"Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet 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. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not."
Haggai 2:3-5 ESV
The exiles had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem with great plans for a building project. They were going to rebuild the Temple. They had taken up offerings in Babylon and brought most of the money for the project with them. They already had the necessary government permission to build.
But then life intervened. Some of the neighbors objected to the project. Government permissions were withdrawn and had to be renegotiated. The start of construction was delayed. People got involved in other activities.
Some of the people thought it was too big a project for them to take on. Others thought the new building wasn’t big enough. The crops failed and suddenly many felt that if they didn’t have money for ongoing expenses, they had no business going ahead with a building project.
God sent Haggai with a message for His people. First, he challenged them to make the Temple their first priority and trust God to take care of everything else. After just eighteen days, the people responded, rose up and laid the foundation of the Temple.
Then the Lord sent Haggai with another message. This one was basically the same as the first one: “Be strong, for I am with you. My Spirit remains in your midst. Don’t be afraid.”
The parallels with our own situation are striking. Many feel like not just the building project but the whole idea of being a church has been put on hold. The fear of the Virus has many afraid to meet together. The social unrest, riots, and political rhetoric we hear on the news have our heads spinning. What will become of us?
“Be strong,“ the Lord says. “My Spirit remains in your midst. Don’t be afraid.“
Dear Christian, nothing has changed. If the Lord is with us, who can be against us?
Lord, I see everything that’s going on around me and I wonder where it will end. But I know that You are greater than all these things that threaten, and You have not abandoned us. Keep my eyes on You and help me to seek You and your Kingdom first, above all else. I know I can trust You with the rest of it, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles