Part 3 of 3
The Undoing of Rebuilding
Leslie Williams and her husband of fourteen years did not survive a rebuilding project. When their landlord wanted their house to go to someone else, they began looking for a place to buy. They felt that it was their opportunity to put their stamp on a home, possibly even to design a place from scratch.
They bought their “hippy haven” for $2.12 million but ended up spending $500,000 more as did two other buyers of condo units in their building. Leslie described the process as horrible, traumatic and explosive. Money just poured out of their budget and everyone in the building became more and more angry because there was only one elevator to service the three renovations running simultaneously in the same building. Over time, Leslie freaked out and her husband withdrew. That was the beginning of the end and before the project was even near completion, Leslie’s husband walked out on both the rebuilding project and the marriage. This was yet another case of a dream home undone by divorce; brokers often call this normalcy in marriage rebuilding: “renovation divorce.” (www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/garden/05divorce.html)
One astute wife put it like this: “We were living a dream through this little exercise, but it wasn’t enough to rebuild all that was lost in the marriage – a real connection and a real understanding of each other.” The fact is, the rebuilding process shows that two people are building not a dream home but an expensive memorial to a marriage that cannot withstand the pressures of life. Major home renovations tend to reveal, rather than repair, the ruptures in a relationship. “Renovations can put more stress on a marriage than having a new-born child,” says Paula Nunzio, issuing a tongue-in-cheek challenge to the marriage vows, “until decorating do us part.” (http://observer.com/2014/03/until-decorating-do-us-part-when-renovations-end-in-divorce/)
Why is it that renovating a house together with a loved one can undo a marriage? Why do brokers recognize divorce as a rebuilding norm? Why do rebuilding projects come undone and in the process of unraveling, undo the very fabric of the rebuilders? These are questions very relevant to what we will be talking about today.
As a rebuilder of the inner sanctum, you need to know that much opposition will come against you; a rebuilding project is not a simple walk in the park. I mentioned last week that rebuilding will cost you everything. For example, the God-called pair of Zerubbabel and Jeshua met with incredibly powerful antagonism. The people around them set out to discourage them and make them afraid to go on building. Scripture says they hired counselors to work against their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus and down to the reign of Darius. We are talking a minimum of 17 years of opposition (Ezra 4:4-5).
Neighbors lodged accusations against the returned exiles that were false. They wrote inflammatory letters to the king filled with half-truths that actually worked their evil magic. Two men were sent from the king’s presence to bring a halt to their rebuilding project. Ezra chapter 4 ends with these sad words, “Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia” (Ezra 4:24). Much opposition, the lies of Satan, and the lack of faith in the rebuilders’ hearts became the undoing of the rebuilding; it led to “Temple renovation divorce.”
A Brief Review
We kicked off this month of November with a rebuilding theme. Like the great, faith-filled Nehemiah, I first deemed it necessary to begin in the ruins. He inspected the rubble, the broken-down walls, and the burned gates (Nehemiah 2:13). And we, as rebuilders of the Temple within us, must also begin by inspecting what has gone wrong. We briefly perused the ruins in our first week together.
After Nehemiah inspected the walls, he put together a plan and shared that plan with all the priests, nobles, and officials. He told them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace. I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me” (Nehemiah 2:17-18a). The people recognized a man who had been impassioned by God, who had done his homework, and who had a God-given plan, and so they responded with an affirmative answer, “Let us start rebuilding.” And they began the good work of renovation (Nehemiah 2:18b).
We worked down through some questions last week that would help us in the planning stages of rebuilding. Preparing to build involves gathering resources, putting together a game-plan, and taking the time to fuel up on Holy-Spirit power; we call that prayer. We made a brief sketch of what needed rebuilding, when the proper time to begin actually was, and what the cost of rebuilding would involve.
This week we end this mini-series with some God-given tips for producing a lasting foundation. God wants our rebuilding project to last…forever. He is not a God who shrinks back from opposition nor is He a God who is pleased when we become discouraged and quit. He is highly invested in our rebuilding the Temple within for that is the sanctuary where He longs to meet with us.
Today, my prayer is that Zechariah 4:6-10a will light the way for us to see how we can prosper in this process of rebuilding. We do not want to suspend rebuilding. Frankly, this upsets the Lord. We also do not want to become so discouraged by opposition that we quit. Instead, we want to excel in this good work God desires in us; we want to finish well. So with that bolstering thought, let’s turn to Scripture:
“So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’ Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel…” (Zechariah 4:6-10a).
Rebuilding 101: Prospering While Rebuilding
In my personal devotions, I have been reading through the much-misunderstood book of Ezekiel. I say “misunderstood” because to my recollection, I have never heard a sermon on this book, nor completed a Bible study on Ezekiel’s weird visions, nor read a single quote on a wall plaque from this amazing man’s huge collection of words straight from God. No bedtime stories or children’s tales come from this huge span of literature except a song about Ezekiel viewing dead bones.
Despite the decided lack of gregarious draw, Ezekiel is paramount to our understanding what happened to destroy Jerusalem’s walls and what occurred to get the exiles rebuilding them again. You see, he was taken to Babylon in the first wave of captives and most of his book covers the events before the fall of Jerusalem. His ministry was mainly to the exiles in Babylon, warning them of impending doom. Right around chapter 32, God tells him that the wall will be breached and it happened exactly as God foretold. The last chapters of Ezekiel are full of the promises of rebuilding and return for the exiles in that foreign land.
I have been so struck by all the descriptions of the walls in Ezekiel’s visions. God names the reasons for the ruins and the remedy for the rebuilding in his descriptions of the walls. In Ezekiel 13, God calls out two reasons for ruined walls. The first is seen In verse 10, where God says that the people of Judah had built “flimsy” walls, meaning that they had shored up their own types of righteousness and goodness that had nothing to do with God’s design. They had rejected the Lord and built their own cisterns, cisterns that would not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13).
God’s major indictment though, is against the prophets and prophetesses who lied about what God was going to do. Many prophets and spiritual rebuilders were telling those in Judah that God was bringing destruction, but these false leaders kept on deceiving them. God described them as leaders who “whitewashed” the walls around His people. They kept saying, “Peace” when there was no peace (v10).
Flimsy walls describe the unsteadiness that comes from living by the law and out of a religion, instead of out of a relationship. A person can always tell if his wall is flimsy, especially when storms begin to beat on it. That wall of law-abiding mortar and self-focused brick will crumble under only a small amount of duress. Whitewashed walls, on the other hand, signify people that will not look inside to see how they are damaged and how they are damaging others. These people continue to say that nothing is wrong when God is very clear in this chapter of Ezekiel that something is wrong. Whitewashed walls come down under God’s will just as quickly as flimsy ones.
But, praise the Lord, God also mentions two kinds of walls that please Him. In Ezekiel 22, God declares that He is looking for rebuilders who will build a wall of “righteousness” around His people” (v. 30, NLT). Righteous living protects whatever is on the inside of those walls. Unfortunately, to God’s deep sorrow, no one would build up this wall for Jerusalem (v30) so God had to pour out His wrath upon His special city (v31).
There is one more wall mentioned in Ezekiel, at least as far as I have read in this book. God shows Ezekiel a vision of a rebuilt Temple in chapters 40-42 and He describes the walls and gates in copious detail. The last verse in chapter 42 mentions another kind of wall, “So the area was 875 feet on each side with a wall all around it to separate what was holy from what was common” (v20, NLT). A “separating” wall is to go around our life, a wall that delineates very clearly what is holy and what is unholy. A godly rebuilder will use materials that come from a holy God in order to make this clear, distinctive, protective boundary between the worldly and the sacred.
I go into all of this detail about walls to show how passionate God is about this subject. He took it upon Himself to give a captive prophet in a foreign land detailed descriptions, by way of visions, of the ruins in a country miles away. He also gave His design for rebuilding godly walls in a city many of those people receiving these prophetic words would never see again. Why? Why go to all of this trouble?
Because there were some exiles who would return to rebuild and you and I are metaphorically part of those whom God deems worthy of rebuilding His Temple. You and I must pay very careful attention to our own walls, making sure that they are not flimsy or whitewashed, but that we are building with materials that are righteous and holy. As rebuilders, you and I do not have the luxury of sitting back on our thumbs and hoping someone else will work on the issues in our lives. We are the keepers of our own soul and God’s call to rebuild the interior of the place where He meets with us in sacred fellowship, is now.
What will we do? How will we answer this call from God? If we choose to go on living in a flimsy, whitewashed temple, God will come against those walls (Ezekiel 13:13-16). But, if we take up the gauntlet that God lays down before us and begin the work of renovating our interior, we will be in the great company of men like Zechariah, Haggai, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and yes, even Ezekiel.
These rebuilders were prosperous in their rebuilding projects. They were called out by God and were obedient to that call. Consequently, God used them mightily. We have their words, their writings, their visions, to show us how to prosper in our rebuilding project as well. Notice five principles we can follow to prosper in rebuilding as seen in Zechariah 4:6-10a.
Rebuilding Requires Passion
As I look up this word ‘passion,’ in my dictionary, I see how overused and misunderstood it really is. There are six main definitions ranging from the sufferings of Christ to absence of reason in lieu of emotions and onward still to sexual desire. None of these describe at all what I am meaning here. Even the two meanings that come close to what I’m trying to describe are anemic. Listen to these: “ardent affection or love” and “devotion to some activity, object or concept” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus). Both of these are excavated veins running through a silver mine – worn, tired, and brutally insufficient.
What I’m trying to get across in my title about passion is actually the antithesis of “passive.” When a person is acquiescent, resigned, or tolerant, they are fatalistic in their approach to rebuilding. They will only act if acted upon. They receive or endure without any resistance. And they do not get excited about anything; it is like their blood runs sluggishly cold.
A rebuilding project requires red-hot fire running through the veins, a do-or-die attitude. No one who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom, Christ said. Emotional fervency is needed. A glowing ember of hope is required. A feverish ardency is imperative. So, my friend, do you have what it takes?
I have talked to many prospective missionaries, couples who have felt the call of God on their lives for service in a foreign land. Inevitably, the conversation always comes around to the call. How does one know for certain that missions is God’s will? I always answer the same way, “If you are to be on the mission field, you will know.” God does not make His will a secret and He will work the situation so that it is very clear.
Many times there is a warzone of wrestling coupled with a final surrender. Other times, there is an unqualified confidence, a bed-rock knowing that lifts you beyond all of the obstacles. In the end, a person can be sure of God’s calling because it will require a letting go. It may alternately be unmistakable, terrorizing, awe-inspiring, but for sure, it will be energizing, impassioned, and very beautiful.
Without that wrestling match with God, without that surrendered point of reference, it will be difficult to continue on the mission field when the obstacles begin beating on your family’s door. A former pastor always used to say, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” And it’s true. Light is glorious and shattering and warming and it ignites a fire within. Without that light to fan the dying embers, a fire is nothing but cold coals.
Cold coals cannot be used to rebuild, only hot, glowing ones will do. Only an ardent seeker will hear his Lover’s voice asking him to go, no matter the cost. Only devotion to an enlightened Word will move a hardened heart to fertile, accepting soil. Only fervor bursting forth from a sold-out soul will keep stepping when all reason says to run away. Only a vehemence to right wrongs and heal the broken will move into dark alleys and twisted lives. Beloved, rebuilding is never a cold, passive, fatalistic duty, but a Spirit-filled, ardor-inducing, Jesus-conforming, God- anointed response. Rebuilding will take it out of you; it might even completely change you, but isn’t that the point?
Rebuilders must have the same passion for renovation as Jesus does, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8)! Jesus was passionate enough about rebuilding that He died.
Or what about the Father? Can you be as passionate as Him? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16a) or maybe “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). God was passionate enough about rebuilding that He gave His One and only Son away – on our behalf.
My friend, passion is a clear antidote to “Temple renovation divorce.” It will shine a beacon of confidence before you when the going gets tough. You will be the tough one that gets going.
Rebuilding Requires Partnership
There are no lone-rangers on the rebuilding site. Just like it takes a village to raise a child (an African proverb), it takes a whole task-force to rebuild both the inner life and the inner life of another.
When God came to Jeshua and Zerubbabel, He came to two very ordinary returned exiles, a priest and a governor. These two men are mentioned in tandem throughout multiple books of the Bible. Somehow, in God’s plan, they needed each other to complete the rebuilding of the Temple. But God was not satisfied with this dynamic duo, for in and of themselves, they would not have completed the task. God gave them two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to spur them on from the Word of God.
In addition to these God-given prophets, the book of Ezra names a huge list of those who joined in this special work. Jeshua’s fellow priests and the associates of Zerubbabel helped build the altar (Ezra 3:2). Masons and carpenters were hired, goods were exchanged with the people of Sidon and Tyre in exchange for their logging help (Ezra 3:7). Verse 9 of this same chapter calls out Jeshua’s sons and brothers and Kadmiel’s sons and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers all joining together in supervising those who were hard at work.
On a side note, Nehemiah 3 holds little of value to those just reading their Bible through because of the huge lists of names, but huge value to the one who is desperate for partnership. High priests worked alongside farmers, sons alongside daughters, gold-makers and perfume-makers working side-by-side in a concerted effort. Nehemiah 3 reads more like a symphony to me than a disjointed set of names, every person scribed along with their section leaders, playing in fine-tuned performance under a master conductor: Nehemiah. This man could pull a sonnet out of a rag-tag band of mismatched exiles bringing the melody to a crescendo when the wall was rebuilt in a record-breaking fifty-two days.
Folks, the amount of ink expended in listing rebuilding compatriots is no accident; it literally screams aloud an important rebuilding principle: you cannot rebuild your soul by yourself. You may have no idea how to begin your rebuilding project, but I am fairly sure someone else does. You will need people who can hold up your tired arms like Aaron and Hur did for Moses. You will need people to come close and tell you honestly what they see in you; others can often see what we are too deceived to admit. Haggai and Zechariah did this for Zerubbabel and his rebuilding gang. You will need good people around to help you tear down idol’s altars in your life like Gideon’s servants did with him. Rebuilding the interior of a life takes a few good men, even a small village sometimes.
In addition to the horizontal relationships needed in a rebuilding project, Zechariah shows us that we must sign up for a partnership with God as well. Might and power will not completely do the job. We need the Holy Spirit’s partnership in our rebuilding process if we have any prayer of succeeding. He is the one who anoints us to do the work (Luke 4:18), comforts us when we fail (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), and gifts us to complete the job (Exodus 31:2-11).
Any rebuilding task that is taken on as a solo project is pretty clearly destined to fail. If a whole team of people struggled to finish the rebuilding of the Temple over decades, how can one single person manage an inside job alone? No, my friend, the good news is that rebuilding is not supposed to be done alone. Abuse and deep hurts are perpetrated in community, but praise God, so is healing.
Partnership is a clear antidote to “Temple renovation divorce.” Joined hands around a common goal – the remaking of the interior – bring comradeship into crevices of chaos. Seek out a few good men and women to help you rebuild your inner Temple.
Rebuilding Requires Godly Provisions
Our theme verses are not very long, but they pack a terrific punch. Within these four verses are listed just about every provision you will ever need for your rebuilding project. Without these, my friend, your rebuilding project will not succeed; it will take a knock-out punch on the chin, lights completely out, if you will. Take note of these provisions that God willingly offers to make you prosperous in your rebuilding venture.
If God had just mentioned one of His names in this section, it would have been enough. But stacked up like blocks stretching to glory, this name-upon-name verbiage exudes raw power. And that power, my friend, is for you. God mentions no less than four names in this short passage; four names that should impassion you to rebuild.
The first one mentioned is LORD. Notice this is written in all caps. LORD means the self-existent or eternal one. We often take this name to be Jehovah or Yahweh. Just so you know, this name was so important to the Israelites, so awe-inducing, that they would not even pronounce it. They used the letters yhwh to describe this God you and I think of so casually.
In a rebuilding project, you need a God who is self-existent. He does not get His provisions from anyone else; He alone is the Provider. He can do all the work and He is eternal, meaning that His energy will outlast yours, His power will outdo yours, and His work will outlive yours. The LORD is more than enough for your rebuilding needs.
The second Person mentioned is the Holy Spirit. This word in the Old Testament literally means “wind or breath, figuratively it means life…” (ESV Strong’s). When you get tired rebuilding, and you will, the Spirit is a good Person to have on your team. He brings life to your work, wind to your sails, courage to your faltering limbs. The Spirit is more than enough for your rebuilding needs.
The next name on this powerful ‘who’s who?’ of provision is the LORD Almighty (NIV). Different Bibles translate this name differently. You may see the name “Lord of Hosts” (ESV) or “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (NLT) or even “God of the Angel Armies” (MSG). The idea behind this name is a mass of persons, especially organized for war. You will need the provision of this Person when you face obstacles, spiritual warfare, or the enemy of tedium. The LORD Almighty will always win His battles, will always vanquish His foes and will always invigorate hands that hang down. The God of Angel Armies is more than enough for your rebuilding needs.
The last name mentioned in these four short verses is God, the Hebrew word being Elohim. This word means deity, the one true God. Notice the rebuilding projects God is involved in: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1); “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman…” (Genesis 2:22); “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21); “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:12); “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23).
I could keep going on and on, giving you example after example, about this God – 2,763 examples from the Old Testament and 1,157 examples from the New Testament, for God is the consummate creator and rebuilder. He built the earth out of nothing. He formed a woman out of a man that He created out of dirt, which He made from nothing. He made garments out of animals, which He created from nothing. He rebuilt covenant with the very people who broke it in the first place and He redesigned a new way of intimacy: His Son in human form.
Even if your “rebuilding” project is a first-time attempt, God is your Provision. A God who can make something out of nothing will have no problem creating a softened heart. Or if you are already a believer, this same God can rebuild a broken-down interior, cut new covenant with you and build intimacy with you the likes of which you have never imagined. Precious one, God is more than enough for your rebuilding needs.
We’ve talked about this power a lot in recent weeks and even earlier today, so I just want to mention it in case you have missed this truth. You cannot build your own interior by yourself. You are incapable of the task on your own. You are not strong enough, wise enough, skilled enough, or passionate enough; that is why you need the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit, who dwells in your ruin of a temple, has a lot invested in the rebuilding process and He will do the job in partnership with you.
The word precept means “appointed, ie. a mandate” (ESV Strong’s). We often define this word as a law or a commandment or statute and there is something in common with every godly precept. They all begin with similar words to these, “This is the word of the Lord.”
When a word from God is appointed for you and me, there is attached with it a provision: perfection. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless (Psalm 18:30). “For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4). All of God’s commands, including the one to rebuild, come from a perfect God, with perfect timing, and perfect ability. When He commands, He equips. When He speaks, He assists. If a precept from the Lord ever is spoken to you, and you respond to Him with passionate ardor, know this: God will see it through because He appointed the rebuilding process.
There are many promises in this tiny section of Scripture. God promises that His Spirit will assist the work (v6). God promises that before Zerubbabel, mighty mountains will become level ground (v7a). There is a promise of completion; Zerubbabel will bring out the capstone to cries of “God bless it” (v7b) and “his hands will complete the temple (v9a). God even promises rejoicing when the plumb line is seen in Zerubbabel’s hands (v10b).
So many promises and all of them pertinent to the rebuilder. If God calls you to rebuild your interior, His Spirit will do the heavy lifting, obstacles will be removed, the job will be completed, people will be blessed and rejoicing will come. These promises are for you if you are responding to God’s appointment and they are powerful provisions to buoy up your faith.
His People. Again, I have mentioned this already, but I felt it was important to emphasize again. God gave Zerubbabel and Jeshua other priests, prophets, family members, neighbors, leaders and many others to complete the task with them. Part of rebuilding requires the humility needed to ask for help. The Body of Christ is to be that help.
Dear one, God’s provisions of His Person, power, precepts, promises and people are very clear antidotes “Temple renovation divorce.” Nothing will sway you if you are remaining in the Vine of Jesus. Nothing will deter you with God’s power at your disposal. Failure is not an option to God so cling to His precepts, promises and yes, cling to His people. They will pull you through many an obstacle into a wonderful word: completion.
Rebuilding Requires Prudence
In our theme passage, Zechariah cautions the rebuilders to have prudence in their hearts and minds about four bad attitudes. These attitudes can easily creep onto a building site and demolish morale, halting the rebuilding efforts indefinitely. We must guard against each of these zealously if we are to prosper in our rebuilding efforts and be successful.
The first bad attitude is pride. This word is not stated specifically in this passage, but it is clearly implied: “not by might nor by power” (v6). If a person is proud, they will try to build alone. Self-sufficiency is one of the surest pathways to destruction; it’s what got the Temple into ruins in the first place. Pride in our strength is ineffectual as is leaning on our might or power or riches or reputation. All of our abilities are nothing in the face of such insurmountable spiritual obstacles.
In order to rebuild God’s way, we must allow our pride to be demolished. God will have it no other way. God has some very strong words to say about self-sufficiency. He hates pride, arrogance and perverted speech (Pr 8:13). He states clearly that pride goes before destruction (Pr. 11:2) and He warns us that pride will bring us low (Pr. 29:23). Pride has no place anywhere in the heart of a rebuilder. This bad attitude must be effectively dealt with before rebuilding the temple can be started, let alone completed. Instead of pride, an attitude of penitence must be adopted. Penitence will lead to a prosperous rebuilding.
Verse 7 describes the obstacles of rebuilding with the words “great mountain.” As you think about working on your interior, what great mountain do you see? An inability to know how to proceed? The huge mountain of extensive damage in your soul? The distrust and broken relationships as a result? All of these obstacles, and many more, may seem like a great mountain to you. Looking only at these great mountains will produce feelings of failure even before you start. Pessimism will lead to discouragement, which will, in turn, lead to quitting altogether or possibly even, a paralysis of the soul.
God wants us to have a little faith. “Who are you, O great mountain?” God says (v7). In other words, that great mountain is really only a molehill to the Lord. He wants you to adopt hope instead. Say to that mountain, “Move from here to there’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20), keeping in mind the Spirit’s power, of course.
Zechariah’s whole ministry was to encourage the builders against doubts. The work on the Temple had been stopped by royal decree and rabble-rousers. The people were perplexed. How could the Temple rebuilding go on if there were so many set against it? Zechariah told the returned exiles in no uncertain terms that Zerubbabel had laid the foundation and his hands would also complete it (v9).
Instead of the devastating attitude of perplexity at God’s commands and work in our lives, we are to adopt perseverance. Pray for God to open a door, but keep at the work. Plead for help from others, but keep at the work. Exercise a few mountain-rebuking worship services, but for goodness’ sake, keep at the work. Perseverance produces character and character produces hope, which will help an awful lot with the negative attitude of pessimism.
There were some among the rebuilders who disrespected the project. They showed contempt for what Zerubbabel was attempting. They thought of the efforts of the builders and the worksite as insignificant. The word used to describe their heart attitude was “despise.”
Put-downs will destroy rebuilding in a hurry. God answered these contempt-raining-down people with these words, “For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice…” (ESV – v10a). God’s antidote is clear: He wants us to praise. He calls them to a completion that involves rejoicing. Despising what God is doing because it seems small or insignificant is a bad heart attitude. God calls us to look for the little things He is doing and rejoice in them.
I hope it is clear that bad attitudes will lead to a “Temple renovation divorce.” The clear antidote is to bow before the Lord of Hosts with penitence, take small steps of faith, work with perseverance, and sprinkle the construction site with a lot of praise.
Rebuilding Requires God’s Perspective
Prospering while rebuilding means shunning worldly perspectives (we looked at those above) and adopting God’s perspectives. If God calls you to do the work of rebuilding inside your life, or even helping someone else rebuild their interior, you need to know that He will make it happen, but only if you enter into His mindset. Pride, pessimism, perplexity and put-downs have to go and in their place we have to adopt some kingdom perspectives.
You need to know that God is pleased with your rebuilding efforts. He promises that when the top stone is put on the building, there will be shouts of “Grace, grace to it” (v7 – ESV). That word grace is the Hebrew word hen and it means “graciousness, kindness, favor, precious, acceptance” (ESV Strong’s). God thinks that your work is precious and He, along with others who note the rebuilding process, will declare His favor upon it.
I find it very interesting that the Thai word hen (เห็น) means “to see.” There is no correlation in all of this except that it is important to me that God sees what I am doing. He sees my hard work. He notices when i am struggling and He takes great pleasure as He looks down on me in my perseverance. It is not an accident then to me that verse 10 ends with these odd words, “These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.” God is looking at you, out for you, and takes great pleasure in what He sees…if you are building His Temple, His way, and in His strength.
I mentioned this above so will not spend a lot of time on this. I could, however, since Scripture is full of mandates to rejoice as much as possible. Praise and thanksgiving change, not only our own hearts, but they change the attitudes of those working with us. God’s perspective is that there will be blessing (v7) and there will be rejoicing (v10). We might as well try a little of that praise along the rebuilding pathway.
Above I listed a number of promises God gave to the rebuilders of His Temple. He will level mountains, bring the project to completion, and initiate praise, but there is a little word in the middle of verse 9 that stands out to me. It is the word “know.” To know something is to be certain of it, to be persuaded that it will happen. Zechariah indicated that when all of God’s promises came true, the people would know that God Almighty had sent him as a prophet to spur them on. God’s promises led to hope and renewed vigor and in the process, the people’s faith went from perplexity to persuasion. The completion of the temple was sure, according to God. All the people had to do was work like they actually believed it.
What is the ultimate prize of your rebuilding project? I began our brief study with this thought and so I end with it as well. Intimacy with God in the recesses of our soul is our ultimate goal. He is the capstone of our rebuilding project. He is the plumbline in our hands. Knowing God deeper should be our ultimate pursuit. Anything else – may it be self-adulation, self-protection, reputation, looking good to others – is rubble compared to the joy of knowing God in an ever-increasing way. Paul said that he considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord…(Philippians 3:8).
Paul considered everything else rubbish that was not the gain of Christ. He would not allow religion to dominate his interior. Instead, he lived his life with a righteous wall around it, a righteousness that came from God and faith. He desired only to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings so that he could attain the ultimate rebuilding experience, the resurrection from the dead. His prize was God; his prize was heaven (Philippians 3:8-11).
Paul was a godly rebuilder. Are you?
Taking on God’s perspectives will arrest any fleeting thoughts of “Temple renovation divorce.” His pleasure in our efforts, our praise in the place of pessimism, our heart’s settled knowing that what God says He will do, and the prayer of our life being that God would be our prize, can go a long way in recalibrating the interior. Let us join together in this incredible work of rebuilding to the glory of God.