Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What has God chosen you for?

Signet ring - with the image of Childeric

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Haggai 2:1-23

TO CHEW ON: "'In that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'I will take you Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the Lord, 'and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,' says the Lord of hosts." Haggai 2:23

Zerubbabel was a leader of the Hebrew exiles returning from Babylon in 537 B.C. He was a governor and is mentioned in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. In the New Testament, he shows up in the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17 - Zerubbabel is mentioned in verse 12).

In our reading today we see one reason he was a significant Bible character. It is because God had a specific and special role for Zerubbabel in accomplishing His purposes. Here's what God wanted to do:

"I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and those who ride in them... (Haggai 2:21-22).

Zerubbabel was the man God picked for that task:

"I will take you, Zerubbabel...and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you..." Haggai 2:23.

Throughout the Bible we can trace the pattern of God choosing an individual when He wants to accomplish some special purpose.
  • When God wanted to do something about wicked humanity but still save some, He chose Noah (Genesis 6:5-14).
  • When God planned to free the Israelites from the tyranny of Midian, He chose Gideon (Judges 6:11-16).
  • When God wanted the Gospel spread to Gentiles, kings, and Jews, He chose Saul/Paul (Acts 9:1-16).

In his book Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says:

God never asks people to dream up something to do for Him. We do not sit down and dream what we want to do for God and then call God in to help us accomplish it. The pattern in Scripture is that we submit ourselves to God. Then we wait until God shows us what He is about to do, or we watch what God is already doing around us and join Him"  - Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God, Workbook, p. 34.

The challenge for us, then, is to resist going down a self-determined path. It means placing our confidence in God, not ourselves. We seek God's kingdom instead of what the world approves of and admires. We look for God's perspective in every circumstance instead of looking at how circumstances can serve us. Applying this viewpoint to life and work, we wait until we perceive God's activity before we decide what projects we should work on, instead of starting something on our own initiative and then asking God to bless it.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to put this into practice in my life. I need the spiritual perception to see where You are at work. I need wisdom to understand what this means for me. I need courage to cast aside self-generated projects in favour of assignments that come from You. Amen.

MORE: Signet rings

In ancient times, official documents contained a seal.  This was an impression or imprint on the document often made in a blob of wax. It told the recipient that the document was authentic.

Such seals were sometimes imprinted by pressing the ring the ruler wore (a signet ring) into the soft wax.

Wikipedia says of signet rings:
The wearing of signet rings (from Latin "signum" meaning sign) goes back to ancient Egypt; the distinctive personal signature was not developed in antiquity and most documents needed a seal. The tradition continues, especially among the armigerous, in European and some other cultures.  
Because it is used to attest the authority of its bearer, the ring has also been seen as a symbol of his power, which is one explanation for its inclusion in the regalia of certain monarchies. 
From "Seal (emblem)"
 So we see, when God calls Zerubbabel a signet ring, He is referring to the power and authority He has given this man He has chosen for this job.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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