PROJECT “HAGGAI” – A Process of Rebuilding
“On the first day of the sixth month of the second year of the Persian King Darius, a message came to prophet Haggai from the Lord God, saying: “My temple is still destroyed… Go up into the mountains, and bring logs down, and use them to rebuild my house”… He stirred up the rest of the people to help; then everyone began to work… It was the 24th day of the sixth month…
“On the 21st day of the seventh month, a second message came from the Lord: “I will fill the temple with glory… the silver belongs to me, and so does the gold… the new temple will be more beautiful than the first one…
“On the 24th day of the ninth month, a third message came to Haggai from the Lord saying: “…Suppose someone carries holy meat in clothes he is wearing and the clothes touch some bread… does it also become holy?… suppose someone is made unclean by touching a dead body, and he touches other thing, does it become unclean, too? Now, think carefully about the time when the foundation of my temple was laid.…” On the very same day, a final message came to Haggai, saying: “From this day, I will take you… for I have chosen you.”
The preceding verses lifted from the two-chapter book of Haggai (New International Reader’s Version) summed up the four consecutive messages of the Lord to prophet Haggai concerning the “rebuilding of the temple of the Lord” in about 520 B.C.; it tackled a clear yet long process of rebuilding the Lord’s temple at the time of Persian King Darius. God made known His message through the mouth of His sent prophet (Haggai) and made instrument Zerubbabel who later became a king to help lead the Israelites in rebuilding a new temple. Most importantly, the people of the Lord had come to right knowledge and recognized the time to rebuild the new House of the Lord.
Rebuilding does not take place overnight; neither does it happen instantly. It takes time from the moment “rebuilding” is conceived, even from the time it is initiated. The message has to be spoken, after which it will take days, or even months, of internalization and realization. In the book of Haggai, the time within which people understood and began to act, and the time they came to know the ideals of rebuilding as well as the fundamental prerequisite of rebuilding were clearly written.
Recognizing the time and the need for rebuilding
It took days to let people know and recognize the need for rebuilding; and it was only on the 24th day from the time Haggai spoke the first message that people began to work on the temple (Haggai 1:15). The main reason was the people themselves thought that it’s not yet time to rebuild the house of the Lord; the people prioritize their own houses rather than putting up first the temple of the Lord. It took such long days before people actually begin to act to rebuild the House of the Lord (Haggai 1:2-9).
When people ignore or procrastinate on the message of rebuilding and if they take for granted knowingly or unknowingly, the calling on rebuilding, then it would be hard to take the first step towards rebuilding. In the same way, people will find insufficiency of the fruits of their crops as the blessings from heavens will be suppressed by God (Haggai 1:10) to those who put up their own houses and forget the house of the Lord.
The very first message is a basic component of rebuilding, without it one cannot initiate the process of rebuilding.
Understanding the standards and outcome of rebuilding
About two months after the very first message, the Lord through His prophet Haggai spoke the second time saying: “the new temple shall be more beautiful than the first one”. Nearly a month from the time people began to work in the temple, Haggai speaks of the vision about how the new house of the Lord should look like; it points to understanding the vision and mission required not only to surpass the previous temple built years ago but also to bring glory greater than it used to have. It means some measure of better and greater sacrifices and offerings to attain the desired output of rebuilding. The silver and gold signify the value and worth of the things to be used in rebuilding; it serves as a higher and challenging standard in rebuilding as declared by the Lord.
This has to do with the consistent amount of work or input to meet the standards and ultimately achieve the beauty or glory of a finished project.
Being pure and clean in rebuilding process
It took about four months before the very first foundation stone was laid upon and physically re-start the new House of the Lord. It was the day when the Lord announces: “Be strong and start rebuilding” (Haggai 2:4) by making God’s people pure and clean – it is a fundamental prerequisite to make rebuilding bold and sound.
The third message to Haggai contains two questions as follows:
“…Suppose one carries holy meat in clothes he is wearing and the clothes touch some bread… does it also become holy?… suppose one is made unclean by touching a dead body, and touch any of these, does it become unclean, too?
The first question was answered by “No” (Haggai 2:12) and the other was answered by “Yes” (Haggai 2:13). But, this tells one thing: defilement is much more “viral” than holiness. God had made the holy land and brought back His people in the land, but people remained defiled, and so the things they bring in the temple.
For this reason, purifying His people is a primary condition for temple rebuilding, so much so that the things brought in by their hands in rebuilding will need to become holy before the eyes of the Lord. It reiterates the fundamental element, that is, a clean motive and pure conviction especially in terms of bringing their portion in the house of the Lord. This is what defines holiness during rebuilding – a pure heart and clean hands holding “log” and “woods” sanctified by God in the process of rebuilding. The people will be made holy transforming the unclean to clean. These are the key to foundation of rebuilding as one’s stone is laid on top of another’s, collectively and carefully made (Haggai 2:15 & 18) to ensure solid and strong building blocks in the process.
During the process of rebuilding, being holy is imperative for all individuals as the New Testament declares in 1 Cor.3:16-17 that God’s temple is holy and the people are basically the temple themselves.
God’s promises for rebuilding
On the same day of 24th of the ninth month, the God’s promise was announced; it is intended to all His servants who genuinely take part of the rebuilding – to God’s chosen people who were made clean. God’s promises on rebuilding belong to those religiously participating in rebuilding who will surely come with a right sense of accomplishment and contribution. As many are aware, today’s house of the Lord is the Church itself (1 Timothy 3:15) comprised of those who believe in the core founder, no other but Christ; God through Christ Jesus places in the Church His seal, which is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) – this is the royal seal that God promised in the last verse of the book of Haggai. This promise, which also comes along with both material and spiritual gifts, makes God’s people worthy of His blessings and well ready until the completion of the rebuilding project.
The new temple was marvelously completed in about four years and was sealed by the King’s order as promised.
Let us build and rebuild and be a partaker of the Project “Haggai”* and receive the promises of it!
*Project “Haggai” is an on-going monthly fund pledges among members of PMCC (4thWatch) Singapore to support the rental of its new church place.