I have two small daughters who love one another deeply but who also love to pick on one another. My wife and I play referee every single day, telling them to be nice to one another, to be kind, to be gentle, and on and on it goes.
After a recent fight, I sat them down to have a conversation about family. I asked, “Do you know what it means for us to be a family?” To which my five-year-old replied, “It means we all have to share the same snacks.” I chuckled and said, “Well, yes, but more importantly, it means that we belong to one another. No matter what happens, this house is the place we all come back to. We’re always here for each other, no matter what. So even though you might have disagreements with your sister, remember that you are family and you should always forgive one another.”
Judging by their argument a few hours later, I’m pretty sure my message didn’t stick. But our passage today reminds me of that conversation. When we read Haggai 1, we might wonder why God is so bent on having His temple built. If God is everywhere, why does He need a temple? Why would anyone need to go to a temple to meet with Him? It can seem like an unnecessary concern on God’s part.
But God’s temple was the place where His presence dwelt with His people in a special way. He says, “I am with you—this is the LORD’s declaration” (v.13). God wants His people to know He is with them, and no circumstance they face will separate them from Him. Even so, the temple showed God’s people that He wanted to be with them. He was so committed to them that He encouraged them to press on and rebuild it. The temple was for them—to shape their identity as God’s people. Much like how a roof over my kids’ heads doesn’t make them my kids, our house, nevertheless, represents a place of belonging, of love, of protection. It helps my kids remember they belong to the family.
Paul told the Ephesians, “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19–20). Our passage today points to this greater truth. God has always wanted to dwell with His people—He has always “templed” with them—from the garden of Eden to the sending of the Holy Spirit.
The temple’s reconstruction all the way back in Haggai was another promise kept by God. The sending of the Son and the sending of the Spirit are more signs God hasn’t abandoned His people. And so we look forward to that day described in Revelation 21, when God will come down from heaven and we will spend eternity with Him, never again separated by our sin. He will be our God, and we will be His people forever.
Written by Brandon D. Smith