God promised the Jews who returned from exile that the splendour of the reconstructed Temple would far outshine that of Solomon’s Temple, which had been an ancient architectural wonder. What’s ironic is that the rebuilt Temple was a mere shadow of the former one. It wasn’t until centuries later that Herod the Great began a major renovation project that made this second temple almost unrecognizable. When it was finally finished, this new and improved structure was dubbed not the 3rd temple but the “2nd Temple,” as if the building in Haggai’s time didn’t even count.
Why would God promise such splendour to a temple that was so far a cry from both its predecessor and successor? Well, because he sees differently than we do. God wasn’t speaking of the splendour of a building as much as he was speaking of the hearts of the people who sacrificed to build it. He promised that if they remained faithful, they would know a time of peace and blessing. It isn’t buildings that make God happy but the people who worship in them.
Today’s episode from the Book of Haggai shows us that what is splendid in the eyes of the world may not have even the slightest interest to God. So what does God value? Humility. Obedience. Simplicity. Reverence. God values the attitudes that keep us open to his word, to his correction, and to his comfort. He values everything we do that takes us one step closer to becoming another Christ in this world.
To see the glory of God’s temple we must let the Holy Spirit continue to change us. God wants to heal us of our weaknesses and to fill our strengths with his glory and power. He wants to transform us into reflections of his presence. So let us allow God to tear down the old structures of pride, self-sufficiency, and independence in us, and rebuild us on the solid rock of Christ.