Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. (Zec 4:10 NLT)
The temple lay in ruins for 20 years when this was spoken. Add to that a great deal of skepticism amongst the Jews, contempt even, that the new version would ever hold a candle to the first, and it seemed the work would never get done and definitely not satisfactorily.
Of this verse, one commentator states, “Despondency paralyses exertion, but hope stimulates and supports it. Despondency is never so likely to be felt as at the commencement of an undertaking, when there are few to support it and many to oppose it; when the beginning is so small as to excite the apprehensions of its friends and the derision of its enemies. The Jews who returned from the Babylonish captivity felt this when they applied themselves to the rebuilding of the temple.” (Biblical Illustrator)
I’ve been there, at the end of a difficult task-job-year, unable to see how the next one will amount to anything, my mind locked in despondency. Like the Jews in this piece of history, all I could see was what was behind me, the things I’d failed at. Not the first time they’d had this mentality. We read in Number 11:5 how, after a great, miraculous deliverance from Egypt, with amazing signs and wonders, they got caught up, mourning the bad food.
We can take an additional lesson from the life of Job. He’d been through much, said and done wrong things. God gave him a chance to repent and pray for his friends and the Scripture states, “The LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.” (Job 42:12) The thing about hindsight is it only comes after you’ve survived something, whether that’s bad choices or bad circumstances. You can only compare the past to the future when you have a past to see. But God sees the bigger picture. He sees the end result—always.
That’s how endings work. A new beginning always follows, and whether its small or not, with God it promises abundance. Read the remainder of Zechariah 4:10, “For they shall rejoice.” They would rejoice at the majesty of the second temple. They had only to wait patiently to see it.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. (Lk 1:49)
For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. (Ps 86:10)
Small things are followed by great things. Wondrous things. We are sometimes too shortsighted to see them. We lack vision, and the Bible says without it “people perish.” (Pr 29:18) Vision requires faith. Whereas we want the whole image mapped out far in advance, faith rejoices in the small things. It is a grain of mustard seed when it begins, with the power to lodge birds in its branches after its grown. (Lk 13:19)
Faith looks at the first step, alone, then the next and the next. Buoyed by hope, outlined by patience, the whole process of growth and success is accomplished in peace, and soon what looked small has become great, and that was God’s goal for us all along. Abundant life, which came because even when things looked incredibly small and insignificant, we believed otherwise.
Note: For an additional devotional, check out this month's word at Crossreads: "Something New."
"God isn’t interested in dredging up the past and sticking it all back together. He’s God of all things new."
Suzanne D. Williams, Author