Haggai: “A need for peace”
Thomas D. Kock
Mom was visiting; the phone call about Grandpa was for her. “Your father just had a massive heart attack; we don’t think he’ll make it. If you want to see him, you better come now!” Shaken, Mom asked me to drive the one-hour trip.
What did we need? On the way, I suppose we could have talked about my need for a new car, our favorite football team, or politics. But with Grandpa’s life hanging in the balance, none of that seemed important.
Our real need
Haggai wrote in 520 B.C., 16 years after a small group of exiles had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. Almost immediately they began rebuilding the temple.
And then they stopped. God confronts them: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house [the temple] remains a ruin?” (1:3). They had been busy with planting and working for themselves.
But God says, “What you brought home, I blew away” (1:9). Why? “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house” (1:9). They thought they needed houses, crops, and wages, but they needed something far more important.
So many of us in America have been blessed with so much. This Thanksgiving many of us will give thanks for food, clothes, jobs, houses, cars, boats, and so much more. Yes, those are blessings!
But those aren’t the things we really need! Racing down the interstate to try to see Grandpa, I didn’t care about my car, my clothes, or the football team. God’s peace—that’s what I needed.
Peace was what the Israelites needed too. For them, it was connected to building God’s house, so God urged them on.
God fills that need
And the Israelites listened! They resumed work (cf. 1:12-15). But this temple they built paled in comparison to Solomon’s grand temple, and the people became discouraged. God asks, “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?” (2:3).
Keep building, God told them! For God promised: “ ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty” (2:9). Why so? The builders needed to look forward to the coming of the Messiah. The buildings—even Herod’s temple—were nothing compared to the arrival of the One who would bring peace. “ ‘In this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (2:9). The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus centuries later near this building would bring peace.
Peace! That’s what I need. Peace of knowing that my sins are forgiven, that I’m going to heaven! Peace between me and my God! The peace that God earned—that’s what I really need!
When we got to the hospital, Grandpa was dead. Or to put it far better, Grandpa was with Jesus, his Savior, and he was at peace.
And so are we, now and forever.
That’s what we really need.
Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.
This is the tenth article in a 12-part series on minor prophets.
Lineage: Haggai is described only as a “prophet.”
Date of writing: August–December, likely 520 B.C. Zechariah is a contemporary.
Unique feature: The words “LORD Almighty” occur about 14 times in 38 verses.
Key verse: 2:9: “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place, I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
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Author: Thomas Kock
Volume 105, Number 11
Issue: November 2018
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