Today we read the short little book of Haggai and the first few verses of Zechariah. These two prophets were contemporaries, having returned to Jerusalem with the exiles. While we don’t know for sure, Haggai may have been in his 80’s, and one of the original exiles, while Zechariah may have been born in captivity and was a much younger man.
God used Haggai to stir up His people at a critical time. They had been discouraged (and prevented) from continuing the work of the temple rebuild. Haggai and Zechariah are both used to spur them on to the good work God had called them to do, and they were instrumental in getting the letters sent to King Darius, and thus gained royal approval and support. However, the people of God were “lagging” in their responsibility. They had turned their attention to building their own homes and planting crops. The house of the Lord lay desolate, with seemingly no one concerned about it.
Haggai brings a strong message from the Lord to awaken the people from their apathy. The reason they are struggling so in their personal lives is that they have neglected what mattered to God. God had caused a drought to get their attention. The harder they worked the less they accomplished. They planted much but harvested little. They ate but never had enough. They put on clothes but were not warm. God says, “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away.” He tells them why: “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” Thankfully, the people respond to Haggai and repent. They renew their commitment, work continues on the temple, and God provides for their physical needs.
What’s our takeaway? How long will we find ourselves struggling to “make life work” before we realize we have neglected the things that matter to God? We let our spiritual lives “lie desolate” and focus all our energy and attention on our physical lives of work, school, family, home, and career. Church becomes optional. Pray becomes negligent. God’s Word becomes irrelevant. And then we wonder why life is so hard.
Jesus put it this way: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
We’re not building a physical temple; we are the temple of God. We’re building lives that are meant to reflect the glory of God and point others to Him. Are we concerned about His kingdom, or ours? An honest examination will reveal if what matters to Him, matters to us.