“For who has despised the day of small things?…” Zechariah 4:10
It’s so easy to overlook “small things.” It’s so easy to look down upon something that just doesn’t seem to meet our expectations. It’s so easy to think that something is less than what it is. It’s so easy to find myself not truly appreciating what You are doing or what You have done because it isn’t meeting MY standards. That’s so wrong of me. I’m so sorry.
Here, in Scripture, something spectacular was happening. In the midst of being exiles from their own land, having been taken over and under Darius’ authority, they were being blessed with the opportunity to rebuild the temple. It had started during Cyrus’ reign and now Darius was continuing with their support.
As I look back at this event in history, I could consider it a small thing. After all, Darius was that kind of king who would solidify the “unity” of his vast domain by allowing the peoples to rebuild their religious centers. He was doing the same for Egypt. But the thing here is that Egypt’s god is not real. Israel’s God is real. The temple was being rebuilt for a reason by God, not just people. Truly, Egypt’s religion was being rebuilt for their gods. This temple in Jerusalem was being rebuilt by God for the people. Yes, it was God’s temple, but You didn’t need a temple to live in. Your people needed a place to be reminded of meeting with You again. Your people needed an encouragement and a reminder about the necessity of meeting with You, of coming before You, of spending intimate time with You, of looking to You and seeking You, and more. This was a big thing.
Daniel had lived through being taken captive from Israel into Babylon. Not only that, he had lived through the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Labashi-Marduk, Nabonidus, Belshazzar, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius I, and Cyrus. He had a long time to pray for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled in the rebuilding of the temple. Daniel trusted the word of God and was rewarded for that trust. And here that trust continues even beyond his days. This is no small thing. What You say You will do, Lord, You will do and You are doing. Daniel could count on what would happen at the end of those 70 years of captivity because You promised. Your promises are no small things. I can count on Your promises in a big way also.
So now, here is Darius, continuing with what Cyrus has begun, unknowingly following God’s plan. And the amazing “small thing” here is that You, Lord, already know the response of Your people before the temple is even finished being built! You already know that some are going to look down on this temple because it’s smaller and less glorious than the memory of Solomon’s temple. We have the evidence of that response in Ezra 3:12-13, “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: 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 noise was heard afar off.” The weeping was so great and so loud that you couldn’t distinguish it from the joyful shouting. That’s something!
Were they missing the big thing You were doing in a small thing? “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord; ‘work, for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not.’ For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in [or, “the one desired by all nations,” referring to the Messiah], and I will fill this house with splendor,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts; ‘and in this place I will give prosperity,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:2-9) This smaller temple was no small thing. This smaller temple was a sign of bigger things even more glorious than Solomon’s temple. This smaller temple was a reminder of bigger and better things to come.
I mean, let’s face it. Who was Zerubbabel? He was just a man, a priest under captivity in Babylon. What power did he have? Yet You call this “small thing” of a man to make Yourself known. “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” It’s not by Zerubbabel’s might or power or finesse or personality. It’s by the fact that You choose to use “small things” to show the bigness of You. You use the foolish to confound the wise. You take Zerubbabel in the midst of captivity to show Your people Israel and the world a picture of what You are planning for our future and doing in the meantime.
Your plans are unstoppable. Every thing is a small thing compared to Your plans. There is no mountain that can stand in Your way. “Hey, Zerubbabel, is their a mountain in your way? I shall flatten it into a plain so that You will see my promises come true. And You will see the Rock that is the foundation arise. You’ll see and hear nothing but grace. Zerubbabel, I have One planned whose place you are standing in. He’s laid this foundation that my “temple” is built upon. He’s begun it and He will finish it. He’s the High Priest forever. You’re standing in for Him temporarily as a picture of Him. You are going to see that this is all of the Lord. My Messiah is coming to finish the job and wait until You see the glory of the completed idea here. Who will need candles when He lights the whole temple with His beauty? Just wait until all the peoples who have responded from each nation come to spend time in His presence. Look at the right picture. This is the beginning. This is a BIG THING beginning to happen. This is bigger than You, Zerubbabel, and bigger than my beloved Israel. If You are going to cry, cry because of the joy of what is happening and what is to come. It’s not so little like You see. Look at it the way I see it. Look at it beyond yourselves and in Me. This is the day of great things, of things of awesome measures being shown and shared with You.” So, that’s not in Scripture, that’s just my paraphrase of what’s going on.
I need that paraphrase. I need this historical story. I need this truth. Because I get caught up in seeing the littleness of things and being discouraged. But You use these small things in my life also for Your bigger and greater purposes. Just like Zerubbabel wasn’t the focus, because he wasn’t the one who would be high priest forever, I’m not the focus either. Zerubbabel was part of that present day encouragement of the people of God and part of the bigger picture of encouragement for all people of all times. He wasn’t the answer. Neither am I. But You can use me as part of the encouragement along the way. Though Zerubbabel was to be part of the permanent heritage of Israel, it was through his lineage to the Messiah. His blood line was passed down through Mary to Jesus. So Jesus is being referred to as Zerubbabel. But what a big thing for a small thing like one of us to be used as a picture of Christ! And here You were, Zerubbabel, painting the future picture for us in your present of a future re-unification of King and Priest in Israel in the Christ. That Branch we saw the other day, our Messiah, would be the King and Priest pulling all this together so that one day for always we who are His people would get to enter into His presence fully in His completed temple in all it’s perfection.
That’s the same thing I’m called to look forward to today and tomorrow and the next day. What small thing are You inviting me to be a part of that is another beginning, another link in Your greater plan? Oh, help me not to despise these days of small things. Help me to even be awed by every small thing in my life. How can I be an appropriate picture of You in everything I do? How can I be an encouragement in the most menial thing? What are the mountains around me compared to Your desires? I want to rejoice and see Your hand in everything, Lord. So, straighten my vision and help me to see Your truth Your way. Help me to rejoice in the day of small things, no matter how many days of small things there are and no matter how many small things. Continually remind me that Your greatness begins in rejoicing in the small things like little mustard seeds and a baby of “no account” origins born in some insignificant manger. Don’t ever let me forget. Don’t ever let me despise the day of small things.