The prophet Haggai came during a time when God’s people were on their way to becoming secular occupants of a destitute and forgotten land. They had experienced hostility from virtually every neighboring tribe. They were tired, worn out and had forgotten Whose they were and to Whom they belonged.
However, God sent Haggai to remind God’s people to get on with the work of rebuilding his temple. Through his words, Haggai reminded them that they were the right people, called to the right place to do the right work of building for the Lord. His words couldn’t have been clearer: Be strong. Work. Do not fear. Why? The God of angel armies was with them.
The book of Haggai brings some interesting insight into the state of God’s people at the time: their priorities were out of order. They had grown accustomed to living for themselves and had forgotten the reality that they belonged to God and were called to be his demonstration community. However out of sync their priorities were, they were still God’s people.
Similar to the state of God’s people in our context today, we so quickly forget who we are, who we belong to, and what we’ve been called to do. Our priorities quickly default inward instead of outward, and we’ve grown so accustomed to the surrounding culture of hostility toward the Church that many of us are tired, fearful, beat up and disillusioned. However, in the midst of it all, the words of Haggai ring true: Be strong. Work. Do not fear. Why? The God of angel armies is with us.
Haggai addresses a remnant of God’s people who had been called out of Babylon to Jerusalem. Like many South Floridians who cannot wait to leave– longing for the “promised land” of the Bible Belt – I’m sure those sent to Jerusalem longed to be back in Babylon where life was more familiar. However, God sent them to Jerusalem and tasked them with rebuilding His temple.
God has always sent his people to particular places and to particular groups of people. Filling them with the Holy Spirit, he equips and sends them out on mission to live for Christ and share the gospel – to demonstrate a life filled with faith, hope and love.
There were many things God’s people needed to do in Jerusalem. They needed to make a living, and provide for their families. They needed to educate their children, shop for food and do the things necessary for life and sustenance. As right and good as these tasks were, their fundamental priority and calling was to rebuild God’s temple. To accomplish this, their priorities had to be rearranged and they had to view all that God had given them through a different lens. Their interactions with their neighbors, transactions in the marketplace, relationship with government officials; everywhere their influence extended had implications: they were God’s demonstration community called to the right work of building God’s temple.
What a powerful reminder for us today. No matter what Fox News or CNN display as the breaking news of the day, we are God’s people called to South Florida and equipped with the Holy Spirit to do the right work of building God’s Kingdom within our spheres of influence: our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members and city.
The task is clearly beyond any one church, key leader or organization. To see South Florida look more and more like God’s Kingdom will take an uncommon unity that is fueled by uncommon love and generosity. Discouraged? Think the task is too great? Be strong. Work. Do not fear. The God of angel armies is with us. He is making all things new and is using his people to build his Kingdom here in South Florida.
Edwin Copeland serves as the Director of Church United with the National Christian Foundation of South Florida where he works to unify the Church through collaboration and celebration to see faith, hope, and love spread throughout South Florida. To learn more about Church United, visit churchunited.city.