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A Second Eden


Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the United States in late August 2017, and the Category 4 storm turned the streets of Houston into waterways. Bible teacher Beth Moore, a resident of the deluged city, wrote in Christianity Today shortly after the storm: “We are devastated. They say it will take many months and perhaps even several years to put us back together again. Please don’t soon forget us.”

Imagine a Jewish exile writing after the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. The city, including Solomon’s grand and gilded temple, was destroyed; the streets were nearly deserted. Today, we read the first of the prophets sent to God’s people after the exile had ended. The storm of God’s judgment passed; the exiles returned to the land (as God had promised); rebuilding began.

Although the last three books of the Minor Prophets were written after the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C., they aren’t primarily arranged chronologically—they are often grouped thematically, as we saw at the end of Micah and the beginning of Nahum. But six of the twelve books have historical superscriptions, which enable us to accurately situate the books in their respective time periods: Hosea, Amos, and Micah were written before the Assyrian invasion of Samaria in 722 B.C., Zephaniah before the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and Haggai and Zechariah after the Babylonian exile.

Haggai exhorted the people to complete the work of building God’s temple (2:1–4). As we read in Ezra 4, God’s people faced external opposition to getting the job done. In fact, for 16 years, construction on the site had stopped while God’s people feared reprisal. Haggai tells the people to begin again—in the power of God’s Spirit.

Apply the Word

God often calls His people to do difficult things, and His call doesn’t necessarily mean that He clears all obstacles. We might be discouraged, exhausted, and confused—and still be where God meant for us to be! When our own personal reserves are drained, we find ourselves relying more on the Spirit of God. How is this true in your own life?

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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