"Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?" Zechariah 4:10
After only a few sips of my morning coffee, that’s what I uttered out loud after reading the Scripture passage above. This is a good example of the types of verses that are easy to gloss over. We read it, but we’re not quite sure what we just read, so we shrug our shoulders and keep going. I’ll admit, that’s exactlywhat I did. Everything I had to do yesterday was already piling up in my mind, and it just seemed like too much of an inconvenience to stop and dig in. It was much easier to just keep reading and check the box on my quiet time for the day.
But God is good, and He knows what we need, when we need it. Every to-do item that ran around in my brain had a companion thought... “small things” ... “capstone” ... “hand of Zerubbabel.” Both curiosity and conviction got the better of me. I closed my to-do app, read the Scripture in context, and then opened my concordance and commentary apps. Boy, I’m sure glad I did.
First, a question. Do you ever find yourself looking around at small beginnings, and despising that they are small?
Second, a quick history lesson to set the stage. Stick with me. It will be worth it.
There was a great temple built in Jerusalem under King Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 6), which was destroyed about fifty years later by the Babylonians, under King Nebuchadnezzar, when they overtook the city. The Judean people were exiled for the next 30 years, until King Cyrus conquered the Babylonians, and permitted the Judean people to come back and rebuild their temple.
Zerubbabel was one of the first Jews to return. He was appointed Governor of Judah, and immediately began the rebuild. It took him two years to lay the foundation, and had to deal with opposition and false accusations, which caused leadership to pull their support. There it sat, for seventeen years. Nothing. Enter stage right a couple of prophets sent to encourage, and four years later the temple rebuild was finally complete.
You’d think twenty-three years of work would get you a gigantic sphinx with Zerubbabel’s head carved into it. Not so much. It was recorded to be much less grand in stature than its predecessor, Solomon's temple. Author’s commentary: It was smaller. Laughably smaller. Is laughably a word?
Okay, here’s my insight.
It didn’t really matter if it was smaller than the first temple, because it was significant in a completely different way. It signified the rebirth of life and freedom for the Jews after experiencing a devastating exile. Here’s something more. The first temple was built under forced labor. This one was built by the people and for the people – the same people who vowed to maintain it because they were passionate about it. What I found equally interesting is, although this temple was smaller, it became more central to the Judean people as a point of their history than Solomon’s temple was. After what they had experienced, they knew what this temple represented.
So, why do we care about all this? Take a deep breath with me, and realize this is the story of many of our lives.
Whether it’s your faith, your finances, a relationship, a job, or a dream... maybe you had something you thought was really great - either in idea or action. Then life happened, sending you off course, and leaving you feeling lost. You had to deal with opposition – whether it happened toyou or becauseof you. Maybe for a year. Maybe for twenty-three years. Maybe it felt like a full-on exile.
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or where you are now. God is calling you out of that exile to rebuild. And if you’re already trying to rebuild and there’s opposition, just keep laying one stone at a time. Use the things you learned and the ways you grew as the mortar for each of those stones.
When you do start laying stones, don’t look around discouraged and despise small beginnings. They are the foundation for what can lead to something of even greater significance than what you had before.
Our beginning Scripture says not to despise the day of small things, and that the eyes of the Lord will rejoice when they see the capstone in Zerubbabel’s hand. A capstone is any of the stones making up the top layer of the wall. God has a plan for your life. Every plan starts out small, but if you keep laying one stone at a time, before you know it, you’ll be holding a capstone. And heaven will be rejoicing with you. It will be worth every step of your journey.
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