I don’t know that I have ever seen an experience that could rival it. There was crying so loud that people could hear it from a far distance away. The crying was strange though, it was mixed with happiness and lament. It was 2,500 or so years ago in the land of Israel. The exiles had returned and had laid the foundation for the new temple. The older folks were wailing with lament because they had seen the previous temple in all of its glory. The younger folks who had grown up in exile were excited and full of joy as they looked ahead to this new temple.
The strange chorus of weeping and wailing punctuates the epic scene in Ezra 3 as the foundation for the new temple is laid.
At the same time we can read of the prophet Zechariah dealing with the attitudes of lament here as well as the forthcoming fear of man in chapters 4-5 of Ezra. One of the big prophetic hammers that Zechariah brings to this party is a statement about what God is doing and the fact that people are not to despise the day of small things.
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” … For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (Zech. 4.6-7,10)
What is smaller than a group of 40,000 exiled rejects returning to a God-forsaken land, embarking on a building project to bring a kingdom?
How about a king being born in a manger amid the stench and filth of animals? That seems like a pretty small thing too.
Don’t you dare despise it.
There’s more. How about that same baby growing into a man and then preaching and teaching the message of a kingdom while himself being poor, homeless and rejected? The culmination of that preaching is to become a data entry in the long spreadsheet of Roman crucifixions. He was a small thing to them. Just another crucified rebel.
But these small things add up. Small things are ordained by a very big God.
Therefore, the message of Zechariah is still true today. Instead of despising and becoming discouraged with the small and the ordinary, rejoice! God is working in and through them for his everlasting glory and your eternal joy.
Here are some examples:
Don’t despise the small things of prayer, by means of which God changes people’s hearts.
Don’t despise the small things of service in the local church, by which God is glorified and people encouraged.
Don’t despise the small things of working in the seemingly insignificant place like the church nursery, by which you reflect Christ-like love and compassion.
Don’t despise the small things like daily Bible reading, by which your heart is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Don’t despise the small things of daily obedience and sacrifice through which your heart is trained and molded after the Savior.
Don’t despise the small things of putting sin to death, by which you are responding to the victory Christ has won for you.