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  • Luke Hamblett

Rebuilding the Temple

When I was praying about what to write about this week I found God pretty much instantly led me to the book of Haggai. You can find it after Zephaniah and it is one of the last few books of the Old Testament. At the time of the prophecies in Haggai being written, Israel had returned to Jerusalem and these prophecies were for the people living there and those who had returned from the exile. Haggai was also the first of the 'post exilic' prophets which means that he was the first prophet once the Israelites had returned to their homeland.


In this passage of scripture God is rebuking the Israelites and other living in Jerusalem for neglecting the temple and instead focussing on their own work. Through Haggai, God is prompting the people to return to Him by rebuilding His temple.


Haggai 1 (NIV)


In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest:

2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.

13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.


There are a few things that I would like to look at based this scripture:


  • What is our Temple

  • Are we neglecting our Temple

  • How do we rebuild our Temple


What is our Temple


When they are speaking about the temple or the 'house' in this passage of scripture they are literally talking about a physical building. If we wanted to liken it to the closest thing that we have, we would say it would be our Chapel. But when we look at this passage in the context of the New Testament we can substitute the idea of the temple for ourselves spiritually.

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)


16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?


I feel that the fist part of the message God wants me to bring today is that we need to remember that we are His temple. Whereas the people of Israel had the tabernacle and the temple, we have a direct connection with God through Jesus. This is a truth that I know I take for granted far too often. We live in a privileged time in the fact that in order to meet with and speak to God we don't need to travel to a temple, we don't need to be an anointed priest and we don't have to fit in with everyone else. Our connection with God is based on our recognition of and relationship with Jesus.


I want to remind you today that you are God's temple and you carry God's presence with you through the Holy Spirit.


Are we neglecting our Temple


God's message to the people of Jerusalem had a purpose behind it and that purpose was to bring them back to Him. They had neglected their spiritual lives in favour of living in 'paneled houses' and profiting their own businesses and trades. I don't know about you, but I've spent a lot of time improving my house, looking and business plans and doing other things to further myself and my family in an earthly senses over the last few weeks. When I read this verse I was really challenged on the fact that I could have been using a lot of that time to rebuild some parts of myself spiritually that I had neglected. By no means am I saying that we shouldn't strive to do well for our families, improve our homes or work hard for our business. But, like everything else we must have a balance and our priorities must remain in the correct order.


Most of us would quite happily help out with repairing some part of the chapel if it was needed, or we would be quick to fix a leak in our house. Every time I fix something in my house or decorate a section of the house I always seem to find something else that needs to be done, it feels like a never-ending process. Houses require constant maintenance. We are exactly the same spiritually, our maintenance and upkeep needs to be constant and consistent. I love routines and I am missing our weekly meeting, for me they were an essential part of my own maintenance. But I think that God has challenged me over the last few weeks to maintain my spiritual life regardless of the circumstances, regardless of accountability. One of the first things we do is make excuses.


Haggai 1:2


2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”


Jerusalem probably had a long list of excuses. It costs too much, the work is hard, the land was desolate, the suffered crop failures and droughts, hostile enemies resisted the work and they were remembering easier times in Babylon. God isn't interested in excuses, if he calls you to do something He equips you for it. Moses refused God multiple times because he felt he wasn't good enough to lead the Israelites because of his stutter. He turned out to be one of the greatest, wisest and most obedient leaders in the Bible, all because he trusted what God had told him to do and dropped the excuses.


It's almost like he is asking me the question:

Am I important enough for you to seek me behind closed doors?


It's a personal question that I think we all need to ask ourselves at some point and if we neglect ourselves spiritually, just like a building, we will begin to fall apart. Things in our life will start to feel meaningless, go wrong and veer off track. Life isn't rainbows and roses even with God on our side, we still face struggles and difficulties, but I would hate to think what my life would be like without Him in my corner.


Where might you be neglecting yourself spiritually? Does your life have a good balance of time spent with God?


How do we rebuild our Temple


How do we rebuild of temple? We have to get back to basics.


Remind yourself of some of the truths in your life:


  • Jesus died for you

  • You are God's temple

  • You have been chosen by God


Read God's word for yourself, both as an individual and as part of a collective church body. Speak with God through prayer.

Worship Him and give him to time and praise that He deserves.


I feel like I repeat these things a lot when I write or speak, but I find it essential for myself to go back to basics a lot of the time and to remind myself of some of the things that we might take for granted.




I pray that God would bless us in this time of isolation and that we might recognise when and where our temple needs to be repaired and rebuilt. I pray that through this time we might use this extra time to focus on and deepen our relationship with God.


Amen


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EBENZER BAPTIST CHURCH, ST.ANDREWS ST, NETHERTON DUDLEY, DY2 0QB

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