In this recession most of us, whether saint or sinner, Christian or unbeliever, has suffered some type of loss or know someone who has. It is easy in times like this to really get discouraged as a Christian and get caught up in thinking that God has withdrawn some of his blessings and possibly to wonder why God has not sheltered us from hardship. We may look at our dwindling finances or economic status and wonder how it can be possible for God to use the little that we have now to support or contribute to ministry as generously as we did in the past. But as the scripture says, “There is no new thing under the sun.” Similar situations have happened several times before to God’s people as shown to us in the Bible. One such situation is when the Hebrew captives returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon to rebuild the city and the temple.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. …But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: [Ezra 3:10, 12]
The older men were young when they saw Solomon’s temple, but the new temple that was being built paled in comparison to the grandeur of the previous temple, so they wept. But in the midst of their sorrow, Jehovah gave them comfort through his prophets.
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? …The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts. [Haggai 2:3, 9]
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 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. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel … [Zechariah 4:8-10a]
The small size of the foundation was such a let-down to the older generation that they felt God could not be glorified as fully as he had been in Solomon’s temple. They eventually got so discouraged with its size and the victories of the enemies who tried to hinder the rebuilding of the temple that the work on the new temple was delayed for awhile until Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah encouraged them to move forward on the project. The Lord let them know that in spite of the dwarfed size of the temple, it was of the utmost importance to finish it because he was still going to use the temple to accomplish great works that would even surpass the greatness Solomon’s temple had. The Hebrews doubted that God was still with them, but he told them through Haggai that this project, although small, would be a sign that God was still blessing them and that the temple would ultimately see the coming of his peace in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring salvation to Israel and the whole world. This was a much higher honor than the previous temple had ever experienced.
So just as the Lord provided the will and wisdom to the Hebrews to complete the ministry to which he had called them, even in the midst of their lack, he is still with us to continue contributing to ministry even though we are lacking. Of course, we may have to cut back on the amount of funds we give, but God can use more than our finances. We have been blessed with gifts, talents, skills, and time that are just as important as our finances, and in some cases they are more important. The wisdom God gives us can show us where we can spend less and save more. This calls for a paradigm shift from the years we may have been taught that big blessings can only come when we give the most money. Scripture shows us this isn’t true. God can do as many great works with $1.00 as he can with $1,000. The important thing is that we serve God in sincerity with all our being and that our hearts are full of love for our fellow man. It is in the midst of these lean times of losing our jobs, houses, pensions, retirement funds, and more that we must cling to the Lord more than ever. He is still with us and if we are not weary in well doing, he will cause us to reap in the midst of our lack more than we ever thought was possible.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–