By: George Ford, Senior Pastor, Baytown Gathering
May 14, 2018
Zerubbabel had one of the most profound and clear callings in the Bible. King Cyrus, about whom it was prophesied by name over 200 years beforehand by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28), was now sending Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple that then lied in ruins. And along with him went those who were risk takers. Those whose roots were anchored in the commerce and everyday life of Babylon would stay behind, but the adventurers desiring to see the glory of the LORD restored to Jerusalem would forsake all and follow him. However, all of that excitement would come to an end as the underwhelming realization of their work would be manifested. Upon the laying of the foundation of the Second Temple, we read, “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy” - Era 3:12
How many young and ambitious pastors have been sent forth with great zeal, desiring to see nothing else (or at least so they are convinced) than to see the glory of the gospel spread through them? Perhaps, they have attended a prestigious seminary with more than adequate training or even were sent out from a successful church that had poured time, money and people into supporting the young pastor’s work. However, as time unfolds, after steps of faith that appear unmet with spiritual power, outreaches that do not produce the intended results, and worship services which at times feel mediocre at best, the zeal to see the power of the gospel made manifest through his life has nearly all but vanished. How can the enthusiasm that once drove this pastor be restored?
Discouragement and opposition would sideline Zerubbabel and his followers from completing the work that God had so obviously called them to fulfill for 15 years! What was it that breathed life into this despondent group of men to build the temple that our very Lord Jesus Christ would teach in?
1 Correction. God sent the prophet Haggai to correct their apathy, as they were focussing on themselves and their own homes rather than on the LORD and His house (Haggai 1:1-11). Does our despondency in ministry truly come from a lack of gospel impact in the community in which we serve, or does it stem from lack of personal success and injured ambition? Oftentimes, the first step in Revival from Discouragement is inn receiving and making the appropriate corrections.
2 Confirmation. Zerubbabel needed a confirmation that God truly did call him to fulfill this task (Haggai 2:4). When lack of apparent success occurs, we can begin to say, “Maybe I’m not called to
this”, because, “If God was behind me, surely things would look differently.” Just as Paul encouraged Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14-5; 2 Timothy 1:6-7), we need to be encouraged by remembering our calling. Zerubbabel may not have been called to the external level of glory as was Solomon, yet he was equally called to build the LORD a temple. Your ministry may not have the external glory as someone else’s, but you are equally called nonetheless.
3 Continuation. Haggai prophesied that, though the glory of Zerubbabel’s temple was ‘as nothing’ (Haggai 2:3), yet in many years to come, it’s glory would exceed that of Solomon’s (Haggai 2:9). As insignificant at times as our work may feel, remember that Jesus ‘appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain’ (John 15:16). We will never see the full breadth of our impact here on earth, for it will continue to bear fruit even beyond our departure from it.