Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
God’s covenant love is strong and binding. While encouraging the Jerusalem generation of re-settled exiles, God views His relationship with Israel from the very beginning of their national identity. He brought them out of Egypt. In a way, God is reminding them that He has done this sort of thing before. He knows how to take care of His people when they have come into covenant from slavery in a foreign land. The same powerful God of the Exodus was also God of the Exile. And He is God of this new endeavor among a generation that was re-settling the Land of Promise and re-building the temple of God.
God calls them to courage and asks them not to fear the task in front of them. Though it was big, He was bigger. God appeals to three things to encourage them. He appeals first to His Presence – “I am with you”. They had forgotten that in the slow slide into apathy. When they settled into their lives, homes, and personal business without recognizing God, they failed. Now they would succeed with God’s promises as they recognized God’s presence with them to do His work.
His second appeal was to the His Covenant by which they came into relationship with Him. It was both past history and their present reality. It bound them to obedience and blessed them with God’s care. It was a gracious and unique position. God’s people ought to build His house.
The final appeal was to His Spirit. He was active among the people. He had not abandoned them thought they had forgotten Him. God was faithful and would provide what they needed for the hard work. He promised to supply simply and abundantly from His Spirit, His Presence, and His Covenant that were always with them.