Haggai 2:9 The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.
The foundations were being laid for the new temple. Those who had seen the previous temple were saddened for this one would be smaller than the one built by Solomon. Sadly the original temple had been destroyed and now that they were returning home from exile it was time to build a place of worship. The promise that God brought them at the moment of their despair was that the splendor of this new, and smaller house, would be greater than the one built by Solomon. That was hard for the people to believe because they knew that they didn’t personally have the resources to make this a gorgeous temple.
This new temple would be far greater than the old because the Messiah would eventually visit this very place. The long awaited one would sit along the colonnades and teach those who would be willing to listen. The prosperity to be received would be in the form of eternal life and transformation in the here and now for the Christ-followers. The new temple may have been smaller, but it would be better, for Jesus would be found there.
I can only imagine the disappointment of those who had experienced Solomon’s temple. It had been impressive. Now, it was gone and they wanted things to be the same as they had been in the past.
Times are changing and when we cling to the things of the past we may not be able to see the advent of a new future. When we cling to the things of the past and are disappointed because of the changes of the current moment or of the future, we may just miss out on what God has for us. While the earthly treasures of Solomon’s temple were certainly beautiful, they were nothing compared to the presence of the Messiah! He would become the living temple, the one that would be torn down and rebuilt within three days. You and I would then be invited to become living stones in the temple of our God, empowered and strengthened by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
If we are looking at earthly systems or structures that just aren’t what they used to be, it’s not time for us to be discouraged. It may, however, be time for us to open our eyes to God who is at work in our world and may be leading us into a new future that we cannot even imagine. The people staring at a new and smaller foundation could not have imagined what would happen when Jesus would arrive. Jesus is coming again and all of earth is groaning in anticipation and in the meantime God is still to be trusted. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his ways higher than ours. It’s not time to doubt God, it is time to trust him even more. It may be smaller — things may be much different — but could it be that they will be better? Our shortsightedness could mean that we overlook the Messiah.
Don’t be discouraged because the landscape is changing but be excited, for the coming splendor will be greater than the former.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Charles Wesley, 1744
Lord, may I anticipate the new with great joy. Amen.
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