By Chuck Griffin
Haggai 2:1-5 (NLT)
Then on October 17 of that same year, the Lord sent another message through the prophet Haggai. “Say this to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of God’s people there in the land: ‘Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all! But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’”
See if you recognize this scenario. The best days seem to be in the past. People around us seem too disillusioned or disinterested to seek a better world. When someone says, “Think about the future,” a mental picture takes form in shades of black and gray.
What people in such circumstances need is a prophet like Haggai. About 520 years before Jesus’ birth, the Jews of Jerusalem suffered under the Persian empire, with some of God’s people having returned only recently from exile.
God used Haggai to first instruct the leaders to rebuild what had once been a glorious temple, and then to inspire them when their faith began to flag. Haggai was an encourager centuries before Barnabas showed up to spread the Good News.
Yes, the Lord said through Haggai, the temple is a sad sight when compared with what some of the oldest among you remember. But even while the splendor of the building is gone, the glory of the Lord remains among you. And the temple will again reflect that glory.
Three simple words summarize Haggai’s message to the Jews. As we wring our hands about the secularization of our own culture—developments that seem to mark a decline in Christianity—those same words are applicable today.
Get to work.
The Christian vision remains the same. By loving God (through works of piety) and loving each other (through works of mercy), our savior’s glory is made visible, and the kingdom naturally grows toward fullness. Yes, the work seems difficult at times, but it is holy work, and therefore never pointless or low-priority.
If there is no Haggai in your church community, talk to the Lord about whether you are called to the role. Frankly, no church can have too many.
Lord, raise up within our churches people who passionately pursue holy action, and color our view of a future where you already exist and await us. Amen.