Text: Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
"The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple,
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.
For who has despised the day of small beginning?" (Zec. 4:8-10).
The name Zechariah means "the LORD remembers." He was one of the post-exilic prophets of the Babylonian invasion . He was saddled with the responsibility of leading the Babylonian returnees to complete the rebuilding of the broken temple at Jerusalem. In the course of carrying out this divine mandate , he was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead of him . ( By the way, divine mandate does not exempt us from challenges . They are actually part of the package ) . He metaphorically likened the herculean task ahead of him to a "great mountain " , with a prophetic assurance of victory side-by-side the comparison , "who are you , O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain ! " (Zec.4:7). The LORD almost immediately honored his faith , "the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple , his hands shall also finish it ." (Zec.4 9). That was a much needed impetus for him to press on .
I pray for the grace of completion to be upon us ! Amen .
Definition of Terms:
Despise- means to look down with disrespect . To feel contempt or a deep repugnance for , to disdain . It means having a strong dislike or hatred for someone or something , simply because you think that person or something is bad , in a hopeless shape , or valueless . A strictly irredeemable situation occasioned by the configuration of our weak sense of judgement . And the usual human attitude that follows "despise" is to walk away with no thought of making it better . We likely might not put in any effort to improve the situation . No empathy attached ! Ironically , whenever we as individuals face seemingly insurmountable situation , it is not unlikely we despise such situation immediately , submitting to the option of erroneous impression that our case is hopeless , probably informed by absence of moral or spiritual encouragement.
At such times , a myriads of hopeless THOUGHTS run through our being , since our minds do not stay void . It is not unlikely we experience this moment once in a while , or that we probably had experienced it in the past . This was Zechariah's condition until the LORD entered him . Nevertheless , His word says ,"the thoughts I think towards you, says the LORD, are thoughts of peace and not of evil , to give you a future and a hope ." (Jer. 29:11). For he that wants to breakthrough in life, a conscious effort has to be made . Under no circumstance should life be taken at the face value . No ! Life is more spiritual than physical . And obviously , the spiritual controls the physical .
Features Of Day Of Small Beginning:
Like any other formative processes , day of small beginnings is usually characterized with certain distinct and remarkable features . So remarkable and distinctive that they do not align with the plans and purpose , as well as the expectations of the driver . They are far from being realistic ! Even in situations where God is involved , the formative period does not immediately necessarily reflect the glorious ending . Neither does the path leading to it laid with gold . They are completely at variance with the end result of the character pursuing the goal , be it on a short or long-term level . It takes a soul with definitive and intentional resolve not to throw in the towel in the face of these overwhelming features . Yes , it can really be daunting and overwhelming !
Consider some of the factors that are closely connected to the attendant features : emotional challenges, and financial incapabilities. Money , the scripture says , "is a defense ." ( Ecc . 7:12) , meaning without sound and strong financial backing , dreams and visions may not see the light of day . Next is hopelessness and absence of a valid precedence. How hopeful are you with a future that looks bleak with no obvious sense of direction ? Moreso , when no one in your lineage has ever had a precedence of such landmark achievement and breakthrough ... loneliness , how does it feel when there is no one to give a helping hand, offer assistance , words of encouragement , or a pat on the back that could have fueled the zeal and enthusiasm ? Above all is darkness , probably the worst of the trio . Darkness paralyses and kills all hopes , ambitions , and aspirations . Everything and all activities are static at this point . A complete standstill with practical impossibility of any advancement , however significant . A period of absolute vicious cycle !
In all , the intention of these challenges is to discourage and frustrate us from advancing into our God- given mandate and assignment .
Sidebar: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ( Chinese Proverb ) .
The Creation Story In Context :
A typical and ideal day of a small beginning finds credence in the creation account as recorded in Gen. 1 : 1-3 , " the earth was without form, and void ; and darkness was on theface of the deep." (Gen. 1 :2) . No doubt , God had in mind a picture of what He wanted to accomplish . He knew what and what to put together to achieve it . He had a figurative master plan of His project in His mind . The project was to be deployed in phases . However , right after He created the heavens and the earth , three unwanted and unfriendly situations popped up , that were strong and powerful enough to stalk the whole project : void and formlessness . And darkness , the worst of it all , held sway . However , with the Spirit of God at work , the unfriendly atmosphere was put in check .
Not until after that , could God issue pronouncements to proceed with the project creation , starting by calling forth light "let there be light " (Gen . 1:3) . Giving in to , or ignoring the initial seemingly insurmountable challenges that formed the chaos , would have amounted to "despising" this small beginning of what was later to become the human space and habitat for other created beings . "The heaven , even the heavens , are the LORD'S , but the earth He has given to the children of men " ( Ps.115:16) . By implications , there possibly could not be what we know as the earth today , had the Creator given in sheepishly to the forces that threatened the very vision right from the beginning .
Significantly , commanding 'light' to be , was probably the best pronouncement that enforced and validated the birthing of the entire creation story . That was the lens through which God needed to project and launch into the full creation vision and everything He needed within the space . This was a deserving freedom and release from the hold of unseen but powerful forces antagonizing the"beginning dream ," ( in the beginning , God created...) . This tells us that light is the first essential company we need , to scale through the day of small beginnings . Light , physical and spiritual , is essential to our progress and advancement in life . We need to embrace light as a guide . Seek the light always and walk in it , "and the light shines in the darkness , and the darkness did not comprehend it ." (Jan. 1:5) . If darkness halts advancement and achievements, then light does exactly opposite . It illuminates and liberates us from the power that makes us to grope in the dark endlessly , with no headway in sight . It clears frustrations out of our way . We are going somewhere by divine mandate and we will get there , if ONLY we are guided by the light .
God did not create us to be the Methuselah of this generation - living life like nonentity . Rather , He created us for dual purposes - to impact our generation and fulfill destiny . This destiny fulfillment does not come on a platter of gold , anyway . We have to contend for it in the place of prayer since the spiritual controls the physical . The challenges are there to weigh us down and to prevail on us to accept what God does not have in plan for us . Job was not unaware of this nuance , hence he said prophetically , "though thy beginning was small , yet , your latter end shall surely enlarge ." (Job 8 :7) . The increment does not happen by chance either and it does not happen by " despising " the opposing forces to the goal . Doing this will not only mar the whole essence of our vision , it rather gives the devil a foothold to reign and take charge . We need to be proactive and be intentional to be bold to overcome the little , negligible , but powerful hinderances on the way ; " the little foxes that spoil the vines " (Song of Solomon 2 :15 ) . The creation story was a template enough for us to navigate out of our challenges . God did not yield to the threat of chaos and the influence of void and formlessness . His power equally surpassed that of darkness . He was on top of His game . He's not expecting us to do less .
The Sons Of The Prophets : A Clue
We can borrow a leaf from the 'sons of the prophets' . The sons of the prophets were a groups of followers who met together to worship the LORD and receive instructions under the direction of the prophets . Such was a group of men under prophet Elisha , (2 Kgs. 6 : 1-7) . A time came that they realized that they had outgrown their dwelling . This meant they had reached a time in their ministry to conquer their small space . Hence , the need for increase , expansion, and enlargement became uppermost in their minds . Like the true children of God that they were , they did not despise this stage of their ministry . This should be the desire of every human being . Day of a small beginning can dawn on us anytime . As long as we desire expansion , then it means we are striving to coming out of a small beginning . And with each step to enlargement comes a challenge , regardless of our spiritual calling , status , or capacity . Such was the experience of the sons of the prophets .
The first step in the right direction was to seek the consent of God through their " prophet " , Elisha , the one God placed over them . The question at this point is , who is your prophet , or better put , who is your " spiritual covering ." ? Identifying your God - sent prophet might probably be a good prerequisite to giving us spiritual direction from time to time , and ultimately a recourse to challenges we encounter in the day of small beginnings . Prophet Elisha was on hand to give a divine bailout when the vision of expansion was attacked . The borrowed axe head that fell into the water was strong enough to put paid to the desire of the prophets to come out of their limited space . Palpable fear enveloped the camp of the young men... apprehension was obvious in the air ... the silence was deafening , too !
Several thoughts of shame and failure ran through the minds of the sons of prophet especially the borrower of the axe head . What would he tell the lender ? What explanations of replacement would he give to the lender ? Was there even any hope of replacement ? Would the lender come and hold her wife and children ransom as it was with one of them that died earlier in 2 Kgs. 4 ? If that was the case , then did it imply these young prophets were operating under a spell of indebtedness ? These were some of the puzzles raging through the mind of this young prophet and his colleagues . On the long run was the fear of failure , staring the entire prophetic team in the face . Would their ministry be limited , choked , and frustrated by unseen forces ? Would they be choked up and die in this period of their small beginning ? Should this be the case , the work of God in their hands might become static and apparently , they may not have room enough , and good reputation , successful track records , to accommodate and encourage new and interested members . These were no good signs and times to attract new membership , too ! Something drastic needed to be done , and in a timely fashion , too . Else , their ministry will recede into oblivion .
However, their hope was hinged on God , who had the final , strong , and the Ultimate joker hugged tightly to His chest . Knowing what would happen ahead of time , He already placed a man with a measure of His ability over them to proffer immediate and lasting remediation . He needed to take care of eventualities like this , nay seamlessly , too . Beloved , what is our recourse in and at times of eventualities especially in the day of small beginning ? We need the ONLY Reliable God . But for Elisha that was their spiritual representation , the vision of expansion here would have been a dead on arrival situation aside from the fact that the concerned prophet would have no word for the lender of the axe head ! That says also that even the " called " also experiences the challenges attached to day of small beginnings .
What have you lost or borrowed that seems you cannot find or replace ? Or what project have you started or about to start , but you are almost giving up for reasons of discouragement ? You cannot afford to give up ...rather , pray . And you can pray through !
Day of a small beginning is an encounter we as humans MUST have at one time or the other in our lives , EXCEPT we chose to be static . It cuts across all human endeavors , too . Day of a small beginning is not a straight jacket situation , either : it comes intermittently as we strive to better our lot in our various endeavors or whenever we veer into a new terrain , aspiration and ambition . Each step in a new direction or venture comes with its peculiar challenges regardless of how much successes we have had in terms of experience in our current situations or how much we have broken through in the past . For instance , as a successful business man with conglomerate or chains of businesses and with years of experience and successes in a particular brand, say in the automobiles : it MIGHT probably be a daunting task to diversify into another business or industry , say for instance , oil and gas . It definitely would be a daunting task , at least at the initial stage - the day of its small beginning .
The experience and successes in the previous business are not a guarantee of an easy inroad into the new venture . No ! They are poles apart . As long as we are treading on a new terrain with different processes and procedures from what we were used to , which might want to make the future of the new endeavor bleak , then it is a sign that we should be prepared to face the challenges of the day of small beginning of the new business add - ons . The challenges of the day of a small beginning are not INSURMOUNTABLE , anyway . With God in our boat , victory is our portion . Amen !
Note : It's the 63rd independence anniversary of Nigeria today , October 1st . I decree peace within the walls of Nigeria . Nigeria shall rise again ! God bless Nigeria . Amen .