The Review and Herald

1516/1902

December 12, 1907

The Return of the Exiles—No. 6

“I Am with You, Saith the Lord”

EGW

The messages of Haggai led the people to feel that the Lord was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard repeated instruction that their prosperity, both temporal and spiritual, was dependent on faithful obedience to the commands of the God of heaven. As soon as they decided to obey “the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him,” the messages of reproof that had been given were followed by words of encouragement. RH December 12, 1907, par. 1

“Then spake Haggai the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 2

How comforting are these words! The Lord God omnipotent, who reigneth in the heavens, declares, “I am with you.” He assures his people that those who are obedient are in a position where he can bless them, to the glory of his name. And if God's people today choose to rely on him, and believe in him, he will bless them. He will be a present help to all who serve him in preference to serving self. When the Lord sees that his people have a heart to do his will, he will cause them to know of the doctrine. He will be with them. RH December 12, 1907, par. 3

The presence of God includes every other blessing. He who abides under the shadow of the Almighty can well say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust;” for of every such an one the Lord declares: “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 4

Having assured the Israelites of his presence, “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 the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 5

In less than a month after the work on the temple was resumed, the Lord in mercy sent to the builders another comforting message regarding his presence with them. He inspired Haggai to explain to them wherein the glory of the house they were now building was to exceed the glory and magnificence of the former house. It was because of the promised presence of him who is the Desire of nations. RH December 12, 1907, par. 6

“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 to 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 ye 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 land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 7

In this comforting message, the prophet refers to the promise of God given through Moses while the Israelites were encamped before Mount Sinai, when he declared: “I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.” Throughout the wilderness-wandering the Lord had revealed “great goodness toward the house of Israel,” which he “bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 8

And now, notwithstanding the fact that repeatedly they have “rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit,” God again in his infinite mercy stretches out his hand to save and to restore. As a recognition of their co-operation with his purposes, he renews his covenant with them that his Spirit shall remain among them; and he bids them, “Fear not.” To his children today, as in days of old, he says” “Be strong, ... and work: for I am with you.” What an assurance! What an incentive to faithful service! RH December 12, 1907, par. 9

Haggai now prophesies regarding the first advent of Christ, to which event the Israelites were looking forward with longing expectancy: “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, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 10

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. Its restoration in a plainer style than that of the first temple, was to place before the people in a proper light their past error in depending upon the pomp and splendor of outward form and ceremony. The temple was to be erected at this time, also, to remove the reproach of their disloyalty to God. Haggai instructed the people that by heartfelt repentance and by a speedy completion of the temple, they were to seek to be cleansed from the sin of disobedience that had led away from God and had delayed the carrying out of the command to arise and build. RH December 12, 1907, par. 11

During the time of delay, the people had not been spiritually sharp-sighted. They had seen many things that they desired to do for themselves, to advance personal interests. Many had spent much time and had put forth laborious effort in beautifying their own homes while taking but little thought for the house of God. Haggai strengthened himself in the Lord of hosts, and presented his message plainly both to the religious and to the civil authorities, as well as to the people. He felt that the Lord's work must no longer be hindered, but that all must obey implicitly, and carry out fully the purposes of God in restoring them from Babylon to the promised land. RH December 12, 1907, par. 12

In neglecting the temple, which was the mirror of God's presence, the people had greatly dishonored God. They were now instructed to hold his house in sacred honor, not because of its magnificence, as did the Jews in the days of Christ, but because God had promised to be there. And this second temple was to be superior to the first because in a special sense the Messiah would honor it with his personal presence. “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.” RH December 12, 1907, par. 13