“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand…” (Zechariah 4:10a).
Finding this famous phrase in the Bible surprised me. As Biblically literate as I am, I still missed realizing this common saying had roots in the Bible. “Do not despise these small beginnings…” (Zechariah 4:10).
What small beginnings are being referred to here in the Bible?
In this particular passage, Zechariah was having a vision of the future when the temple of God would be rebuilt. The temple was the center of the Israelites’ original promised land. At the time of this prophecy, the Israelites would have been downtrodden, discouraged, defeated, disappointed. All the “D’s.” It was after their city and country had been destroyed, including their beloved temple. It was after they had been taken captive by a foreign nation. But the Lord encouraged them that it would be rebuilt. The small beginnings referred to here were the foundation of the new temple. It might have looked measley compared to the old one. It might have looked like nothing, but a foundation. Small as it was, it signified the start to something big.
What does the Lord say about these small beginnings?
The Lord told His people two things regarding these small beginnings. First, He said not to despise them. Second, He said that He “rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10). I’ve had to recently start over in many ways. My house is half the size it used to be. Some kids recently came over and asked, “Do you have a basement? Do you have an upstairs?”
I answered plainly, “no, we don’t. We miss our basement. But we’re close to the park and we have a great location.” I have to remind myself that we’re rebuilding. We’re starting over, just as the Israelites were. God did not despise their small beginnings. He was happy that they were moving forward, taking small steps in the right direction. The Lord did not care that it wasn’t grandiose, like Solomon’s temple before. We too, must remember, to not compare ourselves to others. Our small beginnings will be used of the Lord for great things. God will use my small house, our start over. Just as He brought that temple to completion, He’s bringing you and me to completion too. The Israelites’ relationship with the Lord was restored, along with their temple. So the Lord will restore in me and mine, all that’s been broken. He will bring it to completion, despite these small beginnings. And He will do the same with you! Whatever seems small and dispise-able in your life, God can use for His glory!
What significance does the plumb line have?*
The plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand referred to a man going to work completing a work God had called Him to do! Despite how hopeless the work looked to the masses, God loved that this man was pursuing it’s completion, trusting God would bless it. What work has God called you to? As you consider that for a moment, let’s look a bit deeper. The small beginnings referred to here can also be translated in other places in the Bible as “young, youngest, small, least…” ( Logos Word study). What in your life has the Lord led you to that seems young, possibly the least, needing MUCH improvement? Instead of being annoyed at it not looking Pinterest perfect, remember that the Lord LOVES those things. He loves His people seeing value and bringing value to something the masses see as insignificant. Perhaps it’s people, literally young children, or others young in their faith. Perhaps you’re called to build them up just as this temple was raised up to glorify God. Do not despise teaching Sunday school to preschoolers. Do not despise that small business you’re starting with just a few sales, or that online presence with only a few likes. The Lord LOVES you moving in a direction, be it ever so small, in order to glorify Him!
Whatever you’re working on today, no matter how small and insignificant it seems, remember not to despise small beginnings, for the Lord LOVES seeing you work as you trust Him to bring your work to full glory. God’s got this. God’s got you. He’ll enable you to finish what He’s called you to. Amen!
Just a reminder. God sent Jesus to earth with a “small beginning,” being born in a manger, with animals. In God using Zerubbabel to prophecy this message, He was also preparing His people to receive a Savior, born in a manger. That small beginning saved the world! If God can use that, of course He can use you.
*The plumb line had significance, which you can Google.