Zerubbabel? Who is Zerubbabel?
You don’t know? Neither did I until I started praying and researching an Old Testament figure for volume 2 of the Super Secret TreeHouse Bible Club.
The purpose of this series is to make our youth, and sometimes ourselves, more familiar with Old Testament figures that are not widely known.
In my quest, I stumbled upon Zerubbabel, a role model we would all do well to imitate. Here is a quick recap:
- The Israelites are in exile.
- Zerubbabel is in the service of Darius, the king of Persia.
- The king is about to bestow upon him the greatest honour and unimaginable wealth.
- He flat out refuses it all.
- He wants the king to grant him a far superior treasure.
He wants to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple!
How could I not want to shout his name off the rooftops and ensure everyone knows his story?
I think he is a great antidote for the hunger for fame and fortune that surround our youths.
Money Money Money Money…
Our youths are living during the most materialistic generation this world has ever known. They are constantly bombarded with ads on their phones, tablets and other devices and their expectations of immediate gratification have been hugely influenced by the Amazon Prime generation. Want something? It can be yours the following day (sometimes, the same day).
They also grew up during the explosion of the “competition shows” and “get rich schemes” examples (YouTube/ Instagram/TikTok Influencers). They grew up watching America’s Got Talent, The Voice, American Idol and following children hosting reviews on YouTube channels that rake in millions annually.
Every game show has a monetary prize as its end goal. Every influencer has something they are trying to sell. And our own worries and fears for their future also burden them. We encourage them to excel in school with the promise of achieving placement at prestigious universities and securing well-paying positions in the job market. I’m not suggesting we create a generation of uneducated sloths, but I should also urge my son to open his Bible as much as I ask him to open his math book!
The Covid-19 Exile
There is another reason we chose Zerubbabel as the hero of volume 2. Our youths have also lived through an unprecedented and traumatic pandemic. Never (in the modern era) had the churches been closed for extended periods of time. Never had our youths woken up on Sunday morning and not gotten ready to go to Church. For months on end. Like the Israelites and Zerubbabel, we lived in exile, away from our churches like they lived away from their temple.
Between the pandemic (closing of the churches) and the consumer society around them, Zerubbabel presented the ideal canvas to paint a different picture for our youths and to present a unique example to emulate: forsaking the material and seeking the spiritual.
The story follows our heroes from Volume 1 as they debate what to do with a potential monetary prize. As in Volume 1 (you can get your copy here and here), they gather in the TreeHouse to pray and seek guidance from our Lord. Enters: Zerubbabel.
On a personal note, this book holds a special place in my heart as it is dedicated to Fr. Mikhail Aziz who served at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) and in whose house and among whose family I had the blessing of spending my youth. He is a prototype of Zerubbabel: always thinking of the needs of the Church, renovating its buildings and preparing for the future of his congregation.
The account of Zerubbabel and his quest to rebuild the temple starts in the book of Ezra, chapter 4:43.
I pray we all benefit from the example of Zerubbabel and may his worthy priorities inspire our youths to rethink theirs.
Orthodox Resources about this topic: The Bible: The Book of Ezra Chapter 3, 4, 5
Recommended book: The Super Secret TreeHouse Bible Club Vol. 1 – Micaiah
Other articles you might enjoy: Micaiah changes lives
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