“Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, delivered the Lord’s message to the people: ‘I am with you–this is the Lord’s declaration.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Yesterday we talked about doing things the wrong way versus doing them the right way. When we do things the wrong way they just don’t work very well. There’s really no way to avoid that. But when we do them the right way, they start working again. This is true with specific tasks we are trying to accomplish, and as we’ll see this morning, it’s true with God too.
Most of the time, when a prophet came to the people of Israel, they didn’t pay him much attention. Or they did, but it wasn’t very kind attention. Tradition holds that Isaiah was crushed to death with large rocks because he finally ticked off the king enough. Jeremiah was left for dead at the bottom of an old cistern (he was later rescued, but that’s beside the point). Elijah was hunted down by the evil Queen Jezebel. It wasn’t easy being a prophet to the people of Israel.
So, when Haggai got the call to challenge the people about rebuilding the temple, it was not a risk-free prospect. If the odds played out the way they normally did, things were not going to go well for him. But then…they did.
Haggai announced to the people that the reason life wasn’t going the way they wanted was because although they had declared it wasn’t yet time to rebuild the temple, God thought differently. He thought differently and He was actively impeding their progress while they delayed. And much to their credit, the people and their leaders responded by saying, “Okay, let’s do it.”
They essentially said, “Okay, Haggai, if God really sent you to say that, we’ll do it. Let’s get the thing rebuilt and see what happens.” They heard the wake up call that they were not putting the things of God first in their lives and said, “You’re right. Let’s fix that.”
As a result, God had one more message for the people: “I am with you.”
One of the things God promised Israel over and over again throughout their history was that if they were willing to go with Him and do life His way, He was going to be with them. He was going to be with them all the way. Walking the path He was charting out for them was going to bring blessing upon blessing to their lives. And He was good to His word. When the people turned to Him, He received them, and started the blessings flowing. When they turned from Him, though, the spigot turned off and things got hard again. In this instance, when the people responded with eager obedience, God wanted them to know that He was going to be with them in their efforts.
The same goes in our own lives. When we set out to live in obedience to the command of Christ, we can count on help. This particular promise is not for us, it was for Israel in response to their obedience. What we can and should see here is the character of our God. When we do life His way, He will help us along our way. He’s not the kind of God who demands a certain lifestyle from His people and then leaves them to figure it out on their own. What He calls us to accomplish, He will help us complete if we are willing to take up the challenge. If we are willing to set aside what we want in favor of what He knows is best, He will make sure we are able to achieve success.
Jesus’ promise to the disciples and through them to us is that He will be with us (that is, with His followers) to the very end of the age. He said that no one can pluck us out of His hand once we have put ourselves there. When we do life God’s way, He will help us along our way.
No matter what your circumstances currently look like–no matter how you have been impacted by COVID-19–if you will commit to doing life God’s way, He will help you along your way. That doesn’t mean things are going to automatically be easy, but He’ll make sure you can take the next step, to do the next right thing as the wonderful song from Frozen 2 put it. When we do life God’s way, He will help us along our way. Let’s get to it.