Archive for the ‘Haggai’ Category

Making God’s Priorities Our Priorities

Haggai is a man with a single message: Rebuild the Temple!

He returned from exile in Babylon under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua in the year 536 BC when Cyrus, king of Persia, moved by the striking prophecies about himself, which had probably been brought under his notice by Daniel, granted the Jews their liberty and provided them with materials for restoring their Temple.
This work of rebuilding went on under Cyrus and his successor in spite of the opposition by the neighboring Samaritans. But finally these foes of the returned exiles obtained an edict from Artaxerxes to stop the progress of the rebuilding of the Temple in Ezra 4:7-23.
The Jews gave up the work and began to build splendid mansions for themselves, so that the operations on the Temple site were not recommenced, even when there was opportunity for them. For 14 years the work was discontinued, until Haggai uttered his burning message.
He seems to have been an old man when summoned to be a prophet, and his term of service lasted for only four months! But when a man speaks in the power of God, you cannot measure the effect by chronology. His brief ministry had immediate effect, for within three weeks the people were once more at work on the Temple!

Selfish and Shortsighted Thrift?

The returned exiles had been experiencing a succession of bad seasons. They had sown much and reaped little; their money ran out of the bag as quickly as they put it in; a drought lay on all the land, and the reason for it was to be found in the neglected Temple.
I wonder how frequently my losses in business arise from my failure to remember God’s cause. I say that I do not have the time, cannot afford the money, and see no necessity for setting apart the Lord’s day or the daily period for meditation and prayer. I’m beginning to think that if I saw things as they really are, I would find that this is false economy and wastes more than I actually save. 
Priorities Straightened!
One earnest person can arouse an entire community! Let a fire glow in our hearts, and it will spread. Assured of God’s presence and favor, Haggai spoke, and within 3 weeks the whole land was awake. Imagine if it were the Bright Zone! 
Note the cooperation of God’s Spirit with the message of His servant: “The Lord stirred up.”
Let us ever seek and rely on his cooperation! We are witnesses; so also is the Holy Spirit!
Even Better than Before
But how can a people on the bare edge of poverty rebuild the temple? 
God announces through Haggai that He is owner of all the gold and silver of the world. God will meet the need, and “the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former” (e.g., Solomon’s temple). 
Ezra 6:8-12 tells us that God did meet the need. Although the governor of the Persian province oppses the rebuilding, he is commanded by the king himself to finance the whole project! Later, in the days of Herod the Great the temple was greatly expanded and was the recipient of fabulous gifts. By the time of Jesus it did surpass the temple of Solomon for glory.
What would St. Philip’s look like a year or two from now if it could be said for it, “the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former”?
Only with Christ is Holiness Contagious!
Haggai is sent to make a public inquiry of the priests concerning a point of law of Moses. Under the law an object or person which is ceremonially unclean makes unclean whatever it touches. Under the law nothing which is holy can make any defiled thing clean.
Haggai applies the principle. This people is not to think that the presence of the temple makes them holy. They are defiled by sin. But God operates among them in grace. He will accept their gift of obediece, and “From this day on I will bless you.”
Thank God, that with His Son, the touch of something holy, can actually make the defiled ones clean! With Christ, holiness is contagious instead of our dirt!
Jesus Christ: Our Real Temple
The same day Haggai receives a message from God to give to Zerubbabel. This individual is of the royal family of David. But he is not king, for Judah in under the domination of Persia and is merely a minor region in one of the 120 administrative districts! 
But the words of Haggai look forward to a time when God will shake the nations. Then Zerubbabel (that is, the family of David), will again be established…and it is 520 years later in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is now our Temple, our place to meet with God!

Lord Jesus, thank You for touching me with Your holiness and thereby cleansin me from all sin and defilement. And thank You also for Your great patience, which kindly waits for me to get my priorities straightened out with You as the center. I pray for the Bright Zone and for Harrington…help us to be a catalyst of Your glory to this area and to this family. In Jesus’ name, Amen.