2004-08-08 - What You See Isnt Always What You Have
Haggai, Part 11 - Introduction to Chapter 2
I have used Robert Ludlums Pillars of the Earth for illustrations for some time. It is an account of cathedral building during the 12th century, the time of King Henry, Queen Maude and Cardinal Beckett. The novel follows the lives of Tom Builder and his stepson Jack. They were called master builders. In medieval times, the master builders were the "jacks of all trades." The master builder was not only an architect, but could do all aspects of construction - including contractor, builder and expert carver. When Jack, unbeknownst to Tom, burned down a small cathedral, Tom went out to the destroyed site.
Because he was a master builder, what he saw wasnt the destruction, the burned structure or the ashes. What he saw was a beautiful cathedral, a monument to the Lord that he would build on this site. In this same way, when God looks at the ruin of our fallen state, He sees the glorious creation we are in Christ and will become, as He conforms us to the image of His Son. But because were only being human, it is difficult for us to see anything other than the ruins.
This may have been the problem the returnees faced as they looked at the Temple. Yes, the restoration had been taking place, but it looked nothing like the glorious original, the famour temple of Solomon. As a result, they thought that no matter how much work they did, it would never be the same again. And maybe they were right. But that wasnt the point. The point was being obedient to God. Nevertheless, God was also prepared to offer them encouragement. And it is this encouragement that God offered to Zerubbabel, Joshua and the returnees. So
Haggai has been selected by God to bring a number of short messages to the returnees. We recall that these are Jews who were in exile under the authority of the Babylonian empire. But God moved the rulers of the day to give an opportunity for the exiles who wanted to return home for the express purpose of restoring the Temple.
"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among youmay his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living, are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem." (Ezra 1:1-4).
But the work had lain dormant for 15 years, and God was now ready to call the people to get on with it. In Haggais first prophecy, God identified their misaligned priorities as meeting their own "needs" instead of being obedient to Him. They were reminded of the lack of success in meeting their material needs. Now they were informed this was a judgment from God because of their disobedience in establishing priorities.And what was the result of this first prophecy? The leaders hearts, Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the peoples hearts were touched and they repented, beginning again the work on the second Temple. And so Gods second message came to the congregation: He was with them. This is the best message we can have from the LORD.
To be continued.
Comments or Questions?