Duration: 365 days
GOD THE INITIATOR
God has brought his people home. A remnant, including Haggai, is back from exile and in Jerusalem. They’re busily building their houses, but they’re neglecting the building of God’s.
God’s people have been living leaky-bucket lives—planting much and harvesting little. Through Haggai, God explains that he is behind this. He is trying to get his people’s attention. “Build my house,” he says.
They respond immediately—with the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua leading the way. “I am with you,” God says as he stirs his people’s spirits. Inspired, they get to work.
But soon they’re discouraged. The new temple they’re working on will be punier than Solomon’s. “Take heart,” God encourages, “this temple will be more glorious than the old one.”
When God’s people hadn’t been building his house, he held back their harvest. Now, because they’ve responded to his words, he is going to bless them. And he has a special message for Zerubbabel, the governor from the line of David: He will be God’s signet ring.
The King’s Heart
God’s people were busy rebuilding their lives in Jerusalem—without a thought for him.
It was a tragic statement. God had sent his people into exile, promising it would only be for 70 years, and then he brought them out of exile right on time. Yet the people who had lived through it and had seen his provision—some of the elders had lived long enough to be exiled and later brought back—weren’t restoring him to the center of their lives. It had been years since they’ve offered a sacrifice at the temple. It had been decades since they’ve had their lives revolve around the rhythms of the festivals. Their hearts should have been itching to rebuild the temple and put God back at the center of their lives.
So God tugged on the economy in hopes of turning his people toward him. They didn’t turn. So he sent Haggai and told them directly, and he stirred their spirits: “Rebuild my house! Let’s get back to the offerings and the festivals, the worship and the heart-connecting, the holiness practices and the heaven rehearsals. Let’s be close again.” God was the One who reinitiates their closeness.
A signet ring was a king’s seal. When used, its mark was a guarantee of things to come. When God told Zerubbabel, “I will make you like my signet ring” (Haggai 2:23), God was placing his seal on Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was from the line of David, and Jesus eventually descended from Zerubbabel’s line (see Matthew 1:12-16). Perhaps God was guaranteeing the King to come.
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