I would like to begin my message today with a short series of questions. How do you think that the people of the early millennium will feel when they have rebuilt the ruins and build their cities? How have people felt before when they rebuilt the ruins of a glorious but deeply flawed human civilization as a righteous but small remnant? Do you know? The Bible tells us in Haggai 2:1-9 how the righteous remnant of Judah felt after rebuilding the temple in the time of Zerubbabel. Haggai 2:1-9 reads as follows: “In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now, be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord, ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ ‘For thus says the Lord of hosts; ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.’
On this very day, the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, over 2500 years ago, the prophet Haggai gave a message about the rebuilt temple of God in Jerusalem. It was not as fancy or as glorious to the eyes as had been the magnificent but often corrupt Temple of Solomon. And it will be the same way at the beginning of the Millennium. There will be people who remember the skyscrapers, the castles, the cathedrals, and the gold-covered wats [temples] of this world, and the rebuilt cities of the world are likely to be on far smaller and far simpler a scale. To the eyes, the rebuilt ruins may not be impressive, just as the Second Temple (before Herod got his hands on it) was not all that glorious to the eyes. But in what matters, in righteousness and godliness, the restored world will be far more glorious, because Jesus Christ and the resurrected saints will be ruling in it. Let us remember this fact as we imagine the rebuilt ruins that the Bible promises.
Rebuilding The Ruins
There are at least two kinds of ruins that will be rebuilt in the Millennial Kingdom set up by Jesus Christ. The first kind of ruin is physical, the infrastructure of buildings, bridges, and roads. The Bible promises, in several locations, that these ruins, not only buildings but also roads, will be rebuilt by the remnant that survives into the millennium. Let us first turn to Amos 9:11-15, which gives us a picture of the sort of life that the remnant of Israel will have in the millennium. Amos 9:11-15 reads as follows: “ “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the Lord who does this thing. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the trader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.”
This passage gives us a picture of a people who enjoy a rich life of good food, of having enough, of no one going without. It gives us a picture of a society that is content and blessed with rich harvests and productive lives. The cities in which they live may not be glorious, like the sprawling cities of our world, but they will be cities where there is a godly culture and where the blessings of a righteous life are enjoyed by all, and not just a lucky few. This sort of society is the utopia which has long been dreamed of, with godly government, more than enough for everyone to eat, and boundless prosperity for all. And these blessings will be the result of God’s blessing and God’s rule, not the sort of glory you see with your eyes, but rather the sort of fulfillment you feel in your belly and the sort of wholeness you feel in your bones. It is a greater glory than the empty splendor of the eyes lacking in righteousness, and far more rich than the splendor of gold or silver, but it requires that we see the world through different eyes.
And this glory and this joy of the rebuilt physical ruins will not only include Israel, but also the rest of the world. Let us look at what the prophet Isaiah says about Egypt and Assyria as well as Israel in Isaiah 19:23-25. This passage shows us that God’s concern goes far outside of physical Israel alone. Isaiah 19:23-25 reads as follows: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptian will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel my inheritance.”
Here we see that a highway will connect Egypt and Assyria and Israel together so that Africa and Asia (and presumably other continents as well) will all be able to worship God together in Jerusalem. For all people are the work of God’s hands, and all mankind has the same heavenly Father and Creator. Here we see that there will not only be rebuilt cities, but also a rebuilt highway so that people can travel from one nation to another and worship God all over the world. There will be no hatred or enmity between nations, but rather a common worship of our God in truth. In rebuilding the cities and transportation and communication under a common law, God’s law, and a common system of worship, and a common leader in Jesus Christ our King, God will also build a world that is at peace with each other.
And that brings us to our second point. God will not only rebuild buildings and roads, but also rebuild relationships. No more will children grow up without their father or mother because their parents are estranged, as my parents were. No longer will children war with their parents, as I have warred with mine. No longer will nations rise up and fight each other, as has been common throughout the melancholy course of human history. Instead, we will be at peace and in harmony with each other. For when God rebuilds the cities and roads that connect mankind together, He will also rebuild our hearts and our relationships, so that we may enjoy life as part of godly families and godly communities, seeking the best interests of others and not only our selfish benefit.
Let us first look at the promised peace in the absence of conflict and in the devotion of resources that formerly went towards warring and fighting to peaceful pursuits like agriculture. We read of this promise of one law and of peace between all nations under the rule of God in Isaiah 2:2-4. Isaiah 2:2-4 reads as follows: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Today the nations of the world learn war. I myself have long been a student of war, and have even received a Master’s of Arts Degree in Military History from Norwich University. This world’s history has been full of conflict—conflict between nations, conflict between and within families, conflict between friends, between former religious brethren, between different religions or even slightly different sects of the same faith. We fight for good reasons, we fight for bad reasons, and sometimes we fight for no reason at all except boredom or selfishness or impatience or misunderstandings. Our lives, and I speak of my own as well, are full of conflict in this world. But once the influence of Satan has been removed, and once God’s law and God’s order is established, no one shall need to learn war anymore. No more shall nations or families or people fight and war with each other, for all will have to accept God’s judgments and God’s rebuke and cease our conflicts. A lot is going to change about the state of our world and our hearts.
And not only is the rebuilding of the ruins in the peace of the world between nations, but also between the generations, as we read in Zechariah 8:4-5. Zechariah 8:4-5 reads as follows: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets.” No more will children be in danger of being hit by cars or fined by the government for playing in the streets (as they are in Denmark and Germany). No longer will the elderly be sent off to die in nursing homes, but families will be together in harmony, enjoying both the wisdom of old age and the energy and innocence of youth. Families will be united together rather than divided as they now are.
In conclusion, therefore, let us review what we have discussed briefly concerning the rebuilding of the ruins in the Millennium. Even though the rebuilt godly civilization of the millennium will be righteous and spiritually glorious, Haggai reminds us that it may not be as glorious, at least initially, to the eyes of those who remember the superficial splendors of our postmodern world. Let us also remember that God will rebuild cities and roads as well as the relationships between nations and between generations within families. For we are all one family, ultimately—the Family of God. Let that day of peace come so that we can rebuild the ruined state of our world as well as our communities and relationships, for truly we need to rebuild many ruins around us, both physical and spiritual, both mental and emotional. May that work begin soon.