One of life’s great challenges is wondering if you’ve made a lasting impact. Some call it the Domino effect. You may wonder: How many dominos have I knocked over? Yet then you realize chances are, I may not see all the dominos fall in my lifetime. I won’t see the full impact I’ve made.
Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, gives a compelling illustration. Around 1855 Edward Kimball taught Sunday School at a church in Boston. One day a teenager from western Massachusetts came to class. His name was Dwight and he was a roughneck given to outbursts of anger and profanity. Edward committed to teaching Dwight about the love of God. One Saturday, Edward visited the shoe shop where Dwight worked, and led him into a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From that point on, Dwight L. Moody’s life started to change dramatically. Eventually Moody became the most successful evangelist of the 19th century, preaching the gospel to over 100 million people worldwide.
Perhaps more importantly, Dwight shared the gospel with a young man named F.B. Meyer, who later became a minister. F.B. Meyer shared the gospel with a man named J.W. Chapman who became a pastor and evangelist. Meyer started a ministry to profession baseball players and influenced a man named Billy Sunday who became the greatest evangelist of the first two decades of the 1900’s. Sunday shared the gospel with a man named Mordecai Ham who became an evangelist. In 1934 Mordecai Ham led a revival in Charlotte, North Carolina and a teenager named Billy Graham came forward to put his faith in Jesus Christ.
Ponder all those dominos: because Edward Kimball shared God’s love with one teenager, he started a chain reaction that led to Billy Graham becoming a Christian. Since then, by some estimates, Graham has preached the gospel to 2.2 billion people worldwide. Edward Kimball never saw the dominos fall, but they did.
Years earlier another man started a chain of dominos he would never see fall. His name was Zerubbabel. He was the governor of the province of Judah who supervised the rebuilding of God’s temple in Jerusalem around 520BC. God sent the prophet Haggai to encourage Zerubbabel to press forward with the project regardless of the obstacles he would face. In Haggai 2:23 God tells Zerubbabel “I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.”
This is a powerful affirmation. In effect, God was telling Zerubbabel, “I honor and value you; I am giving you my authority and my blessing.”
Why was God so pleased with him? For one reason, by overseeing the rebuilding of the Temple, Zerubbabel reversed a family curse. Old Testament scholar David Pennant states, “This seems to be a reversal of the judgment on Jehoiachin, king at the time of exile (Jer. 22:24). Jehoiachin had been rejected; his descendant [his grandson Zerubbabel] is now affirmed.” Zerubbabel’s obedience restored honor to his disgraced family. The temple was destroyed under Jehoiachin’s watch; now it was being rebuilt under the watch of his grandson Zerubbabel.
Furthermore, Zerubbabel’s actions altered the course of history. Bible scholar Robert Alden says, “Zerubbabel represents the resumption of the messianic line interrupted by the Exile.” He brought the line of King David back to the throne in Jerusalem. This is so important that Zerubbabel is listed in the genealogy of King David and Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:12—13 and Luke 3:27.
Think about it: Because Zerubbabel helped rebuild the temple, King David’s lineage and throne were reestablished. Generations later Jesus Christ came, died, rose from the dead and the Christian church was born. It’s amazing: because Zerubbabel’s priorities were right, because he had an obedient heart, he’s impacted millions of people. Of course, Zerubbabel didn’t live to see all the dominos fall.
Don’t doubt that your faith and actions today will impact generations to come for God’s glory. You may not see all the dominos fall, but they will!