Today’s message ‘Words to those who are building up God’s house’ were given to the Israelites building up Zerubbabel’s Temple after their return from Babylon. These Words are as relevant for Zion Church members today, and may they be fulfilled in each of us today!
In 520 BC on the 24th day of the 6th month Elul, in the 2nd year of King Darius of Persia, the Israelites resumed rebuilding the temple which had been halted due to interference. Today, it refers not only to the physical construction of the church building but also to each of us in the process of being built up as the temple of God. In temple construction, we will encounter interference, difficulties and darkness, but through the messages from prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the contents of which are explained in the History of Redemption Book 11B, may we find comfort and encouragement!
1. The message given on the 21st day of the 7th month in the 2nd year of King Darius (Haggai 2:1)
(i) Take courage
In Haggai 2:4, God tells His people 3 times to “take courage”. The words “take courage” is in the imperative form of the Hebrew word “hazaq”, which means it is a command of God that we be strong.
Those participating in the building of the temple did not do so because they had extra time or money. They had already settled in Babylon, many having spent all their lives there. Their businesses, jobs, and livelihoods were all in Babylon. Only those who had the willing heart to serve went back. Going back to Jerusalem meant they had to start anew. And instead of encouragement, they faced opposition and discouragement. We may think that when we get involved in the construction of the church, God will bless us more. However, when we may face more darkness instead of blessings, we often find it difficult to continue.
But God commands us to “take courage”. God is responsible for His command and will therefore give us the courage and extra strength we need to finish our race in faith. Are you without strength right now? Are you depressed or going through a slump? Be strong, take courage. This is the command of God.
(ii) The latter glory of Zerubbabel’s Temple will be greater than the former
In Haggai 2:9, God promised the Israelites that the latter glory of Zerubbabel’s temple will exceed that of Solomon’s temple which was the most glorious temple ever built. Why? Because into this temple, the Messiah Jesus Christ will come and nothing can be compared to that glory (Haggai 2:7; Colossians 2:2-3). I believe that God will allow Zion Church and all members to experience, and witness the greater glory of God in this church and in your family.
2. The message given on the 24th day of the 9th month (Haggai 2:10)
(i) From this day on, God will bless you (Haggai 2:19)
Like the bestowals of God upon Abraham, when God decides to bless us, nothing can stop this blessing, even our rejection of it. When God blesses us, He will do the work of preparing us to receive that blessing. He cleanses us, reforms and transforms us, so that we can receive even more blessings. The whole process is unilateral, entirely done by God. But it is not easy for we need to obey. Although this stretching can be painful, the end result comes with His blessing.
This word “bless” is in piel emphasis form. It is in imperfect form. It is a blessing that continues on, without ending. How wonderful is this! “Bless” is Baraq in Hebrew and is a strong expression of God’s intention to bless us.
Because God was pleased with the devoted attitude of the Israelites towards the construction of His temple, God said, “from this day on, I will bless you”. Likewise, may our God be pleased with Zion’s members’ dedication and efforts in fulfilling their duties and tasks!
(ii) God will make Zerubbabel as His signet ring (Haggai 2:23)
“Signet” is Hotam in Hebrew, meaning seal or signet ring. The seal represents the authority of the king. The king’s messenger will have his signet ring or seal to prove that he represents the king. Just as God made Zerubbabel His signet ring, may God also make Zion Church His signet ring in these end times!
3. Message given through Zechariah on the 8th month in the 2nd year of King Darius (Zechariah 1:1)
• 6th month 24thday – resumption of temple construction
• 7th month 24th day – first message through Haggai
• 9th month 24th day – second message through Haggai
This message by Zechariah was given between the 1st and 2nd messages of prophet Haggai. Although the temple reconstruction resumed on the 24th day of the 6th month, not all the people had returned to the Lord wholeheartedly, hence this call to return (Zechariah 1:3).
To return to God is to depart from our evil ways and deeds and return to listening to the Word of God (Zechariah 1:4). The result of the construction of God’s temple, is the revival in the Word of God, in its reading and proclamation. May our church construction, missions work, and evangelism work bring many people back to the Lord and His Word!
4. Message given through Zechariah on the 24th day of the 11th month in the 2nd year of King Darius
This message was given 2 months after the 2nd message from Haggai (Zechariah 1:7). Through these visions, God gave assurance that the temple of God will be completed (Zechariah 1:16-17). Likewise, let us believe that we as God’s temples too will be completed.
(i) God will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem and be the glory in its midst (Zechariah 2:5)
(ii) The temple construction is only possible by the might of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6)
May this church be filled with the spirit of God! The moment we forget that it is the Holy Spirit who builds up this church and leads our life is when we fall into traps, snares and difficulties.
(iii) The temple reconstruction will surely be completed (Zechariah 4:9)
Zechariah 2:1-2 says that Jerusalem will be measured. It means that the completion of construction marks the start of God’s work, not the end.
In the bible, we can see that God is most pleased with the work of building up His church, whether invisible or visible, spiritual or physical because the building up of the kingdom of God, it is the way His people will enter into His kingdom. That is why God told Noah to build the ark. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to build the family of worship. Moses to build up the tabernacle. God was so pleased when David wanted to build Him a house and again here at their return from Babylon.
Today, God is pleased with all those who participated, and who are involved in one way or another in the building up of the house of God and of those who fill up the house of God with His people. This is building up God’s house.
However, there were those not given the blessing. Those given the blessing of participating in building up God’s house did so because God gave them the blessing and privilege to do it. Only those who are blessed and chosen by God can build up the house of God. During Noah’s time, it was only Noah and his family who could do it. May God grant us this double blessing, to be called and to be blessed with participating! Let us participate in building up God’s house through church building, missions work, evangelism and taking care of newcomers. When we take care of God’s family, God will surely take care of us and our family!