Bible Verse: 20. “The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21. “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother. 23. “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Haggai 2:20-23
For the second time on the same day, the twenty-fourth day of the month, Haggai gets a word from the Lord. The first time, it was a word the whole people as a community. The second time, it was a word for Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah.
The Lord tells him that the earth, her kingdoms and nations, are about to be shaken and erupt in chaos. The accepted order of things, the way the world is understood, is about to change and God gives the governor of the most unlikely, small, and beaten down people a heads up. Zerubbabel had demonstrated a capacity to respond faithfully to the word of the Lord, and to lead his people against all odds, and despite their own desires, in the ways of God. In a world that was about to be shaken, Zerubbabel, had proven himself to be a faithful and courageous servant, and God told him that He would be make him like His signet ring.
In ancient times, a signet ring belonged to someone with authority and land. It was essentially the electronic signature of the ancient world. Its mark guaranteed authenticity and ownership. It conveyed the authority of the one who wore it. This is what Zerubbabel was in the hands of the Lord. The world might shake, the nations may tremble, but Zerubbabel would both be secure in the Lord as a person, and those he served, the people of God, would be secure when marked by his faithful leadership.
And God did shake the world as He had promised. The world shook in the days following the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Babylon gave way to Persia. Persia gave way to Greece. Greece gave way to Rome. And Rome, in its time, fell too, and the shaking of the world continues to this today. We live in a world that is reeling from a pandemic, economic uncertainty, political upheaval and civil unrest. A time when we are re-evaluating whom we honor, what we prize, and how we live. We face a murky future, much like the people of Haggai’s day. We might wish for a return to the old familiar “normal”, or that we could find some new normal that would allow us to settle back into a comfortable and predictable routine. Something that helps us to feel like we’re in control again.
But, our calling as the people of God is not to rely on our own wisdom and power, living in a self-absorbed struggle for control. No, our calling, like the people of Haggai’s day, is to live in faithfulness to God in this moment. We who know the God that revealed himself in Jesus Christ are called to live as the Zerubbabel-like signet ring, a life lived with God at the center, and remaining sure and strong in our faith when all things rattle and shake. We are to be an example to the world of the authority and might of a life that bears the mark of our Everlasting King.
We were chosen to be God’s own people. We need to claim it, own it, and live it. Let no one ever doubt whose mark you wear. Praise be to our heavenly Father forever!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.