The rebuilding of the temple was a work in progress. And those who were old enough to remember the original temple saw that this was going to be a scaled down version in comparison to Solomon’s temple. Some of the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were disparaging the work. “This isn’t like the Exodus! None of this compares to the days of King David or his son Solomon.”
However, the Lord admonished those who thought things could be better (maybe even believing they could do it better than Zerubbabel). He promised that Zerubbabel would complete the reconstruction of the temple—“not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts.” And all would rejoice as they saw their God removing the obstacles and opposition that stood in the way of restoring the center of worship of Jehovah.
This account reminds me of Christ’s teaching regarding His kingdom. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32 ESV). The work of God cannot be judged by its appearance. We may see circumstances or situations, thinking that they are inconsequential, and yet in the end, the Lord does a mighty work. Maybe a heart is just now being softened and humbled or someone is taking the first steps of obedience—only flickers of grace. We should not despise the days of small things.
The word of the Lord came to another prophet, this time it was Jeremiah, and the Lord asked him, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” Pay close attention to how the conversation continues. “‘…I see an almond branch.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it’” (Jeremiah 1:11-12 ESV). Only an almond branch, but the Lord was in the work, watching over it and according to His word and sovereign plan, He was about to do great things.
Possibly you are the one right now who feels small and inadequate—ready to give up because you feel you have so little to offer. Don’t despise the days of little things by failing to do the “little” that you can do. It’s not by size or strength that God works; instead it is by His Spirit that He accomplishes His purposes through the broken and repentant. He used Gideon and only 300 men, a young shepherd named David, and a rough-and-tumble fisherman named Peter. The work of the kingdom is done by little people who see their God for who He is, the Lord, the Most High. Their trust is in Him. They don’t look down on the days of small things because their hope is in the Lord who says, "Nothing is too difficult for Me."