In the face of war, it is easy to get discouraged and feel hopelessly vulnerable. The normal reaction to such feelings is to retreat and wait out the storm. The Bible provides us great insight into the problems associated with this reaction.

Zerubbabel was a great Jewish leader responsible for taking the first group of exiles back to Jerusalem from Babylon. It was under his leadership that the once destroyed temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt. But problems arose when people who had seen the original temple became discouraged by how much smaller the new temple was to be. More importantly, people opposing the rebuilding of the temple and the independence it would give to the returned exiles waged a campaign of fear to dissuade further re-building of the temple.

 

As the Book of Ezra records, "The peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They had hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans." (Ezra 4:4-5). The result was a complete stoppage of the work for 16 years. The people of Judah retreated in the face of fear and intimidation. The intimidators had succeeded.

God's response to this situation was decisive and provides great insight for how we, too, are called to persist in the face of continued terrorist threats. God sent to the people of Judah two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. Their mission was to encourage the people to persevere in the face of fear, assuring them of God's continued presence in their lives. The Lord spoke these words to the people of Judah through Haggai: "Be strong, all you people of the land, and work. For I am with you ... My spirit remains among you. Do not fear." (Haggai 2:4-5)

God encourages His people throughout all of time to remain strong in the face of fear. God sent Haggai and Zechariah to remind us that God's love never leaves us and will conquer the enemies of peace and hope.

Rev. Gordon McClellan is an ordained Presbyterian minister and Founder/President of The Christian Networks Journal. Copyright 2001 Gordon McClellan. All rights reserved.