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One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
Members who can recall a time when their church was more crowded often lament the passing of the good old days. “I can remember when these seats used to be filled,” they say. It is normal to miss those times when things were better. But it is also fruitless. We can be so focused on a past time that we miss what God is doing in the present.
This was the problem God’s people faced when the exiles who returned from the Babylonian captivity saw the foundation that had been laid for rebuilding of the temple. Some people rejoiced, but those who could remember the former temple wept (see Ezra 3:12–13). The sound of those who lamented a lost past was as loud as those who rejoiced over a new future.
Today’s passage shows that things had not changed sixteen years later. Many were still disappointed. To those who recalled the glory of Solomon’s temple, this new structure seemed pitiful in comparison (v. 3). Blinded by the temple’s former glory, they could not see God working in their midst.
The Lord promised to make the glory of this new house surpass the glory of the former. This was an astonishing claim, since the old temple was the place where God manifested His presence in the Holy of Holies. Haggai’s contemporaries could not have imagined that the glory would return to the temple precincts in the most magnificent way when Jesus came preaching peace. Those who encountered Him saw “the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God was at work in new and exciting ways. The past is a reminder that God has been faithful, and should never be a trap that keeps us from participating in His present and future work.
Apply the Word
We usually view the past through the soft glow of memory and the present in the harsh light of reality. If you are discouraged with your present, make a list of current opportunities for ministry that you see. Ask God to show you where He is at work today. Learn the lessons of the past, but forget the “good old days.” God is working here and now.
Pray with Us
Missions Conference begins today. Many of our students plan to dedicate their lives to serving God through missions. Would you pray that their hearts will be encouraged and they will clearly discern God’s calling for their lives?