Tucked away at the very end of the Old Testament is the book of Haggai. The Daily Walk Bible, describes the book this way. “Having just returned from exile in Babylonia, the people are confronted by a heartbreaking sight. Nebuchadnezzar had made a shambles of their city, including the glorious structure that was once Solomon’s Temple. Work progresses on a new Temple until opposition arises. For sixteen years, the Jews ignore the unfinished Temple to pursue personal prosperity. Onto the scene steps Haggai, an aged, straight-talking prophet of God, who minces no words.”
On August 29 the Lord gave a message to Israel. He asked them, “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!...“This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you!
And then God says, ‘You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, while you are all busy building your own fine houses. That is why the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought
to wither the grain and grapes and olives and all your other crops, a drought to starve both you and your cattle and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.”
Let’s look at the story told in Haggai as though it were a one hour made for TV drama. As scene 1 of the show opens we see God’s people struggling. A drought is in the land and nothing seems to be going right. God sends a message through his prophet telling them why things are going wrong, and why He was allowing them. The prophet tells the people what they needed to do and why they needed to do it.
After the commercial break a month has passed and the scene opens with the community worshiping God. They believed what the prophet said and had been working on the Temple. God shows up and says through Haggai, “I am with you!” He then sparked all of the people with enthusiasm to do the work.
Don’t miss the importance of this—within a month these people decided to obey and worship God in earnest. And God says, “I am with you.” He fills them with enthusiasm. That is fabulous! Rodeo blues can hit hard, wouldn’t a spark of enthusiasm from the Lord be great every September?
Scene 3 opens on October 17th of the same year about 520 B.C. Progress on the Temple was slow going. After all there were no power tools, all was done by sweat labor. The scene changes as we see God in heaven, smiling down on these people. God was involved with what they were doing. He sends Haggai another message for the people.
God is so encouraging as He says, “Is there anyone who can remember this house—the Temple, as it was before? In comparison, how does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all.” God, our awesome loving God, says “take courage and work, for I am with you! My spirit remains among you, just as I promised…so do not be afraid. In just a little while I will shake the earth and all the nations and I will fill this place with glory. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord. And in this place I will bring peace. I have spoken.”
See the great stuff that God pours on these people. God comes to them and says, it may not seem like much what you have done in building my house, but I see how you are trying. He tells them four times to take courage. Then he says, "Take courage and work, for I am with you. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt so do not be afraid."
The scene closes as it focuses in on a small group of laborers as they lift one more heavy stone—and one says, “We can do this, God is with us, He will never leave us. I am good to go."
The climax of the story is in scene 4. Even though some might have thought that God being with them and giving them enthusiasm and courage was enough, God has more for these humble people. On December 18 the Lord sent another message. Just four months from the first confrontation God says this, “Consider how things were going before you started building the Temple. Things weren’t coming out as you had planned. Everything you set out to do was ruined, but now CAREFULLY CONSIDER what I have to say, “I am making you a promise before you ever plant a new crop—from this day onward I, God Almighty, will bless you. I am going to overthrow kingdoms and royal thrones. However, Zerubbabel, you will be treated like a ring on My own hand."
The scene closes again focusing on that small group of laborers, and we hear their conversation:
“Whoa dude! Was that awesome or what? Can you believe what we just heard? All we are doing is building his Temple, block by block,” says Fred.
“Well I know it isn’t because I’ve done everything right, look at me, I am just ‘ole Joe,” says Joe.
“Yah, (chuckle) you’re pretty ugly too, especially with that wart on your nose,” says Mike.
“We may not be the smartest bunch of guys, but I know this, God is blessing us just because He wants to. He is great. It is good for me to be near to God,” says Joe.
Mike and Fred nod their heads as they continue to work; just being good ’ole Christian boys.
It is great what God did for those people. And what is even greater is this story can have your name written in it. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is not God’s will to destroy our lives, Jesus came to give us life and life abundant. When these people heard what God wanted they wasted no time and changed and did with earnest intention God’s will. God saw and God gave them enthusiasm and a promise to bless them from that day forward. In four months their lives had a complete turn around! God is awesome! God is good! God is merciful and gracious!
God is more than ready to reach down and say to each of us, “Remember Me, remember my promises—I will never leave you or forsake you; I have a great plan for your life; come on I’ll strengthen you to get back on the right path. Remember my words—You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. All things are possible with God.”
God is serious about the way we spend our lives. He loves us, but He may be severely disciplining us to get our attention! The people were sinning because they ignored God’s church. God didn’t send the prophet to put them on a guilt trip—he wanted them to get in a position to be blessed. It is good for us to ask God to examine our souls and show us our sins. We must consider how things are going for us?
In the New Testament the Temple of God can mean two things. It is either each believer’s body or it can mean the entire body of believers, better known as the church. For this issue, we will focus on the temple as the church. (2 Corinthians 3:16-17)
God’s church is very important to Him. He told the people that if they began to rebuild the temple, that He, God, would take pleasure in it and be honored. Think about that—we honor God when we build up other Christians. Pretty cool! Let’s all do more of it!
BASIC BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
Consider How Things Are Going