The remnant that returned to Judah after their captivity in Babylon faced many enemies in the land. The task assigned to them was daunting, and their detractors in the land made it even more difficult. They were afraid of the Canaanites and the Samaritans that occupied the land. All this opposition may have contributed to the fact that the new Temple did not measure up to the one Solomon had built, and the people lost motivation to work on something that seemed, in their eyes, to be lacking in so many ways. Instead of focusing their attention on rebuilding the Temple and the worship system to the Lord, they turned their attention to their own homes and their own situations to provide security for themselves and their families. This sounds very much like the normal thing to do, but it wasn’t why God brought them back to the land of their forefathers. He wanted them to reestablish the worship of the one true God. Haggai 2:1-5 tells us, “In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.”

 Ezra, who led one of the migrations back to the land for the purpose of rebuilding the temple, spoke about this disappointment of the older generation. In Ezra 3:12-13, he says, “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.”

 There is always opposition. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job or how successful you’ve been. There will always be those who will oppose you and detract from your efforts to be productive. The temptation is always to settle back and live a private life concerned only about your own affairs, build your own houses if you will. Doing something, they say, is always better than doing nothing. Your task might not be as glorious and famous as Solomon’s was, but it is important to you. God has not deserted you.  Haggai constantly reminds them that God is with them and that the presence of His Spirit should embolden us to move on with our lives. “Be strong!” He exhorts them because God is with them just as He was with their ancestors of old. Just as He was with Moses at the Red Sea, He is with them as they rebuild a lesser Temple. He is also with us as we pursue the duties and deeds that God lays before us today. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Like the man walking along the beach after a storm throwing starfish that washed up back into the sea. An observer said, “You won’t be able to save every starfish.” The man replied, “True, but I can save this one.”