With the opportunity to preach the book of Haggai, I was surprised by what a treasure this small book is. Most surprising to me was the modern day application of a book written specifically to a certain people at a certain time – rebuild the temple.
There is no temple in Jerusalem today; the second temple was destroyed within four decades of Christ’s resurrection. And I don’t think the call from the book of Haggai is for us to travel to Jerusalem and start setting stone. I think that a use of temple passages to promote the construction of new church buildings is likewise misguided.
Instead, a focus on the purposes of the temple in the lives of the Jewish people brings to light the construction project for which we are called.
- The temple was the place of presence for God on earth – Immanuel, God with Us
- The temple was the place of sacrifice and reconciliation between sinful man and holy God.
- The temple was a light to all the nations, prompting the world to ask, “Who is this God that merits such a home?” and “Who are these people who have such a God?”
Paul clearly points to the modern day temple that is being built.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Cor. 3:16-17)
We, those who have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, are the temple. We are the place of habitation of God on earth. We are the Body of Christ, having been joined to the ultimate sacrifice of reconciliation to the Father. We are a beacon of light to a lost and dying world.
Jesus left instructions for his disciples before he ascended to heaven. He left instructions for this temple of believers to be build:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Will you help lay a stone on this temple? Or will you, like the people of Haggai’s day, walk about saying, “The time has not come,” while seeking a comfortable life for yourself.
The mere prospect of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ most likely stokes fear and thoughts of inadequacy. Like the people of Haggai’s day who were not capable of building a truly glorious temple, God says, “I am with you. I will shake the nations.” Remember, this is God’s work – we are just joining Him in the effort.
Will you build the temple this week? One conversation with one person may change a life for eternity. Will you boldly do God’s work in the midst of skeptics, doubters, and fear-mongers? Will you build the temple?