Last week we began our four-part series through the book of Haggai titled “When God Builds”. In chapter 1 I talked about when we get on board with what God is doing, we will in turn see great things happen for His glory and for His Kingdom. I set the stage as I talked about the remnant of Jerusalem who returned to the city to rebuild the temple. At first the work was done zealously, but after time and a few hiccups their priorities began to be mixed up and started focusing on their own homes rather than Gods. The prophet Haggai spoke to the Governor and High Priest through the Word of the Lord telling them to get back on track with Him and building His house, fortunately they heeded the words of the prophet and began to do what was necessary to get back on the same page with God.
This week we are picking up in chapter 2 and we will look at the first nine verses. Today I will focus on three areas…
I am excited about this message because as I look at West Bradenton Southside, I see us as a blank canvas that is ready to become a beautiful masterpiece of what God can and WILL paint in our lives personally and as a church. In visualizing the blank canvas I remember surfing the TV channels as a young boy and I would stumble upon this artist Bob Ross. His dangerously large afro and soothing voice would captivate me as I found myself staring mindlessly at the TV screen as this man would create some of the most beautiful landscape paintings. I would watch amazed as Ross would take a stroke of the brush here and dab of paint there and this beautiful scenery would gradually come to life. At first, I couldn’t see what he was creating but after time it would all come together. He would do it with such ease and skill that it felt like almost anyone could do what he is doing.
God is like an artist with a vivid imagination and creativity. He established this wonderful institution that we call the Church over 2,000 years ago and he has been working on it since its inception.
About one year ago Southside Baptist was adopted by West Bradenton Baptist Church. It was because of this small congregation of about 12 faithful members and their love for the church, their belief that God was not finished with them, and their hope in Jesus as they moved forward into the future that God has in store for them. It was also about a year ago that I was called to be the Campus Pastor of this church and lead the charge (with complete dependence on the Holy Spirit) into the future. This is an exciting and terrifying place for me to be. However, I look forward to walking alongside with you all as we move into the future and we walk with and participate in what God is going to do here on 1604 17th St. in West Bradenton FL.
Read Haggai 2:1 - 3
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and to the remnant of the people: 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem to you like nothing by comparison?
Vs 3: About one and half months from the initial word from Haggai to Zerubbabel, the prophet speaks once again to the governor and high priest. He tells them to ask the remnant “who is left among you…”.
To better set up the scenario we are in I am going to push pause for one moment as we go to
Ezra 3:10 – 13.
We go back about 15 years prior when the inhabitants came back to Jerusalem and they laid the foundation of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. We read that at the completion there were shouts of joy and weeping of those who remembered the former glory of Solomon’s temple. On this occasion the people should have rejoiced because God was at work among them and he was going to reestablish and rebuild his temple again. However, those who remembered the temple couldn’t get past the fact that this new temple was not going to be as grandiose as the former. This upset them and they could not get past this idea that things were going to be different now. You know, like all of us… They had a hard time with accepting change in the future and believing the future could be better than the past.
Back to Haggai we have a similar situation before us in chapter 2. God tells the people to look back to the past and as some of them did they looked back at the past with fondness and thinking those were the best years. As the people returned to working on the temple many were overwhelmed with depression as they again realized that this new building would pale in comparison to the former Temple. Those who remembered were stuck in the past and they couldn’t get past the fact that God was now starting something new. This new temple may not have been as good, but it would one day be the place where God himself, in Jesus Christ would come and teach, and worship. This new Temple would ultimately usher in a newer Temple not made with hands, but the Holy Spirit abiding in the believer. The future was looking bright.
Read Haggai 2:4 – 5
“Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel—this is the Lord’s declaration. Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land—this is the Lord’s declaration. Work! For I am with you—the declaration of the Lord of Armies. This is the promise I made to you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit is present among you; don’t be afraid.’ ”
Vs 4: “Be strong…”. In the midst God is telling the people to be strong. Why should they be strong? Because He will be with them as they work. It is the presence of God that makes his people strong. Notice he doesn’t say, “Go ahead and give it your best shot and then I will bless you.” No, he says, “Be strong… because I am with you.” As they build the future they aren’t moving forward for the sake of moving forward. They are moving forward because that is where God is heading. God is moving to the future to do great works. Yes, He is a God who has done great things and we are reminded often in Scripture to remember what God has done, but He has a plan for the future, and He will be with them every step of the way.
Vs 5: “This is the promise I made…” He encourages the people to focus on moving forward by remembering the past. In the past he made promises… He fulfilled his promises and He will continue to fulfill his promises. The people can take courage in knowing that God has been faithful in the past, so they can move into the future with confidence because of His faithfulness. As a result, some inhabitants began looking forward to the future because the best was yet to come.
Read Haggai 6 – 9
“For the Lord of Armies says this: “Once more, in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations so that the treasures of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord of Armies. “The silver and gold belong to me”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies. “The final glory of this house will be greater than the first,” says the Lord of Armies. “I will provide peace in this place”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies.”
Vs 6: “In a little while…” The future
Vs. 7: “I will shake all the nations” There is some debate as to whether this promise is near future or far future. Some believe this will be a literal shaking of the nations in Zerubbabel’s time seeing a collapse of the Persian empire and the establishing of the Grecian empire. Or it may refer to the far distant day at Jesus’ second-coming when the LORD will shake the nations in judgment and establish his Kingdom here on earth.
Vs 9: “The final glory of this house will be greater than the first.” The plan for the future house of God far surpasses the past. I like what Pastor and author James Montgomery Boice wrote,” In my opinion, this refers to people, in the sense that ‘the chosen, the elect out of all nations, those gentiles whom God has from eternity foreknown and predestinated,’ will increase the glory of the true temple, which is the church. That is, the ultimate glory of God’s house will not be a mere physical glory but a spiritual glory that comes from having an increasingly large host of all tongues and nations enter into it.” God’s plan is for the nations. He has a future plan and it includes us.
Vs 9b: “I will provide peace in this place” This speaks of the future peace between man and God. Through Jesus Christ and the cross of Calvary we will experience true peace with God. We are not at peace with God in our natural sinful state. We are at war with Him. It is through Jesus Christ that we finally be at peace with God… True peace.
There is so much we can take home with us today. Being that we are at the one year mark of the adoption of Southside Baptist I want to focus on what God has in store for you individually and us as a church.
If you love the past (personally or the church) more than you love the future, then I believe it is a harsh yet truthful saying that you’re not in God’s will. God wants what is best for us, and what is best is still yet to come. So, here are some truths about the past and the future that we can take home with us today.
We are a blank canvas and God wants to paint a beautiful picture with Southside. Yes, currently we are a small congregation who loves Jesus and we want to share Him with others. My heart and prayer is that we may become a church who goes out and shares the love of Jesus and that we will be a church that grows. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the church studied God’s word, prayed, and fellowshipped and as a result God added to the church daily. Pray with me. Let’s pray big prayers and ask God for big things for His glory, not ours, and let’s see what He does.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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