Rebuilding for the Future

KEY VERSE: “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses and this house lie waste?” —Haggai 1:4

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Haggai 1:1-15; 2:1-23

IT WAS A grand and glorious day for Israel when Cyrus, king of Persia, made the proclamation recorded in Ezra 1:1-4, giving permission to the Israelites to return from captivity to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple which the Babylonians had destroyed. Zerubbabel, who was of the royal family of David and Solomon, was appointed governor of a colony of 42,000 workers who had volunteered to return for this task.

First they had to build homes to live in, which they did in the first year; also they rebuilt an altar to offer sacrifices to the Lord in keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and other rituals of the Law.

In the second year they worked on restoring the foundation of the Temple. When it was completed they had a ceremony. The priests in their priestly apparel, with trumpets, and the Levites with cymbals, praised the Lord. (Ezra 3:10) The occasion was so emotional that some shouted for joy and others wept as they recalled the grand structure that had been built by Solomon.

But trouble arose, fomented by the adversaries of Israel who sought to disrupt the work by weakening the hands of the builders and troubling them in every way possible. Accusations against Israel were cited, and legal action was taken to stop the project, and thus their enemies succeeded in bringing the work to a halt.—Ezra 4:24

The people became content to live in their new homes rather than to work on the Temple. It was necessary for God to stir up the people through the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah. Haggai questioned the Israelites in the words of our Key Verse, and he and Zechariah were instrumental in reviving the work. We read: “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.”—Ezra 5:1,2

The enemies of Israel again tried to disrupt the work, but the original decree made by Cyrus was found and read, and these enemies had to cease and desist in their activities. Finally, four years later, this house was finished (Ezra 6:15), and was dedicated with great joy.

Haggai, in prophesying about rebuilding the Temple said, “I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.”—Hag. 2:7-9

This prophecy was not fulfilled with the rebuilding of the Temple on the occasion of our lesson. That Temple rebuilding was a picture of the building of a spiritual temple (II Cor. 6:16; I Pet. 2:5), which will be completed at the end of this Gospel Age. The dedication of this temple will be preceded by a great time of trouble, followed by the peace of God’s kingdom, ‘the desire of all nations’.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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