TODAY’S READING: Haggai
Prophets held out for a transformed remnant who would live in the presence of Jehovah, just like the original covenant. In 520 BC, Zerubbabel led the people of God home. Hopes were high and rebuilding of the temple began. They finished the temple foundation but then opposition arose, so their attention turned to fields that laid fallow for decades and homes that needed rebuilding. In the old days, prophets spoke to kings. But with no more kings, there was direct communication to the populace. Haggai stepped up and spoke four messages over four months to the priests and people.
Haggai’s first message was about misplaced priorities (chapter 1). The people were building fancy homes while God’s house was yet incomplete. The message still needs to be heard today. God decreed that His house will be a house of prayer for all peoples (Isa. 56:7), and that is still 7,000 unreached people groups from happening. Rather, we build up personal wealth, cabins on lakes, campers in driveways, and multimillion dollar church facilities, while multibillion people stumble into hell in disrepair. What does God think about us who prioritize the building of elegant homes and church buildings when His house is in such disrepair? Yes, the foundations of God’s global house are laid, but 7,000 representative living stones are still missing. It’s fairly obvious where we should put our energy and resources.
Haggai’s second message was about dashed expectations (2:1–9). This rebuilt temple was modest compared to the old. Haggai drew on Isaiah and Micah to remind God’s people of the new Jerusalem from which the King will rule over representatives of all nations. Haggai called the people to work in the hope of what will be, not what was. Zechariah made the same point to the same people at the same time when he exhorted them not to despise the day of small beginnings (Zech. 4:10). We will dream of huge movements of peoples to the Lord and great Pentecost outpourings, even as we faithfully pursue the one Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, and atheist that Jesus brings to our doors.
Haggai’s third message is about covenant faithfulness and purity (2:10–19). If you’re not humble and holy, it doesn’t matter what you build. The renowned missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones said, “I have found that all real evangelistic work begins in the evangelist. Around the world the problem of Christian work is the problem of the Christian worker… Christian service cannot rise above the Christian servant.” Jesus must be glorified in us to be glorified through us.
Haggai’s final message regarded the future hope of God’s Kingdom ruled by David’s heir, the Messianic King (2:20–23). It is certain, yet our choices and participation matter. Haggai asks if we will we work towards what God has willed. Jesus is coming! The Lord can stir up our spirits to build the Lord’s house, and He exhorts us to work “for I am with you [and] My Spirit remains among you” (2:4–5). God’s house will be filled, and there is ample space for more Iranians. What is not yet determined is the part we will play; that choice is in our hands. Jesus is still looking for men and women who love His global house more than their own.
 E. Stanley Jones. The Christ of the Indian Road. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925. 27.