Encouragement from Haggai
The leaders of Judah and a small band of workers had gathered to survey the arrangement of large stones which was the foundation of the new temple. After sixteen years of neglect, these rocks were largely obscured by weeds. A few in this group of men had actually seen Solomon’s temple. They remembered the unparalleled beauty and the glory of God inhabiting that magnificent structure. As they reminisced and compared their remembrances to the weed-infested pile of rocks before them, tears came to their eyes.
The endeavor before them seemed utterly hopeless and, even if successful, insignificant.
And this small gathering also comprehended that the pitiful scene before them represented the sorry spiritual state of God’s people...again. Judah had gone into exile in Babylon for their blatant disobedience many years previous. After seventy years, the Lord had graciously brought them back to Jerusalem and commanded them to rebuild the temple. And once again, they had lapsed into spiritual lethargy and disobedience. They had failed again…
Despite this dismaying situation, these men had repented and returned to the Lord. They knew that persecution from the surrounding nations would come again. They also knew that this new temple would not be comparable to the previous one. Yet they were determined to obey the Lord. And as they got to work, the Lord sent a deeply encouraging message to the leaders and workers through His prophet Haggai:
“Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? But now take courage, Zerubbabel (the governor),” declares the Lord, “take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,” declares the Lord, “and work; for I am with you,” declares the Lord of hosts. “As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!” (Haggai 2:3–5)
You see, the Lord doesn’t give up on His people.
He may discipline them in love, sometimes even severely, but He never abandons those who are truly His children. This is true of both His sons and daughters from among the sons of Israel (Rom. 11:1-12) and His children via the New Covenant (John 6:37-40). And since our Lord never changes, we can count on Him to be “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
Maybe some of you are reviewing your current life situation and it has a similar “look and feel” to the situation facing the people of Judah in Haggai’s day. And maybe, like the people of Judah, much of the difficulty you are facing is because of your own sin. If so, review and apply the lessons of Haggai:
- Repent, turn back to the Lord and do what the Lord has set in front of you. You likely won’t see the whole picture. Just take the step of obedience that the Lord has made clear to you. It is not too late!
- Take courage, even though your situation looks bleak. If you are indeed one of God’s children, He will never leave you nor forsake you (Matt. 28:20)! His Spirit lives in you (Eph. 1:13-14).
- Trust that the Lord will bring unimaginable good from the ashes of your situation (Rom. 8:28).
Hoping in the Lord,
Pastor Lew | RBC Pastor of Discipleship