(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well after talking about the power of divine repetition, we come to a prophet that’s unique. Haggai has this unique central theme; it is the theme of the rebuilding of the Temple. In fact, I would subtitle this prophet, “The Rebuilding.” And in focusing on the rebuilding of the Temple, this little prophecy gets to the heart of the gospel message. You could not get more to the core of what our hope really is than this.
You see, our hope is not in theology; our hope is not in religious institutions. The function of theology is that it would be shorthand for the narrative of the work of God. So instead of having to tell the whole narrative of the justifying grace of God and how to accomplish this, I can use the term ‘justification.’ But my hope is not in justification; my hope is in a God who justifies; our hope is in the presence of a person, God Himself! God's greatest gift to His people, the ultimate transforming gift is Himself. He is grace, He is hope, He is life, He is mercy, He is the source of our hope.
Now, what does that have to do with the Temple? The Temple stands as a visible symbol of the presence of God with His people. And that Temple is a finger-pointing to that moment when the church, the people of God, will become the temple where God dwells. God’s no longer located in a building; He’s located in His people. He literally dwells in His people.
And the reason we have hope is because God is with us. And Jesus will take the name, ‘Immanuel.’ What does Immanuel mean? “God with us;” you could not get more at the center of what our hope is. Our hope is not in a thing; our hope is not in a philosophy or a theology. Our hope is in God Himself.
God looked at the brokenness of this world, at the devastating rebellion, lostness, and brokenness of the people He created and understood that the only fix for this was Himself. And that's why, in that night with rather nervous Nicodemus, Jesus says these words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”
This rebuilding of the temple is a reminder to us that we have no hope if God separates Himself from us. We have no hope unless people who don't deserve it, who could never earn it, could never demand it, could never deserve it, have been blessed by the presence of God. God comes and He dwells with His people. Today, no matter what is going on in your life, you're blessed because God is in you, and He's with you, and He’s for you, and that presence changes everything for you.