You’ve probably heard of Solomon’s temple, that beautiful, majestic house of worship that served as the centerpiece of worship in Israel. But did you know that temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonians in 587 B.C.? Nebuchadnezzar also 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. Shortly thereafter, a group of over 40,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem and built what is now known as “the second temple.” The man most prominently associated with this second temple was Zerubbabel. Thus, the temple is often called 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 this second temple would actually stand longer than Solomon’s temple? Whereas Solomon’s temple had stood for approximately 400 years, Zerubbabel’s temple would stand for approximately 500 years.
But the second temple did have one major problem: It simply wasn’t as grand and ornate as the first one had been. You see, the incredibly prosperous days Israel had known under King David and King Solomon were now 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 the new 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.”
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?”
I don’t mind telling you that I’ve claimed this verse many, many times since starting Disciples Road Church. I mean, it’s not like we had 100 in attendance our first Sunday and are now running 1,000. (We might be running that many, but we are actually catching only a small percentage of them!) Nevertheless, we forge ahead, confident that when God looks at our church He smiles, the way He must have smiled when Zerubbabel and his group completed that second temple. No, I’m not putting a local, New Testament church on par with a temple of Israel. I’m just pointing out that, in God’s eyes, small isn’t necessarily bad.
And so, are you trying to get some new work of the Lord off the ground? Hang in there. Did you start the work from scratch and thought it would be much more impressive by now? Stick with it. Do you feel a tinge of shame when you compare the work to larger, more established works? Stop 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, then that settles it. He is always on the lookout for some Zerubbabels, some people who will start and complete new works for Him. And He really isn’t interested in what the naysayers think about those works.