Do you experience times when a part of you wants to do things we know are of service to God, but another part of you would rather just skip it and do something else? I think most of us have days like that. But if we do get too focused on our own needs over the long-term and set God’s priorities off on a shelf somewhere, we may need to have our spirits stirred up.
The exiles who returned from Babylon to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem were at that point – they encountered enough difficulty to set God’s priorities aside for awhile, then left them there for almost twenty years.
After beginning their work with great enthusiasm, they were shut down by a group of hostile neighbors who had the ear of the Medo-Persian authorities. For a time, no more work on the temple was allowed. Though the returned exiles, their governor Zerubbabel, and high priest Joshua remained in the land, the focus of their efforts now shifted to tending to their own affairs, not God’s.
Meanwhile, the Lord was working on the heart of the new Medo-Persian king, Darius the Great. Because the Lord had changed the king’s viewpoint, he was not only willing to let the work on the temple resume but would also pay for everything the workers needed using the government treasury. This was an amazing display of favor and provision from the hand of the Lord.
Unfortunately, by the time the king’s permission was granted, the people had lost all interest in serving God and were now focused exclusively on serving their own needs. Once again, God was placed in the position of needing to get their attention to remind them that He alone is truly worthy of worship and service. God’s temple needed to be rebuilt and now was the time to do it. The Lord used the prophet Haggai to stir up the peoples’ spirits to get the work started again.
1 In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “This is what the Lord of armies says: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”’” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses while this house remains desolate?” 5 Now then, the Lord of armies says this: “Consider your ways! 6 You have sown much, only to harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but there is not enough for anyone to get warm; and the one who earns, earns wages to put into a money bag full of holes.” Haggai 1:1-6 (NASB)
In addition to the words of Haggai, all of the blessings of God that had been flowing their way for years were beginning to dry up. The people had settled into a comfortable lifestyle after the hardships of exile and all the resistance to the temple work by their neighbors. A dwindling of God’s blessing was apparent, waking them up to the fact that the temple was still a desolate mess long after their own homes and property had been built back up and their cupboards filled.
As things began to get difficult for the people and they began to experience scarcity rather than abundant blessing, they finally understood the problem – they were ignoring God and His will for them.
God has put us all on this earth for a purpose. When we seek the Lord, He will show us what that is, and we will begin to experience a true peace.
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, just as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people showed reverence for the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke by the commission of the Lord to the people, saying, “‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.” 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of armies, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king. Haggai 1:12-15 (NASB)
God had stirred up their spirits once again, beginning with the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua. The temple work resumed, and ultimately its reconstruction was completed. Centuries later it was built up by King Herod, and the temple in Jerusalem was a center of focus for God’s presence on earth until the coming of Christ and the global presence of the Holy Spirit. The temple would ultimately be destroyed by the Roman Titus in 70AD, leaving only the western wall (the Wailing Wall) as a reminder of Messiah’s promise to return there one day.
God still stirs up our spirits today, though He may use different means to do so. Rather than using a problem or a perceived need, He may simply use a word of encouragement from a godly friend (like a Haggai) or a divine coincidence that draws our hearts and minds back to the Lord. He does this to let us know, “I am with you”, and we get re-inspired to follow Jesus wherever He may be leading us.
As Jesus said,
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
Who or what stirs up my soul to follow God today?
Is God using me to help stir up someone else’s spirit towards Him?
Lord, we seek to follow You, as there is no rest or peace for the weary any other way. You are deserving of all of our hearts and labors. Lead us and guide us in our work, then help us to rest at the feet of Jesus to be fully restored. Pour the Living Water of your Holy Spirit into our thirsty souls and fill us to overflowing. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.