The Message of the Lord
God has something to say. He has said it before, over and over. At this point, remember, it has been 16 years of these people focusing on themselves and not placing priority on being with the Lord. The temple that was to be built was the purpose for their return. This temple that was to be built was to house the Lord’s presence, a place where they could be with Him.
I think about a time in 4th grade when I cheated on a spelling test. My father was a teacher in the school and I was the youngest of three to have this teacher. What I did deserved punishment. I was thoroughly embarrassed and braced with shame. I got a zero on the test, and if that were not bad enough I had to face my father. What wrath would come? That night, I was already in bed when my father found out about my sinful act. I heard his footsteps coming up the stairs, I trembled as I knew I deserved the punishment. Instead of fulfilling my fears, my father sat with me and talked. He asked me several questions and did not reprimand. We cuddled and visited and he left, no punishment. He just sat with me.
Can you think of a time when impending punishment was what you deserved but instead, grace?
The Lord’s purpose in the temple was not only to bring glory to Him and display His holiness, but really it was to be with His people. Yet, as the people are probably wrought with shame and Haggai comes with a message from the Lord, they brace themselves for their punishment. The message they receive instead: I am with you.
Not punishment, not reprimand, not retribution….He is there to sit with them. He reminds them of the words that generations upon generations have heard from the same God. I am with you. I can be with, I want to be with you, I have been with you, I will be with you. I do not need a temple to be with you. He announces this to them without other words. This message alone carries the reassuring idea that their God is not only in their proximity but in them, among them, for them.
Do you hear this message? Not only does the sound of His voice compel us to obedience, but His message is always one of grace versus punishment. His message draws us to desire that presence with Him. I found such a surprise as my father just sat with me when I deserved much more. Why are we surprised to hear the message that has already been received hundreds of times? It reminds us, in the kindest way, that our God is the same God who delivered over and over simply with His presence. And so it is, they just needed to hear it again.