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“‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:23
Can you imagine being Zerubbabel? Of all the men in the world, the Lord chose Zerubbabel. You, Lord, chose to make him like a signet, the signature ring of the King. But just the fact that You chose him, a mere man, out of what seemed like an insignificant tribe to the rest of the world, wow! I’m so glad that You see things differently than the world and that nothing and no one is insignificant to You.
You speak to a residue of people. Here are the “left-overs” of Israel. And the residue is looking at the residue of the previous temple, the house of the Lord. Some of the residue had seen the prior glorious house of the Lord, but this… it was and would be like nothing in comparison. Even it’s best effort would be less than the original. But I think that You were telling Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, to not concentrate on the glory of the building, but to concentrate on Your glory.
It’s like You say, “Look at these left-overs, and then turn to me and see what I will do with them. Come, enter into the work with me. The important thing isn’t the left-overs you see, but that I am here with You in the midst of the left-over mess. And I have a plan to guide You to change these left-overs into something glorious in Me.” Your real words are, “Work: for I am with You.” And that word for work, asah, is the same word used in Your creation of the world shared in Genesis. The literal translation would be “God rested from all His work which God created to make.” The interesting thing is that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, after they chose something over You, You asked Eve and the serpent something on the same line of thinking. You asked them, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13, 14)
What if there are different doors of opportunity to effect the world that You have created? You know, a way that seems right unto people, but that’s not what You intended, because it leads unto death and separation? Or other ways, other doors, that lead unto You and to life? And what if You built all these doors into the world and You know the consequences of every door that we can choose, only we think we know, but we really don’t? And so, just as You shaped the world and placed doors of opportunity and doors that lead to destruction, You have also given us the ability to shape the world You’ve placed us in. Does that change the way Zerubabel, or Joshua, or the people of Israel, or I think?
Why should that change the way we think? Could it be that the choices I make shape the world around me? Here You set before us these glorious possibilities. You have such wonderful plans for us, to prosper us and give us a future in You. But we choose to take those possibilities and grab onto little, scrappy actualities instead. I want my possibility now! I don’t want to wait. And I grab for less. I restrict You. Can I restrict You, God? Well, we know that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit.
What if You created a world and formed it in such a way that we had opportunities to join in the forming? It could have been perfect, but Adam and Eve chose to open doors their own way. And don’t we? And yet we complain at God for the evil in the world, when it was never Your choice. Letting evil in is all by our choice but who wants to blame ourselves? Isn’t it always easier and less hurtful to point the finger at someone else? Who is performing the making and doing is important because there is only One who always makes and does what is purely Good. I shouldn’t fool myself to think that I can make good choices without You. It’s not the doing or making that’s the important thing. It’s Who is doing and making that matters most. That I can open my own doors isn’t the privilege of being human and made in the image and after the likeness of God. Because unless I open the doors of Your desire, I tear apart that image and destroy the likeness.
Paul understood that the one performing the doing and making was the piece de resistance. It’s not how it’s done. See, it was one man named Adam who sinned and opened his own door his own way. It was like a Pandora’s box he chose. And his open door brought sin and death into our world. So now, everyone has sinned, and the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 5:12) Thank you, human beings, for your great contribution to the world as you and we choose to make choices and open doors of our own choice as opposed to the choice of the God who loves us and gave himself for us. Pretty sad, huh?
Here’s another thing. Three times here, You tell the hearers to consider this. And I guess we usually think of considering as thinking about something. And it does mean that. But I wonder if our translation really carries the heart of what You mean when You ask us to consider something? Why do I say that? Because every time You say, “Consider,” it’s two words together from siym and lebab. We’ve seen that God is inviting His people to join in His doing with Him. Now maybe considering in Your eyes, God, is all about understanding our placement and purpose in the world by You, accompanied by our heart’s undivided intended devotion to You. And maybe we really aren’t considering things properly if those two aren’t coming together in You.
See, Adam didn’t actually start in the Garden. Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Lord God put the man whom He had formed in the garden. Why? Because He had a purpose for man in that garden. That “put” or “placed” is that same Hebrew word siym. It can mean “to appoint, to bring, to call, to put, to change, to charge, to commit, to consider, to convey, or to determine.” Maybe that means that God is in charge of everything, even our geography. And when does Adam’s story really begin? Was it where he was created? Or where God placed him? What about us? Was it all about Adam’s plans or Your plans, God? And why would You place Him in the garden? Was that the place of full relationship with You? Is that where You could nourish man by Your provision, Your way? And yet You allowed man free choice. Adam could choose the door to the tree of life or the door to the knowledge of good and evil. Maybe paradise on earth wasn’t such a safe place after all. Maybe the only safe place has always been in You and choosing You. Because even paradise can draw us away into disobedience and danger.
But you just don’t plant or place. You look at the “lebab,” and you know our heart. This is Your desire for us that You share in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart [lebab], and with all your soul, and with all your might.” This is all about singular devotion to God. This is all about personal devotion to You. Loving You with all our heart is about devoting all our will, of the whole me to You. My soul is the unity of my flesh, and will, and essence. And my might is absolute commitment, the muchness of who I am, to You.
So if considering the way You ask us to consider is refocussing ourself on You, it really makes sense that You ask us to look into our heart that You have placed strategically in this world for Your glory. Am I living up to Your created purpose and placement for me? Am I living up to Your plan and entering Your intended doors, or am I avoiding Your plan for me and opening my own doors? Are my will, emotions, and thoughts lined up with Your plan and placement of me? Now, Psalm 20:4 touches on this. It says, “May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!” Isn’t that great? Well, only if our heart’s desire has been lined up with Yours. Otherwise, granting us what we want according to our council is an opportunity to live out a curse. Just look at history and the doors that have been opened according to man’s council.
But if we stop to consider Your way, with all our heart leaned in to You, we find that just like Zerubbabel, You have chosen us to place us for a purpose for You in this world. Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) And Paul continue that thought, “For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…” (1 Corinthians 1:26,27) Why? Because it’s all about His glory and that can only be seen in those who are called and accept their appointment. Then You choose to use and glorify Yourself in those who surrender to You and open and enter Your doors where You are present. And these, and only these, are those who are labeled faithful. And it’s only the faithful who are able to reflect Your image and bear Your likeness in this world.
Many are called but few are chosen. Why? Because You are a bad and cruel God? Absolutely not. Why? Because we choose by choosing other doors to not answer Your call. I mean, how much more merciful do we want You to be? Look at how many times, over and over again, You showed up for the unfaithful nation of Israel, Your child, Your people. You kept saying, “Go through my doors with Me.” But they didn’t want to. They wanted things their own way. And they got it. And it’s the same with us. I want to stop wanting things my way. I want to come to consider everything as empty without You. I want to come to the reality that Paul did. I want to count it all dung compared to knowing You, Jesus, and living and walking and doing and being in Your presence. I want to learn to suffer whatever loss it takes to obey You and follow through Your doors. I’m not there yet, Lord, but I pray that Your Spirit will continue to guide me there and that my spirit will desire nothing more than total commitment to the God who has my purpose in life down pat.