In yesterdays, post I briefly mentioned the rebuilding of the second temple in Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great, who was a Gentile king. He was at that time in charge of the land where the Babylonians had once ruled. An interesting thing to know about Cyrus is that the prophet Isaiah foretold his kingdom 150 years before Cyrus was born! Let’s look:
This is what the Lord, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am Yahweh, who made everything; who stretched out the heavens by Myself; who alone spread out the earth; who destroys the omens of the false prophets and makes fools of diviners; who confounds the wise and makes their knowledge foolishness; who confirms the message of His servant and fulfills the counsel of His messengers; who says to Jerusalem, “She will be inhabited,” and to the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt,”and I will restore her ruins; who says to the depths of the sea, “Be dry,” and I will dry up your rivers; who says to Cyrus, “My shepherd, he will fulfill all My pleasure” and says to Jerusalem, “She will be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Its foundation will be laid.” Isaiah 44:24-28 (HSCB)
Just as the Lord had spoken, Cyrus was born, grew up and became king. Cyrus wrote the following decree: ” In the first year of King Cyrus, he issued a decree concerning the house of God in Jerusalem: Let the house be rebuilt as a place for offering sacrifices, and let its original foundations be retained. Its height is to be 90 feet and its width 90 feet, with three layers of cut stones and one of timber. The cost is to be paid from the royal treasury. The gold and silver articles of God’s house that Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and carried to Babylon must also be returned. They are to be brought to the temple in Jerusalem where they belong and put into the house of God.” Ezra 6:3-5 9 (HSCB)
So the building began. Can you just imagine how elated the Israelites were to be allowed to return to their land and start this rebuilding process? Not to mention they had the blessing and support of Cyrus. They had mourned for a long time over the destruction of their temple. Construction for the foundation was said to take about two years and then the delays began. Because of opposition and delays, it took many years for the Israelites to rebuild the temple. In fact, it was not finished until after Darius had become the king. He also had a decree written about the temple. He echoed Cyrus’ decree and added to it a directive about what should happen to anyone who interfered. You can find this in verses 6-11 in Ezra 6.
This leads us to today’s verse on grace. As Zechariah 4 begins, an angel is speaking to him about things pertaining to the temple. The angel asks him what is it that he sees. Zachariah describes the golden lamp stands and two olive trees and asks “what are these, my lord?” The angel responds “don’t you know?” and he responds, “no.” Next, we find today’s verses in the angels reply: “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain ? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain ; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!””Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. “For who has despised the day of small things ? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb-line in the hand of Zerubbabel – these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.” Zechariah 4:6-10 (NAS)
The angel is speaking to the prophet Zechariah with a message to Zerubbabel, who was the civil head of Jerusalem. The message is that the work will be completed and the top stone will be placed but it will not come by the might or power of the people, it will come by God’s Spirit! The mountain which stands before them delaying the building will become as a plain, the obstacles removed and the top stone placed. Then there will be shouts of “Grace, Grace”. Then you will know God has sent me. What an incredible message of hope and encouragement for Zerubbabel and the people. Not only would the obstacles be done away with but the temple would be completed, and in Zerubbabel’s lifetime. Those who began the work would see it to completion even though right now that looked impossible to them. Now that is grace, it is the promise of God’s favor to accomplish that which He had begun! Grace that He announced through the prophet Isaiah 150 years ahead of schedule that though they are taken captive and away from their homeland, the temple destroyed, He will send Cyrus and they will find favor and return to rebuild their beloved Jerusalem. That my friend, is God’s grace and His favor! No matter what we are going through, He sees our struggles and our pain. Even when we are not rescued from them or spared, He has a plan. We may not understand but He is working to redeem our hurts and pain and in His timing restore us and bring us to an even greater place.