“So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, 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….” Haggai 1:14
by Dan Strutz
In recent months my wife and I have embarked on major remodeling of a house we purchased. We have learned a bit about building, remodeling and the fact that a work in progress is not always pleasant to look at. Sometimes we take backward steps to make forward progress. If we did not know there was a final plan ahead, as it sits right now—walls down to the studs, no kitchen or bathroom, etc.—we might shed a tear, wishing we had the house back the way it was!
In God’s Word, we find a small, seemingly insignificant book where the people mourn the temple they once had as they see the work in progress—the temple set up by Zerubbabel and the early wave of exile returnees. The book of Haggai speaks of this governor of Judah and how God commissioned Zerubbabel to work on the house of the Lord, the temple. It was a temple that in the physical realm ended up being significantly less attractive than Solomon’s temple, had fewer resources and never housed the Ark of the Covenant. Nor did it see the Shekinah glory of God. But, God had “stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel,” and they got to work. The process brought joy and weeping from those who had seen the earlier temple (Ezra 3:12). In spite of several delays, the temple rebuilding project was completed (Ezra 6:15).
Sometimes, it may be the case that we look and weep at the fact that where we are today does not look like where we were yesterday. This can be true of churches where glory days seem to be in the past or in our own denomination or community. It can even be true of our personal walk with the Lord. But in looking back, are we remembering the much bigger promises that God in his glory has ahead? Are we trusting in what he has in store?
Zerubbabel is probably not a household or Sunday school name. The fact that he is mentioned in Haggai, the second shortest book in the Old Testament, probably does not help him much. But, the Lord stirred him to begin rebuilding. Surrounded by faithful men, he trusted the Lord for greater glory days still to come—and he built. Little did Zerubbabel know that the blessing that is said to be his—bearing the signet ring of the King—would translate to his being the only name between David and Jesus that is listed in both Matthew and Luke’s genealogies in the Gospels. A stirred-up man, he trusted the Lord and “began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty” (Hag. 1:14).
When the spiritual building projects God has us in look worse today than they did yesterday, will you trust our God, like Zerubbabel did? Will you listen to God’s stirring and begin building?
Dan Strutz is pastor of Community Bible Church, the USMB congregation in Mountain Lake, Minn.