1In the seventh month, on the 21st day of the month, YHWH’s word came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, saying, 2“Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah and to Joshua son of Jehozadak the High Priest and to the remnant of the people, saying, 3‘Who is there among you who remain who saw this house in its first glory? What does it look like to you now? Is this not like nothing compared to that in your view? 4And now be strong Zerubbabel–a declaration of YHWH–and be strong Joshua son of Jehozadak the High Priest, and be strong all you people of the land–a declaration of YHWH–and work, for I am with you–a declaration of YHWH of Armies. 5According to the agreement I made with you when I brought you out of Egypt my spirit stands among you. Don’t be afraid!’ 6For this is what YHWH of armies says, ‘Once again, in a little will, I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea, and the dry land. 7And I will shake all the nations and the desire of all nations will come. I will fill this house with glory,’ says YHWH of armies. 8‘Mine is the silver and mine the gold!’–a declaration of YHWH of Armies. 9The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says YHWH of Armies. ‘And in this place I will establish peace.’–a declaration of YHWH of armies.â€ — Haggai 2:1-9
(Note on the Bible translation–I use my own working translation of the text, due to copyright constraints and the huge amount of scripture we quote on this blog. The links go to a site that licenses the RSV, so you can read in that version if you wish.)
Have you ever been in a group of people who have been around for awhile and heard them talk about the past? I don’t necessarily mean old people. These folks could be the senior class in high school. Inevitably most of them remember the past as a much better time. Frequently we forget just how bad things were in the past, while we remember the good times and the good things. That’s how we get stories of a â€œgolden age.â€
Right now we remember our problems and our complaints. But more often than not in a few years we’ll remember today as better than it actually was. Uncertainty about our future often makes us see our present as worse than it actually is, and our future as more doubtful.
This isn’t a new attitude. Picture the Judean exiles who have returned from Babylon and started to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Those few who remembered what things were like before must have felt pretty hopeless. The glorious temple had been destroyed and here were a few rocks in the ground and a ditch or two. Human eyes looked and saw nothing. How can the former glories be restored? Here we are, few in number with barely enough to live on. The population is tiny. Where are the resources going to come from? We’ll never make it as good as it was in the old days!
That’s the human eye view of it. But the God’s eye view is quite different. You don’t have the money? Mine is the silver and the gold–not just some of it, but all of it! You’re insecure? I am YHWH, lord of armies. There are more with us than there are with them (2 Kings 6:16) no matter who they are! You feel powerless? My Spirit is among you and I’m the guy who can shake not just nations, but all the land and all the sea, and even the heavens and the whole world.
A God’s eye view sees the future and declares that future glory is not only going to be as good as, but it’s going to be greater than the former. God himself would put his presence in this house, and no glory could be greater than that.
Our human eye view tends toward discouragement. Things are never quite good enough. We remember the past with nostalgia because at least it is certain.
But we need to get a God’s eye view, and see what God is going to do.
The latter glory will be greater than the former. There may be detours, trials, and tribulations, but whatever comes, count on it!