The Temple of the Lord
Haggai prophesied in the last decades of the sixth century BC in the years following Israel’s return to their land after seventy years of exile in Babylon. Upon their return, they found a land utterly destroyed and thus they began the arduous task of rebuilding.
Apparently, by the time of Haggai’s ministry, some years had passed. There had been plenty of time to begin rebuilding God’s house and yet the temple of the Lord, which had been the center of their lives before Babylon ravaged the land, continued to lie in ruins.
Things weren’t going well for the nation. Times were hard and nothing seemed to be working. Haggai came on the scene with a prophetic burden to explain things on God’s behalf, confront the people with their failure to prioritize the building of the temple, and get things working again by setting spiritual priorities in order.
You might ask, how could a structure, a collection of sticks and stones, have meant so much to God that a curse would rest on the land until it was restored? The building itself was not the issue. The significance of the temple went well beyond just the structure, and involved purposes much deeper and more important.
God doesn’t change. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament—same heart, same will, and same love. As we move into the New Testament, the outward forms of things change, but the substance remains because God’s heart remains the same. If you adequately understand the temple, then you see and understand the love in God’s plans for it. The lessons embedded in the word that came through Haggai stand firm and deep for all eternity.
The Old Testament temple was more than just a building in which to worship. It was a rallying place of identity and relationship for the people. More importantly, it was a resource center for the nation as a whole, a storehouse for the benefit of all the people to supply resources that were essential to Israel—resources that remain essential to us.
The church in our day has been ravaged and diminished in influence under pressure from the idolatrous culture that surrounds us. Figuratively speaking, a remnant is even now returning from exile. It’s time to rebuild on a biblical foundation and construct a temple adequate to contain the outpouring God is about to send.