Some Scripture-Digging Tips
Get the bigger picture.
The book of Zechariah is also complementary passages to Ezra 5:1 and Haggai 1-2. You can add it to your reading this week or get a quick overview over at The Bible Project.
Write the narrative.
With Ezra 5:5, compare 2 Chronicles 16:9, Psalm 32:8, 33:18, and 34:15. Then stitch them all together into one powerful narrative about the eye of the Lord and what it means for you.
In Ezra 3, Zerubbabel is one of a handful of men who built the altar of God and reinstated the worshipful burnt offerings. And here in chapter 5, after Haggai and Zechariah shared some heavy, Spirit-spoken words, he is one of two men who responded to those prophecies by rising up and beginning again to build the temple after chapter 4’s sudden ceasing.
There are three things you need to know about Zerubbabel:
1. He was the heir to the throne of Judah.
2. He was also part of Jesus’ lineage (see it for yourself over in Matthew 1:12).
So, Zerubbabel was rebuilding a destroyed temple. And eleven generations later, Jesus promised in John 2:19, 21: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But instead of the temple building, it would be the temple of His body.
But, back to Zerubbabel: In Ezra 5:2, the Aramaic word qum, used for “rose up,” means to arise from inaction, to stand, to endure, and to remain. The word’s root describes impulsively launching into something and then persevering in finishing it.
Now flip over to Haggai 1:14 to find another key detail to this story: When Zerubbabel and Jeshua responded to the prophecies with impulsive, persevering action (and the rest of the remnant of people who came and worked alongside them), it was because the Lord stirred up their spirits.
Let’s Get Personal
There’s one more thing I want you to see about the stirring up word from Haggai 1:14. It’s also in Deuteronomy 32:11-12 when God met His people in the desert. “As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone led them.”
The only reason an eagle stirs up her nest like that? It’s to incite her young ones to fly.
The reason you have found yourself here reading these words, and the reason I even created this space to begin with is because the Spirit of God fluffed the nest. His Spirit stirred up mine in the Philippians 2:13 way that He has about Him. But I want you to read that verse in the Amplified Version:
“For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 AMPC).
In the original Greek, “He works” and “to do” are the same word. He works in you both to desire to work and also to do the work He is working in you. And that working word is a present active participle, meaning it’s a continuous, ongoing action. But here’s the kicker: it is your responsibility to do what God has called you to do – just like Zerubbabel did.
“God had a purpose for a temple,” John Piper wrote one time. “The Jews of Haggai’s day could not see it all, and what they could see seemed so paltry. So God came to them with a word of promise: Take courage. You build more than you see. I will take the fruit of your little labor and make it glorious beyond measure, no matter how trivial and paltry it may seem to you now. God takes small, imperfect things and builds them into a habitation for His glory. O, how we should take courage in our little spheres of influence! Nothing you do is a trifle if you do it in the name of God. He will shake heaven and earth to fill your labor with splendor. Take courage. You build more than you see.”
At some point, you have to get used to the noise and keep working anyway.