God Is Up To Something Great!
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Haggai 2:6-9; Job 8:7
Sunday 6th October 2013
Today, I begin a new series titled, ‘The Glory of the Latter House’. From our foundation scripture in Haggai 2, the words 'says the Lord of hosts' was recorded four times, emphasizing God's intention to bring to pass all that was declared by the prophet. It is imperative for us to pay close attention to these words. This message is full of anticipation, hope and a call to look beyond what is currently occuring in our lives both individually and corporately. It is a call to look into the future that He has prepared for you, despite what you may be currently experiencing. Remember that there is more to your life than what you are going through presently, and this series will prepare you for the glorious days ahead.
The Israelites had just returned to Judah from an exile of seventy years in Babylon. God declared through the prophet Haggai that He had not forgotten his people, and was committed to fulfilling His promises. The words from God, through Haggai was to convey not only His commitment to those promises, but to re-echo them afresh despite the passage of time. Probably, your present circumstances may be so difficult and it seems it has been going on for so long to that point where you feel like giving up, I want to encourage you not to give in. Remember that God has promised that the glory of the latter shall be greater than the former. Besides, there is always an appointed time for the fulfilment of His word. For the Israelites, the appointed time came and without hesitation God fulfilled His words.
The prophet Isaiah compared God's faithfulness to that of a nursing mother. Here is the New Living version of Isaiah 49:15 -16: “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.' God has not forgotten you. He has inscribed your name on His palm, similar to those 'engraved' marks on your palms. God declared further in verse 17, that the descendants of the Israelites will return to them; this word 'blessings' could be substituted for descendants in that scripture, and furthermore 'all who are trying to destroy you will go away'. I declare that everything the devil has assigned into your life to destroy you, they are obliterated in the name of Jesus - Amen. Your difficult circumstances has an expiry date. Just like God delivered the Israelites from captivity after seventy years, He will deliver you today.
Jesus reiterated this truth in Matthew 10:29-30. As God cares for the pet canary, so He also cares for you - even the hairs on your head are numbered! (See also Isaiah 44:21).
Remember that God is a God of new things and beginnings and He is able to turn ordinary into extraordinary.
In order to fully appreciate the full picture of our foundation scripture, it is imperative that we study the two chapters in the book of Haggai. In summary, chapter one discusses the return of the exiles to the land of Judah, from Babylon (the present day Iraq) ruled by Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus, king of Persia (present day Iran) was raised by God to attack the land of Babylon and release the Israelites from slavery. Cyrus made a decree that the Israelites should return home to re-build their city including the temple. Soon after they returned home to re-build the temple, having completed the foundation, they were confronted by various opposing factions. The work eventually stopped and lay uncompleted for seventeen years. They soon forgot the reason and purpose why God restored them to the Judah.
Can I submit to you today, that you are here on purpose for a purpose. So you cannot afford to allow anything to stop you from fulfilling your God-given mandate, including those you may consider to be opposing your progress.
The Israelites stopped building the temple and instead shifted their energies to building luxurious mansions for themselves and their families. Soon enough, resources for their building and living became difficult for the Israelites as God was not pleased with them. So He called out to them through Haggai to 'consider their ways' and return to the original intention for which He rescued them from slavery - building the temple.
It is vital that we remind ourselves often that our purpose far exceeds living to make a living and building a fortune. You are called to 'seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all other things shall be added to you' (Matthew 6:33 paraphrased). God desires your worship and nothing should replace that.
Haggai addressed the governor, Zerubbabel and the priest, Joshua and the inhabitants of the land to which they agreed and resumed re-building the temple. Shortly after this, another issue arose - the elderly inhabitants of the land who witnessed the dedication of the temple of Solomon soon raised a complaint that the present building could not compare, let alone surpass the glory of that temple. This rumour soon discouraged the builders of the temple, and they began to withdraw from the project once again.
This was the backdrop to the account of Haggai's prophetic declaration in today's foundation scripture: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. (vv 6,7). You cannot afford to draw a conclusion on a matter based on your experiences. Only God has that prerogative.
There are enough accounts in the bible to substantiate this: the rod of Moses was just an 'ordinary' stick that God used to part the Red Sea and demostrate His power to Pharaoh, the Egyptians and the Israelites. God demostrated His power with those five loaves and two fishes in feeding a multitude. As soon as those ordinary loaves were placed in Jesus hands, they ceased to remain so. Do not allow anyone or even yourself to draw a conclusion over a matter that God is still working on. I declare that your latter will be greater than the former in Jesus name.
So those two phrases - 'the former' and 'the latter' were referred to in verse 9. Two moments in time. The former is where you've already been, while the latter is yet to be, your future. God's says 'I can bring beauty out of ashes, message out of a mess, hope out of hopelessness, new beginning out of a dead end, turn your mourning into dancing.' You must never despise your latter; instead look forward to it, because there is hope in your future (Jeremiah 31:17).
Again, let me remind you of the story of the woman with the issue of blood, whose condition kept deteriorating despite all her efforts and visits to various physicians for healing. She did not give up hope - finally she approached Jesus, embracing eventually her latter, and was made whole. Hannah was another bible character, who refused to give in to her difficult circumstances. So did Esther, who kept the faith and believed God to preserve the lives of the exiled Jews in Shusha. Friend, as long as you keep pressing on, eventually your latter will soon become a reality.
Eventually, this temple was built and finished, and God fulfilled those words 'the glory of the latter house' in Jesus. Several centuries later, Jesus sat in that temple to teach, heal and set the captives free.
(1) Never despise you: God asked Jacob his name to which he replied 'Jacob' - meaning supplanter. God changed his name to 'Israel' - God's Prince.
(2) Never despise what God is doing through you: You must always encourage yourself and give your best.
(3) Never scorn your future: It is not over; God has great things in store for you.
(4) Put your hands to work: Do not be distracted by anything or people's 'expert' advice.
(5) Expect the glory: Live in anticipation, knowing that your future is bright. Think and meditate on the good things that God has promised you.
I declare that indeed the glory of the latter shall be revealed in your life, and the grace and strength to press on be released to you. I declare that you will make it to your end and to your destination in the Jesus name.
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