When Israel returned to the land of promise after the exile in Babylon, she was given the task of rebuilding the temple. Scripture tells us that when the older men, who had seen the temple of Solomon in all of its glory, saw the people rejoicing in the foundations of the new temple being laid, “…they wept with a loud voice.” The remembrance of such glory lost because of unbelief, and now contrasted with such meager, and simple new beginnings, brought much sorrow to their hearts.
In the book of Haggai, we discover that, after the foundation had been laid, and the work on the house of the Lord had ceased because of opposition by Israel’s enemies, the people adopted a very small vision of this endeavor. Haggai writes: “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison as NOTHING?” (2:3) First we have, at the laying of the foundation of the temple, men who are weeping because of the remembrance of the glory of Solomon’s temple. Here, at the outset of another effort to build the temple, according to the will of God, the people are faced with a contrast that is very demoralizing. The edifice that they are building is as “nothing” in comparison.
It was a very difficult thing to overcome the remembrance of the failures of the past, and the apparent meagreness of a new beginning. But we must always remember that the great issue is the will of God, and what He promises. In Zechariah we read: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me unto you.” (4:9) Here we have the revealed will of God, and the promise of His provision. Not withstanding, the Lord addresses the “smallness” of the enterprise: “For who hath despised the day of SMALL THINGS?” With the reality of the situation, and the reality of the comparison before the people, there is a possible reaction of losing heart, of not being committed to the enterprise. What is God’s answer? It is a promise: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Hag. 2:9)
We must never forget that God is able to do great things with little. What He is looking for is faithfulness in the little things, or large things…they are the same to Him. He is able to do the “exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think.” We are to believe Him to take the “small thing,” even if there has been failure before, and to use it for His glory and honor. And this He will do if we trust Him.
Dear Father, let us never be discouraged, nor deterred, by the smallness of the endeavor. Enable us to be faithful in things great and small, never despising the day of “small things.” Strengthen our faith increasingly to believe Thee to do the wonderful thing, that which will bring great glory to Thy name. In Jesus’ name. Amen.