“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (9) The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. (10) For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:8-10
Zerubbabel is an overlooked hero of the Old Testament. In fact, many casual Bible students mistakenly impute his accomplishments to Ezra – namely, the resettling of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple after the Babylonian Captivity. In fact, the first six chapters of the Book of Ezra do not involve Ezra at all; he came as a “ready scribe in the law of Moses” in chapter seven – 59 years AFTER the Temple reconstruction project was finished. The heroes of the first six chapters are Zerubbabel, the governor; Joshua, the high priest; and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.
Zerubbabel returned to a desolate city surrounded by hostile people. In Ezra 3, they set up the brazen altar and offered the first sacrifices in more than seventy years. Then, they laid again the foundation of the Temple. This was followed by a very unusual dedication service:
Ezra 3:11-13 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. (12) But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: (13) So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
The ancient men – men in their 80’s and 90’s, who had seen the first temple 70 years before, wept. They were looking to the past, to a lost and glorious age – no doubt improved greatly when viewed through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia. The young men who had only known Babylon rejoiced, sang, and praised God! They were seeing a miracle before their very eyes! The Temple was being rebuilt! God had done great things and was going to do even greater things in the future! One group despised the day of small things – the other did not. One wept – the other rejoiced!
Later, legal action caused the work to cease for twenty years. Then, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah began to preach (Ezra 5:1). Amazing things happen when God-sent men began to preach the Word of God in the power of God! Zechariah asked, “Who hath despised the day of small things?” The Temple seemed small to many of the Jews – perhaps not worth the trouble, if they could not make it as great as the Temple of Solomon in its glory. But the Lord said, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it.” Preaching at the same time, the old preacher Haggai said,
Hag 2:7-9 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts… (9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
The temple of Zerubbabel was the same Temple structure later added to and beautified during the reign of Herod – and the very same Temple which would witness the dedication of baby Jesus. In that Temple the Son of God would one day walk, teach, preach and perform miracles. Truly, the glory of the latter house was greater!
Do you despise the day of small things? Like a new church meeting in someone’s living room? Or a new church meeting in a storefront with one restroom? Or the ministry that is starting with a handful of boys or girls?
We can sometimes think lightly of the church running 20 or 30; or the Sunday School class with just 2 or 3 boys or girls; or the youth group with just a handful of teenagers. Even many young preachers today are waiting for a ready-made church with buildings (preferably paid off), a secretary, and budget for a staff member or two. What about going to start something from scratch? What about taking a struggling church with a handful of people and letting God revive that church and build it up again? Or do we look at the early foundation stones and despise the day of small things?
Out visiting today with my son and his friend, I stooped to pick up an acorn on the ground. I asked the boys, “Do you know how this big oak tree got started? It got started with a little acorn that held its ground.” Don’t despise the day of small things. Don’t despise the small child, the small opportunity, the small ministry, the small class, the small bus route, the small college, the small church. If God is in it, it is ALWAYS big business.
Thank you for reading. God bless and Merry Christmas!