In April, a fire ravaged the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The Gothic cathedral, which began construction in 1163, took nearly 300 years to be complete. Compared to this, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem might seem relatively brief. However, discouragement can make even the most worthwhile effort seem to drag.
Rebuilding the temple began in 536 b.c. When the foundation for the new temple was laid, some of the returned exiles who could still remember Solomon’s temple viewed it with contempt. They considered the dimensions of this new project to be “nothing” compared to the old temple (Hag. 2:3). It was delayed for fourteen years due to opposition from Gentiles who lived in the region.
Zechariah’s fifth vision may have been aimed at this discouragement. Zechariah saw a vision of a solid gold candlestick and two olive trees. The candlestick or lampstand was similar to the seven-branched lampstand in the tabernacle. It likely represented the rebuilding of the temple. The two olive trees probably symbolized those who led the rebuilding effort, Zerubbabel and Joshua. The angel’s interpretation began with encouragement to Zerubbabel and then identified the two olive trees as “the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth” (Zech. 4:14).
The angel’s exhortation to Zerubbabel seems to be pointed at those who complained that the new temple was “nothing” compared to Solomon’s: “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (v. 10). Two witnesses also appear in Revelation 11:3–12, and it may be to them that the prophecy ultimately points.
God’s great building project was not limited to Zerubbabel’s temple. He continues to build the church today (Matt. 16:18). We may feel that our contribution to the church amounts to nothing. But we should not underestimate what God’s Spirit can do through our willingness. Consider how God can use you to serve His people in the body of Christ.