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. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them. Ezra 4:1-2
I’ve been reading Haggai and Ezra, about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem following the Babylonian and Persian captivity. I love it! There are so many good lessons. Here are some of the insights I’ve had.
At the right time, God gives us the opportunity to do His work. Just like it says in Ephesians, we’re, “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
The Israelites had started rebuilding the temple, and wanted to complete it earlier, but they faced much opposition. The work came to a halt for many years. They were probably very discouraged.
When Haggai began prophesying, it must have been difficult to have hope and faith that this time would be different. But God intended for them to be a part of an awesome thing, something that would encourage their hearts for generations.
God opens doors. No matter what has happened in the past, we need to have faith, and walk through those doors. It will be a blessing for us, and for others as well.
When we are working in the direction God is working, He gives us the tools we need for the work.
We want to work for God, but it seems too hard to get the momentum going, or to know how to get from point A to point B. It’s encouraging to know that when we do His work, God sets us up to win.
He gives spiritual inspiration. There’s a reason motivational speakers do so well. We all need someone to give us that zing of energy, that seed of faith that we can do it.
It’s wonderful that God didn’t just tell the Israelites to rebuild the temple, He sent prophets to inspire them.
But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, 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. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ Haggai 2:4
He gives strength and guidance. We don’t have to do it alone. God is with us when we do His work.
Again, God didn’t just tell the Israelites to rebuild, he orchestrated the ideal circumstances for them to rebuild. The king ensured the cooperation of the local authorities. Neighboring leaders were instructed to help with supplies. Haggai and Zechariah continued to prophesy and exort.
I’ve been wrestling lately with how much to expect of others. Each person is different. Some are leaders and some are followers. Some are go getters, and some are passive. And yet we all need to obey God and serve Him wholeheartedly.
This passage in Haggai reminds me that God is the prime factor in the equation, not us. We will only succeed if we work in tandem with God’s will, when He is the source of inspiration and support.
Maybe what is most important is not initiative taking, but humility. On our own, we can come up with the energy to run in all kinds of directions for God. But it’s only when we are waiting on Him, that we will succeed. And that will be the greatest joy there is, because God’s perfect work is the most magnificent thing.
So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. . . Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.