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Prized or despised?

For the older crowd (those who had seen Solomon’s temple), things just weren’t the same and they saw no sense in pretending that they were (older people can be that way, can they?). When the foundation of the temple was laid, Ezra tells us that the people began to praise God, "but many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise.  And the sound was heard far away," (3:12-13).

For those who had seen the first temple, the second one seemed like small potatoes. Maybe this is another reason why the work on the temple took so long to complete. Both Zechariah and Haggai address this issue. Zechariah asks, "Who dares despise the day of small things?" (4:6).

Thinking small apparently wasn’t in vogue then and things haven’t changed a lot, have they? Megachurches with megabudgets that provide megaservices are the emblems of success among too many believers. Small and struggling just doesn’t resonate. And yet over and over in the Scripture there are stories that rebuke us for thinking this way. God uses a teenage boy, a slingshot and a few stones to bring down a giant. He uses a feeble old man and woman to start a family that will swell into a nation and provide the One who will bless the world. He’s not bad with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread either.

After chastising them for their thinking, Haggai then pulls the rug out from under their feet. "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," (2:9). Who would have thought it? This pitifully small, plain looking building would have a greater glory than Solomon’s temple? How could that be? (And by the way, for all of its glory, Solomon’s temple didn’t do much for Israel’s spirituality, did it? Solomon and just about everyone else quickly descended into idolatry. Material prosperity is no guarantee of spiritual prosperity, and often a detriment).

The answer is that this is the temple to which Jesus will come. All of the gold and silver of Solomon’s temple will pale in regard to the glory of Christ. Verses 6-9 look forward to the kingdom of Jesus/new covenant and the removal of the old economy that was ushered in with violent shaking (see Exodus 19:16ff).  Within this unassuming temple are the seeds of a glorious kingdom, that in contrast to Solomon's old covenant arrangement, canntot and will not be shaken (Hebrews 12:18-29).
 
In the end, it’s not whether something is prized or despised by others. The only thing that matters is if it's been given to God because it is Him and not the instrument that makes the difference. 
 
 
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