Haggai 1:2-4 says, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ” Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
During the time period of Haggai, the Babylonian empire fell at the hands of the Persians. The Jewish exiles who were previously taken from Jerusalem by the Babylonians, were free to return to their homeland to rebuild the city and their lives.
The future seemed bright, but it wasn’t. At least, not from Haggai’s point of view. He accused the people of having misplaced their priorities. They had been investing their time and resources into rebuilding their own new, beautiful homes while the Temple of the Lord still sat in ruins from its destruction about 70 years prior. In verse 4, Haggai was essentially asking the people, are your own houses more important than your allegiance to God?
This is a topic that I feel is more relevant today than ever. In the 21st century, there are so many nice, new things we can indulge in. We are free to go and do what we want (for the most part anyway, thanks to the pandemic) We invest our time, money, and freedom to indulge in the flesh. As a Christian it’s important to ask yourself: what’s the condition of God’s temple in my life? Have I put more effort into my own home, or my own hobbies, than I have into God’s house? Have I let certain obstacles take my focus off of God’s will for my life?
When Haggai brought this up to the remnant of Israel, they were moved and motivated by his words, and began rebuilding the Temple. However, as the temple was being rebuilt, the people began to feel discouraged and morale was low. The elders among the people remembered the glory and splendor of Solomons Temple, which, compared to what they had been building, was much more majestic and elaborate.
Haggai 2:3-5 says, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’”
A glamorous temple was not what was important to God. By investing their hearts into rebuilding Gods house, they were honoring Him. That’s what mattered most to God, as it does now.
Haggai goes on to remind the people of Gods promise of His future kingdom in the New Jerusalem. He calls the people to work in hope, despite the disappointing circumstances. Today, we can be sure we are honoring God by investing our hearts into His temple in our lives. Are we taking time to pray and talk to him? Are we taking time to listen? Have we left his temple abandoned while we focus on ourselves?
God, none of us are perfect. That much we are certain. I pray, Lord, that whoever reads this would be drawn to you and that see the things that stand in the way of a strong relationship with you. I pray that you give them strength and encouragement to continue on in their faith despite the circumstances in the world, and that they can experience the joy in honoring you.
Amen and God bless!