The returning Jewish exiles have once again begun the work of rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. However, this new temple wasn’t even close to the beauty and greatness of the original built by Solomon. The first one took seven years to build, requiring 183,000 workers, and was constructed of cedar, cut stone, and gold (370 tons of it!). It was the most costly and resplendent building of its time, and the one being built by the exiles couldn’t come near it.
The few remaining who’d seen the original temple, by now aged and infirm, wept at this sight (Ezra 3.12) as they remembered what had been. It was now Haggai’s job to offer strong words of encouragement. In the face of their discouragement, he tells the leaders, “be strong.” To the people, he says the same thing, “be strong” (Haggai 2.4). Discouraged people required a well-timed word of encouragement in the midst of their monumental task.
We do too. No matter where you’re “beginning again,” you need words of encouragement along the way. Today, as you welcome God into your week, send a word of encouragement to someone who’s in the middle of a massive building project. Send a note to someone struggling with health issues, a phone call to a parent with challenging teenagers, or an email to a friend who has recently received some bad news. By doing it, you become the voice saying “be strong” in their life.