Archive for the ‘Prophecy’ Tag

What’s Next?   2 comments

I don’t suppose many pastors could say that one of the first sermons they preached was on the prophecy of Haggai. However, I can! I do not remember what prompted the sermon but it was certainly before I became a pastor and so must have been when I was invited to speak on behalf of one of the organizations I worked for before going to seminary. As a consequence, I have always valued this short book whose two chapters only take up two pages of my Bible.

Recently I was reminded of the book and as I turned its pages, once again it struck me that it had some important things to say to us today. Haggai speaks into the life of Israel after the exile and the collapse of the Babylonian empire. The people are just returning to the land. The Bible Project video summarizes the prophet’s message in four parts. First, he asks the people to consider whether it is right that they should give priority to refurbishing their own houses rather than rebuilding the temple. When the people take this criticism to heart, they can’t help but feel that their work on the temple is a poor shadow of its former beauty. The final two parts exhort the people to remember the covenant and be faithful. Lastly, the prophet articulates a vision for God’s eternal kingdom.

It is the first two parts that piqued my imagination. Of course, the church has not been sent into exile,  but COVID 19 has interrupted our customary lives in such a way that it feels a little like it. As I listen to conversations about the future, a recurrent theme is the re-creation of what we had.  I fear that is strangely parallel to Haggai 1:2-4. We are saying, “how can we rebuild what we enjoyed, the way things were before?” Could it be that God wants to ask why we are so preoccupied with rebuilding what we were comfortable with when His plans for the church have barely progressed beyond a building site? ( not quite ruins but close!) ” What if your inherited imagination of what the church should be is dying while the Spirit is stirring something new” Tim Soerens “ Everywhere you Look- -Discovering the Church Right Where You Are”

When the people turn their focus on the temple they soon get discouraged that their efforts at restoration to its former glory are a dismal failure.  God, however, responds with the most glorious and exciting words of encouragement.

“For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” Haggai 2:6-9

God says, I am not leading you back to what was, I am leading you forward to what will be . He does not say the past had “no glory”, but His plans for the future are for “greater glory.” 

So let’s remember that we serve a God who wants us to follow Him to eternity. The way He wants the church to look “next” may be different than the past and some ways may not seem as “good” to us as we enjoyed in the past. However, His ways are not our ways and He calls us to be faithful, trusting Him for the glorious eternity He has planned for us. So let’s reach together for His plans because He promises “to fill this place with glory”!

Posted October 1, 2020 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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