Zephaniah and Haggai
We come to the last of those who prophesy before Judah is taken into captivity. The Word is so similar: Judah has denied the Lord and served other gods. The people have been arrogant and self-serving. Therefore, since they refuse to turn back to the Lord and honor Him, He will allow them to go into captivity.
Yet the day will come when He will draw them back to Jerusalem and He will restore their fortunes which have been stripped. At that time, Zephaniah says that He will “exult over them with joy, be quiet in His love, and rejoice over them with shouts of joy.” Sounds to me like God really loves these people!
When we get to Haggai, the times are totally different, and the prophet’s purpose is also. Two hundred years have passed since the first prophetic words of warning and the warnings of all of the prophets have been ignored. So the dire warnings have come to pass.
Judah has been overtaken, Jerusalem has been burned, and most of the people have been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. They have stayed there for 70 years, as Jeremiah said they would, and then King Cyrus has allowed some of them to return. So Ezra and Nehemiah both have led expeditions back to Jerusalem, in order to rebuild the temple and rebuild the walls around the once-great city.
Now we ae in the rebuilding phase. At first, there was tremendous zeal in building, but soon the work stopped. Local officials, threatened by the Jews’ return, mocked and taunted the builders until they fearfully discontinued their work. Discouragement and fear took over.
Enter Haggai, the Prophet, and through him the Lord brings a message of wisdom and encouragement. First, He reminds the Jews that they have a work to do. They should be building the house of the Lord. Yet they are saying, “The time has not come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” (1:2) Obviously, they are procrastinating.
Haggai reminds the Jews that their blessing depends upon their obedience to the Lord. If they are not faithful, “the sky withholds its dew and the earth its produce”(1:10).
This time, the people repent. They recognize the Word of the Lord and they are willing to obey. Such a different outcome from the ones which have preceded this prophecy. Believing and acting have brought God’s people into a place of honor with Him.
Now there is a promise to them – and to us when we are obedient. “As for the promise which I made to you when you came out of Egypt, ‘My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear.'”(2:5)…Then He goes on to promise that He will shake the nations and bring the wealth to this nation.
The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former. I believe that, just as in many of the promises, this one is on two levels. It’s a promise for the rebuilding the Jews were currently undertaking. However, it was also for the latter house we live in. (The house of Jesus, the Christian house, is often referred to as the latter house). The glory of what we have now is greater than the former.
God’s power and His provision are for us as well as them. He owns the silver ads the gold. All of the power and riches of the world will eventually be totally controlled by God and Him alone. There will come a time when He shakes the heavens and the earth and all of His riches in the spirit and the natural will be poured out on His people.
Do you believe it? I do!
So Babylon the great has a great fall. We talked about this in the last post.
Let’s be certain about what God is saying. The very word ” Babylon” comes from the word “babel,” and it means “confused.” (Remember the Tower of Babel, where God confused the language of the people?) Well the great city of Babylon stands for the church which has become confused because of all of its mixing with the ways of the world. No longer do people know God or what His way; they look around them to obtain their wisdom.
Babylon is not a pure, faithful church; it is like a whore – impure and unfaithful.
As we have read the prophets in the Old Testament, we see how God’s message to the people was not to mix with other religions. Not to take on their customs. Not to follow their gods. There was a good reason for that. When God’s people succumb to the influence of other religions, they become confused, and the confusion destroys their faith.
The church of Jesus is referred to as His bride, and He deserves a holy bride. One which looks only to Him and not to other false gods. So when we see the marriage supper of the Lamb, “we see a bride who is clothing herself in fine linen, bright and clean.”(19:8). She is making herself ready for her groom.
Then we see the groom – Jesus. He is on a white horse, His eyes like flames of fire, His robe dipped in blood, and His name being the Word of God. The name written on Him is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is ready to rule the world and all of the heavens with authority we have never experienced.
Let that imagery sink in for a while. Our Lord, our Husband, is no wimp. He is mighty, full of power and strength. And He wins!!
So do we!