Eighteen years ago, a motivated band of the faithful had risked their lives, their fortunes, to revive the honor of their desecrated sacred space. They’d traveled over mountains, deserts and rivers to return to a home they’d never known. They arrived to an utter ruin, but they rebuilt, steadfastly determined to grasp onto hope…
But their enemies saw what they were doing and fed lies into the ear of the new emperor. They mired the project in difficulties, delays and distractions. But it wasn’t only their enemies. Nothing worked, everything about the project was bogged down in a supernatural quagmire. And, just when things got at their toughest, someone reread Jeremiah and suggested that perhaps God was not with them, after all, or at least not yet. They suggested that perhaps a more opportune time would arise in the future.
And so the dream was struck down, not by one fell stroke, by rather by a thousand little blows that slowly eroded the confidence of the once faithful remnant. But, the remnant were adamant that the dream was not dead! Not one of them would have ever said that! They would have simply explained that they’d delayed the vision to a more opportune time. It would have all sounded humble, contrite and holy.
And so for the next fourteen years, this dispirited remnant found themselves stuck in a ruin of a town with a dream deferred, and a vision lost. So they busied themselves with the errands of normal life, and slowly they repurposed some of the stuff they’d set aside for the temple for more practical uses like houses for themselves. After all, they needed to rebuild something among the ruins.
Then suddenly the word of the Lord came to a steely-eyed prophet, Haggai rose up and asked:
“Why haven’t you rebuilt God’s house?”
The remnant was indignant.
“You know why! We tried our hardest! We were blocked and stymied at every turn! God said the dream had to wait for a later day.”
“Did God say that?”
“Well, sort of.”
Haggai shook his head.
“Very well. It is a new day now. So rebuild!”
“The time just isn’t right. Not yet. Maybe soon.”
“A dream indefinitely deferred is the same as a dream dead.”
“Dreams? Since we arrived back, nothing has worked. Life is only ever storing up hopes into a bag of holes that never fills.”
Haggai has heard enough. “It is your hearts that are full of holes! A dream deferred is corrosive to the soul. Now is the time for your hearts to be purified from the contaminants of cynicism, pessimism and hopelessness. No vision from God is ever lost. Start again! God is still here, still with you!”
The remnant are stunned by Haggai’s stern words. But, to their credit, they pause and consider them. Their hearts woke up from a long slumber and cleaned out the phlegm of hopelessness. And this become one of the few instances of when a prophet’s words were heeded and obeyed, and then, slowly, the Lord revived them.
The Lord of course, knew that the people would need a leader in this process, so he revived (wayyar) in Haggai 1:14, the hearts of two leaders, one a son of David, the other a son of Levi.
And these two men would finally succeed. The dream, so long deferred, became reality