“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadek, 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 showed reverence for the LORD.” — Haggai 1:12 (NASB)
Sometimes it’s those short books in the Bible that bang you right between the eyes, and I’m gonna say that Haggai is one those short books. At a whole two chapters long, it starts with a swift rebuke right YHVH’s people. First thing Haggai says is, “This people says, ‘The time has not come, even for the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt” then he asks, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” Then I can almost imagine him staring them people down when he utters, “Consider your ways!” Kinda like those old time Baptist preachers, fist to the pulpit, finger pointing right at you, that should brought be back into churches, (Oops, went there didn’t I? Sorry).
Don’t take that too seriously, Haggai wasn’t a scolding kinda prophet, on the contrary, YHVH sent him to encourage His people to get back to work on what was important. Here’s the backdrop…Israel had just returned to Jerusalem, from their Babylonian exile and they immediately began rebuilding YHVH’s temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians and they had just celebrated the laying of its foundation. But the work didn’t last long because King Artaxerxes ordered God’s people to cease the work. To quote Artaxerxes, “So, now issue a decree to make these men stop work, that the city may not be rebuilt until a decree is issued by me” (Ezra 4:21) and I guess outta fear of persecution, YHVH’s people just stopped building YHVH’s Temple.
So, here we are, some sixteen years later, and Haggai has been sent to rebuke YHVH’s people because they have just gotten lackadaisical about getting back to rebuilding YHVH’s Temple (oh and by the way, that Artaxerxes guy isn’t king anymore). They have only taken care of what little they had and that wasn’t going well for them either (see Haggai 1:6). These folks may have come back from their physical exile but that was about it. They had forgotten YHVH and what was done for them as a people by Him. Haggai reminds them of those times and then stirs them up so they can get to work (see Haggai 2:3-5).
Fast forward to a church in Corinth. We got this guy named Paul and here he is rebuking the Corinthian church because they didn’t quite get what God’s will was for them. He basically comes out and says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1Cor 3:16) He too, has to remind people to take care of God’s Temple and about the foundation that was laid for them in Christ Jesus. He too, tells them that a lackadaisical attitude towards maintaining the Temple will not stand up to God’s standards. It was like the church in Corinth was still in their spiritual exile, thinking that logic and philosophy could have its place amongst the teachings of Jesus. “If any man among thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise.” (1 Cor 3:18)
Amen for us that we can go back and look at these things in the Bible and examine ourselves through them, because when we neglect to follow God’s will in our lives, we can find ourselves becoming like those folks in Haggai’s time or the ones at Corinth—ignoring outta fear or logic, what He wants to do, and leaving the Temple in a state of disrepair. Praise God for those that He sends into our lives who encourage us that God wants us to see beyond the fear and continue on with following His will, despite the possible cost and be free to come into His presence to commune with Him.
If we were to take a moment and let it soak in into our very existence that the Creator of everything that we are surrounded by wants to be within us as well, maybe we would be better at maintaining the temple. After all, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008
Daily Quote: “Contrary to what professing Christians like to think, many of God’s people are not willing to walk in perfect agreement with Him, and this may explain why so many believers do not have the power of the Spirit, the peace of the Spirit and many of the other qualities, gifts and benefits which the Spirit of God brings.” — A.W. Tozer
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4