One of my daily walks took me by a construction site. At first it was just an empty lot with a bunch of construction equipment. A few months later it began to look like there was activity at the site. After about a year I could tell it was going to be something big. Based on the framing, I guessed it might be a senior facility or a hotel. Over the next several months the walls and windows went in. One night someone climbed the scaffolding to the eighth floor and tagged the building with graffiti. After about two years I found out that it was a new Holiday Inn Express. It officially opened about two and a half years after I saw the first activity on the site.
There are some things in the Bible that took a while to build. There is really no significance to the amount of time it took to build. I want to compare some of those to the time it took to build that hotel, just for my own amusement, and maybe yours.
The first construction that comes to mind is the Temple. The Bible gives specific dates for the beginning and end of construction, but it actually took much longer than that time. King David began the planning and collection of materials for the Temple while he was alive, even though he wasn’t allowed to begin construction. (1 Chron 22) It is not clear in which year of David’s reign he decided to build a house for the Lord. It was probably several years before his death. Maybe we should just consider that period to be what would today be taken up in zoning permits, environmental impact studies, and the like. Then came the actual construction.
And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD. … And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. (1 Kings 6:1,38)
So it took seven years and six months in just the construction phase. That is considerably longer than building a Holiday Inn. Consider, though, that the Temple was made of dressed stone overlaid with cedar and then overlaid with gold. The moving of the stones would take much longer than wood frame and stucco.
An even more massive project took only fifty-two days. Nehemiah encouraged the people who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon to rebuild the wall of the city. In spite of opposition from the people who had occupied the city during the exile, the people worked together, each building a section of wall. “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.” (Neh 6:15)
One observation can be drawn from this. When the people of God choose to work together, they can do great things in a relatively short period of time. When we work together, we can do great things.