Today we are reading God's response to those who were comparing the former glory of Solomon's temple with the relative humbleness of the current work. God says, "It seems tiny in comparison, doesn't it?" He knows that we lose strength and vision when we believe that the best days are behind us. "This current work will never be as magnificent or meaningful as that one was." We are tempted to think that way. Aging, finances and cultural change frequently invite us to live in the past and give up on the work of the present. But God delivers a bombshell to them, and to us today,: "Be strong ... Work, for I am with you ..." (v. 4) He is with them ... working with them. In spite of their past failures and missed opportunities, God is still with His people, and God's working never gets smaller. He tells them that, "The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former." (v. 9) That "latter glory" would be the coming of Jesus and the giving of God's peace and presence beyond the boundaries of any human temple.
God's horizon goes even beyond Jesus' first coming all the way to His second. That is what vv. 20-23 are talking about. There is glorious victory in the end. Child of God, our story always ... always ends better than it started. It ends in greater peace, greater glory, and greater understanding. When we are in the middle of starting over and building a "smaller temple" it may not seem so, but God is reminding us to always keep the ultimate end of our story in view.