Sometimes it is easy to skip over parts of the Bible that seem rather irrelevant. Especially the Old Testament books seem to lack relevance to what we are doing today. How could the book of Malachi or Zechariah say something to me when we can hardly pronounce the name of the book?
While these parts of the Bible may at first seem to lack relevance to our day, a careful look at them reminds us that each book is just a journal of how God worked in someone's life in the past. This can bring warning or encouragement to us as we find ourselves in similar situations.
Think of the book of Zechariah. While the prophet Zechariah is now called a "minor" prophet, he was by no means a lesser prophet. His book is just a journal of how God worked in his day, and it gives us great encouragement for how God could work today. After all, God is a changeless God and how He is capable of working has not changed since the days of Zechariah.
In the days of Zechariah, some of the people had returned from captivity in Babylon. I doubt that anyone would say they were a thriving or magnificent country any more. As a matter of fact, all the previous glory that they had years before had long ago rotted, and they were a scattered people with no strong leadership. Most of their people were still in captivity in a land far away, and their children only had stories that they had heard of how God had moved in the lives of their grandparents and great grandparents. The God that their children knew was a God that had moved greatly in the past and now appeared to be silent--or was He even there any more?
Zerubbabel, who was a prince among the people, was sent back to his homeland, and while he had zeal, it had to have seemed an overwhelming project. Just imagine the project of coming back and trying to do something with land that had been largely abandoned for 70 years and having heard about the glories of the past! No doubt it seemed that whatever he was able to accomplish was "small things" compared to what had happened in the past (Zechariah 4:10). We know that it was overwhelming to try to do anything because Zechariah 4:7 calls it a "great mountain."
Nevertheless, Zerubbabel laid the foundation of the temple even with opposition, but then the work stopped. There were so many that opposed his work, and even those who had supported him stopped their work.
Sometimes this seems even more discouraging than never starting a project for God. If one attempts to do something great for God and fails, all those cynically looking on will see the foundation--with weeds. We are tempted to think that it is better to never attempt something great for God than to attempt and appear to fail. Thankfully, God doesn't see things how we do. Weeds are just temporary. Sometimes weeds are just a sign that God is getting ready to do something big. After all, God has already promised in Ephesians 3:20, that he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, but it's only according to the power that is working in us. Apparently, while those weeds were growing around the foundation of the temple and while people were heaping up criticism for a project that failed and was doubtless a waste of money, the power was building in Zerubbabel's life. What did it matter that the foundation laid there on the ground for years until Zerubbabel learned that it wasn't by "might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." 4:6.
Zerubbabel began to build again. No doubt it took a lot of work to clear away the weeds that had accumulated since he started the project years ago. No doubt there were plenty of people who remembered his first attempt and weren't willing to stake their efforts to it this time. It didn't matter any more because now Zerubbabel understood the most essential truth. All the might or power that we exert to accomplish a task--even one that we are attempting to accomplish for God--doesn't matter at all if the Spirit of God is not working among us. However, He wants to work among us! He desires to work powerfully among us, and He is able to work exceeding abundantly greater than we could even imagine but it is only according to the power that works in us. Eph 3:30 When we are completely filled with God's Spirit, His power will rest on us, and there are no limits to what He can do. As a matter of fact, we see in Acts 2 that when the Holy Spirit came on those who waited ten days for Him, a tremendous power came even with visible manifestations. In Acts 4:31, the building were they were assembled actually shook with the power that came upon them as they prayed.
God hasn't changed. He is still capable of moving in a powerful way, but it's according to the power that works in us. Seeking His face takes more than a morning prayer over a cup of coffee and an evening lay me down to sleep prayer. For the first church, it took ten days of solid prayer, shut away in a room seeking God.
There will always be naysayers. In the days of Zerubbabel, it was the older elders who criticized what Zerubbabel was doing. After all, some of them could remember the glories of the past. They could remember the beauty of Solomon's temple and the glory of it. Many of them had heard the awesome stories that their parents had told them of the magnificent structure called Solomon's temple. Not only that, there were the stories of how God magnificently filled the house of God when it was dedicated in Solomon's day.
Now, Zerubbabel was building a much smaller structure with limited resources and it definitely wasn't to be compared in beauty. Not only that, but there was no sign that God was even present like He had been in the last temple. The older ones kept talking about the glories of the past temple with the obvious implication that this was now a lesser day. God, however, disagreed. In Zechariah 4:10, we are reminded not to despise the day of small things. The temple was smaller. The number of people attending the temple was smaller. The whole nation was smaller, and the glory of it was gone, but God was beginning to work. God knew that the effort that Zerubbabel made became the temple that Christ the Messiah walked into. It was smaller and less glorious, but it was significant on God's scale of accomplishments because He doesn't dwell in temples made with hands anyway. This temple, while appearing to be lesser, was the temple where Christ would come as a young man, where he would teach on a regular basis, where he would cast out the money changers and where ultimately, the veil would be rent in two! This definitely wasn't the day of small things--it just looked like it to those looking at it from a human perspective.
I believe that God is wanting to move among us. Despise not the day of small things, but pray for a might move of God. Be filled with the Spirit that He might move among us. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as those "minor prophets" is still among us. He is only limited by the "power that worketh in us"!