"1In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lordcame by the hand of Haggai the prophet: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
Haggai's message has a good deal to teach us today; what do we have in mind when we think of the glory of God's house? Do we, as those in the prophet's day did, tend to look back to 'the good old days', with the wistful longing that these might return again? This may or may not be realistic, dependent on the way we are thinking of it. Insofar as we are thinking of the visitations of God's Spirit in our past history, we are surely right to long for such times of refreshing to come upon the Church; but it is also possible to look on the past with rose- coloured spectacles, and not only confuse the glory with its incidental trappings, but also identify it with the particular pattern in which it expressed itself, thus assuming that unless it takes that form in our own time, it is not the authentic work of the Spirit. The poet is right: 'God fulfils Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world'. God's pattern in the past may not at all be His pattern for today; and the danger is lest we should be so preoccupied in looking for a repetition of the past that may never come that we miss what God is doing under our very noses. Our task is not to 'look back'; it is to 'be strong and work', in the assurance that God is with us (4). The great, overmastering consideration is that His Spirit should remain among us - if only that be true, all will yet be well, and nothing else matters. Indeed, that is the true glory, and in this we have good reason to rejoice.