Daily Readings and Thought for December 18th. “NOW, BE STRONG”
Today we read the 2 chapters of the message of “Haggai the prophet” [1 v.1]. He was contemporary with Ezra and his role, before Ezra came to Jerusalem, was to express God’s frustration at the lack of action by those who had already returned. They had not got on with the task of rebuilding the Temple. Haggai bluntly challenges their lack of action.
We read his challenging question; “Is it a time to dwell in your panelled houses while this house lies in ruins … consider your ways … each of you busies himself with his own house…. ” [1 v.4,5,9]
It is always time for us to consider our ways, as to whether we are giving proper priority to our part in Christ’s work. Beware if we are comfortable with our situation in life – giving priority to our personal needs.
When Haggai tells them, to “now, be strong” we notice that he says this – 3 times – for emphasis!
Haggai, inspired by God, can tell there is something seriously wrong with their priorities. It is not that they were physically weak; rather it was a weakness of spiritual vision. He encourages positive thinking by stressing the need to “be strong.”
When “The word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai” it appears to have a latter day application! “I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations …” [2 v.21,22]
This causes us to remember how Paul concluded his most challenging letter to the Corinthians (and us in 2022) by writing, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” [ I Cor. 16 v.13] Haggai’s message is the same. The high priest Joshua is among those to whom he speaks – “Yet now be strong … Be strong O Joshua … Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord” [2 v.4] Then God adds, “Work, for I am with you.”
Surely this is just as much a message for today, especially as real faith in Christ could almost be said to lie in ruins! Not only has the core of the teaching of Christ “the cornerstone” been minimised, but the spiritual temple of which he is the cornerstone struggles to be effectively “joined together” so that it “grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” [Eph. 2 v.20,21]
Finally, look at Haggai 2 v.4! It tells us to “be strong all you people …Work for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts” Surely we can hear this being said to us today – and the time is short!