“Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,” says the Lord; “and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,” says the Lord, “and work; for I am with you,” says the Lord of hosts. “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!” (Haggai 2:4-5)
Be Strong And Do Not Fear
After seventy years of divine punishment in a foreign land, the children of God are brought back to the land of promise with little to show for the glory of the former nation of Israel. The land is in ruin and the hearts of the people are discouraged facing many obstacles and trials in settling the land long abandoned. Jerusalem remains largely in ruins with its walls torn down and gates burned. The once glorious Temple of Solomon is nothing but barren rock. Hopes are diminished and spirits are low. Under the leadership of men like Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, worship is restored at Jerusalem. Two years after returning from the captive land, work begins on rebuilding the temple but there is resistance and opposition. In the face of concerted efforts by those who were not allowed to be a part of the rebuilding, work on the temple is halted for eighteen years. Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. In less than a month, work was resumed and the temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius king of Persia. Four years earlier Haggai spoke to the people exhorting them to have courage and not allow the distractions of those opposing the work to keep them from the glory of God’s work.
The leaders of remnant Israel had become discouraged. Zerubbabel and Joshua needed to have their faith lifted to complete the work of building the temple and Haggai delivered the much-needed message. God tells these men to be strong and work for the cause of righteousness and the glory of the Lord. There are times when the heart weakens after times of distress or change. When Moses died and Joshua was commissioned to lead the people over the Jordan into the promised land, the Lord told the son of Nun to be strong and of good courage. Crossing the turbulent waters of trial the heart can become afraid and inactive. The temple needed to be built and even though there was opposition and for eighteen years the foes of God’s purpose had succeeded, the time for revival had come. Through the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, the hearts of its leaders and the people of Israel were admonished to be strong and not fear for the Lord was on their side. One of the great dangers of discouragement is what happened to the people. The work had stopped. There was no activity to rebuild the temple for nearly two decades. God’s house remained in ruin and the hearts of the people had given up. Now through the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, the fire of devotion had stirred the people to work diligently to complete the temple. Leaders often need that nudge to attain greater heights of accomplishment when they face trials. Zerubbabel and Joshua had been unproductive for many years but the time had come for them to grow strong and not fear those who stood against the will of the Father. Courage and faith were needed and Haggai delivered that message clearly.
Jesus promised to build His church and the will of God brought forth the eternal promise of the Lord on the day of Pentecost. What made this day powerful was the sermon Peter preached that Jesus had died but He had raised to reign at the right hand of the Father. The church began with three thousand souls being added and the New Testament covenant of grace began to be spread throughout the world. Two thousand years removed the church faces discouragement, heartache, and disappointment. In many places churches are dying, some closing doors and others existing on a fare of spiritual bread and water. There is apathy, disinterest, and lack of zeal to build the kingdom of God. Haggai the prophet reminds God’s people to be strong, work hard and do not fear. Nothing will inhibit the work of the Lord and His will is accomplished in every generation. What the Lord needs are workers who are willing to brace the seas of opposition and face the winds of discouragement with faith, courage and a determination to build the kingdom of God according to the pattern. The Spirit of the Lord remains among the faithful who seek to establish the gospel in the hearts of those seeking the truth. Times have changed but the gospel remains the same message to give hope to lost souls. Trying to change the gospel to fit the needs of the people is changing the will of the Lord. Having faith and courage to preach the same message of the New Testament is the courage to build in the face of a world of opposition. Many will not want to hear the plain teaching of God’s word. Leaders of the church should not be discouraged but stand on the truth of the word given by the Spirit of the Lord. Be strong, and work and do not fear because the Lord is with you and will not leave you. Haggai’s message of hope resonates in the ears of the courageous who trust in the will of the Lord to accomplish His work in His way.