Although life can be very mundane, we need to be assured that God is doing great things with and through his people.
Haggai 2:1 – 5
1 On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘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? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
It is easy for us to become discouraged by the ordinariness of our lives. Considering our daily activities, we can become a little depressed because nothing very spectacular happens. We can even become downcast because life in the Church is not always filled with amazing and exciting events. The people of Haggai’s time were given a lesson in the unspectacular when they began to rebuild the temple.
The previous temple, prior to the Babylonian exile, was astoundingly beautiful. It was built by Solomon and he spared no expense. His father King David had conquered and carried off the spoil of many enemy nations so there was no shortage of material to build this “house for God.” Solomon’s temple also contained the original ark of the covenant and was a wonder of the ancient world. The new one was very different. So different in fact that Calvin in his comments on this section said that the new one resembled a shed.
The Lord anticipated the discouragement of the workers and took the initiative to point out to those who had seen the earlier temple that it would seem like nothing in comparison. The need of these people was to look beyond the appearances to the reality it symbolised. It symbolised the coming of Christ. It represented in its activities an acted parable of the Lamb of God being put to death to save his people. When they looked at the significance of the temple the appearance became quite irrelevant; just as for us. We may look at our life, our families or our church and feel that all is very uninteresting and unspectacular. On the other hand, when we look beyond such superficial things to the Lord Jesus and his saving work, everything changes.
The people of Haggai’s time had sought after a comfortable life with a nice place to live. Hence the problem of the temple in ruins while they lived in panelled houses. God in insisting on the rebuilding of the temple was ensuring that their thoughts would turn to Christ. They, like most in our age, would be content to have an earthly house with a few little luxuries. The Lord, in his great mercy wanted much, much more for them. He wanted them to be part of his kingdom and look to a home in the new heavens and new earth.
Effectively telling them to work by faith and not sight he commands them to be strong and work. Their task was to build this reminder of Christ as the focal point of their community. As we would listen to the voice of our Lord, we have the same role. Our lives and the lives of those around us need to be built around the reality that our one hope is the Lord Jesus. When that is the case, even when everything seems very mundane, it actually isn’t. What will last for eternity is solid. Everything else that the world might glory in is of no significance and will ultimately disappear. Above all we can remember the concluding words of verse 5, “fear not.”
Head and Heart: Look at life from the perspective of the Gospel and rejoice in the amazing blessing the Lord provides for his people.
Hands: Learn to be content in whatever situation the Lord places you.
Prayer: Father, please forgive me that I all too often look at life at a very superficial level. Thank you for the reminders you give of the glorious realities of Christ. Please teach me to live in thanksgiving for all things. In Jesus name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Centre My Life
Living Church – Creek Road