Our future glory outweighs all present troubles and brings hope and freedom. God’s covenant promise of Matthew 6:31-33 in the very words from the mouth of Jesus says: “Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
In my prayer, the Lord spoke to me through Haggai 1:1-15 and 2:1-9, parts of one of the shortest Books in the Bible. Here, God spoke through the prophet Haggai, challenging our faith in God, as he addresses three problems common to all people of all times, and gives three inspired solutions to those problems:
The first problem is “disinterest” in the people.
The second problem is “discouragement,” and
The final issue is the problem of “dissatisfaction”.
Haggai 1:1-11 reads: “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”
Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labours.”
On the 1st of Yom Kippur, in the 2nd year of King Darius, the prophet Haggai delivered the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest; directing God’s message to the people, who now included the remnants of the Jews, who were re-establishing themselves in Jerusalem after their return from Babylonian captivity. The Lord charged the returnees with disinterest and unconcern, over the rebuilding the house of God. He asked His people, how they could live in luxury and comfort, when His house was lying in ruins. Instead of rebuilding the Temple, the people put their energies into building, rebuilding, and beautifying their own homes.
The people neglected the building of God’s house as a priority and instead, spent their time and their resources on secular affairs and on their personal needs. Consequently, the harder they worked for themselves, the less they had.
They mistakenly believed that the proper time had not yet come to rebuild the house of God, since they themselves had yet to fully recover after their return from captivity. Selfishly, they were putting their own needs before God; supposing that they must first provide for their own families; tend to their own works; satisfy their own desires. They were too busy, using their poverty as an excuse for not rebuilding the temple. In truth, they had offended God and had brought judgement upon themselves by the sin of not worshipping Him first; for failing to rebuild His house.
The Lord then told his people to set their hearts on their ways and to consider them carefully. Although they lack the resources of Solomon, who had built the temple of God with cedar from Lebanon and gold from Ophir; they could still glorify God, using the materials available to them.
In vv10-11, God responded to His unyielding people by withholding His goodness and heavenly blessings from them. Instead of blessings, He brought them drought, which challenged their labour, their productivity and their fruitfulness.
Haggai 1:12-15 continues:
“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, “I am with you, declares the LORD.” And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
This time however, on hearing the Word of the Lord, the people returned to Him in obedience and reverence. For it is the mercy of God that He sends His messengers, His prophets and His ministers, to deliver His messages to His people. This time, in v13, God encouraged His people by declaring that His presence would remain with them. It was the consideration of God’s sovereign dominion in the world by His providence; it was His covenant-relationship with His people by grace; and it was His power, which inspired them and stirred up their spirits to comply with His Word: transforming their obedience into action, resulting in the rebuilding of the house of the Lord. It also brought forth a revival for the glory of God and His kingdom.
In Haggai 2:1-9, the Lord continued to speak to his people through His prophet:
“In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. Silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.”
On the 21st of Sukkot (during the Festival of Shelters of 520 B.C.), the Word of the Lord came again to Haggai requiring him to speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah; to Joshua, the high priest, and to God’s people, returnees included. By this time, all of God’s people had been convicted by His Word and encouraged, and were diligently re-building His temple as He had called them to do. Yet, although God was pleased with the obedience of His people as they served Him wholeheartedly, His people were dissatisfied and felt inferior, comparing themselves unfavourably with those whose abilities appeared far better than their own. The reference to the “house in its former glory” here, refers to the former majesty of Solomon’s temple. In His message to His people, God encouraged them all to persevere with their work, and not to be disheartened or be overcome by fear; but to be strong. In strengthening and encouraging His people, God declared His presence would remain with them again, as in v5, God reaffirmed the promise of the presence of His Holy Spirit, in fulfilment of the covenant initiated at the Egyptian exodus.
In vv6-7, God shifts focus to the culmination of the “day of the Lord that is coming soon upon the nations” and to us. The Lord promised that the day will come when He will shake heaven and earth, the sea and the dry land. This is a universal shaking of whole world and the heavens over it, a testimony of His Word spoken to His people, through the prophets.
The time will come, when God will repay tribulation upon the trouble makers of His church. God will judge all people according to the way they treat others, especially believers. Although vengeance and judgement both begin at the house of God, they will not end there. This teaches us to guard our ways and to refrain from triumphing over others, in their misery. Governments will change, leaders will change, economic turmoil will occur, there are wars and rumours of wars, nations go against nations, earthquakes, storm, floods, landslides, tsunamis, drought, famine, diseases – all these will happen and indeed, are now already happening in our midst; all of which are the birth pangs, the birth pains, the signs of the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Silver and gold belongs to the Lord, He declares, for all the wealth of the world comes from to Him. Although Solomon’s temple was magnificently built, adorned with the treasures accumulated by David and overlaid with gold, the Lord is not expecting us to rebuild another temple with an abundance of gold, but rather, to give our hearts freely and wholly to Him. The purity of our hearts are to be as pure as refined gold and silver; as we love, worship and serve Him in faith, truth and spirit.
God’s commandment to His people, His Great Commission, to re-build His church, promises to see greater divine glory than that of the 1st temple built by Solomon. The will and dominion of our Lord will lead to even greater divine glory. It will arise and reign from our relationship with Christ, and will be so, unto eternity. For where Christ is, behold, a greater than Solomon is to be found; as the heart in which He dwells, makes us each a living temple.
The presence of the Lord produces glory in Him, for the covenant promise of Second Corinthians 3:18 says: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
But that is not all, for in Matthew 28:20 our Lord Jesus Christ continues to assure us, saying in His own words: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.” Amen, Amen and Amen!