We are loved by a God who always keeps his promises. The Old Testament is rich with promises concerning our coming Messiah, and from the opening lines of Matthew, we begin to see those promises perfectly fulfilled, starting with the most intimate details of Jesus’ birth. Back in 2019, we invited you and your teenagers to join us for a centering around Messianic prophecies. This year we will round out that series with eight more posts, so you’ll have one for every day of the Christmas season.
We pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened as you and your teenagers meditate together on the game-changing truth that our God says what he means and means what he says. O Come Let Us Adore Him!
For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:6-9)
With the buzz of her cell phone alarm, Susan woke up to another dreaded day. The one thing on her schedule—school—was enough to make her want to throw her phone across the room, pull up the covers over her head, and block out the world. Due to Susan’s dad’s job in the U.S. Army, her family had moved more times than she could count, and each time making friends became more difficult. She dreaded going another day to that new school where she would walk the halls unnoticed and completely alone.
We all want to be accepted and welcomed to join the group. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were God’s chosen people—but unlike a clique, God’s heart was to rescue all people through Jesus the Messiah, not just the Jews.
Today’s passage points to a theme throughout the Old Testament of God’s heart for the nations. From God’s blessing Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) to be a “blessing to the nations,” God’s heart for rescue through Jesus was not merely for the Jews but for everyone. Hundreds of years after Abraham, God spoke through the prophet Haggai, promising to “shake the nations” so that they too can be brought to worship before the throne of God.
The coming of Jesus fulfilled the promises God made to his people through Haggai’s prophecy. A few months after Jesus’ birth (Matt. 2:1-11), wise men from the East come to Jerusalem seeking to worship him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Through the wise men, we see that the longing for Jesus was not just in the heart of the Jewish people—God had placed it in the heart of people from other nations as well.
Although the wise men likely did not realize it, these gifts pointed to the life and ministry of Jesus. The gold was a picture of Jesus’ kingship. The frankincense, a fragrance used in worship, pointed to the truth that Jesus is God. The myrrh was a burial spice foretelling Jesus’ death and resurrection. These gifts of the nations give us a just one small glimpse of the fulfillment of Haggai’s prophecy. In the wise men, we see the story of Jesus the Messiah as the heavenly king who came to die for the sins of people from all nations and to rise again from the dead in order to give them new life and a restored relationship with God.
In Haggai’s prophecy, he described a new temple, which is not a building but a restored world. This temple will come about in the new heavens and new earth when Jesus returns. The temple’s greatness will surpass all that has come before, and in that temple, people from all nations will gather to worship Jesus, the heavenly king (Rev. 7:9), as he reigns forever on his throne as the “Prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6).
As followers of this same Jesus, we have received his gracious welcome into the kingdom of God. Because of this, we should be the first people who extend the welcome of Jesus’ gospel to people from all places. It does not matter where people are born or to which clique they belong; God’s grace and the rescue of Jesus in the gospel are open to all. The new temple will be filled with all peoples from all places and our youth groups, churches, and small groups should be as well.
Questions for Reflection
Who are people on the outside of your world that God may be calling you to reach out to in friendship?
What would it look like for you to engage someone who comes from a different culture than you in a conversation about faith?
How would your youth group or small group be different if it included people from different places who were not just like you?
Lord, help me to have the eyes to see the people you have put around me who are outside of my circle of friends. Help me to build a friendship with someone different and share with them the welcome of Jesus and His grace for them. Amen.
Click here for a downloadable pdf to share with your teenagers.
Click here for the entire series as it is posted.