This Day Forward - A Series in Haggai - Pt. 2 : "The Rest is the Best"
April 28, 2020, 5:00 PM

“This Day Forward” – Part 2

The Rest is the Best

We began a series last week in Haggai. Haggai the prophet was commissioned by God to carry the message of rebuke to the people of Israel. Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Israelite people taken into exile years earlier by the Babylonians and later under Persian rule the Israelite people were given the opportunity to return home and rebuild their beloved capitol. The problem is that the people became consumed with rebuilding their own houses and neglected the Temple – the house of God. Enter Haggai…

When we began this series we looked at the first message of Haggai to the people, a message challenging them to put God first – to make Him the priority. They had gone about rebuilding their own little private kingdoms to the neglect of the Kingdom of God. I draw a similarity to them with the modern American church. I believe we have become so busy with our own lives that we have neglected that most basic of ideas that Jesus challenged us with…

Matthew 6:33 (NRSV)
33 …strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Once Haggai delivered his message the people repented and began building the temple. Haggai pronounced blessing over them for their repentance and obedience…

Haggai 1:12-15 (NRSV)
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of the prophet Haggai, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the LORD.
13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD's message, saying, I am with you, says the LORD.
14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month.

God follows up our obedience with blessing. When you put Christ first in your life He takes care of those things that you would without Him otherwise worry about. You can never out due Him in the area of faithfulness.

Let us pick up now with Haggai’s second word in Chapter 2 to the people. A message that came about a month after this first message. They had begun rebuilding the temple and the shell of the building was just not the splendor they had remembered and envisioned. It seemed to be a mere shadow of the glory that King Solomon had built. You can imagine some of the people grumbling over their perceived futility in their work, wondering if this was at all worth it or if after all of their efforts, “Is this is all there is?”

Haggai 2:1-9 (NIV)
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 Jehozadak, 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, 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, '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.'
6 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty.
8 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty.
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."

Does this sound like a promise to you? Does the word covenant come to mind when you hear this declaration? Even in the midst of discouragement and thoughts of futility we can be reminded that God is with us and that He has a plan to prosper us. He has made a covenant with us to do so – as long as we put Him first.

Can I be transparent for a moment? There have been times in my past where I have really struggled in my faith. Not in my faith in Jesus to save or in the overall plans of God, but just in walking out the everyday example of faith in the face of discouragement. I have at times walked through the proverbial spiritual desert. I believe this is something that we all have to traverse through at some point or points in our lives. When we are in those places in life we often on the one hand can totally see God’s hand, but on the other our own expectations block our vision for His provision and blessing. Sometimes…

We can become blinded to God’s hand by our own expectations.

I think that is what Haggai is addressing here. As the people of Israel worked they must have been feeling inadequacy and dissatisfaction in their product. Their rebuild of the temple paled to the beauty of the temple built by Solomon in the heyday of Israel’s power. Their efforts seemed to produce a shack of a temple by comparison. This temple and its interior embellishments could not compare to the size and beauty of the first temple, but Haggai encourages the rebuilders saying…

Haggai 2:9 (NIV)

9 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,'

Here is an example of how God sees things that you and I do not see. Like when Samuel chose David. He is taking inventory over the sons of Jesse, all fine specimens of men. All looked the part as far as what you would expect a king to look like. Like when Samuel chose Saul he chose a man who was the strongest, the best looking, etc. But the scriptures tell us that God sees what we don’t see.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
7 …The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

God sees what we don’t see.

He sees potential where we see problems. He sees brilliance where we see blight. He sees destiny where we see the destitute. He sees warrior where we see a wimp. He sees a strong shelter where we see a small shack.

The people of Israel saw their work as inferior, but God saw into the future and proclaimed what they were doing as revolutionary.

I think we as humans can fall prey to these types of thoughts. We might see our lives as insignificant, our work as futile and our mark on the world as unnoticeable. But I want to remind you that you have value and your life really matters.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You are God’s workmanship – the word here in the Greek is poiēma (Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary) which means literally something that is made by hand, like a fine cloth or a work of art. The word poiēma is also where we get our word poem. So you can see the creative nature of what is being said here. You are a work of art, a masterpiece, of God’s hands. Your life is written as a song or poem, bearing His message and purpose.

The next time you look in the mirror and are disappointed repeat to yourself I am a Masterpiece made by God. The next time your thoughts turn to contemplating your lack of self-worth remember you are a work of art fashioned by the hands of God. The next time you think that your life is pointless recall the truth that you are Christ’s poem bearing His message to the world around you.

Still you might be saying, “Ok, but I still don’t see it. I don’t have the talent. I don’t have the moxie. I don’t have the skills. I don’t have the finances. I’m not pretty enough, tall enough, skinny enough, hairy enough, etc, etc.”

You know what you might just be right about that, but the reality is that God has all of those things and more that you think you need and can provide in a different way when necessary. The scriptures say that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10).

Right here in this passage we are reminded of the far-reaching wealth of resources that God has–

Haggai 2:8 (NIV)

8 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty.

 

They were concerned because their resources and riches paled by comparison to what Solomon had at His disposal, but God reminds them, “Hey it’s all mine – don’t worry.” God is so faithful in this way. He is our provider. He will provide in ways that we do not expect or could not imagine. In the case of the temple being rebuilt He provided for the Israelites in the most bizarre way possible through their enemies.

 

Ezra 5:1-17 (NIV)
1 Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.
2 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
3 At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, "Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure

So these meddlers wrote a petition to the King saying…

17 Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.

You see what they are trying to do here, right. They are tattling on these Jews, trying to get them in trouble with the King so that they could stop them from rebuilding the temple.

Ezra 6:1-12 (NIV)
1 King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon.
2 A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it: Memorandum:
3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be ninety feet high and ninety feet wide,
4 with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury.
5 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.
6 Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there.
7 Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.
8 Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God: The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop.
9 Whatever is needed--young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem--must be given them daily without fail,
10 so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.
11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble.
12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem. I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.

Darius not only allowed for the Israelites to continue the work, but He made their enemies accountable to seeing that they finished their work and that they had all that they needed to do so.

God is our provider with Him we need nothing else.

 

What about that prophetic word though given by Haggai to these rebuilders. Let’s go back to that. He said

Haggai 2:6, 7, 9 (NIV)

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty.
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."

This building that they were building was not adorned with the lavishness that Solomon built with. Even after the building was completed and many years later redressed by King Herod it still could not compare with the architecture and ornamentation of the original.

How could this new smaller version of the temple compare. Haggai alludes to a future event that would shake the earth. He says, “and the desired of all nations will come.” The desired of all nations is Jesus the Christ and He did come and it was in the courts of this shabbier version of the temple where He came to worship and teach and proclaim salvation and freedom for all people.

Haggai’s prophecy came to fruition in the life of Jesus – “The glory of the present house will be greater than the glory of the former house.”

This second temple was destroyed however in 70 AD by the Romans.

Many Orthodox Jews and some Christians believe that a third temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem on the temple mount at the spot where the Dome of the Rock an important site for Muslims now stands. Ezekiel 40 and following describes this everlasting temple. Personally I believe this is a reference to the kingdom of God established in and through us, Jesus Church. Not an actual building, but a picture of Christ’s people, His church living in obedience building up His Kingdom.

I deduce this because the scriptures preceding this description, talk of a time when God’s people will be restored.

Ezekiel 39:29 (NIV)
29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD."

This is similar to the prophetic proclamation made by Joel and referenced by Peter in Acts as referring to the beginning of the Church – through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Joel 2:28-29 (NIV)
28 'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Ezekiel and Joel are referring to the Church of Jesus Christ, the New Temple, in which the Spirit of God resides – us.

The scriptures refer to us as His temple, together and individually we are Christ’s Temple…

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?

That is “You” plural.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

We are His Temple and I believe this prophecy of Haggai’s is a prophecy for us – His Temple – this is applicable for us today. You and I might survey the current status of the Church. We might look with little hope at our communities and world. You might even have a small view of yourself. But this is the word of the Lord for you today as Christ’s Church – His Temple.

Haggai 2:4-9 (NIV)

Be strong…' declares the LORD, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the LORD Almighty.
5 'This is what I covenanted with you...And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'
6 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty.
8 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty.
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."

This present House is you and I. We are His temple and He has promised to do great things in and among us and through us. Hang onto that Hope. The Rest of our lives are the Best days of our Lives.

By Pastor Carl Friedel


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