5 August 2022Haggai 1:15b – 2:9
The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts. (v. 9)
Chapter 2 of Haggai picks up with the Israelites' building project well under way. Haggai’s warnings and cajoling had spurred the once exiled Israelites into action. Instead of spending their time and resources rebuilding their own houses, they turned their focus to rebuilding the Temple, which had lain in ruins for 70 years. Joshua (the high priest), Zerubbabel (the governor of Judah) and the remnant of the people set to work.
Chapter 2 joins them a month into construction. Haggai responds to shattered expectations. The Israelites would have been extremely familiar with the stories of the Temple that had once stood in Jerusalem 500 years earlier. The Temple Solomon built was magnificent and massive. 2 Chronicles 3 describes Solomon's Temple as being 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high. The highest point was 120 cubits tall (about 20 stories, or 207 feet). The porch, was overlaid with pure gold. Thousands of people were appointed to build it. It would have stood as a vast, shimmering statement of God’s glory.
Imagine how inadequate the Israelites felt when what they managed to build was so much more modest. The Bible doesn’t even bother recording its details. It is safe to assume it did not live up to the Israelites' expectations.
But Haggai reminds the people, that there is something bigger going on. He cites God’s commitment to them: “’For I am with you’” (2:4). God is covenanted to these people and he has a promise for the future: “The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former” (2:9). God’s kingdom will be built, and their work, however inadequate it may seem, plays a key role. So Haggai calls on the people to work in hope, despite the challenging circumstances.
- Haggai calls on the people to keep working, even though the circumstances are difficult and God’s kingdom feels far off. Is there an area in your life or a justice issue you are passionate about which feels extremely challenging at the moment? How does God’s kingdom promise change your perspective?
- Past glories are distracting the Israelites from the new things God is doing. What new things might God be calling you to today?