Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.
“I love it when a plan comes together!” Somehow, I feel Haggai smiled and muttered that to himself. In one of the few times in Israel’s history, the voice of the prophet is heeded…immediately. The Word of God was heard and obeyed. The alarm produced in Haggai’s two stern warnings at the beginning of this book leads to a real obedience. Israel heard what God said. The remnant was ready to repent of their selfish lethargy. They began to work on rebuilding the temple again.
There are two words that characterize the response. They are simple, but important to understand. The first part is obedience. They did not debate the message. They did not analyze or worry about the ramifications. It seems to have started with the leaders and moved through the ranks. By obeying the message, they were admitting their own slack and disregard for God. And they focused again on the covenant. They simply obeyed.
The second response is deeper and more personal. They feared the Lord. There is a lot wrapped into those four words. They undoubtedly were afraid of His judgments that they were already experiencing and that Haggai was quick to point out to them. But fear of God is also found in the respect that is due to the One Who holds all things before Him. They knew He knew their hearts and lives. A healthy respect for God grew again in their hearts. They did not want any more economic hardship. But they did not want to hurt their relationship with God. They repented and returned in obedience. And a personal respect and reverence for their God grew again in their hearts, blossoming in a quick and ready obedience.