George Jackson column: It gets better
ěThe glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.î
When a remnant of the children of Israel returned to Judah from exile in Babylon (modern Iraq) in 538 BC, they found their community in ruins. In 586 BC, the Babylonian Army under Nebuchadnezzar totally destroyed the First Temple, or Solomonís Temple, and leveled Jerusalem and the surrounding region. The returning exiles were not welcomed home with parades, fanfare or celebrations. Instead, they encountered miscegenation, famine, alienation, marauders, a broken economy and high unemployment.
Their spirits were low after 70 years of captivity in a strange land. All they wanted to do when they returned to Judah was rebuild their homes and regain some sense of normalcy. King Darius sent the exiles home to rebuild their sacred house of worship (Beit HaMikdash) but there were so many people and factors against them. How could they recapture the grandeur of Solomonís Temple with their limited resources and Zerubbabelís uninspired leadership? The task seemed impossible.
Then the prophet Haggai encouraged Israel with hope from heaven. God said all the resources necessary to rebuild the temple were his. Then God reassured the builders that the glory of the new temple would far exceed that of the old temple and the once-oppressed people would finally find peace.
Twenty-five centuries later, America faces similar challenges as did Judah. The economy is slowly recovering from the devastating recession of the last decade. Foreclosure is at an all-time high, turning once thriving neighborhoods into boarded up ghost towns. Soldiers returning from Iraq will find few jobs and an over-burdened health-care system. The situation seems completely hopeless when viewed in human terms. Again, God speaks to us through the minor prophet Haggai, ěAccording to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fearî (Haggai 2:5).
The same God that brought this nation out of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, Korea, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the Energy Crisis of the early 1970s, 46 previous recessions and 9/11 is able to deliver America from its current crisis. Yes, we have some tough days ahead of us and some tough decisions to make. I will not minimize the tragedies we encounter on a daily basis, but do not let the bullies, experts, the talking heads and the doomsday reporters discourage you.
Eventually it gets better.
Dr. George B. Jackson is pastor of Citadel of Faith Christian Fellowship,