The Day of Small Beginnings

by John David Hicks, Evangelist © 1996

Zechariah 4:6-10 So 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 Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of God bless it! God bless it!’” Other trans: he shall bring out the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ 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 despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

This is the picture. After seventy years of Babylonian captivity, the children of Israel have now returned to their land with a commission from God to rebuild the temple. When the people reached Jerusalem, they built an altar and offered thanksgiving to the Lord.

Amidst the ruins they laid the foundation of the new temple. But they soon became discouraged with the daunting task ahead of them.

Zerubbabel, a descendent of King David, was the Governor and along with the people, he too becomes discouraged. Zechariah, is the prophet sent by God to encourage Zerubbabel. Let me paraphrase the rest of this story.

Zerubbabel tried to get the people back to work on rebuilding the temple. But his efforts had failed. All they could see were the heaps of temple rubble left by the Babylonian army 70 years earlier.

The people were so discouraged that nobody wanted to work. The task looked impossible.

One day, Zerubbabel sat down on a big rock and looked at the mess around his feet. Just then, the prophet Zechariah showed up with a cheery, “How’s it going?”

Zerubbabel sighed, “This place is sure a mess. I don’t know why we ever wanted to come back here any way? There’s nothing left in the city worth saving. This place is a disaster, with toppled stones and debris everywhere. I’m not the right person for this job.”

Pausing for a few seconds to brush the dust off his robes, Zerubbabel continued, “Nobody showed up for work again today. How am I supposed to raise up this temple to the glory of God without anyone here to work?”.

“Zerubbabel, the Lord is with you,” Zechariah encouraged. But, looking up at the prophet, Zerubbabel questioned, “Is God really with us?”

“Of course He is,” Zechariah declared. “It’s a fact what we are no longer in captivity. And, it is evident to all that it is His grace that brought us back to this land. I know you are discouraged but you are closer to seeing this place restored than you think.”

Still sensing Zerubbabel’s doubt and discouragement, Zechariah continued, “The Lord says, your hands have laid this foundation, and your hands will finish this Temple. But there’s something you must do first.”

Zerubbabel shook his head and moaned. But Zechariah said, “Now listen to me. You can do it. Do you see that big stone over there that’s almost hidden by a bush? That’s the finishing stone, the capstone, the final stone the workers will put into place on the new temple. Do you see it?”

“Yeah, I see it. So what?” Zerubbabel mumbled miserably.

“Zerubbabel, the Lord says you are to shout to it, ‘Grace, grace!’”

“What?” asked Zerubbabel in disbelief. “Shout to the stone? I’m supposed to shout to this capstone?”

“Listen, the Lord told me to tell you, ‘It is not by your might, or by your power that this will be accomplished. But by his Spirit.’ You must put your confidence in the grace of God. That’s what shouting ‘Grace!’ is all about. Now get up, walk over there and shout, ‘Grace! Grace!’”

“Zechariah, I know you want to help me. But I’m having trouble getting people to follow me now. If they see me out here shouting to a rock, they’ll think I’m crazy,”

Zerubbabel argued.

“Zerubbabel, are you going to obey the Lord or not? Will you cast yourself, this task and your ministry on the grace of God? Will you trust Him or not?” Zechariah questioned.

Realizing he had nothing to lose, Zerubbabel looked around to see if anyone was watching, then he quietly said, “Grace… Grace…”

“No, no, Zerubbabel!” Zechariah implored. “Not like that. You’re supposed to shout it: Grace! Grace!”

After a few halfhearted shouts, both men stood looking at the capstone.

Finally Zechariah said, “You know what’s the matter with you, Zerubbabel? You’re despising the day of small beginnings.” Zerubbabel did not reply.

Zechariah continued, “Because you don’t see a lot happening right now, you think these days are not important. But the fact that you are here is the beginning of the move of the grace of God. ”

Reaching over to touch Zerubbabel’s shoulder, Zechariah said, “God will not abandon the works of His hand. He will accomplish his purpose.”

“You are not to despise what’s happening now. Although it looks small, it’s real, and it is a start.” Pointing to the ground, Zechariah continued. “These obstacles and problems that look like a great mountain to you are going to become like a flat plain. You will see this temple completed and the capstone set in it’s place.”

“Why wait until the day you finish the temple to begin to praise God?” Zechariah asked. “Praise Him now and trust him to bless your efforts in this day of small beginnings. Shout out to the stone, Grace! Grace!”

In more ways than I can comprehend, God has been working in my own life. The rubble of my past is being cleared away. Slowly but surely the foundation of God has been laid anew. A beautiful temple to the glory of God is rising from the ruins.

I also have been shouting to the rubble and confusion, to the broken, hurting and the lost in this world, “Grace! Grace! God’s Grace!” And, I have seen God do more than I could ask or imagine (Eph.3:20).

After ten years as an evangelist, a group of ministers and laymen have helped me form Faith Encounter, Inc. This is a non-profit organization with the purpose of helping me fulfill my calling in the Great Commission. As the Lord leads, I plan to work in the field of evangelism until Jesus comes.

But what about you? Don’t underestimate God’s grace in your life! Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Will you bring your mountain of problems to the Lord, and shout out to them, “Grace! Grace!” along with me?

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