Yesterday we talked about a remnant of Israelites under the leadership of Zerubbabel (governor) and Joshua (high priest), returning to Jerusalem from decades of captivity in Babylon. Their first responsibility was to rebuild God’s Temple. King Cyrus had allowed them to return, and even helped raise the funds to do the rebuilding, as well as returning all the Temple’s articles of silver and gold, which Nebuchadnezzar had stolen – 54000 of them.
This returning remnant rebuilt the foundation of the Temple and then held a massive celebration service. The celebrating was short-lived, however. Opposition came from neighboring people who hired anti-Yahweh lobbyists to spread rumors and spoil the king’s thinking. The remnant of Israel became fearful and discouraged (Ezra 4:4-5). Rather than trust God to sort things out and continue giving them favor, they stopped work on the Temple for 16 years! For 16 years all they had accomplished for God’s house, the Temple, was to pour a slab. Of course, during this time they had built their own homes and businesses.
Finally, God had enough of their complacency and raised up a prophet, Haggai, to deliver His message to them:
“On the first day of the sixth month of the second year in the reign of King Darius of Persia, God’s message was delivered by the prophet Haggai to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, and to the high priest, Joshua. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: ‘The people procrastinate. They say this isn't the right time to rebuild My Temple, the Temple of God.’
'Shortly after that, God said more and Haggai spoke it: ‘How is it that it's the "right time" for you to live in your fine homes while Mine is in ruins?’
"And then a little later, God-of-the-Angel-Armies spoke out yet again: ‘Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over. You’ve spent a lot of money, but you haven’t much to show for it. You keep filling your plates, but you never get filled up. You keep drinking and drinking and drinking, but you are always thirsty. You put on layer after layer of clothes, but you can’t get warm.' That’s why God-of-the-Angel-Armies said: 'Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over.’
"Then God said: ‘Here is what I want you to do: Climb into the hills and cut some timber. Bring it down and rebuild the Temple. Do it just for Me. Honor Me. You’ve had great ambitions for yourselves, but nothing has come of it. The little you have brought to My Temple, I've blown away - there was nothing to it. And why? Because while you have run around, caught up with taking care of your own houses, My home is in ruins. That’s why. Because of your stinginess.
"And so I’ve given you a dry summer and a meager crop. I’ve matched your tight-fisted stinginess by decreeing a season of drought, drying up fields and hills, withering gardens and orchards, stunting vegetables, and fruit. Nothing—not man or woman, not animal or crop—is going to thrive.'
"Then the governor, Zerubbabel , Joshua the high priest, and all the people with them listened, really listened, to the voice of their God. When God sent the prophet Haggai to them, they paid attention to him. In listening to Haggai, they honored God. Then Haggai, God’s messenger, preached God’s message to the people: 'I am with you!’” (Haggai 1:1-14; MSG)
When the people responded appropriately to God’s words, He was quick to respond with grace and favor. It wasn’t really those in opposition to God that were His problem; He was able to deal with them. What He needed was a people of faith who would not bow to fear, discouragement or self-centeredness. When they were able to shake free from these things, God favored them once again and said, “I am with you! Let’s go!”
A month later, Haggai prophesied again, "Tell Governor Zerubbabel, High Priest Joshua and all the people: ‘Is there anyone here who saw the Temple the way it used to be, all glorious? And what do you see now? Not much, right? So get to work, Zerubbabel! Get to work, Joshua, high priest! Get to work, all you people! Yes, get to work! For I am with you...Put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt. I’m living and breathing among you right now. Don’t be timid. Don’t hold back. Before you know it, I will shake up sky and earth, ocean and fields. And I’ll shake down all the godless nations. They’ll bring bushels of wealth and I will fill this Temple with splendor...I own the silver, I own the gold. This Temple is going to end up far better than it started out, a glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish: a place in which I will hand out wholeness and holiness.'” (Haggai 2:1-9; MSG)
I have felt for quite some time that many in the church of America have grown weary in their prayers for revival and the turning around of our nation. Evil lobbyists, media opposition, inappropriate laws, intimidating government agencies, elections that don’t go our way, evil politicians - satan has used these and more to try and wear us down. Consequently, many have done just what these Israelites did - decided it must not be time for our turnaround and that, when God is ready, He’ll do it.
God, however, needs for us to persevere in our faith and prayers. He does not want us to pull away from this holy assignment of turning our nation back to Him through a sweeping revival. We must not be intimidated. We must not bow to slander, threats or complacency. We must stay the course! I keep hearing the words of my friend and co-laborer, Don Lynch, who moved to heaven a couple weeks ago. I posted a portion of a message he recently gave where he prophesied the word of the Lord to the praying church, “You must finish this! Finish this! Finish this!”
And so we must. We must finish this assignment of turning America back to God. We must pray and decree God’s words until revival is burning uncontrollably in America, and then around the world. We must let nothing – wars, threats, fear, discouragement, setbacks, unbelief – we must let nothing stop us.
Pray with me:
Father, You have begun a good work in our nation. You have added apostles and prophets to the leadership of the church. You have raised up intercessors and a remnant of people who are determined to see revival in America. We are determined to see America turn back to You and accomplish all You have destined for her. We are determined to see righteousness in our government once again. We are determined to see the young generation of Americans come to know You. We are determined to see world-wide revival - at least a billion souls.
We will not stop with a foundation. We will not yield to any opposition. We will not yield to fear, confusion, unbelief, discouragement, or selfishness. We will finish this! We WILL finish this! Raise up Haggai’s in our day with Your words. Stir the hearts of Your people. Stir up those whose hearts once burned with fire for revival and breakthrough, yet who now have settled for less. Stir up pastors who have chosen to settle for less than the fires of revival. Stir up intercessors who have allowed the fire to go out. Awaken us all to Your passion in this hour. May there be a roar of intercession that is released in this nation and the nations of the earth. We ask You, "Rend the heavens and come down!"
We ask all of this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
God is with us, and we will arise and build!
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