Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 116, 1897

The Building of the Lord’s House.


October 3, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 3BC 1133-1134; 4BC 1175-1176; 3MR 346; 10MR 122-126.

My attention has been called to the last books of the Old Testament. I was directed to bid the people of God take heed how they hear and what they do. These Scriptures make special reference to the last days, when Bible history will be unfolded. There are brought to our notice those who are not walking in the way of the Lord, but are following deceptive leadings. From the Word, we are to learn the will of God, for the guidance of our own course of action in these last days. Let your minds take in the subject. Read and consider and be instructed. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 1

Light was given me in regard to this time. Reproof came because places of worship had been accepted that discredited our work, in the place of magnifying it. The Lord has resources. His hand in on the machinery. When the time came for His Temple to be rebuilt, he moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning himself, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. And more, Cyrus furnished them the necessary facilities for re-building the Temple of the Lord. This work began under Cyrus, and his successor carried on the work begun. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 2

“Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; ... that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shalt be laid.” [Isaiah 44:24, 28.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 3

The Samaritans tried to hinder this work. By their false reports they aroused suspicion in minds easily stirred up to suspect; and because of this discouragement, the Jews became unbelieving and indifferent in regard to the work that the Lord had signified he would have done. They were opposed by Smerdis the Usurper. “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” [Ezra 4:24.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 4

When Darius came to the throne, he set aside the work and prohibition of the usurper. But even then the people that should have been the most interested continued to be indifferent. They misapplied the prophecy given by inspiration. They misinterpreted the Word of God, and declared that the time to build had not yet come, and that until the days were fully accomplished, they would not undertake the work. But while they left the building of the house of the Lord, the Temple in which they could worship God, until the end of the time specified as the captivity of the Jews had fully come, they built mansions for themselves. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 5

This was not the mind and will of God. Haggai and Zechariah received communications from God. Read carefully the Word of God in reference to the work for that time. Reproof was given to God’s appointed messengers because of their apathy and delay in allowing the Temple to remain in ruins, opening before them the fact that the want of success in their enterprises was the result of their neglect to consider God’s interest first. By honoring God and showing Him due respect and due courtesy by building His house, they would have invited His presence. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 6

“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say.” [Haggai 1:1, 2.] They do not act like the people whom the Lord has chosen and led and guided to glorify His name in the world. God calls them “This people,” not, My people. “This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet saying, Is it time, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 7

“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.” [Verses 2-5.] Why have you been so passive? Why have you done so little? Why did you feel concern for your own buildings and unconcern for the Lord’s building? What have you gained by serving self at the sacrifice of the best interests, which should create a burning zeal for the Lord? Nothing has prospered with you while you have neglected your duty to the Lord. The thought to escape poverty by not building has brought upon you that which you feared. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink; but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” [Verse 6.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 8

The Lord calls upon them to make careful consideration. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 9

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands.” [Haggai 1:7-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 10

What was the result of this message? “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest, and they came and did work in the house of the Lord their God.” [Verses 12-14.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 11

When the foundation of the house was laid, there was great rejoicing. Praise and thanksgiving was offered to God. “When the builders laid the foundation of the house of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” [Ezra 3:10, 11.] This praise and thanksgiving, we have no need to say, was entirely appropriate. The house upon which their eyes rested was of sufficient consequence for the Lord to send His word again and again to encourage the builders. The Lord gives His servants words to speak; and this gratitude all should have felt and all should have expressed when they saw that the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 12

But there came another difficulty. Lamentation and weeping and mourning was heard because the Temple was not outwardly so glorious as the first. There were those who used their conversational powers to talk of the inferiority of the building to the one built by Solomon. Mingled with music and singing, with rejoicing and praise to God, was an inharmonious sound, not of joy or praise or thanksgiving, but of dissatisfaction. “Many of the priests and the Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice.” [Verse 12.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 13

They saw enough to make them praise God. They saw that the Lord had visited them after He had scattered them for their ingratitude and disloyalty to His commandments. He had moved upon the heart of Cyrus to aid those who were appointed to re-build His house. But those who were easily discouraged did not walk by faith. They entertained discouraging sentiments, that were not a savor of life unto good works. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 14

The Lord looks upon all. He sees all our works. Nothing passes His notice. He saw the spirit of murmuring and complaining and of making comparisons. These demonstrations had their influence. The expressions of doubt and discouragement made by these aged men weakened the hands of the workers. The workmen doubted whether they should proceed with a building that at its foundation was criticized and that caused such lamentation. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 15

But all did not look upon the lesser glory of the Temple as compared with the first temple with such dissatisfaction. “Many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” [Verses 12, 13.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 16

Even if there was an inferiority in outward display and splendor, the people need not have been discouraged because the temple was so much less expensive than the former temple. This should not have been the cause of sorrow and lamentation. The Lord expresses the truth always. Haggai explained to the priests and rulers wherein the superior glory of the house they were now building was to exceed the former house in its magnificence. It was because of the divine presence of Him who is the Desire of nations. “In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the Lord, saith the Lord, and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts. According to the word that covenanted with you, when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you; fear ye not. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 17

“For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Haggai 2:1-9.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 18

From the time the material had been collected, and the workmen began to put it together, the Lord had given His blessing. The outward glory of the Temple was not the glory of the Lord. Instruction was given as to what constituted the blessing that was to rest upon the Temple. It was to place before the people in a proper light their past error in depending upon outward forms and ceremonies. It was to remove the reproach of their disloyalty. They were to be cleansed from the sin of disobedience that led them away from God, and kept them, through the opinions of others, from promptly heeding the word given them to “Arise and build.” [Nehemiah 2:20.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 19

The people were not spiritually sharpsighted. They saw many things that they desired to do for themselves in improving their buildings and advancing their interests in other lines. Haggai strengthened himself in the Lord of hosts, and presented his message, not only to the religious leaders, but to the civil rulers as representatives of the people, that they might associate with him in giving a “Thus saith the Lord” to the people, that they might co-operate with him in doing the work of the Lord. Haggai felt that they must hinder no longer, but obey implicitly. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 20

But the people were sluggish and selfish. The Lord did not call them “My people,” because they had not shown themselves willing in the day of their opportunity. They had not obeyed promptly the word of the Lord. They made pleas for delay. They tried to present a reason why they should delay. They were ingenious in framing excuses. They had begun, but they were broken off in their work because of the hindrance of their enemies. This, they reasoned, proved that it was not the proper time to build. They declared that the Lord had interposed difficulties to reprove their hot haste. But they had no real excuse for leaving the work. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 21

When the heaviest objections were raised, this was the time to build. Their real motive was a selfish dislike to go to extra trouble and expense and encounter danger by arousing the opposition of their enemies. They did not possess that faith that is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. They did not want to move by faith, but to walk out by sight, and no further. Therefore they were easily turned aside from the work. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 22

This history will be repeated. There will be religious failures because men have not faith. When they look at the things that are seen, impossibilities present themselves, but God knows nothing of impossibilities. The great work of God will advance only by the push of faith. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 23

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophet, which were in the days that the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, that the temple might be built. For before those days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction; for I set all men every one against his neighbor. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts. For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of the people to possess all these things.” [Zechariah 8:9-12.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 24

What blessed assurance is here given. Outward glory, while the soul temple is corrupted, is not of the highest value in God's sight. “So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear ye not.” [Verse 15.] The cleansing of the soul temple is essential if we would have peace and joy in the Lord. The Lord specifies the things that are to beautify the soul temple and represent His sacred attributes in good works. “These are the things that ye shall do: Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.” [Verse 16.] Those among God's professed people who practice selfishness and double dealing, will be rewarded according to their works. There may be peace, and there should be peace. Contention and dissension are not of God but are the fruit borne by the wild olive tree. “And let none of you imagine evil in his heart against his neighbor; and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.” [Verse 17.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 25

These are the sins for which the Jewish nation lost their freedom. The Lord could not protect them, as He was longing to do, while they walked aside from the righteous performance of His will. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 26

What perfect harmony with this statement is there in the words of the apostle Paul when writing to the Ephesians. Read the fourth chapter of Ephesians carefully, with a heart to understand the words God has spoken by His apostles and prophets. The very testimonies given in the Old Testament are given in the New. Mark how the words of the apostle Paul bring before the mind loyalty to the law of God, which He enjoins upon all to keep if they would live in them, and have the blessings which comes to all that are obedient. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 27

In neglecting the Temple, which is the mirror of My presence, God says, ye dishonor Me. By sacredly regarding God’s house, not as did the Jews in the days of Christ, because of its magnificent, but because God has promised that He will be there, the Lord is honored. If those who assemble to worship God will put away sin, and all unrighteousness, the pure, believing hearts of the worshipers will not be like those represented in Zechariah. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 28

“They refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by former prophecies: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts. But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them that no man passed through nor returned; for they laid the pleasant land desolate.” [Zechariah 7:11-14.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 29

These words are very impressive. The Lord calls upon dew and rain and the varied agencies of nature, and they obey His call, to be used either in blessings or in judgments. They are under His control. Inanimate nature is represented as being shocked at man’s disregard for God’s Word. God calls for famine and plague and pestilence, for calamities by sea and by land to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The things of nature spring in response to the Word of God to do His bidding either in wasting or destruction or in mercies and blessings. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 30

How striking is the contrast between the things of nature, the material agencies, and the tardy inattention and slothful disobedience of men, those for whom Christ has died. Saith the Lord, Ye have let my house lie waste, and I will send on all that is yours a wasting drought. This reaches not only the first of the ground, but the living creatures. The cattle must suffer because of the sins of men. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 31

All the fruits of the land, the vineyards, the corn, the gardens, God sent to the remnant people, according to all that He had commanded Zechariah to speak. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 32

It was after Haggai’s second message that the people felt that the Lord was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard the repeated warning that their prosperity and the blessing of God was dependent upon their entire obedience to the instruction given them. As soon as they decided that they would do the words of the Lord, His message of reproof changed to words of encouragement. O how merciful a God we have. He says, “I am with you.” [Haggai 1:12, 13.] The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. He assured the people that if they were obedient, they would place themselves in a position where He could bless them for His own name’s glory. If God’s people will only rely upon Him, and believe in Him, He will bless them. He will be a present help to all who will serve Him in preference to serving themselves. When the Lord sees that there is a heart to do His will, His people will know of the doctrine. He will be with them. The presence of God includes everything. We have a sure refuge, a never failing Friend. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 33

From the destruction of the first Temple, which the Lord could not bless because the people had corrupted their ways, till the second was built, there was a space of seventy years. Though some murmured over the inferiority of the second temple, the Lord declared it to be superior, because it was to be connected in a special sense with the Messiah. “I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Haggai 2:7.] “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” [Genesis 49:10.] “Be strong, saith the Lord, for I am with you.” [Haggai 2:4.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 34

Shall our Churches be Weighed Down With Debt?

It is dishonoring to God for our churches to be burdened with debt. This state of things need not exist. It shows wrong management from beginning to end, and it is a dishonor to the God of heaven. Read and study prayerfully the fourth chapter of Zechariah. Then read the first chapter of Haggai, and see if this representation does not apply to you. While you have thought much of your own selves, of your own selfish interests, you have either neglected to arise and build, or have built on hired money, and have not made donations to free the church buildings from debt. Will you consider what it is your duty to do? Year after year passes by, and very little sacrifice is made to lessen the debt. The interest swallows up the means that should be used to pay off the principal. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 35

“Slothful servants” is the charge that God makes of those in the churches. [Matthew 25:26.] His will is not done when sacred things are left to remain in a withered, neglected condition. Self-sacrifice, self-denial, in every church would change the order of things. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Haggai 2:8.] When that gold and silver is used for selfish purposes, to gratify ambition or pride or selfish indulgence, as has been done, God is dishonored. Can those who are representative men be so sound asleep that they do not comprehend that the state of things that exists is a result of neglect on their part. When the people chosen by God embellish their own houses, and invest God’s money in bicycles and various things for selfish gratification, knowing that the very means thus used should be used to keep the house of God in the very best condition, that no means may be taken from the treasury to defray running expenses, they cannot be blessed. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 36

I have a message from the Lord. The churches must awaken from their torpor and think of these things. “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Verse 8.] Are we, as families, appropriating the Lord’s silver and gold to selfish purposes, and doing nothing to lighten the debt on His house? The churches are burdened with debt, not because it is impossible for them to be freed, but because of selfish indulgence on the part of the members. By this neglect God is dishonored, and if he binds about your resources, be not blind as to the cause. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 37

When you place the Lord first, and realize that the Lord’s house is dishonored by debt, God will bless you. Every debt upon every house of worship might now have been paid if the members had not been in a state of torpor, unable to devise and plan with the most earnest, zealous efforts to cancel the debt. When this is done, re-dedicate the church, without a debt upon it, to God as His house. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 38

“Now therefore, saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe ye, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. ... Ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man to his own house. Therefore the heavens over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.” [Haggai 1:5, 6, 9, 10.] 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 39

Let those that have work bringing the highest wages come forward and act a part proportionate to the wages they receive. Let the men who have limited wages have an interest in this matter also. Do what you can, and lay aside something besides your tithe money. Have you a box for this purpose? Explain to your children that it is the self-denial box, in which you lay aside every penny, every shilling, that you can obtain, and do not need to spend for actual necessities. It is for the Lord’s house. It is sacred, self-denial money; it is a gift to the Lord, to lift the God-dishonoring debt from the meeting house. Doing this, every member of the family will be blessed. 12LtMs, Ms 116, 1897, par. 40