God has hardwired into us the desire to be a part of a greater story or cause, a metanarrative. We like to feel our contributions are making a difference and worth the effort. As a church, we have been studying the book of Haggai in which the prophet Haggai preached to a group of people who were tasked to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, they became tired of the process and stopped building for 16 years. Their leader Zerubbabel was the governor and a descendant from the Davidic line. Despite his kingly heritage, he was a puppet of the Babylonian Kings Cyrus and Darius; he didn’t have any real power or authority, and he wondered if he was wasting his time rebuilding a “small” and “insignificant” temple. But then God came to him through the mouth of Haggai and encouraged him in his work.
Haggai told Zerubbabel in 2:21 that the work he was doing was actually linked to well-known Old Testament prophecies. These prophecies promised that God would bring a Messianic king who would rule and reign on the planet, and Jerusalem would be the spiritual center of the world. The people’s hope that this would happen had been snuffed out since the Babylonians had conquered the city, but Haggai reconfirmed to Zerubbabel that God is still going to bring a Messianic king and the people’s task was important in making that happen. Through Haggai, God tells Zerubbabel that He will overthrow the world powers and armies (Daniel, 2:44, Micah 5:10) and He will turn armies against themselves (Zechariah 14:13).
God also told Zerubbabel that He would make him like a signet ring which was a symbol of authority. This was truly an amazing promise. Zerubbabel’s grandfather, King Coniah, ruined the Davidic line and cut off any kingly authority his descendants would have had (Jeremiah 22:24-25), but then Haggai told Zerubbabel this line would be restored through him. Furthermore, in Matthew 1, we see Zerubbabel’s name with his descendants, and we learn Joseph was in his line (Jesus’ adoptive father). Haggai gives Zerubbabel tremendous hope and encouragement by linking his small work of building a temple in Jerusalem to God’s master plan of bringing a Messianic king.
So how does this encourage us? The promises God made to Zerubbabel are still open. Christ has not yet returned, vanquished sin, and set up His rule; therefore, we are a part of these promises. Consider these three applications.
God has given us a great project-- work on it! There’s a lot of pressure in Christianity to be radical. There’s a feeling that you are a lesser Christian if you aren’t doing something radical, but sometimes we fulfill the Great Commission in small, daily ways. Reading Scripture on a daily basis. Being dedicated to prayer and giving. Joining the church instead of holding it at arm’s length. All these things seem so small, but they are crucial.
God has given us great power-- use it! Zerubbabel thought he was just a puppet king and he would not be a part of the line because of his grandfather’s mistakes. But Haggai told him there will be power through him. Today we have the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we think the only way we can channel that power is by going to a remote jungle and working with unreached peoples. But you use that power when you read the Scripture daily, do a Stranger study with your neighbor, or preach the Gospel to your children. Anything that is contrary to the flesh comes from the power of the Holy Spirit.
God has given us great promises-- remember it! The people of Israel had lost sight of the promises because their work didn’t seem significant, so they did nothing for 16 years. This happens easily to us as well. Do you really understand the Great Commission? Everything you do fits into God’s plan.
God has served up a phenomenal opportunity for us to be a part of what he’s doing in the history of the planet. Our small contributions help to crown Jesus as the sovereign of this universe. Don’t ever think that is insignificant. Celebrate what God is doing at our church and in your life! Pray, “Lord, what can you do through me to advance your glory at Willow Creek? What do I need to grab and run with?”
A vision of God’s glory and God’s plan should cause us to respond enthusiastically to God’s call. #thepeopleproject
Your seemingly small contributions to the Great Commission fit greatly into God's grand narrative. #thepeopleproject
Lord, what can you do through us to advance your glory at The Creek? #thepeopleproject
Listen to Sunday's sermon here: