You’ve probably heard of Solomon’s temple, that beautiful, majestic house of worship that served as the centerpiece of worship in Israel. That temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonians in 587 B.C. To make that destruction even worse, Nebuchadnezzar deported the defeated Jews to Babylon, where they would spend decades in exile from their homeland.
At the end of those years, however, God raised up the Medo-Persian empire to defeat the Babylonians. Medo-Persia was led by a man named Cyrus the Great. One of his first official acts as the new ruler of the Jews was to allow the willing to return to their homeland and reestablish their culture and religious observances. Ultimately, a group of over 40,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem and began building what is now known as “the second temple.”
Since a Jewish leader named Zerubbabel was the man most prominently associated with the building of that temple, the structure is often referred to as “Zerubbabel’s temple.” It was built on the same site as Solomon’s temple and was completed in 516/515 B.C. And would you believe that Zerubbabel’s temple would actually stand longer than Solomon’s temple? Whereas Solomon’s temple stood for approximately 400 years, Zerubbabel’s temple would stand for approximately 500 years.
But that second temple wasn’t nearly as grand and ornate as the first one had been. In Zerubbabel’s day, the incredibly prosperity that Israel had known under King David and King Solomon was long gone, and the riches it would have taken to duplicate Solomon’s temple simply weren’t to be found. Unfortunately, the inferior appearance of Zerubbabel’s temple greatly disappointed all the elderly Jews who remembered the glory of Solomon’s temple. Ezra 3:12-13 sums up their response to the new temple:
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes, 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 sound was heard afar off. (N.K.J.V.)
But, of course, the real question that needed to be answered was, “Did God approve of this new temple?” And we find His answer in Zechariah 4:10 as He asks the piercing question:
“For who has despised the day of small things?” (N.K.J.V.)
So, tell me, are you trying to get some new work of the Lord off the ground? Well, hang in there with it. Did you start the work from scratch and thought it would be much more impressive by now? Stick with it anyway. Do you feel a tinge of shame when you compare the work to larger, more established works? Just stop doing that. Don’t be guilty of despising the day of small things. Never forget that if God says what you are doing is good and should continue, that settles it. He sees value in small things, and He is always on the lookout for some Zerubbabels who will start and complete new works for Him. And He really isn’t interested in what the naysayers think about those works.