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Haggai and Zechariah -- Rebuilding the Temple in Our Hearts

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At that time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They prophesied in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak responded by starting again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them. -- Ezra 5: 1-2 (NLT)


So the Jewish elders continued their work, and they were greatly encouraged by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia. The Temple was completed on March 12, during the sixth year of King Darius's reign. -- Ezra 6: 14-15 (NLT)


Sometimes the Old Testament can be a little confusing in the order and the overlap between historical records and the prophets that served during such times. Such is the case involving the return of the exiles from Babylon. Briefly to recap, after King Solomon died, the nation was permanently split into the ten northern tribes called Israel and the two remaining tribes called Judah. Israel had no righteous kings after Solomon's death and eventually God would use the Assyrian empire to scatter them permanently. Judah had a few kings who followed the Lord but many who did not and a hundred years following the loss of Israel, Judah was taken captive by the Babylonian Empire and Jerusalem was destroyed. For seventy years the exiles were held captive as they watched Babylon fall to the Persians. God then would prompt King Cyrus of Persia to allow some to return to their homeland. This is where we meet Ezra the Scribe, also known as Ezra the Priest, and find our key verses for today which highlight for us the relationship between the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Before we get there, let's finish the history.


The group that went back to Jerusalem was about 50,000 people. They returned with 5400 articles of gold and silver that had been taken from Solomon's Temple seventy years earlier. Worship was restored in Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the temple had begun. But some arose to oppose the rebuilding. Realize beloved that there will always be people arising in our lives to oppose the work we are doing for God. We cannot allow them to dissuade us. The remnant here however, stopped the work on the temple for about 15 years while they built their own homes and settled back into life as free men. God would send two prophets to speak to the people; Haggai and Zechariah. Eventually the people would get back to the work of God and finish the temple. Years later, King Artaxerxes would send his cupbearer, Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This is the first important point for us to consider today. The walls represent the protection for the people. Walls are necessary in our lives as there are always enemies to the work we will undertake for the Lord. The temple however is where the people would go to worship God. It is where they would go to offer sacrifices to God. The temple represents our relationship with God. For fifteen years the people ignored the temple, after only the foundation had been laid. They turned their focus to their own lives and God was pushed to the back burner. God would have to get their attention:


Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: "Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies says: Look at what's happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! -- Haggai 1: 3-6 (NLT)


Look at what is happening to you! Have we ever gotten to this place in our walk as well? Where we are seemingly never satisfied? Where our harvest seems meager and things have gone cold? It may be time to examine our relationship with the temple versus our relationship with our own paneled houses. God does not want second place in our lives beloved. Nothing can be right in our lives if our relationship is wrong. It can be a very long walk sometimes. It is easy to become distracted by life. Our career, family, or even ministry can require so much of our attention that the temple is falling into disrepair. We got that big promotion at work but we don't read the Bible every day anymore. We have our daily family time scheduled but no daily worship time. We make sure that everyone sees how committed we are in our ministry but if they only knew the lack of commitment in our prayer life. What we fail to realize is that it is the relationship with God that is more important in every area of our lives. The closer we are to God the better we can hear that still small voice when it comes to our career decisions. The family is strengthened by an active relationship with God. Ministries will only stand the test of time if they are rooted in God. Paneled houses may look nice but if they lack God they will not survive the storm:


But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash." -- Matthew 7: 26-27 (NLT)


We need to make sure the state of our temple is right before God. To get our attention God will use different people and different styles. Too often these days we see people espousing a "my way or the highway" mentality when it comes to their particular theological bent. As most know, I am a stickler for proper theology. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to guard only two things -- his life and his doctrine. As a minister I am even more careful because one day I will stand before Jesus to explain what I did with the Gospel and every careless Word I uttered. Proper doctrine is crucial. That does not mean however that there is not room for differing styles for delivering the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have heard the lament from people that this preacher is too hard or that one is too soft. This one doesn't tell enough stories and that one tells too many. This one likes to run around a lot and that one is more of a stoic teacher. God made us all different but only one version of the Gospel. That means as long as the message is uncompromised, the messenger should not matter.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)

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