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….