Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 16 2019 - Haggai 1 – A call to rebuild the Lord's house

You may remember that we came across Haggai in the book of Ezra. There we learned how the building of the temple had come to a stop but had later been resumed after King Darius of Persia said that anyone hindering it should be put to death. We then read:

The elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah… They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. (Ezra 6:14)

Haggai and Zechariah were both prophets whose words encouraged the rebuilding and completion of the temple under the project management of Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and during the time of Joshua the high priest.

And it seems from Haggai chapter one that the people needed some encouragement to get back to work on the temple. They seemed to have taken the temporary stoppage in temple building as an opportunity to complete their own homes and to make them as comfortable as possible, complete with wood panelling. Haggai tells them that they should put the same, if not greater effort into building the temple that had remained a half-built ruin. Their lack of zeal for the Lord and for the temple where he was to be honoured and worshipped was the reason for their poor harvests and poor returns on their labour. It was as if they were working to "earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it" (v. 6). The Lord tells them that if they will only focus their attention on building his house and honouring him the Lord will bless them rather than afflicting them with drought and making the labour of their hands yield such poor results.

And the people listened to the word of the Lord delivered through Haggai:

So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God. (v. 14)

Haggai now assured them that the Lord was with them in their work.

There is nothing wrong with us wanting to make a comfortable home for ourselves and our families. The problem arises when we pursue these things at the expense of our devotion to God our loving heavenly Father who is the author of all of the good things we enjoy. The apostle Paul tells Timothy:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Did you notice that Paul says that God provides us with the things we possess that we might enjoy them? All the good things of this life are to be enjoyed with thanksgiving. But he also commands us to be generous with all we possess; to recognise that they are given us by God not solely for our own enjoyment, but also for the blessing of others who may be in need. Our focus is not to be primarily upon ourselves but upon God who has blessed us and given us a hope of glory to come. Our focus is then to be on others with whom we can share the good things God has given us and especially with whom we may share Christ, the very best and most precious of all God's gifts.

Lord, we know how easy it is to turn to you when we are in need, but neglect you when all seems well with our lives. Help us never to lose sight of the debt of love and thankfulness we owe to you. Teach us how that love may be displayed as we serve you through serving others.

Peter Misselbrook