Sermon #22 Zechariah Series
Title: “The Day of Small Things”
Text: Zechariah 4:10
Subject: Encouragements for Faith
Date: Sunday Morning — December 11, 2005
Tape # Zechariah #22
Reading: Haggai 1:1-15 and 2:3-9, 18-19, 21-23
(Haggai 1) “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, (2) Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. (3) Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, (4) Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? (5) Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. (6) Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. (7) Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. (8) Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. (9) Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. (10) Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. (11) And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands. (12) Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. (13) Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. (14) And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, (15) In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.”
(Haggai 2:3-9) “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? (4) Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: (5) According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. (6) For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; (7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. (8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. (9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.”
(Haggai 2:18-19) “Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. (19) Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.”
(Haggai 2:21-23) “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; (22) And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. (23) In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Zerubbabel was chosen of God to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Shortly after the foundation was laid and the work was begun, many began to despise it. They looked upon the work the Lord God had trusted to their hands as a small, insignificant thing. Remembering the greatness, grandeur, and glory of the house Solomon had built, many of the old men looked upon the rebuilding of the temple as a despicable thing. Israel’s enemies despised them and the work they were doing. And even Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince seem to have doubted whether the work would ever be completed. For a time they appear to have given up the work altogether. — The Jews were few in number. — The laborers among them were fewer still. — They possessed no wealth, strength, or ability by which they could overcome the obstacles before them and build the temple. — The whole thing seemed impossible. — The enterprise was just too great for them. — Having laid the foundation and raised a portion of the walls, they simply gave up, and despaired of ever completing the work. The people of God trembled and their enemies jeered.
Then the Lord God raised up two prophets (Haggai and Zechariah) to stir up the people, to encourage the faith of his servants, to lift up the hands that hung down, and to strengthen the feeble knees. These two prophets spoke as voices of thunder and lightening, rebuking the unbelief and indolence of Zerubbabel the prince, Joshua the priest, and the people, and calling all to repentance.
Haggai’s words are scorching to read. We can only imagine what it must have been like to hear them!
· They considered nothing too costly or demanding in the building of their own ceiled houses, and found time to build them (Hag. 1:4).
· But they said, “The time is not come that the Lord’s house should be built” (Hag. 1:2). Why? Because, in their eyes, it was “as nothing” (Hag. 2:3).
· Yet, scorching as his words were against Israel’s unbelief and indolence, Haggai was sent to comfort and assure God’s people of his faithfulness. He gave God’s people this assuring, comforting, encouraging word from the Lord their God, — Though “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail…from this day will I bless thee” (Hag. 2:17, 19).
· And he assured God’s servant, Zerubbabel, that God had chosen him for the work and that he would make his work successful (Hag. 2:23).
· To Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people, God’s word by Haggai was, “Be strong, for I am with you…According to the word that I covenanted with you…my Spirit remaineth among you. Fear ye not!” — That is God’s word to us as well!
Zechariah came behind Haggai and said, “Amen. Bro. Haggai has given you the very word of God.” His was also a message calling Israel (and us) to repentance, assuring us of our God’s unfailing faithfulness, assuring us that, that which he has begun, he will complete, to the praise of the glory of his grace, assuring us that the whole work of building his house, the whole work of salvation, is the work of his hands alone.
(Zechariah 4:6-10) “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 the day of small things? 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.”
Today, I want us to look at verse 10. This is our text.
(Zechariah 4:10) “For who hath despised the day of small things? 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.”
I want to talk to you about “The Day of Small Things.” This text, of course, has reference to the building of the second temple at Jerusalem. But its message is altogether spiritual.
Proposition: The work of God our Savior, in building his temple, in saving his elect by his almighty grace, often appears small, but is never to be despised.
Everything great began small. — The fields of corn began with small seeds. — The most bounteous harvests of fruits and vegetables in the Fall are first seen as small shoots out of the ground or buds on the trees in the Spring. — The huge old oak tree began with a small acorn. — The mighty, rushing river begins as a small, trickling stream. — And in spiritual things great things always have small beginnings.
· The Protestant Reformation began with a single man (Martin Luther) writing out a few of his heart’s convictions and nailing them to the door of his church house in Wittenburg, Germany.
· The Great Awakening began with a few college students meeting together for prayer and Bible study at Oxford University in England.
· The modern missionary movement began with one man’s (William Carey) determination to preach the gospel to barbarian tribesmen in India.
Illustration: Teaching Two or Three Students
Preaching to Just a Few
It is usually God’s way to begin his great works in this world with small things.
· The Human Race — One Man
· The Nation of Israel — One Old Man
· The Church — 12, Then 120, Then 3000!
God has chosen to give birth to great things by insignificant things, so that no flesh may glory in his presence, so that he who glories will glory in the Lord. He begins his great works in “the day of small things” to…
· Show us that the instruments he uses are nothing in themselves.
· Show us that the work is his alone.
· Try and prove the faith of his people.
My purpose in preaching this message is to encourage, comfort, and strengthen the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners, in whom God’s work of grace pears to be as “the day of small things.” And I want to encourage you who labor with me in the cause of Christ in what appears to be “the day of small things.” Let us never despise the day of small things. Though ours is “the day of small things,” this is the day the Lord has made for us and the day for which he has made us. This is the day of our appointed service and the day of God’s appointed work in us, for us, and by us.
Works of Grace
In all God’s works of grace, that work which is performed and accomplished “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,” there is usually a day of small things. In the experience of grace, there is usually a season in which the work of grace in us seems very small and unpromising. Indeed, there are often such days of small things, and sometimes they are very long days, by which the Lord God both proves our faith and his faithfulness. Faith, hope, and love, strength, knowledge, usefulness, and comfort all appear to be very small things. That is exactly what our Lord Jesus tells us in his parable (Mark 4:30-32).
(Mark 4:30-32) “And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? (31) It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: (32) But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”
That work of grace we call “conversion” might be called a “day of small things.” By the mighty operations of his grace, our Savior brings us out to night into day. He translates us who groped about in darkness into the kingdom of light and makes us children of light. And we than God for this “day,” in which “the Dayspring from on high hath visited us” (Luke 1:78). It is called “day” because it is…
· “the day of salvation” (Isa. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:2),
· “the day of his power” (Ps. 110:3),
· “the day of his (Christ’s) espousals” (Song 3:11),
· “and the day of the gladness of his (Christ’s) heart” (Song 3:11).
Yet, it is a “day of small things.” The work itself is great, indescribably great! But the beginnings of grace in the soul is a day of small things.
· Small Faith — “A Grain of Mustard Seed”
· Small Knowledge
· Small Experience
· Small Strength
· Small Hope
Illustrations: “I see men as trees walking.”
“I know that I was blind. Now I see!”
Not only is the beginning of grace a “day of small things,” our whole experience of grace in this world is “day of small things.”
Not to be Despised
Yet, “the day of small things” is not to be “despised.” It is not despised by God our Father. Your prayers may be only the cry of a newborn babe before him, but they are the cry of his baby. He hears the cries of his children, takes them by the hand, leads them, and teaches them to walk by faith. He gives us strength as it is needed, day by day. — See him running to receive the prodigal!
The day of small things is not despised by our Savior, the Lord Jesus. He receives every child of grace that comes to him in faith, be that faith ever so small.
· He regards to beginnings of grace as buds of the vine in his vineyard, needing constant, special attention and care.
· He carries the lambs in his flock in his omnipotent arms, up next to his tender heart.
· The bruised reed he will not break.
· The smoking flax he will never quench.
· The thirsty soul he will refresh.
· The hungry soul he will feed.
· The broken heart he will heal.
God the Holy Spirit, our Divine Comforter, does not despise “the day of small things” in us. No, he helps our infirmities, makes intercession for us with groans unutterable, and promises that he will carry on his good work of grace in us, and perform it till the day of Christ.
Let us never despise what seems to be a day of small things in others. Every believer is the temple of God. And every temple has its beginning in “the day of small things.” And, as long as we are in this world, we shall be in “the day of small things.” Even the most well-established and most mature believer in this world is in a very low condition (Phil. 3:13-14; Rom. 7:14-24; Ps. 73).
Often God’s saints in this world, like Joshua, Zerubbabel, and all the people, behave as people who do not know our God or his grace. — Yes, God’s people often behave as people who do not know our God or his grace, just like you, and just like me! When they do, they need help, not flogging (Gal. 6:1-2).
(Galatians 6:1-2) “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
This I know, those who despise Christ’s little ones shall be despised by him (Matt. 18:6).
Do not despise “the day of small things” in others; and do not despise “the day of small things” in yourself. If you trust Christ, cherish his gift of faith and his work of grace in you. Do not despise your day of small things. He who began will finish the work!
(Isaiah 42:3-4) “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. (4) He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”
You may think, “Bro. Don, I have so little grace, so little faith, so little love for Christ that I dare not call what I have grace, hope, and love.” Our Lord Jesus says to you, Bro. Smoking Flax, that he will not quench the, smelly, smoldering, smoking wick of an oil lantern that has been blown out. It may not give off any light, but it still has the life of fire in it, or it would not be smoking. It is incapable of sending forth any flame; but it emits smoke, smoke ever rising upward to heaven. That is a pretty good picture of our weak desires and aspirations, after our Savior. They may be weak. There is nothing attractive in them to the eye of man, much less your own eye; but they ascend up to him and he smells nothing but sweetness in them!
Illustration: Thomas, “Reach hither thy hand!”
Peter, “Ye believe in God, believe
also in me!”
We must not be satisfied with “the day of small things” in our souls; but we must not despise it, as though it is not the work of our God. To despise “the day of small things” is to despise his work. It may seem like humility; but it is really pride and self-righteousness.
We must ever look away from ourselves entirely, look away from both great things and small things, and look to Christ alone (Heb. 12:1-3; Col. 2:6). Let us see even “the day of small things” as his day, and rejoice and be glad (John 8:56).
· Rejoice in his finished work.
· Rejoice in his present work (1 John 2:1-2).
· Rejoice in his promised work! — That which he has begun he will finish by his own hands alone, by his own free grace alone ((Phil. 1:6; Jude 24-25).
Yes, this day of grace is, for us, “the day of small things.” In fact, in this gospel day, in our experience of grace, the smaller the day, the better. In all things spiritual…
· We are highest when we are lowest.
· We are richest when we are poorest.
· We are most full when we are most empty.
· We are strongest when we are weakest.
· We are most useful when we are most useless.
Do not despise “the day of small things.” The plummet is in Zerubbabel’s hands. He knows what he is doing. I rejoice to see the plummet line, not in my hand or your hand, but in his hand (Col. 1:12; 2:10). He says, “Behold, thou art all fair, my love, my dove, my undefiled!...There is no spot in thee!”
The cause of Christ in this world often appears as “the day of small things,” just as it did in Zechariah’s day. Because it appears as a “day of small things,” it is despised by many. But those who despise the day of small things understand nothing of God’s things!
We measure greatness and success, or smallness and failure, in terms of numbers, impressive buildings, dollars, and fame. God measures success or failure in terms of faithfulness and unfaithfulness. Throughout the Book of God, those who were ignorant of God and the things of God despised the work of God because it lacked grandeur in the eyes of men (1 Cor. 1:18-31).
(1 Corinthians 1:18-31) “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. (20) Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
· When Sanballat heard that Nehemiah was building the walls of Jerusalem, he mocked the Jews; but Nehemiah was not deterred from his work (Neh. 4:1-6).
· When David came out to the valley of Elah, his brother Eliab denounced him as an irresponsible boy; but David was committed to the cause of Christ, his glory and his people (1 Sam. 7:28-29). — “Is there not a cause?”
· When the Son of God began to manifest himself to Israel, he was denounced as the carpenter’s son, a glutton, a wine-bibber, the friend of sinners, and the Nazarene; but he finished his work and redeemed his people! — He who said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God,” cried with a loud voice, “It is finished!”
· When Paul came to Mars Hill, he was ridiculed as a babbler and a dreamer; but he turned the world up-side-down with his doctrine (Acts 17:16-23).
I realize that in the eyes of the world, especially in the eyes of the religious world, we are looked upon as an insignificant, rag-tag band of fools. Your pastor has no credentials. We are few in number. We have no religious organization to back us. There is nothing about us to impress men. But our God has established us in this place. He has given us a work to do. And he is with us!
· Do not be discouraged by “the day of small things.”
· Put your shoulder to the work God has trusted to us for his glory.
· Eternity will tell what God has done for us, in us, and by us.
In that day, we shall rejoice to see the plummet in the hand of our great Zerubbabel. He will accomplish his work in us and by us, for “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth.”
There is a day of rejoicing around the corner! Today, Jacob is small; but there is a day coming called “the great day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:11). — (Jezreel - “God will sow”). Then, what rejoicing there shall be in that great day!
(Zechariah 4:10) “For who hath despised the day of small things? 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.”
We will rejoice as we see the plummet in the hand of Christ, our great Zerubbabel! The plummet is that instrument used by masons and carpenters to judge the uprightness of a building.
· It is a cause for great rejoicing to see that Christ’s work in us is upright, marked by his own plummet.
· It is a matter for great rejoicing to see that Christ is building his church, his holy temple, by the line of his plummet. — His Purpose! — His Righteousness! — His Covenant! — His Everlasting Love!
· What a matter of rejoicing it shall be when we see the work complete, in ourselves and in the whole church of God, marked by his plummet!
· This is but “the day of small things,” when compared with “the great day of Jezreel” (1 John 3:1-2; Rom. 8:17-18).
(1 John 3:1-2) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
(Romans 8:17-18) “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
There is one more thing in the text that I must not fail to mention. Along with the plummet, revealing the perfection of Christ’s work and the perfection of his people in him, made perfect “not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit,” we shall see with the plummet “those seven. They are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” — “Those seven” are the seven eyes of Christ the Foundation Stone laid before Joshua in Zechariah 3:9. They are the eyes of his perfect wisdom, running “to and fro,” throughout the ages of time, “through the whole earth.” They tell us that everything in providence is performed according to his great purpose of grace. And they tell us that when he has finished his work, when all his people are saved by his grace, when his temple is finished, we will see that the whole of his creation and the whole of providence has been engaged to accomplish that which our God purposed before the world began (Eph. 1:9-12; Rom. 8:28-30; 11:33-36).
(Ephesians 1:9-12) “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
(Romans 11:33-36) “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
In that great day, the Lord God our Savior will lay his “judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet,” and sweep away every refuge of lies (Isa. 28:14-19, 29).
(Isaiah 28:14-19) “Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. (15) Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: (16) Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (17) Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (18) And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. (19) From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.”
(Isaiah 28:29) “This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”