I first read this passage a long, long time ago, and reading it, immediately thought 'hey, twenty-fourth day of the ninth month - that's my birthday!' I've learnt since then that the Jewish calendar isn't the same as our current Gregorian calendar, so doesn't exactly refer to 24 Sept, but all the same, there's this feeling that hey, this is for me.
The book of Haggai begins rather dismally. The people of Judah have sown much, but reaped little. They've tried hard to get things going, to get things done, but nothing much is coming to fruition. Then God asks this: Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house [the House of the Lord] lies desolate?
It's a tricky question, but one which I still think is relevant today. Of course, we don't have to build a church building. We have more than enough. We have humongous buildings, even. But the question remains, what are we doing to build the House of God even while we are busy building our own careers/lives/families/empires?
It may sound like it's going to fall back on what man can do for God, but if you read Haggai, it's a series of progressions, of how God leads the people.
The first call, the first question above, comes on the first day of the sixth month. When Zerubbabel and the people of Judah obey and reverence God, God in turn commissions them. And so on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, He stirs up their spirits to work on the House of the Lord.
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, God encourages them again, saying: "Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory. The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine. The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former, and in this place I will give peace."
(On an aside, strangely enough, this resonates with me at this time. As we celebrated Malaysia Day last week, I wrote about wishing peace over Malaysia. While I was worship leading that weekend, I also recall declaring over the church that the latter will be greater. Coincidence? I don't know.)
Then on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, God spoke twice through Haggai. Once, to declare his blessing over Judah, and the second time, declaring his promise over Zerubbabel - and I believe that promise is for me too.
I think in my heart I've wandered far and wide, at times. But the calling is still strong and sure; that as you turn your face towards God, as you set your heart upon Him, and you affirm His Word over your life, He will do great things with you.
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