1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says that “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”‘” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6 “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earn wages to put into a bag with holes.” 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 “Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 “Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds it fruit. 11 “For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labour of your hands.” 12 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 presence of the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people saying, “I am with you, says the Lord.” 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.
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I thank God for the opportunity to write this article. Indeed I write it not only for you, but for myself, for at times, I have allowed other things in my life (e.g. work, family issues) to take priority over relationship with God. However, God in His mercy always has a way of tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘Come on David, you must finish up that article I gave you to write!’. Below are some points that the Lord showed out to me from Haggai 1 about priorities in life. I pray that they will help you as they have helped me.
Issue of time (v2)
People used the excuse of time to avoid building the temple. By doing this, they implied that it was up to them when a good time would be for them to build. They didn’t seek God’s direction as to how and when they should work. In today’s society we too can easily use a lack of time as an excuse to put God to one side. People today work long hours, have more deadlines to meet, and are under more stress than ever before. However we must realize that godly success stems out of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and relationships take time. We must with set aside time for Him, and He is more than willing to help us do it!
Neglect of God (v4)
In neglecting to build God’s temple, the people neglected the worship of God, and thus God Himself. At the same time, they were dedicating a lot of their time and money to their own houses. The contrast is so clear. God’s house was in ruins while there houses were being built with the finest materials. The inner condition of their hearts was expressed outwardly by the time and money they devoted to their own ambition and desires, compared to that which they devoted to God.
Open your eyes! See the consequences (v5)
In dealing with the people, God wanted them to ‘consider their ways.’ Actually He said it twice for emphasis. This is similar to what Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:40 ‘Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.’ God wanted them to see the results of their neglect. Verse 6 shows that because of their neglect, and misplaced priorities:
– They worked hard, but with little return on their efforts.
– That which they obtained from their work didn’t satisfy their needs.
– Their earnings were not fulfilling the purpose they could or should have.
We cannot afford to suffer these consequences! We must in the midst of life’s hectic pace, stop, and evaluate our lives and see if God takes first place.
Take action (v7)
After a time of reflection on their ways, it was now time for action. The people of Israel had to make God’s will a priority again, by building the temple. This would bring glory and pleasure to Him. Is there a goal, a desire, a task that you know God has given you to accomplish, but is ‘gathering dust’? Take it up again!
God is the source of provision and blessings (v9-12)
The people of Israel made the mistake of believing that by working harder, they would be better off. Working hard is good, but this can be done to the extent that our relationship with God suffers. They tried to gain success without God. Therefore He withheld His blessing from their lives, and caused drought to come. How different it would have been if their priorities were in order. They would have been like the blessed man in Psalms 1 – ‘…whatever he does shall prosper.’
Listen to God (v12)
The people obeyed God’s voice. In all of this, God showed Himself to be a merciful God. He really wanted to bless His people. That’s why He corrected them through Haggai. If He intended them evil, He could have easily allowed them to carry on doing their own thing and miss out on His best. In this regard, God’s ways are above ours (Isaiah 55:9). Many a person would see someone going the wrong way, and not try to set them right. God demonstrates His love with encouragement (v13) – ‘I am with you.’ We always have this promise once we are living in His will.
A change in our spirit (v14)
We see that after the people submitted their will to the Lord, that He takes the next step. He stirs their spirit. The spirit is the innermost part of man (1 Corinthians 2:11). Therefore for a change in direction at times, we must allow God to do a work deep in us so we can please Him, and be restored.
What now? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, if indeed you are in need of them! You may see areas of your life that have taken priority over your relationship with God. You may even be a person who does not know God through His Son Jesus Christ at all. If you are a believer in Christ, I ask you to pray, and let the Lord direct you. If you don’t know the Lord, I urge you to ask Him into your heart right now. You are not at this web page by chance. Jesus loves you and is calling you into a relationship with Him.