Israel had done everything wrong as their house of worship lay in ruins. They had stopped building the temple God had told them to build because some politician issued a prohibition. Not only did they stop working, but they also used the mandate as an excuse to focus on building fancy houses for themselves (Haggai 1:2-3). They had misread providence for personal gain. Yet even in this state of sin, God speaks to them.
The Lord does not abandon his children even when he is disciplining them. On the contrary, his discipline is proof that he is with them. Chastisement is what Israel was experiencing. They had just come back from exile, which was itself the result of their sinfulness, and because they were focusing on themselves, God had not allowed the work of their hands to prosper. No matter how hard they strove to provide for their needs, He kept the fruit of their labor from growing (Haggai 1:10-11).
God then tells them to remember the temple in its former glory (Haggai 2:3). So much time had passed that few people could remember what it was like. This can be us from time to time. Maybe we used to walk with the Lord, but it has been so long since we have sought his face that we do not even remember how blessed those times were. Our hearts of worship have grown cold.
Even in this state of spiritual stagnation and sin, God calls his people to seek him first. Not only does God deserve to be first, but he also knows this is where we will find our true happiness. The Lord gives them several words of encouragement to assist them in this work of restoration.
The Lord reminds them that he is with them (Haggai 2:4). Because of his presence, they are to begin working on the temple, whether they face opposition or not. He explains further by telling them, “My spirit remains in your midst, so fear not” (Haggai 2:5). The Holy Spirit does not abandon us when we drift into sin. He may occasionally withdraw some of his comforting graces, but he does not leave us.
Israel’s task at that time was to build the temple, but they did not have the necessary resources. So, God tells them through the prophet, “I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory” (Haggai 2:7). God would supply all their needs according to his riches and glory.
You and I may be in a similar situation in that we do not know how to get back into a vital relationship with our Savior. Our heart of worship is in ruins, and we do not have what it takes to restore it. But God’s word says I will provide what you need. Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you. Do the necessary work, for I am with you even in the face of opposition. Even if that opposition comes from our spiritually sluggish heart, God says, “My spirit is in your midst.” What other encouragement do we need?
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