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. The 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.’ ” Haggai 2:1-9, ESV.
The temple, the place where God dwelt with His Old Testament people Israel, had fallen on hard times. Those who knew it in its former days of glory could testify to this fact. God commands Israel and her leaders, “Be strong . . . Work, for I am with you . . . Fear not.” How can He ask this of them? He answers that question, “I will fill this house with glory . . . in this place I will give peace.” Instead of longing for the past, they are to get to work and trust God for the results.
Some say that the New Testament church, the body of Christ indwelt by God’s Spirit, has fallen on hard times. Many long for its greater glory from bygone days. In this internet age, some have even found a way to make a living bemoaning the state of the church. It is time for the New Testament people of God to consider and apply the words God spoke to His people through the prophet Haggai.
The right response to struggle in the church is not despair or finger-pointing. It is trusting in the Spirit of God that dwells among us for strength and fearlessly getting to the work God has called us to. What is that work? It is making disciples, incorporating those disciples into the fellowship of the church, and teaching them how to follow Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20). It is time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves because our circumstances are less than ideal and to start pointing people to Jesus. We, like Israel of old, can trust that God will be faithful. He will one day fill His church with glory and settle her in peace.
Today I am praying that this will be the day when we will all turn our eyes upon Jesus, get busy pointing others to Him, and start trusting God for the results!