It had been some years since Cyrus, King of Persia, granted right-of-return to the original Jewish refugees. Zerubbabel had laid the foundation and built the altar, but the work rebuilding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had stalled.
Finally, King Darius initiated new momentum. Zechariah was sent with a special message to inspire renewed efforts. And that message has special meaning for the Church of God:
“Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it…For who has despised the day of small things?…’” (Zechariah 4:8-10, NKJV).
God makes clear in this passage that despite setbacks, He would rebuild the second temple through Zerubbabel. Picture yourself living at that time. Year upon year, watching Zerubbabel go up each morning (aside from the Sabbath) with a plumb line, stand at the mount, drop the line, and measure. Then the work halts for one reason or another. Enemies round about hurl abuse and derision, bribing defeatist refugees to undermine the progress of construction.
We might lose heart, but God does not value the size of physical things as we do. He reminds us not to “despise the day of small things…” Each time God saw Zerubbabel begin to work, He rejoiced!
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches,” (Matthew 13:31-32). On the first day of Pentecost for the New Testament church, there were only one hundred and twenty disciples because God rejoices in small beginnings.
We are enthralled by extraordinary events as when Elijah called upon God to consume the water-drenched sacrifice on Mt. Carmel in a great inferno (1 Kings 18:36-38). But it wasn’t till God came to Elijah in a still, small voice that he was galvanized to continue on in the face of danger from Jezebel and Ahab.
God wants something small, working deeply in each of us, changing us into part of a larger, stronger, spiritual body. He desires us to be a people who hear and respond to His Holy Spirit.
By neither might nor power did Zerubbabel complete the temple (Zechariah 4:6-7). He stepped up to continue the work by listening to God’s Spirit. He got up every day expecting God to work in him to accomplish His will.
We need to be careful not to measure our relationship with God by looking to physical evidence like buildings, organizational size, or time frames for growth. God does not despise small things but rejoices in the accomplishments of a faithful few.
God works at His pace for the sake of all His people and those yet to be called. We walk by faith, not by sight, despite all the physical evidence to the contrary. Just as God finished the second temple, He will complete His Church and fulfill His purpose despite the scattered state of His people. Pray daily that we all yield to the power of God’s Spirit. Not just when a temple appears, not just when Christ returns, but now!
by Bill Hutchison