“Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
At this point in the history of Israel, the people were being called to resume the rebuilding of the temple. They faced many challenges to obedience, both externally ( Ezra 4:4 ) and internally ( Haggai 1:9 ). They had previously faced opposition and discouragement from the Assyrians, a people that lived among them and now they encountered division among themselves. They had forsaken the commission they were given. They had left the commands of the Lord to build His house and started to establish their own houses; now the Lord speaks to Zerubbabel their leader and gives him direction in resuming the work. God gives him direction in three ways.
1. Instruction – What he is to do.
2. Intention – What the end or result will be.
3. Means – How he will do it.
What we must do!
Zerubbabel is first told to “Be strong.” If we are to walk in the good works that the Lord has prepared in a way that is fully pleasing to Him; we must be strong ( Ephesians 2:10 Colossians 1:10 ). We must resist the devil ( James 4:7 ) and refuse to be mastered by our flesh ( Romans 6:19 )
We must also “work”. (1 Corinthians 3:7-15 James 1:25 , 1 Corinthians 15:58) If we find ourselves “seeking first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), we will make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14)
What the end or result will be!
The Lord declares to Zerubbabel, that glory of the latter temple, (the one that they are currently being exhorted to complete) will be greater than the previous temple. Not only will the temple be greater, but the Lord will give peace! The people of Jerusalem were looking back at the former temple in awe of it and discouraged at their progress and the opposition they faced. They spent too much time reminiscing over the old work. Yes, it was a great work; but the promise of God was to do a greater work through them. The result would be that God would have a place to be worshipped and glorified in and that God would bring peace. In a time of occupation, peace was a welcome change, but only the Lord could bring it and He would bring it through their obedience.
We must remember the exhortation in Isaiah 43:18, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” The Lord wants to do new things and greater things in and through His people, but as He calls us to these things, we must be obedient. In obedience and in humility He will be glorified and people will know that we love Jesus ( John 14:23-26 , 1 John 2:3 ). God will be faithful to deliver on His promise and will complete the work. ( Hebrews 13:20 Philippians 1:6 ).
How are we going to do this?
Just as the people in Jerusalem were intimidated by their circumstances and distracted by creating a comfortable environment for themselves, we too are prone to being led astray by our own desires and our own hearts. Because our hearts are our flesh are weak and wicked ( Jeremiah 17:9), we cannot “have confidence in our flesh. We may appear strong, or it may seem like we have good ideas to accomplish these things, but they only lead to burn out and frustrations.
The Lord knowing our hearts has given the means to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6 “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.” It is simple, we must rely on the Holy Spirit. When seeking strength and direction, we must not lean our on own understanding, but must look to Him for direction ( Proverbs 3:5-6 ). Jesus gives us this direction Himself, when talking to the disciples. In Luke 24:49 he instructs, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. Notice, He did not send them out on the great commission to make disciples and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ( Matt 28:19 ) until they received the Holy Spirit who would lead them into all truth ( John 16:5-14 ).
Let us be strong, for we know we have victory in Christ. We must resist the devil.
Let us work in a way that is honoring and glorifying to God, we must be found faithful in the things He has called us to.
Let us serve with the ability that He supplies ( 1 Peter 4:10-11 ). We must walk in obedience and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit if we are to be successful. For apart from Him, we truly can do nothing ( John 15:5 ).