When the first wave of Jewish exiles returned to Judea, they were enthusiastic about rebuilding the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians nearly fifty years earlier. But when their efforts to start rebuilding the Temple were opposed and resisted by neighboring nations and internally by the current inhabitants of the land, the repatriated Jews became discouraged and the Temple continued to lie in ruins for almost twenty more years.
Zechariah encouraged the Jews with a vision of the future. Within Zechariah’s sermons and visions were messages specifically addressed to the governor, Zerubbabel, the high priest, Jeshua, and the other priests.
In this particular message in Chapter 4, God declared to Zerubbabel that He wanted to empower the Jews to rebuild the Temple and He would bless even the smallest effort to start–in this case, seeing Zerubbabel taking measurements for the blueprints of the Temple.
God will bless small beginnings and turn them into enormous endings because even the littlest effort is an act of faith that God can empower. After all, it is not the power of your own will or strength that accomplishes great things–these enormous endings–for God, but it is the power of His Spirit working through you: “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit” (vs. 6).
During the Christmas season we are reminded that God works precisely in this way–turning small beginnings into enormous endings. When God came to earth to save humanity, the Savior was born in a barn and his parents used a feed trough for livestock as His cradle. Then they had to flee the country to prevent the child from being killed by a jealous and despotic king. And yet from these humble beginnings, the Kingdom of God was inaugurated and the redemption of humanity was accomplished!
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12, NLT)