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Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Book of Haggai

I urge you to open your Bible and read the scriptures for yourself.  Pray for guidance in His word and let the Holy Spirit lead you.  If you would like to share, add your thoughts on this passage of scripture in the comments.

Background Info:

Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. He prophesied around 520 BC during the reign of Darius the 1st.  Verse 1 of Chapter 1 gives us a time frame for this book. This time in Israel’s history is also the period of Esther, Nehemiah, & Ezra.  Haggai is mentioned in Chapters 5&6 of Ezra.  His ministry is persuading Israel to get back to rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem after a 10 – year hiatus. A remnant had been given permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.  At first, they had done so with great zeal and had quickly completed the foundation. Then, they threw a party. The party was okay, but they didn’t get back to work later.  Between their own desires and the “encouragement” of the neighbors to stop work on the temple, they did indeed cease to work on the temple.

The name Haggai means something along the lines of “festive one.”

From the Book of Haggai

Chapter 1

Verses 2 & 3:

The Lord had provided the way for His people to return from captivity with the purpose of rebuilding the temple.  This wasn’t just a call to rebuild the temple, it was a call to return to God’s service, to worship Him.  When God said, ‘This people say, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’ The people were content in not working on the temple. They were working for themselves and earning.  They had been caught up in “everyday life” just as many of us are. They had decided in their hearts that it was not time to work on the temple. However, the Lord had a different plan. The Lord sent Haggai with a call to action, a call to repentance.

Verses 4-7:

We see that the people were living in “ceiled” houses.  That is a word Haggai used to say their houses were comfortable and safe. They were living in completed houses, but the Lord’s house lay waste. Their priorities were out of order.

In verse 5, the Lord calls them out.  He says, “Consider your ways.”  One of the things, I’ve noticed in my own life is that the more I put God first, the more He blesses me. He has blessed me in so many ways that I don’t have the time to tend to half the things he has blessed me with. I have to prioritize. I have to ask myself, “What is the most important thing here to deal with first?” The most important thing is to keep God in the forefront. I sometimes fail at that.  We all do.

“Consider your ways” is seen five times throughout the two chapters of Haggai. It is a plea of God for Israel to see what they are doing and to straighten out themselves and line back up with the Word of God and what is important.  We all need to consider our ways. Not just today, but every day.  We need to ask ourselves why we desire to do something. Is it for our glory or is it for God’s glory?  When I think about all that I have done for my glory; and I mean really reflect on it, I remember all the stress it caused.  In the end, the stress was greater than the reward.  When I think about the things I have done for God’s glory, there was some stress – yes. I had to deal with the ideals of lost people, backslidden people, maybe a technical problem. That is stressful, but the reward was much greater than the few moments of stress.  Knowing that God’s will was done instead of my own brings peace.

In verse 6, God rebukes Israel by pointing out how they are not fully satisfied with their own ways and how they are working in vanity. He gives them a list of things they are doing that, in their minds, should bring them joy. However, they aren’t filled by these things.  They work to build nice houses, fill them with whatnots and furniture, eat the foods they want, but they still want more.  They want more money, more stuff, and more social gatherings.  We too are like that.  We vainly work to fill our homes with things we want but do not need. How many times have we bought a new vehicle because we think a different car will get better gas mileage?  Was that a necessity or was that an excuse covering up the real reason for buying a new car?  How many times have we bought a new electronic just because it was on sale?

Now, I’m not saying that getting something new is a bad thing.  The Bible tells us things of this world will pass away.  We need to replace the refrigerator from time to time.  The lawnmower can only cut so much grass before the deck rusts away to nothing.  However, we all have to admit that we have spent a blessing from God on something we did not need when we could have used that blessing to bless someone in the name of God.  That is what was happening here.  The remnant that had returned had begun trying to bless themselves as opposed to being content with the blessings of God.  By trying to bless themselves, they were disobeying God. He presented this list to show that they are not being blessed because they are not blessing His name. Again in verse 7, God tells them to consider their ways.

Verses 8-11:

In verse 8, God tells them what they need to do to fix the problem at hand.  They have a little lackluster in what they do. They don’t put in much effort.  God instructs them on what to do.  He also instructs us on what to do. He instructs us how to come back to having a relationship with Him and how to bless His name.  He preserved the Bible for us to read. We can pray. We can be witness for God in our every day lives.  God wants us to build the house for Him to take pleasure in.  That house is our relationship with God.  By building that house, God takes great pleasure in us.

In verse 9, God says, “Ye looked for much but it came to little.” As I said before, Israel wasn’t putting in the wholehearted effort.  God looked at what they were doing and saw nothing that brought glory to His name.  Their desires were not for God’s will to be done, but their own will to be done.  I like ball games. I played all kinds of sports as a kid.  I went through a lot of skateboards and bike tires.  As much as I liked all of that, it didn’t bring any glory to God.  I can try to say that it did, but I know that I was just spending time that I will never recover doing something that made me happy and has zero eternal value.  No, I’m not saying give up sports. I don’t think God frowns on some enjoyment in things like that. I do believe he frowns on us turning it into our own idols.  I could have been building a house for God while I was doing all that other stuff. I could have been growing my relationship with God. I could have been witnessing to others.  I could have been seeking the will of God.  I will say I never once prayed and asked God to lead me in how much time I should have spent in sports.

God told the remnant what His response was to their lackluster hearts.  In verses 10 & 11, God says he called for a drought in the land. God cursed their efforts. He controlled what they couldn’t in order to get their attention.  We see that God had to do all these things before Israel would look past the end of their noses. Just as in the past, God had to do something major to get Israel to do as they should. A lot of times, this happens with us as well. Sometimes God has to make us stop. Kind of like the current situation that we are in right now with this pandemic. God has to chastise us a little for us to see where we err. He has to go to the extreme to get our attention.  It’s a shame we allow little things to gradually creep into our worship, into our prayer life, into our homes that take the focus off of God’s will and glory.

Verses 12-15

God stirred up the spirit of the people.  He did indeed get their attention.  Then they were willing to work. They came to their senses and got with the game. They cooperated and got things moving. We will see in chapter 2 that the temple gets built. Much can be done when God’s people adhere to the things the way God wants them. We just have to keep ourselves in line with the word of God.  We have to move our will and ideals out of the way so that God’s will can be done.