I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Yodit Kifle Smith
Anytime I gather with my longtime friends, we always reminisce about the “good ol’ days.” We sit and talk for hours recounting memories that made laughter flow out so easily. And with a hint of sadness, we always come to the conclusion that those days can never be recreated.
Have you ever felt the sadness of knowing that a past memory of something you cherished can no longer be? We see this same sentiment expressed by the people of Israel concerning the temple of the Lord in the book of Haggai.
At this point of history, a small group of Israelites had returned back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and their lives after being conquered by the Babylonians and put in exile for 70 years because of their rebellion and disobedience to God’s covenant.
God had sent the prophet Haggai to encourage them to remember their covenant and remain faithful to God by first rebuilding the temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians. However, the people felt discouraged because the temple they were building looked nothing like the majestic temple that Solomon built (1 Kings 6).
They recalled the former glory of God that rested in that temple and felt no motivation to finish rebuilding the new one. They didn’t think it was possible to relive the former days of glory with the Lord in His temple. But the Lord comforted them with these words through Haggai:
“Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear...‘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.” (Haggai 1:5,9)
This is an encouragement to us when we are tempted to look at the days of old in Scripture and believe that the powerful ways God moved and revealed Himself then no longer happen today. His word promises that He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8).
It is also an encouragement when we feel that because we no longer feel the awe and wonder with the Lord that we felt earlier in our faith walk, His presence is no longer with us. God's presence in our lives isn't dictated by our feelings, nor is our faith measured by the intensity or magnitude of it given any season we find ourselves in. It has always been and always be about the object our faith: Christ Jesus. And in Him, we go from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)
In this text, God reminded them and He is reminding us now that the certainty of His presence, power and provision in our lives outweigh the feelings of comparisons we are tempted to have.
And one day, we will be in the midst of His full glory, experiencing His presence in unimaginable ways. Until then, cling to the truth of His character.
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 Kings 6
2 Corinthians 3:18
Questions to Reflect on: