It was meant to be a big celebration.
After all, dreams were finally coming true (read Ezra 3 to get the whole story). God’s people had been in a big “time out” in Babylon. Now they were back home and rebuilding after seventy years of exile. The foundation of the new temple was ready. The people gathered around this promise of a better day—when they would dwell with God in the land He had given them.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.
But not everyone was impressed. Much like the generation gaps we feel today, the older Israelites didn’t sing and dance along with the younger ones but instead wept (Ezra 3:12). They couldn’t help but compare this foundation with the temple of their childhood memories— the one Solomon built. This temple, the one Zerruabel was building, couldn’t light a candle to it.
All those years of dreaming during exile, of crying and wishing “if only,” and now that their dreams had come true, disappointment overcame them. How could their future match their past with such a small start? In the laughs and high fives of the younger generation, tears and wailing of those who had seen better days struck an off-key note.
Who despises the day of small things?
So God answered their disappointment by sending Zechariah to say,
“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).
Later, when the less than stellar temple construction was delayed again, Haggai told them,
“Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong… Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD, and work. For I am with you, declares the LORD Almighty. This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear” (Haggai 2:2-5).
Were they scared that the size of the temple represented the size of their God? Did their expectations not match God’s plans? Did they trust more in a Big Start than in a Big God?
We can despise the day of small things, too. The pressure is on to make a big splash in our world….
Uncertainty. Just that word can make our stomachs churn, our hearts pound faster, and our minds race. Everyone is dealing with uncertainty right now due to the upheaval of the Coronavirus—whether it be your travel, work, schedule, group meetings, church, school, childcare, etc. It all boils down to our PLANS becoming uncertain. Less fixed. Less known. We are used to booking our schedules weeks or months in advance, always having what we need (or want) in the stores, and rarely inconvenienced in a way that technology or a little willpower won’t “fix.”
The Illusion of Control
But it’s all an illusion. Your well laid plans, your schedule, your “tap of the iPhone and ___ happens” gives you and me a sense of control. But it’s not actual control. Times like this really drive that home.
I don’t know about you, but I really like to be in control or to have systems in place that make me feel like I am in control. My planner, schedule, timelines, phone, etc., while all God-given tools that can and should be used to serve Him and others, are often more about my own little kingdom than about His. This really points to the pride of my heart that the Lord graciously peels back in times like this.
Scripture speaks to this concept over and over:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil'” (James 4:13-17).
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9)…