FEBRUARY 1, 2013
9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Haggai 2:9
Do you ever feel that all the work you do is nothing? Are you “white collar” or “blue collar”? Are you a mother raising children or teens? Are you a pastor, a leader, or a Sunday school teacher, or just an individual believer trying to witness to others and grow the Kingdom of God? Whatever your job or ministry, you have probably felt discouraged, tired, unappreciated, and ready to quit.
If you have ever experienced “burnout”, you will be able to appreciate the plight of the people working on the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem during the time of Zerubbabel. With the blessing of Cyrus, the Persian King (Ezra 1:1-2), Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the high priest, led the first band of captives back to Jerusalem. Their purpose was to rebuild the Temple, but the task at hand was hard work. Enemies, especially Samaria , conspired to disrupt the work at every turn. In addition to their work at the Temple, the new arrivals had to adjust to a new environment, provide for their families and fight off their enemies.
Imagine being chosen for this work! They must have gone to work with high hopes and dreams of a successful outcome. However, once the altar was built and the foundation was laid, their enthusiasm waned. They decided to take a break; not a short weekend cruise or a two week vacation, but a 17 year break. During that time, no work was done on the Lord’s Temple.
Haggai 2:3 seems to suggest that those commissioned to build the second Temple did not feel competent to match the glory of the first Temple: ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?’
Think about it: The first Temple was built by Solomon, during a time of great opulence and peace. The materials were the finest, readily available or freely given by those for whom no expense was too great. On the other hand, the second Temple is being built by a people heavily taxed and still in slavery to a foreign government. The builders are struggling to feed themselves, their children and wives. They have to divide their time between building the temple and building their own homes. The materials for the Temple are probably not as readily available, and the work has to be done between skirmishes with the Samaritans and other aggressors.
Galatians 6:9 says: “So let us not become tired of doing good…” Nevertheless that is exactly what happened in this case. The people grew tired, but God knew what was needed, and just at the right time, he sent an encourager: Haggai. First, Haggai tells them to remember the first Temple. This is the purpose for which they were sent: to rebuild the Lord’s house (Haggai 2:3). Then, he tells them to be strong, and get to work (Haggai 2:4). And finally, the best encouragement of all: “For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” How wonderful was this promise then and how timely it is now!
Dearest Heavenly Father,
When we bring our broken lives and dreams and lay them at your feet, you keep us from giving up. You renew our strength, reassure us of your constant and loving presence, and restore our faith. Lord, the world can make us weary, but we know you are working in us and through us to make “the glory of the present house greater than the former.” In the name of Jesus, living in our midst,