“This is what the Lord of Heavens Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.'” – Haggai 1:2 NLT
The rebuilding of the Temple had begun in 538 B.C. with the return of the exiles from Babylon. But due to opposition from the people who had moved into the land while the people of God were away, the Temple had never been completed. Fifteen years had gone by with no work taking place. The people had become apathetic to the project and spiritual apathy had set in. They had started out well, but had somehow lost their momentum. Other things occupied their minds. They had a different set of priorities other than completing the assignment God had given them. It’s clear to see from the passage that they were busy planting crops, vineyards, building houses, and making a living. But because they had let these things take the place of God’s call on their lives, all their efforts were proving fruitless and in vain. “You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” (Haggai 1:6 NLT). The picture is one of futility and frustration. They were working their tails off, but getting nowhere. Their attempt to make their own agenda a higher priority than God’s was not working out too well. God clearly tells them that He is the one behind their less-than-perfect circumstances. He wants to know why they can leave His house unfinished while they busy themselves with building find houses for themselves. They were learning the painful, but valuable lesson that a life of self-centeredness does not produce satisfaction.
But God reminds them that He is with them. His presence has not left them. Part of their spiritual apathy was because they had faced opposition as soon as they arrived on the scene. Things had not been easy. Doing the will of God never is easy. It is difficult and requires diligence and determination. When things get tough we are tempted to take our eyes off of God and focus on our circumstances. We lose our focus. We get distracted. We decide there are other things that are more important than that which God has called us to. But God wants us to know that He is with us and still expects us to do our part. “I am with you, says the Lord!” (Haggai 1:13 NLT). There was no reason to fear the opposition. But there was also no excuse for them to set new priorities and make their own plans more important than God. He still expected them to do what He had sent them their to do. Paul reminds us of this very same thing. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). God saved us, not so that we could spend our time building houses, careers, portfolios, or our reputations. He has work for us to do — work associated with His Kingdom purposes. He has left us here for a purpose. Are we doing it? Or are we suffering from the same spiritual apathy and atrophy as the people of God in Haggai’s day? Self-centeredness still does not produce satisfaction. Let’s remember that the Lord is with us, and get busy about His business.
Father, it is so easy to get distracted by all that is going on around me. I can lose sight of why I am here and begin to think that life on this planet is all about me and what I want. But You saved me for a purpose. You redeemed me and made Your own so that I might accomplish Your will, not mine. We have work to do. Help us keep our eyes focused on You and Your will, not our own. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men