When the Israelite captives returned to Judah to rebuild Jerusalem, for a brief period they worked excitedly and feverishly to get a lot of the construction work done. Then they took their eyes off the Lord and what he told them to do, allowing their enemies, the heathen government, and apathy discourage them from moving forward with fulfilling God’s work. After a few years of their work stoppage on the second temple, the Lord decided it was time to light a fire under them by sending the prophets Haggai and Zechariah alongside Ezra to preach his word to them.
The Lord’s words through Haggai were very direct, frank, and full of undeniable truth. So powerful were the words and the people so tired of the empty, dull drudgery of living godlessly that the local civic and religious leaders and the common people responded like this in Haggai 1:
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.
13 Then spake Haggai the LORD’s messenger in the LORD’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.
14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God…
The context of the passage gives us the impression that when the people from the least to the greatest responded with obedience and reverent, respectful fear toward the Lord, they did it honestly and earnestly with business-like energy and determination. They did it believing the Lord was for real, that his word was 100% true, and that he would grant them success in whatever endeavor they would do for him. As soon as the Lord saw the genuineness of their response, he met them where they were and sent his power to stir up their spirits.
Their spirits were aroused, awakened, excited, and ready to triumph because God unleashed a spark in their spirits. The Israelites became unstoppable in their efforts to build the house of the Lord for the services of the Lord.
Spiritual parallels can be drawn from this piece of history as it relates to the New Testament church today. In our era, we are surrounded by enemies under Satanic influence who want to halt our works for the Lord. We face off with secular governments who want us and our efforts removed from society. We are met with apathy within our ranks trying to stop us from moving forward in the things of God. Nevertheless, all we need do is hear God’s timely word, step up in loving obedience and godly fear, then experience how the Lord unleashes a spark in our spirits as we commit to our works in the spiritual house of the Lord, his church.
By so doing, we will not only be following the example of these godly ancient Israelites, but taking on the style and character of the Lord Jesus himself, his holy apostles, and all the true saints who came before us. To construct God’s spiritual house, they took on the Lord’s assigned tasks with burning devotion, enthusiasm, and indomitable perseverance. We should do likewise, especially considering that there are still countless lost souls who have the potential of being saved, a huge number of us saints who need to be drawn to the next level of our spiritual maturity, and a whole host of godly methods or tools to use to cause those things to happen. My prayers are with all of you as we take on and carry out our God-given assignments.