But now be strong, O Zerubbabel … “Be strong, O Joshua … Be strong, all you people of the land,” declares the LORD, “and work.” Haggai 2:4
“Be strong … and work.” There is a balance here. On one hand, we are to be strong in the Lord, relying on his strength and trusting his promise: “For I am with you” (verse 4). On the other hand, there’s work for us to do.
In this instance, God was asking Zerubbabel, Joshua and all the people to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The altar had been built and the foundation had been laid but then Israel’s enemies stirred up trouble. They spread rumours about Zerubbabel and told the new king in Babylon that God’s people were troublemakers. The king believed them and God’s people were compelled by force to stop building (Ezra 4:23).
Zerubbabel was doing what God asked of him but was unable to continue. Now sixteen years later through Haggai God told his people it was time to start building again. We may wonder why this was so important to God when in the New Testament we read, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands” (Acts 17:24). But Haggai says, “…build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored” (Haggai 1:8).
The temple played a significant part in Israel’s history and God taught them many lessons through it. Likewise, God teaches us through everyday situations in our lives. God is honoured when we complete the tasks he has for us, even if those tasks don’t seem very spiritual. God doesn’t differentiate between the secular and spiritual. It’s all spiritual.
Let’s “be strong … and work.”