Be Strong and Work
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: (Haggai 2:3-4)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built. (Zechariah 8:9)
THREE THINGS IN THIS TEXT: Be strong and work, and the importance of the Old Testament. Sometimes it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. With football teams, so many times the outcome is determined by the dogged determination of the players. The text deals with exercise of the will. It’s not talking about medical conditions. It’s talking about the area that can be controlled by deciding to be strong.
THE OLD TESTAMENT IS THE FOUNDATION AND FLOOR of the New Testament. We do not build the walls of a house on soft, damp dirt. There must be a strong, solid foundation.
IN THE SAME WAY, we could not have a New Testament without the Old Testament. We cannot understand much of the New Testament without first understanding the Old Testament. We must not be content to know a few things out of the New Testament. America is in the grip of severe Bible ignorance. The Bible still sells the best of any book, but it is perhaps the least-read.
I HAVE READ THE BIBLE A GOOD BIT in my short earthly journey; not because I’m spiritual but because I am not spiritual. The Bible tells us how to get to Heaven and how to live on our way to Heaven. One reason I continue to read the Bible is because by the time I read it through, I have forgotten things I must remember and I need to go back and read it again. Pat Boone says he has read the Bible through every year for the last 30 years. I haven’t done that. Maybe half. I don’ know.
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR READING THE BIBLE and studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it and obeying it. As I have mingled with people in their homes, in jails and hospitals, I have seen a lot of people who wouldn’t be having the problems they’re having if they had payed attention to the Bible. Most of the problems I have had in life are because I didn’t pay close enough attention to what the Bible says.
BARBARA AND I HAVE BEEN SLOWLY WORKING OUR WAY through the Minor Prophets in our morning devotions. God has been working faithfully with His beloved twelve tribes of Israel that is now divided. The ten tribes in the north are called Israel. The two tribes in the south that include Jerusalem, are called Judah.
AFTER THE DEATH OF SOLOMON, the ten northern tribes split away from the southern two tribes and immediately plunged into idolatry. God patiently pleaded with them to return to Him. Elijah is the best-known prophet to the northern ten tribes, under whose ministry it did not rain for over three years.
THE CONTEST WITH THE FALSE PROPHETS OF AHAB AND JEZEBEL ended with Elijah calling down fire on Mount Carmel and the slaughter of 400 prophets of Baal. The fickle Jewish worshippers on Mount Carmel had their shallow moment of “revival” during which they cried out that Jehovah is God. (It was like America when the Islamic planes hit our Twin Towers in New York. America was patriotic and religious for a few weeks.) Israel might as well have been watching a movie. They never repented. They never changed their ways.
ISRAEL WAS JOINED TO IDOLATRY AT THE HIP and there was no cure. God gave up on them and brought down the Assyrians from the north. They deported the cream of the Jewish people into Assyria and scattered them all over the country. The Ten Tribes have not been heard of since. Of course, God knows where every one of them is today.
IN 150 YEARS, JUDAH WAS AS IDOLATROUS AS HER NORTHERN SISTER. After sending prophets to plead with Judah, God brought the Babylonian army to Jerusalem. The army destroyed their city and Solomon’s Temple and led the cream of the city in chains to Babylon. After 70 years, Babylon had been conquered by the Medes and Persians and King Cyrus granted the Jews the freedom to return to their homeland. He gave them substantial sums of wealth with which to rebuild the Temple and the walls of the City of Jerusalem. This is called the Post Exilic period. (After the 70-year exile.)
MANY OF THE CAPTIVE JEWS HAD SETTLED DOWN IN BABYLON and preferred to die there rather than go back home and start all over again. So, a small remnant of Jews went home to claim their land and what was left of their houses and farms. They rebuilt the foundation of the Temple and had a ceremony. The old men wept and wailed loudly because the new Temple was as nothing compared to what Solomon’s Temple had been. They remembered well. The young men who had never seen Solomon’s Temple rejoiced and shouted aloud. The wailing in sorrow and the shouting in joy mixed together.
THAT WAS IT. THEY STALLED OUT WHEN THE FOUNDATION WAS LAID and began building their own houses. Some of them built elaborate houses, fit for a king. “It doesn’t take long for zeal to cool and God’s people to grow apathetic, especially when opposition began an ominous growl that soon became a roar.
THE SHOUTING OF THE PEOPLE AWAKENED THE ENEMIES OF THE JEWS, aroused official opposition, and caused the work to stop. (Ezra 4:1-6, 24). The temple lay unfinished from 536 to 520 B.C. God sent Haggai, and Zechariah to encourage them to get back to work and finish rebuilding the temple.” (Warren Wiersbe) Haggai was an older prophet and Zechariah was younger.
WE'RE BACK TO OUR TEXT FOR TODAY: Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: (Haggai 2:3-4)
JUST TWO SIMPLE THINGS WERE NEED TO BUILD THE TEMPLE on its foundation that had laid there in the weather for sixteen years: Be strong and work. That’s it. That would build the Temple. They had an attitude problem. They didn’t have a medical problem. God was for them but that didn’t make any difference. They were not in sync with God.
THAT'S IT? BE STRONG AND WORK? That’s what the Bible says. But that’s in the Old Testament. We live in the New Testament days when it’s a lot different. OK. In the New Testament it says:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Eph 6:10)
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high placges. (Ephesians 6:11-12)
BE STRONG. OLD TESTAMENT. NEW TESTAMENT. God’s people are to consider themselves to be strong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say for God’s people to go out and be weak. Just roll over and ignore what we ought to be doing. I heard Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. say: “I am not everyone, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do and by the grace of God I will do it.” That impressed me. It still impresses me. Be strong. Work. I need to keep these two words handy on the days my gung-ho is weak.
IN PART 2 WE'LL REVIEW THE NAMES of the prophets, priests, governors and kings involved in the rebuilding of Zerubbabel’s Temple. Christians need to be thoroughly familiar what it took to get it built.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JANUARY 16, 2019 - WEDNESDAY
A.M. Genesis 38-40 P.M. Matthew 12:22-50
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A Good Verse to Memorize:
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psalm 91:2)
Song for Today:
A Mighty Fortress is Our God (3:48) (Mixed Choir - Anonymous)
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