Taken from a sermon preached by our Minister at the beginning of the year
Haggai 2 : 4
“Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:”
David in his old age, after preparing an abundance for the building of the temple, charged his son Solomon, recorded for us in 1 Chronicles 22 : 16, to,“Arise therefore, and be doing.” After which he encourage his son with a wonderful promise, “and the LORD be with thee.”
Dear brethren, for God's glory, for benefit of the Church, and then for the good of our own souls, let us arise, and be found serving the Him. In so doing, let us be comforted by these words of promise, and encouragement, “and the LORD be with thee.”
After the captivity, the Lord's Messenger, Haggai, here in this chapter, brought a further message from the Lord, to Zerubbabel, the chief governor, Joshua the high priest, and then to the common people. “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:” . They were to continue on with the work!
Now they had many enemies, recorded for us in Ezra chapter 4, who greatly opposed them, and through their words were effectual in discouraging them and in hindering the work. Finally, because of a certain kings letter, Ezra 4 : 24, the work came to a halt. However despite this, we see they were rebuked for their slothfulness; being more concerned about the their own houses than God's house. Haggai 1 : 4.
The messages had the desired effect. The Lord having stirred up their hearts, the work resumed. In verse 14 of chapter 1 we read, “And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,”
Later, recorded here in this 2nd chapter, Haggai brings another message from the Lord in order to encourage them in the work.
Discouragements continued to settle in many a heart, as was the case when the foundation was laid, it is not like Solomon's! In verse 3 we read, “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” Many were greatly discouraged. However, now comes a word of encouragement, “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:” Dear brethren, let us, in these days wherein there is much opposition, frequent battles, and a great volume of hard work ahead of us, be encouraged in the Lord God and go on in His service.
As we come to these words consider;1stly the exhortation to be Be strong, 2ndly, Work, and 3rdly The encouragement; the Lord be with you.
1stly Be strong.
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land
Many were discouraged; it was not like Solomon temple, the work was hard, and further, many opposed them. My dear brethren, there are times when Ministers, Missionaries, Sabbath School leaders, youth leaders, and all who seek to serve the Lord become discouraged. William Carey was seven years in waiting and faced many setbacks, what discouragements he must have known in those early years. Discouragements can so easily set in. Certain causes may be: 1stly, The feeling of ones own weakness, unworthiness and sin. 2ndly, Difficult and awkward people. 3rdly, Enemies. Remember the enemies of Nehemiah and the Jews who scoffed at the work. In Nehemiah 4 : 2 - 3 “And he (Sanballat) spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now
Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” There will be no shortage of people to pour scorn upon us, for we have many who oppose and speak out against us. Where a good work is being done, it is sure to be attacked. And then, consider our great foe, the Devil.
4thly The lack of perceived progress.
How discouraging it can be to a Minister, or Ministers when people look at a small congregation, or congregations, and then immediately boast of the large Church they are in, and the numerous additions that are taking place. Fruitless seasons can be a cause of great discouragement. Turn with me for a moment to that fruitless night those disciples had known out on the lake.
Luke 5 : 5 “Master, we have toiled all the night.” Much hard toil yet nothing! Discouragement can set in, one can feel so weak and at such a time Satan can whisper, is it worth it? The Lord says to us “be strong,”
Dear brethren, we need to be strong, for we have work to do! Oh look to the Lord and pray for it! How we need that strength which comes from the Lord. In Psalm 121 : 2 “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Look to the Lord and rest in Him by way of faith.
In Psalm 46 : 1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Matthew Henry wrote “God is our strength to bear us up under our burdens, to fit us for all our services and sufferings. He will by his grace put strength into us.” Dear brethren, He will come to our aid, He will strengthen, for He is gracious and faithful to His promise. Have we not proved this is so. In Psalm 28 : 7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” In Philipians 4: 19. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Now the Lord speaks in order to strengthen. We at certain times, when the Holy Spirit takes and effectually applies, find strength in the Word, and as a result we are strengthened. How precious are those choice times which we have been privileged to know. Strength in a time of weakness, and strength to go on.
“Be strong” is the word of the Lord to us, oh then let us seek the Lord. In Psalm 105 : 4, “Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” Go and fetch strength from your never failing covenant God. Spurgeon wrote “we all need strength, let us look to the strong One for it.”
To be continued.