In the beginning of the book of Haggai, God’s people had given up on rebuilding the temple of the LORD. They were busying themselves with other things and had become consumed with their own lives. The neglect of the temple greatly displeased God and robbed him of his due praise, so he spoke to Zerubbabel through the prophet Haggai and stirred up the people to do his work.
The LORD spoke:
“’Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.’” Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.’” Haggai 1:2-9
The people responded in obedience:
“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.” Haggai 1:12
God reminded the people of his presence:
“Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, ‘I am with you, declares the LORD.’” Haggai 1:13
God stirred up their spirits to finish his work:
“And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God…” Haggai 1:14
God encouraged them to remain strong:
“Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you…my Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” Haggai 2:4-5
God gave them vision for the completed work:
“And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts…The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:7,9
Are we not in similar times today when it comes to accomplishing God’s work of every tribe and nation hearing the gospel? Matthew 24:14 says, “…this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The bride of Christ will be complete, and Jesus will return in glory. We know the command to make disciples of all nations. We know we are supposed to focus on this work. We know a day is coming when this mission will be complete. But just like the people in the days of Haggai, we think “the time has not yet come.” We believe that this work will be completed by some future generation, so we do not set our minds to it. Instead, we busy ourselves with our own lives. We accumulate wealth and seek secure futures. We work tirelessly to lay up treasures on earth, “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” Everything we gain is put into a “bag with holes”. We are anxious for what we will eat, what we will drink, and what we will wear, and we spend our lives seeking after all these things. We eat, drink, marry, and give in marriage. We carry on with our lives with no care given to the grand completion of history that is coming. But God is calling us to consider our ways.
2 Peter 3 says that in the end it will seem as though “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation”, but we must heed the warnings of Jesus to stay awake! He left us with a mission to accomplish before his return. He desires that we would build the bride of Christ until it is complete. This is done by urgently sharing the gospel with others and making disciples who make disciples until there is no place left where the gospel has not gone. The neglect of this mission greatly displeases our Lord and robs him of due praise from those who have yet to hear. But he is speaking to us today! He is beckoning us to put our energy toward an eternal purpose instead of our temporary pursuits that are fading away. He is stirring up our spirits to finish his work, promising to be with us to the very end of the age. We have a choice to respond in obedience no matter what the cost may be, just like the people in the story of Haggai.
Allow the Lord to stir up your spirit because the day is coming. Don’t gloss over that. The day is coming. 2 Peter 3 also says that the Lord is not slow in fulfilling his promise of returning. Rather, he is patiently waiting for more people to repent. As a result, we are told to wait for and hasten the coming day of God. The way that we hasten the day is to set our minds on completing the task God has given us. We must move the work toward its completion, which will come when there is no place left where the gospel has not gone. This must be our goal. Just as God gave the people a vision for the completed work of the temple, he has also given us a vision for the completed bride of Christ which will be presented to Jesus upon his return:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” Revelation 7:9-10
The Lord is speaking today as in the days of Haggai. He is commanding us to quit worrying about our own lives and to focus on the mission he has given us. He is stirring up our spirits like never before to hasten the day and complete the task. He promises to be with us and give us strength to do it, and we know his purpose will prevail. We have an opportunity to come together in unity to accomplish this grand purpose! The time has come to finish it. We do not have time to focus on lesser things. Christ’s return is drawing so near. Nothing else matters. One day, ordinary people like you and me will complete the mission and reach the finish line. Why not us? Why not now? Let our spirits be stirred up to do it!