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The Day of Small Things -- Lessons from Zechariah

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Then the word of the Lord came to me: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. "Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?" -- Zechariah 4: 8-10 (NIV)

The Bible says that the way God thinks is so far above the way we think. It is as far away from us as the stars in the sky. It is not related that way to put us down but to have us put our faith in He who thinks so much higher than we do. Realize of course that God sees all time under all scenarios. Whatever path we are considering, He already knows what will happen if we venture down it. There were points in the missionary journeys of Paul that the Holy Spirit prevented him from taking certain paths into certain areas. Paul did not know why, he just obeyed because he knew that God knew better than him.

God knew better than him. He knows better than us. Yet God is infinitely aware of the creation He has made. He understands the human frailties we face and the failures we will encounter. The Bible is replete with nuggets of His wisdom if we would just invest the time to mine them and then hold them close to our heart when we navigate this world. One such nugget is found in the 10 th verse of the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. A Levite and a Prophet, Zechariah was born in the Babylon captivity and ministered during the time that Jerusalem was being rebuilt. Specifically here we see him mention Zerubbabel who was starting to rebuild the temple of the Lord. In this fourth chapter we see the Lord speaking to the prophet about how Zerubbabel would start and finish the great project of rebuilding the temple. In the middle of this exchange, the Lord makes sure to include -- "Who dares despise the day of small things?"

Who dares despise the day of small things? Reflect on that for a moment. It can take on so many different meanings for us in our walk with God. So many different lessons God wants us to internalize. The first thing I think God wants us to know is that He sees the work. God values the work. Sometimes we get so enamored with the end product that we forget to give credit where it is due. When the temple would be complete it would be glorious and people would rejoice at the splendor but it would not just spring up overnight. There had to be work to be done. Hard work. Laborious work. In these verses Zerubbabel has the plumb line in his hand. This device is used at the beginning of the building process to ensure that something is correctly vertical. Right now the temple is just a vision. Everyone wants the day of the grand opening but no one wants to go through the day of the small things. Measure this and test that. Is that vertical? Move these bricks over here. The days of the small things are tedious and even boring, yet without them -- nothing gets done! The temple does not get built without the days of the small things. What I hear God saying first here is that He sees who sweats and labors for Him. We do not have to worry about getting the credit here on earth because it is recorded in heaven.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -- 1Corinthians 15: 58 (NIV)

I really want to encourage those that are laboring in anonymity for the Lord. In those unseen ministries. People who visit soup kitchens but do not tell anyone. Those in intercessory prayer, travailing in private for others to the Lord. People in hospitality. Missionaries who find themselves in dangerous and foreign situations just to spread the Gospel. God bless the work of your hands -- He sees the plumb line in your hand. He sees the work without the recognition. So many of us in modern Christianity aspire to serve but only in the more visible ministries. Ministries where the pastors will see our work or the congregation gets to know who we are. Ministries like the choir where we get to perform in front of everyone else. That is one of the top reasons the enemy attacks a church through the choir -- there is so much opportunity for pride.

Also to those pastors who refuse to compromise the true Gospel of Jesus Christ -- God sees the plumb line in your hand. In this day of watered down and sugar coated gospels, we need more and more brave ministers who care about the calling and not the popularity. People who preach in the small days. The days that truly build the kingdom of God and not fill the pews of carnality. People who say no to the humanistic models of church growth and realize that all they need to do is preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. In the small days of the Church at Galatia, Paul had heard they were falling for a different Gospel. He did not mince his words to remain "popular."

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. -- Galatians 1: 6-10 (NIV)

If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a sword that cuts through the people who want to repent and those that are merely playing church. Do not despise the small days my brethren -- God sees your work. God sees your toil. He will not forget it.

Secondly, I see this as a warning to believers in the last days to make sure you have built your faith on the right foundation. The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation -- do not despise the day of small things. God is not saying that the foundation is a small thing at all. He is saying the day that seems inconsequential is actually the day you need to pay the most attention to. I am going to go into an area not many like to discuss but it needs to be and that is false conversion. The sinner's prayer is some of the worst theology ever created because it confuses people into thinking that a magical incantation gets you into heaven. A large portion of the modern church has replaced a genuine move of the Holy Spirit with emotionalism. Blaring music, driven drum beats, and a gospel devoid or the key element -- repentance. Without a serious discussion about sin there is no true repentance. Without true repentance there can be no regeneration of the heart and without that, there is no new creation in Christ. Period -- end of story. I did not write the book, I am merely telling you what it says.

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." -- Luke 13: 1-5 (NIV)

The crowd was inferring that because such a horrific fate befell these Galileans that they must have somehow sinned egregiously and God was punishing them. Isn't that just like us today too? A natural disaster hits and we see Christian mouthpieces denounce sin and say it was God's wrath. What is Jesus saying here -- all of us need to repent or we will perish. What foundation has your faith been built upon? There is a vast difference between knowing His name and having a relationship with Him. I know the "judge not" crowd is getting up in arms right about now but please realize that I am not judging at all -- I am warning:

"Not everyone who calls out to me, "Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, "Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, "I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' -- Matthew 7: 21-23 (NLT)

Wrapping up heresy in the name of Jesus does not change it from being heresy. True salvation leads to a change -- that is what repentance means. We move away from the things of this world and towards the things of God. Not overnight but gradually the process of sanctification starts where we strive to become more and more like Jesus. I have a personal example. I said the sinner's prayer in 1998 but I was not saved until 2002. How do I know this? Because I was the exact same person I was before 1998 up until 2002. But when the Holy Spirit indwelled I began to want the things of God and the habits I had in the world started to grieve me. These were the days of small things. Everyone wants the end result. They want the ministerial credentials, the preaching job, and the flock to lead. But it is the day of the small things that matters. God is saying that everyone wants the end result -- heaven. Paul Washer preached that asking people if they want to go to heaven is futile. Everyone wants to go to heaven -- just most don't want to see God there. There are two paths beloved. The broad path that leads to destruction and the narrow path that leads to heaven. The day of small things is when you start out on your journey. What your foundation is when the plumb line is laid is crucial to what path you end up on. And please, do not confuse worldly measurements as signs of Godly success or approval. Having a congregation of ten thousand is not a sign of fruit. Selling millions of books is not a sign of fruit. Even successful outreach ministries are not a sign of fruit. Broad is the path.

Thirdly, I see these verses as a clear indication from God that the ends do not justify the means. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was a humanistic Italian philosopher during the renaissance. He is probably best known for his belief that the ends justify the means. Essentially this means that it does not matter how you arrived at the destination, as long as you arrived. If you had to cheat, steal or kill -- irrelevant. Only the end result being desired and achieved matter. God does not ascribe to Machiavellian philosophy beloved. For God, He is more infinitely concerned with how you got somewhere than the fact that you are there. After salvation is secured, we still need to be ever so careful upon what we build our lives. Leaders need to be ever so careful upon what they build their church. Zechariah is saying the Lord understands that everyone wants to see the end result but that we better not despise the day of small things. The steps on the road to the end are just as important.

How you got your job is more important to God than the fact that you have it. How you got to lead your ministry is more important than the fact that you are committed to leading it. You see, God can always find another person to be committed and lead that ministry but He only has one of you to mold your character in Christ-likeness. What makes you special is not your ability to lead but your obedience to what He teaches. The modern church is obsessed with leadership and while it is important -- God needs more true followers than leaders. How you became Pastor is infinitely more important to God than the fact that you lead righteously. God will not build upon a rotten foundation -- ever. And please save the God knows my heart -- it is wicked and deceitful above all else -- don't worry God knows our hearts.  

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