Meet the God of rebuilding, of restoration and renewed hope and resilience
The next part of God’s message to the people of Judah who are rebuilding God’s temple is this:
In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory. The silver is mine and the gold is mine. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house. And in this place I will grant peace. Haggai 2:6-9
God is reminding the people of who He is. That the One in charge of this whole project is none other than the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has power over the whole creation. He is Almighty God. He is the God of glory.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
The natural world is crammed with wonders that point us towards this Creator God. Just take a look out of the window. Venture outdoors and look up at the sky. Look down at the ground beneath your feet. Watch a nature documentary. Stroke a cat. Study a newborn baby. Everything in nature is shouting out the glory of God.
And this temple that the people are building, this house of God, is to be constructed by humans with divine inspiration and strength to reflect the glory of God. That’s the purpose of this rebuilding. The purpose of any house of God, any place of worship. To reflect the glory of God – through creativity and craftsmanship, through giving of self in love and gratitude. It’s a giving back to the One who gave it all in the first place.
God takes the opportunity to remind the people that it is all His. The silver, the gold, everything that the people have came from God in the first place.
One of my favourite lines in the Church of England liturgy is –
All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.
That right there changes everything. We don’t deserve anything that we have. It is all a gift from God. He has given us everything that we have for a reason: so that we can offer it all back to Him in generosity and service. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all that God has given me. When I look around the world, I know that I am rich beyond measure. And what I have is not mine to cling onto. It’s to give away, to share, to use for God’s glory.
And then there’s another reminder –
I will fill this house with glory.
Only God can do that. We can build and plan and get all the details rights, but it is the presence of God in any place or situation that makes all the difference. That turns the everyday into a moment of divine significance. No amount of planning can bring that about. It is the presence of God that matters.
Verse 9 is put like this in the Message:
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 2:9
This is a great reminder too. We looked yesterday at how despondent and discouraged the people might have been faced with this enormous task of rebuilding the temple. After all, they’d done it once before. They’d put in all the work and for what? The temple had been destroyed and now lay in ruins. But God is saying that in rebuilding, the temple is going to end up better than it started out. It’s more than restoring the structure to its former glory. The glory will be enhanced. For in the rebuilding, there will be restoration and renewed hope and resilience: wholeness and holiness.
Rebuilding is hard. Trying again is hard. Restoring a relationship is hard.
Giving up and walking away is often the attractive option. I’m feeling that in one area of my life particularly at the moment. I’ve been badly hurt by a group of people and can’t face sticking around to give them the opportunity to do it again. Why would I do that? Self-preservation is kicking in, telling me that reconciliation is impossible, that I’ll always be living in the fear of it all happening all over again. My relationships and self-confidence in this situation are in ruins. I don’t know if I have the hope and resilience to even believe that anything good can come from this.
And yet God is the God of rebuilding, of restoration and renewed hope and resilience, of wholeness and holiness.
I can’t visualise what that could look like for me in my situation, but I take heart from these words, that what will come from this mess is far greater than what was there before everything fell apart.
God is God and He alone can do this.