As we mark the end of the first half of 2020, it is easy to be preoccupied by the chaos and confusion in our world today. Regardless of which season we are in, these distractions might lead us to forget that God was and is still here.
The first part of the Disrupted but… series reminded us to stay the course and do what God has called us to do without being distracted. The second encouraged us not to belittle what God put in our hands, and the third taught us that we could do God’s work only with sacred hearts.
As we wrap up the final part of the Disrupted but… series, let us lean in to discover what God has to say about His presence in this time.
WHAT WILL YOU DO
As we strive to carry out our responsibilities, various circumstances and obstacles may leave us feeling disillusioned about what we can or cannot accomplish. However, while it is not always possible to understand the significance of what we are doing in God’s master plan, be rest assured that you are in God’s master plan.
THINK ABOUT IT
b. Where did Zerubbabel come from?
Zerubbabel was an aristocrat born in captivity after his parents had been exiled into Babylon. The son of Shealtiel, he was also the grandson of Jehoiachin—the last king of Judah before the Babylonian conquest. Although Jehoiachin was imprisoned at first, Scripture indicates that in his later years he was shown uncommon favor from a new king: “So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table” (2 Kings 25:29 NIV).
It’s likely, then, that the boy Zerubbabel benefited from his grandfather’s favored status, growing up in Babylon’s royal court and being educated in politics and military as well as in strong roots of Jewish faith. When Persia overthrew the supposedly-invincible Babylon around 539 B.C,. he apparently found new favor from the conquering king, Cyrus II. Under orders from the victorious Persian ruler, Zerubbabel was appointed “governor” over Judah and sent back to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. to lead the effort to rebuild God’s Temple there (Ezra 2:1-2 ; Haggai 1:1).
c. Welcome to Jerusalem—Now Go Home
You’d think that, when Zerubbabel arrived triumphantly in Jerusalem, he would’ve been met with a king’s welcome … but that wasn’t the case. One Bible historian describes it this way in Great People of the Bible and How They Lived: “The actual return was a crushing disappointment. The returning exiles found Judah a wilderness and the Holy City a wasteland. Corruption was everywhere, even among the priesthood. The descendants of those who had escaped captivity were hostile to the newcomers, fearing that their Babylonian brethren might try to recover their former family properties.”
The distrust ran deep. Who was this foreigner with a Babylonian name—one that literally translated, as The Illustrated Bible Dictionary said, “seed of Babylon”? What right did he have to claim to be the Persian “Governor” over their land?
Zerubbabel didn’t help his cause much with the locals either. At one point, “the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, ‘Let us help you build’” (Ezra 4:1-2 NIV). The Zerubbabel bluntly refused them, insulting them as he said, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord” (Ezra 4:3 NIV).
After that, the locals in Jerusalem did everything they could to frustrate Zerubbabel and keep the Temple from being built—and they succeeded (see Ezra 4:4-5). The returning exiles were only able to lay the foundation for the Temple, but nothing else. It wasn’t until about 15 years later, in 520 B.C., that the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were able to convince Zerubbabel to resume construction in earnest. The Temple was finally completed around 516 B.C.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for all those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28