2 months later, and it’s time for another word from the Lord. The people’s work seems to have progressed to the point where there are again priests in the Temple, studying, teaching, and keeping the law. So that’s where the Lord sends Haggai, to ask the priests about the law. He asks them about how different items are made holy or unclean. And it only takes a touch, according to the law. A touch, a glance, a moment—before things are made holy or made unclean.
“So it is with my people, my nation, and the work of their hands.”
And now, they are given something else to consider: how they fared then.
Before they began rebuilding the Temple, before perhaps they even returned from exile—His hand was forced to allow everything they touched to be equally blighted as they themselves were in their wanderings. The words of crushed expectations in chapter one come back now to mind as they drew up the wine or collected the grain—the amount they looked for was lacking. It was enough, but it wasn’t abundance, it wasn’t the expectation. Even in this, they didn’t turn to their provider. Maybe they worked more, labored more—but they didn’t turn to their Holy One.
But as they set their minds to receive His words and change their perspective to His; as they set their hands to rebuild His house and see His glory and presence return to dwell with them—from that day onward, their is a new thing again to consider: Even as they still only see seed in the barn and no harvest in their fields, no fruit on their trees—even then, consider—set your mind towards, pay attention to, place your hope in what I will now do:
From this day on I will bless you.
And I just love the fact that the first thing that He speaks this blessing over is not a place or a crop or some other tangible event—no, He speaks it over a person, over their leader, Zerubabbel. He speaks it over the one who is leading them to obey their God again in all that He asks them to do. He speaks it over one who is just like them, who had to hear the same words given to all of them throughout these months of hard obedience. He speaks to one who has stood and will continue to stand in solidarity with the people. To this one, He says,
I choose you.
Would we even dare to believe that He speaks even this over us, too?
The words to Zerubbabel were specific, and meant for him alone: I make you like a signet ring. God is handing to him the authority to accomplish that which God Himself has set out to do. God is also granting Him the covenant mark of inheritance & belonging. He is their leader, and this signet mark is his to bear.
But their this act, God is choosing those whom Zerubabbel leads. You are my signet ring, but a signet is put as a seal over the people, for I have chosen them in choosing you. Through them, with them, the task will be accomplished. So be the signet, and lead them well.
Haggai’s message started with, “consider your ways,” but it’s ending with, “consider mine.” More than that, He’s not asking them to consider the old ways, but the new, which say—From now on I will bless you.
And the intangibility of this blessing reminds me of another prophet’s words, Habakkuk. One who also wrestled with questions and unmet expectations. But as God met and spoke to him, he wrote a song—
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail,
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.
What comes with His blessing may not look like we expect. Our feelings may still not be in sync with what we walk into. The work will be hard, and the strength of our hands will falter. But He is with us, and His blessing will be primarily seen with people, not places or things we can touch or mountain top events.
But my spirit knows that when He says blessing, He means it. when He says provision, He means it. When He says, I am with you, He is.
Let us press into the God who says pay close attention to my ways with you, for there lies the blessing. I have chosen you, and I will keep choosing you.