We are not the first to face a new year besieged by fears, worries, discouragement, and hopelessness. This week, Ptr. Michael Cariño invites us to trust that the days ahead are in God’s hands. We don’t need to know what the future holds because we can trust the One who holds the future.
Today’s Scripture Passage
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Have you ever felt at times that your mistakes, your failures, and your mess in the past seems to drag you and hinder you from becoming something great in the future?
It’s like you feel like your future is dark and gloomy because of what happened in the past. You cannot find hope, you cannot find confidence, and you cannot find anything good about the future. If you ever felt something like that. Let me encourage you today that we may learn from our past, but the past does not define our future. We may learn from our past mistakes, past failures, but those should not define who we are. And they do not determine what you can become and they do not determine your destiny in life.
At the end of the day, it’s our hope in God, it’s our faith in God allows us to shape our future with God so we can choose today whether we will trust God for a better tomorrow, whether we will depend on the grace of God for a better marriage, better ministry, a better business, a better career, a better family and a better life. It was Carl Bard, who said, “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
In other words, it is up to us to trust God, to depend on God, to bask in God’s love and God’s grace and God’s faithfulness, and to work with God in unravelling and co-writing the next few chapters of our lives. It’s like we become co-authors with God in writing the stories of our lives. Steve Maraboli says, “We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes. You are not your struggles, and you are here now with the power to shape your day and your future.”
That is why every year brings us hope that God is about to do something better, that God is about to bring out the best in us, that God is about to fulfill His purposes and His plans for our lives. And He invites us to walk with Him and to work with him and to trust Him as we face the future. The apostle Paul says in Philippians chapter three, verse 13. “But I do one thing. I forget everything that is behind me and look forward to that which is ahead of me.”
Yes, the coming year is filled with uncertainty. People are overwhelmed with discouragement, disappointment, hopelessness, fear, worry. These emotions are also the struggles that the people during the time of Haggi felt. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the people of Judah, the people in Jerusalem felt that the future was so uncertain. When we put our hope in God for our future, their hearts are overwhelmed with fear and worry and hopelessness. So God, through the prophet Haggai, encouraged the people and encouraged their leader, Zerubbabel as well, that there will be a day, time will come when God will overthrow all their enemies, all the powers that seem to hinder them, and that God will restore the throne of David and a king will rule again.
So God encourages the people in Jerusalem and Zerubbabel as well about his promise of redemption and restoration of the kingdom.
This message invites us to trust that the coming years are in God’s hands. We may not know what the future holds, but we know the one who holds the future. So when you don’t understand and when you cannot see his plan, you have to trust his heart.
There were four messages in the Book of Haggai. The first message was the message about priority. It was a wake up call for the people of God to go back to work in rebuilding the temple. It was a message to us to check whether we are giving our full attention to what really matters most. Is God first in our lives more than anyone or more than anything else?
The second message of Haggai is about perspective. It was the assurance for the people during the time of Haggai that God is with them and that God will help them regardless of the difficulties and the problems that they are going through. It’s an invitation to commit wholeheartedly to God’s work, knowing that our labor is not in vain, that in the end, God wins. For the meantime, we trust God’s provision, God’s protection.
The third message of Haggai is about purity. It is a reminder to stay clean and stay obedient to God that when we consecrate ourselves to the Lord, when we live in holiness, when our hearts are right with God and are pure, God blesses us and God grants us his favor.
The fourth message of Haggai is about promise. In this last message, God spoke to Zerubbabel, the leader of the people, to assure him of a great future. God promises him and the people to anticipate the crowning of the Messiah as king over God’s kingdom on Earth.
On that same day, December 18, the Lord sent this message to Haggai: Tell Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, that I am about to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow royal’s thrones and destroy the power of foreign kingdoms. I will overturn their chariots and riders. The horses will fail and their riders will kill each other. But when this happens, says the Lord of heaven’s armies, I will only use Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant, I will make you in a signet ring on my finger, says the Lord, for I have chosen you.
I the Lord of heaven’s armies have spoken.
In this last part of Haggai’s message, God promises two things to the people of Israel and to their leader, Zerubbabel. God will the dethrone rulers and earthly kingdoms. When God says, I will shake the heavens and the Earth and I will overthrow thrones of kingdoms, God is referring to the destruction and the defeat of Judas’ enemies. These are nations and kingdoms surrounding them, wanting to destroy them, wanting to kill them. It also means that God is reminding them of how he fought for them in the past, how he destroyed their enemies from the time of Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David,
It’s like God is saying, if I have been protecting you and fighting for you in the past, I will remain to be faithful for you. I will remain to fight for you in the future. I will defeat your enemies. I will defend you from all rulers and powers and thrones and kingdoms that seek to destroy you. It’s like God is saying, no government, no empire, no political movement can ever stop the work of God, can ever reverse the purposes of God, can ever hinder the plans of God for his people.
And that is why for us today, we find hope through these passages that whenever we see oppressive governments, tyrannical kingdoms and evil empires rule the world, we have hope and confidence and faith that God’s power and God’s rulership and God’s authority surpasses them all, that God’s kingdom is higher than any earthly kingdom. That a time will come. God will overthrow every throne, every kingdom that seeks to assert their authority against God. That is why for us, no matter what we go through in this world, whether it’s poverty or injustice or oppression or whatever form of suffering or evil we encounter in this world, we know and we have hope that our God is greater and our God is more powerful.
That is why in this life we can have peace, we can have joy, we have hope and confidence because our God is bigger than the giants. Our God is greater than any kingdom. Our God is powerful than any ruler. Our God is larger than any problem, any disease, any pandemic, any difficulty, any suffering, any evil that we go through in this world.
Are you going through some tough times? Are you going through some dark, difficult times in your life? Are you afraid of the future? Is your heart filled with fear and worry and uncertainty? This message invites us to trust that the coming years are in God’s hands. We may not know what the future holds, but we can trust the one who holds the future. So when you don’t understand, when you don’t see his plan, trust his heart.
The second part of God’s promise is that God Will enthrone the Messiah and his eternal kingdom. So far, God’s message to Zerubbabel has been a very big picture of what will take place in the future. But here in the final verses of Haggai, the Lord gives a specific promise to the Governor of Judah, On that day, declares the Lord of Hosts, I will take you O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shaltiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring.
For I have chosen you, declares the Lord of Hosts, God’s promise To Zerubbabel is to make him his signet ring. A signet ring is a symbol of authority. In the ancient empires, a king gives his signet ring to a delegated authority. The person who wears the signet ring represents the power, the authority, and the rulership of the king who gave it to him. So when God says, Zerubbabel, you will be my signet ring, that means God will give Zerubbabel authority and the rulership for the Kingdom of Judah.
But first, we have to understand Zerubbabel’s background. Zerubbabel came from a family of kings. He’s a descendant of King David and his grandfather, King Jehoahchim, also known as King Coniah, was the king who was punished by God for being a wicked ruler. This was God’s judgment to him: “I will strip you like a signet ring from my finger, and none of your descendants will ever sit on the throne.” Because of Jehoahchin’s wickedness, God judged him and God cut off his family line from David’s throne. God said, none of your descendants will ever sit on David’s throne.
So Zerubbabel was a descendant of this wicked king, King Coniah, whom God said, I will remove like a signet ring. Can you imagine Zerubbabel’s discouragement, looking at his nation’s history and looking at his family’s history, how the kingdom was destroyed, how his family was destroyed, and now he is here leading the people to rebuild the nation, to rebuild the temple of God. Imagine his discouragement as he looks back at the past, the past mistakes, the past failures, the past sins, and how his family made a mess.
At this time, God is restoring the kingdom. God is redeeming whatever is broken. God is reversing the judgment against his family. The Lord’s promise to Zerubbabel to make him into a signet ring is the official reversal of God’s former curse on Coniah’s lineage. As grandson of a wicked king with a bad name, God is giving Zerubbabel a good name.
Isn’t this amazing? God is in the business of giving us second chances. God is in the business of redeeming, restoring, and reversing whatever mistakes, whatever failure, whatever sin, whatever mess we did in the past. Imagine Zerubbabel’s encouragement out of despair and desperation and discouragement he has been going through. Now God gives him hope for the future.
It’s like God is telling the Zerubbabel, I know what happened in the past. I know how bad it was, but I’m starting a new chapter in your life. I’m starting something good out of something bad. I’m causing all things to work together for good. You have a brighter future. You have a better future because you have me, the God who redeems, the God who restores, the God who reverses all the bad and turns it into something good.
This is so amazing. Isn’t this the story of each one of us? This is the grace of God. This is the love of God. This is the faithfulness of God: that no matter what we went through in the past, no matter how much mistakes or failures or sins that we have inherited from our families, God is giving us a new name. God is giving us new hope. God is giving us new life. God is starting a new beginning, a new chapter in our lives.
But this goes beyond Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel is just a pointer to something greater than what is happening to his people during that time. The promises of God goes far, far, far beyond Zerubbabel’s restoration. God is also talking about a future restoration of a king who will rule God’s kingdom on Earth. The throne of David will be ruled by the Messiah, and Zerubbabel is part of that lineage.
When you look at the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Zerubbabel is his great, great, great, great grandfather. This is amazing. The restoration of the Zerubbabel points us to the coming restoration of his great great grandson, the Messiah, who will come to rule on David’s throne. Jesus Christ, who will actually one day destroy all thrones and kingdoms who are against God, the king, the Messiah, the savior.
Jesus Christ will one day sit on David’s throne to rule God’s kingdom on earth, establish peace and justice and the rulership of God. This means the book of Haggai is more than just the building of the temple. It’s more than just the restoration of David’s throne. The Book of Haggai is pointing to a future king. Haggai is pointing to a future temple: Jesus Christ himself. The call to rebuild the temple and the promise to restore the kingdom is part of a bigger story: the story of God’s redemption for our world.
This message encourages us to trust God: that despite our fears, our hopelessness, our frustrations, our discouragements, our disappointments in life, we know that God has a plan for our lives.
God has a plan for this world. Amidst our uncertainty and fears and worries about the future, about the new year, we can trust that it is God who holds the next chapters of our lives. We may not know what the future holds, but we can trust the one who holds the future. So when you don’t understand, when you don’t see his plan, trust his heart. All the rubbles in your life, you can bring to God. All the problems, the difficulties, all the mess that you’re going through, your pain, your suffering, even your failures and mistakes in the past, you can bring it to God.
And God can redeem it. God can give us a fresh start. And God can bring us hope for the future. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you that you are the God who is in charge of our world, the God who’s is in control of our lives. That no matter what we go through, Lord, we can trust you for our future. The coming days, het coming years are in your hands. Lord, we may have mistakes and failures and misses in the past, but we know you can cause all those things to work together for our good. You can give us a brand new start. You can give us a brand new beginning. And we know, Father, that the days ahead are in your hands. That’s why we can have peace. We can have joy. We can have hope. We can have confidence that the best is yet to come. We may not know what the future holds, but we trust and we know and we have confidence in the one who does hold our future as the new year comes.
Lord, give us faith. Give us hope. You must join our hearts in Jesus name. Amen.
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