentum was easily derailed and adversaries came in we got easily derailed. Another project came out. And so we left that project unfinished. We moved to the next project. Isn’t this how many people live, just always grumbling, chasing after one building project that doesn’t work, chasing after another building project. It doesn’t work. I see many pastors living like this.
And God in His mercy has put a stop to that kind of effort. at least for me. And as for the world, hasn’t He put a stop on all of our building? And it’ll be such a shame if God lifts up this shelter-at-home, and everything returns to normal. And again, people start exercising their own power, and they’re all thinking, isn’t this what God wants to see? Does He want me to build this for Him? Does He want me to build that for Him? They never checked with the Lord. And they don’t see that they’re getting tired because they’re doing it with human effort.
What the story of this rebuilding shows us is that Zerubbabel is the type of person who did not grumble over the day of small things. He didn’t grumble for 20 years. That’s why God chose him. He is someone that God chose and handpicked. That’s why the word of the Lord came to Zerubbabel. That’s why it was confirmed through prophets like Zechariah and Haggai and Ezra, the priest. And he finished the building project, not by his own might, nor by his own power, but by the Spirit of God.
And this mountain of rubble, it’s nothing to the Lord. And it’s nothing that would discourage Zerubbabel when he is inspired and empowered by the Spirit. And notice here, this is a vision of one golden lampstand and we know from the book of Revelation, this is a picture of God’s Church. This is God’s Church, surrounded by two olive trees continuously pouring in the oil of the Spirit so that whatever assignments are from the Lord, we will have the energy and the endurance and the empowerment to fulfill it. It’s not by might, not by human power, but it’s by God’s Spirit.
Do not despise the day of small things. So far it’s been one long day on repeat. Whatever projects that you have, I’m sure they’ve been put on hold. And as God begins to lift according to His time, I pray that we can be a thankful people all throughout 2020. That we will be known as people who have given thanks for the day and the year of small things for however long this COVID-19 shelter-at-home takes place. I pray we can be a people who give thanks.
And then when God gives us an assignment, we will know it’s from Him. And that He will give us the energy and the empowerment by His Spirit to fulfill it. Again, do not despise singleness. There are many lessons to be learned. Do not despise marriage. There are many lessons to be learned. Do not despise raising a family, there are many lessons to be learned. Do not chase after the bigger thing when the assignment is staring you in the face.
All of us in this room have already been given plenty of assignments to keep us busy for 2020. We don’t have to neglect it and look for the bigger project, to build a bigger building project that’s outside of whatever the Lord says. I do believe people around this room and on this call that we’ve been given assignments from the Lord and we have yet to see it fulfilled. I am sure of it.
My encouragement to you is to think of Esther. She was an orphan and she was raised by her cousin, Mordecai. Mordecai must have been considerably older. And Mordecai is raising Esther in an unusual time when they are being subjugated by a Persian king, Ahasuerus. And you could think this is such an unusual story that she is hand-picked because the previous Queen of Persia refused to enter into the king’s presence because the king wanted to parade her as if she were some beautiful trophy. He wanted to parade her.
We can see why the early chapter of the book of Esther might be the manifesto of feminism. It’s like what kind of ugly situation is this that women are treated like property and paraded as if they are objects to be put on display and the queen refused. And didn’t you know that God used that? Esther happened to be a beautiful woman. And among all the concubines, she was chosen and I would say she was promoted to that position. When I think of Esther, she is like a female version of Joseph.
Joseph who was just a thankful person, somebody who did not grumble, a person who just submitted to whatever situation and there was such favor upon him. You could put him in Potiphar’s house, you could lock him in prison, he could be forgotten and so much time passes, and yet he is just a consistently thankful person. God raises him up at the right time to be second in command. And God uses him to save God’s people.
Esther is a female version of Joseph’s story. It’s not just the fact that she’s a beautiful woman. There are little clues that there’s favor upon her. She gains favor. I know many beautiful people or handsome people who do not gain favor. She is gaining favor because of her inner beauty. She is a person who is beautiful, who is gentle, who has a quiet spirit and the favor of the Lord is upon her and she is getting promoted.
And Haman, one of the officials under the king, is raised up. So Satan will promote people and God will promote people. Haman was promoted by this pagan king. And it was decreed that everyone needed to pay homage and bow down to this official Haman. And Mordecai refuses because he is a man of God and will not bow down to a man. He refuses to bow down. And Haman is so angered by Mordecai that he finds out that he’s a Jewish man and says, I am going to wipe out the Jews of all the 127 provinces of Persia. Mordecai finds out and tells Esther. Esther is afraid at first because you can’t just barge into the presence of the king even as a queen. You have to be summoned into the presence of a king.
And the famous verse is in Esther 4, starting from the second half of v.14.
14 And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.
And for Esther, all of her life was a training for this moment. All the years of being an orphan and struggling through what it means to be an orphan. And somehow overcoming that, and becoming a thankful person, and then growing up in a godly cousin’s home, Mordecai, and being raised up in that kind of environment and learning to obey this new parental figure. And she’s the kind of person who doesn’t use her beauty to manipulate and get what she wants, but she has an inner beauty that has been cultivated over years of small days of small things. And then she gets to this one glorious moment, and she has a choice. Will I stay in fear? Try to preserve my life and possibly witness the destruction of my people, or will I risk my life and save God’s people.
And we know the end of the story, this godly woman who has been prepared from day one for this moment, an assignment for such a time as this. She passes with flying colors and God’s people are saved. And so I don’t know what assignment there is in our future. It may be glorious. It may be rather mundane. Being a single person and giving thanks, to the Lord God, that is not a small thing. To be a child who submits and obeys parents, absolute obedience, it is not a small thing. For parents, to raise kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is not a small thing. To be a pastor faithfully pastoring a small flock to the Lord is not a small thing.
It’s our greed and it’s our pride that looks at the assignments that the Lord gives, and says, this is small. I am bigger than this. This is not enough for me. And I will grumble and throw a temper tantrum. And when you start grumbling for today, likely you’ll start looking back and you’ll grumble over the last year, the last few years, the last few decades. That’s how it works. If you start grumbling, it starts spreading like a disease and you will grumble about your life. It won’t be just a grumbling for the day. It will be grumbling for your life and you will become a grumbling person such that no matter what God gives, whatever blessing, you will always have a reason to grumble.
It is God’s will and it is your choice whether you receive an assignment for today with thanksgiving. And let’s put all of our hope in Jesus for a bright future. It may be bright like Esther or Zerubbabel who witnessed the rebuilding of the temple or the saving of God’s people. That’s a glorious future. But even if that doesn’t happen, are we going to grumble? Because don’t we all have a glorious future with Jesus? If all we have are mundane, small assignments and we stay thankful, we all can celebrate together a glorious future in a new heaven and new earth. Isn’t that enough? It’s our pride when we say it’s not enough.
And so I invite you if you’ve been grumbling in 2020, it’s time to repent. If you’ve been angry and frustrated, it’s time to repent of all anger and frustration. And be thankful for today. Be thankful for 2020. It’s not going to be easy but we can be a people who rise above and are thankful no matter what. In the next decade, I don’t think it is going to get much better. In fact, I think it’s going to get worse. But is our thankfulness meter going to get lower and lower? As the persecution rises higher and higher and the tribulation gets more intense, are we going to become a people who grumble? Okay, let’s pray.
Father, we come to you as children and we ask for your forgiveness. Forgive us, Lord. So often we grumble. Too easily we grumble. The days that we’re in seem too small a thing to us. We grumble because 2020 is so much worse than 2019. We grumble because our life today is so much worse than it was even a few months ago.
Lord, you’ve called us for such a time as this to be in America in the year 2020, to pray on behalf of our country, to rise above everything that we see in the natural, to be people who could give thanks in all circumstances. Forgive us of our pride. I pray that we can be like Zerubbabel who began the building project and then he was halted for 20 years. We have to presume that he did not complain. Lord, we want to be the kind of people that even though you put things in our hearts years and even decades ago, we haven’t seen the fulfillment of it. We saw the beginning of it and then it stopped.
But help us not to complain. It’s up to you to finish the work that you began. And when it’s time to move, I pray that we would not move with our own power and our own might, because if we do, we will fizzle out. We want to be confident when you tell us it’s time to move. It’s by your Spirit and power and by clear assignment that you’ve given us, that we know without a shadow of a doubt that you want us to go this way now.
We humbly wait for your leading. Whatever building projects there are in our future, we wait for your leading, for your Spirit and power, that we will complete it because it’s from you. Lord, in the meantime, we look at the small things that are in our eyes small but are not small in your eyes. We look upon the things that you’ve already given us, whether it is to be a child living under the parents roof being trained to obey earthly parents with absolute obedience. It is for training for the future when the Father gives an assignment, that they will absolutely without hesitation obey the Heavenly Father and fulfill every will and assignment from above.
I pray that for those who are single, that they can cultivate a heart that loves Jesus first and foremost, before life gets more complicated with a spouse and children and civilian affairs and our hearts get easily divided and split-minded. Lord, it’s such a precious opportunity for the Bride of Christ as singles to fall deeply and madly in love with Jesus.
We pray for those who are married to not neglect and consider marriage as a small thing. It is not small to you, Lord. It’s probably the biggest thing that you’ve given to a married couple, is to be someone who will show Christ to their spouse, in humble, sacrificial giving and humble submission, caring for one another. This is not a small thing. We consider it a small thing but it is not a small thing. We repent so that we can be a better spouse to our spouse.
It is not a small thing to care for our children. Many of us consider it a small thing, we ship our kids off, we want to give the responsibility to someone else to raise them spiritually, when you have given it to us to raise them up in the way and instruction of the Lord. We repent. It is not a small thing to you. Please forgive us for considering it a small thing and trying to dish it off.
Whatever assignments you’ve given to us at work, I pray that it can be said of us by our coworkers and our bosses, and no matter what is happening at work, how stressful things can get, how chaotic and political, that we are consistently thankful. And no matter what people, we can gain favor. Wherever you place us, that we would have incredible favor of the Lord following us, and you promote us so that we can be a witness for Jesus, at the upper echelons of management, wherever you send us.
Father, we repent for considering 2020 a year of small things, of frustrations and of grumblings. We repent of that. Help us to be thankful. Help us to be thankful. Lord, you died on the cross, your blood was shed, and your body was broken. Lord, in this partaking in your Last Supper, in the Lord’s supper, we put all of our hope in Jesus. We put all of our hope in Jesus because there is a great future for all of us who believe in you. We may not see it, we may only get a faint glimpse of it on this side of eternity. One day we will get a full reward, full glory, and it’s a glorious future for all of us. So we put all of our hope in Jesus. Please renew us of hope. Help us to be thankful people today and have a bright hope in tomorrow. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen