Dreams can motivate and inspire us. When coupled with the grace of God, dreams can give us the hope to rise above our circumstances. Dreams can inspire others. However, in our fallen world, our dreams can be delayed or denied. The opening of a new business fails because of a downturn in the economy. A promising athletic career is sidelined because of injury. A retirement nest egg is depleted due to a catastrophic illness. A couple wanting to start a family finds themselves in the pains of infertility. All of us, in one form or another, have faced setbacks that have delayed our dreams or stopped them dead in their tracks.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (NIV).
Two such men who faced a delayed dream were Zerubbabel and Joshua in the Old Testament. Ezra chapter one tells of a decree issued by the Persian King Cyrus that allowed the exiled Jews to return to Israel. The return of the Jews brought an end to the seventy years of Babylonian captivity and fulfilled Bible prophecy. Ezra chapter three describes how Zerubbabel, the governor of Judea and Joshua, the high priest, led the people in the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel and Joshua begin by rebuilt the altar, restored worship and burnt offerings
Our Dreams can bring God Praise
“In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priest and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work…When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priest in their vestments and with their trumpets, and the Levites ( the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel, With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; His love toward Israel endures forever. And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” (Ezra 3:8a, 10-11, NIV).
Our Dreams will face opposition from Satan and from other people
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the returning exiles were off to a great start. The altar was built, worship and the sacrifices were restored and the foundation of the second temple was laid. However, the return of the exiles was not good news for the hostile neighboring enemies of Israel. After a failed attempt to physically infiltrate and stop the work on the temple, Israel’s opponents set about discouraging the people and wrote letters of opposition to the Persian kings Xerxes and Artaxerxes, the latter of whom commanded the work on the temple to cease.
A Dream delayed can be a Dream restored
The work on the second temple was halted for fifteen years, until the reign of the Persian king Darius, who discovered the previous decree of King Cyrus and issued his own decree in the process allowing the rebuilding of the temple. Those fifteen years must have devastating to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of the people. However, God encouraged Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.
“But now be strong, Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord and work. For I am with you declares the Lord Almighty. This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.” (Haggai 2:4-5, NIV).
“The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.’” (Zechariah 3:6-7, NIV)
“So He said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty. What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to the shouts of God bless it! God bless it! Then the word of the Lord came to me: The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hand will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.’” (Zechariah 4:6-9, NIV)
Ezra chapter six describes how the temple was restored and dedicated and Passover was celebrated.
Brothers and sisters, how long have your dreams been sitting on the shelf gathering dust? Have you given up hope that your dream will ever come to pass? Have you allowed the voice of the enemy or negative people in your life to deter you? As long as the Lord gives you breath in your body, you have a reason to hope. You can still dream. You can still seek the Lord and find encouragement in His Word. As it says in Zechariah 4:10, “do not despise the day of small things.” (NIV). Start where you are at with the Lord. Maybe one dream has past, but God wants to give you a new dream, He wants to do a new thing in your life. Do not dwell on what could have been, dwell on the Lord and His goodness.