Daily Reflections December 13, 2017
The Israelites had returned to Jerusalem and had begun the reconstruction of the temple under the leadership of Ezra. However, after being threatened by the Samaritans their work halted. This pause in construction lasted for 16 years! For 16 years, God’s people found ways to busy themselves with worldly pursuits. Each turned his attention to his own home and his own savings. It was into this complacent climate that Haggai prophesied. He rebuked the people and called them to make the temple of God a priority once again. The people, to their credit, took heed of his rebuke and reengaged with the temple reconstruction.
Chapter two begins with a prophecy that came a month after the work had resumed. It appears at this point that the people had grown discouraged. The temple that had been constructed by Solomon was glorious by all accounts. Everything in it was overlaid with gold. It was constructed by the finest craftsmen and the materials used were of the highest quality. Anyone who had ever seen or even heard about the former temple knew that the result of this rebuild would pale in comparison with the first temple. How could they ever return to that golden age? What was the point in trying?
The temple held a special place in the hearts and minds of the Israelites. It was the place where God promised to dwell with His people – a visible reminder that God was in their midst. That’s why it was such a devastating blow when the Babylonians destroyed the temple in 586BC. Now the people are doing their best to rebuild, but they are discouraged and disillusioned.
But there is a beautiful gospel note that rings forth in this chapter.
The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:9 ESV)
“Keep building,” God says, “because I am going to build you a temple that is even more glorious than Solomon’s temple.” This would have seemed impossible to the Israelites, but they continued in their obedience.
As Bible readers, we ought to see an allusion in this prophecy to the coming of Jesus Christ. He himself said:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21 ESV)
Haggai’s prophecy pointed forward past the reconstructed temple and all the way to Jesus – the true temple. In him, we have the perfect expression of God’s union with His people. Now God truly dwells with His people and He will do so forever in a temple that surpasses anything that Solomon could have possibly imagined.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
This is one of the most familiar and beloved chapters of Holy Scripture. It contains the greatest warning and offers the greatest promise.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
This verse summarizes the heartbeat of the Bible. It is the Gospel in 24 words. In this verse we see the greatest act of love, given at the greatest cost for the greatest deliverance. This promise of deliverance comes ONLY to those who believe and this is John’s purpose in writing the Gospel, that people might believe:
…but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 ESV)
John uses the word believe 84 times in his Gospel. He wants us to believe in Jesus and he wants us to have life in his name. However, the difference between perishing and living, condemnation and eternal salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus gave this warning to Nicodemus:
You must be born again. (John 3:7b ESV)
Before we can understand the offer of God’s infinitely gracious solution, we must understand our grave condition. We are under the wrath of God because we have not believed in his Son. We love darkness rather than light because our hearts and deeds are evil. We love sin, and we rebel against God’s sovereignty.
Being religious, sincere, even spiritual is no guarantee that you will understand your need for salvation. Nicodemus was exemplary in all of these things yet he lacked the understanding of God’s salvation. He came to Jesus at night and was confronted with his own spiritual darkness. Jesus taught that to see the kingdom of God we must experience a rebirth, a supernatural spiritual birth from above. Only God can supernaturally give life to dead hearts.
We would be forever lost were it not for his grace. It triumphs over our sinfulness and effectually draws us to Christ. It appears, by God’s grace, that this conversation led to Nicodemus’ conversion. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathea in burying Jesus’ body in the tomb.
Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. (John 19:39 ESV)
Christmas is approaching. At the center of it all, amidst family, friends and festivities, is the act of giving. The ultimate Giver gave the ultimate Gift. At the heart of God’s plan of redemption is his intense and immense love for his children. No gift ever given, indeed the sum total of all gifts ever given across time can even begin to compare with the gift of God’s Son for a sinful humanity.
Do you see your need of the Saviour born in Bethlehem? Do you believe Jesus is God’s solution for your need? Have you received his offer of eternal life? If so, you are blessed above any blessing this world affords. Be grateful. Sing carols of worship and let praise flow from your lips. If not, simply confess that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved (Romans 10:9)! This is the promise and gift of God.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)
Associate Pastor Jody Cross