These two chapters of Haggai really hit me when I read them, and I think they’re VERY applicable to all of us, even though this happened over 2,500 years ago. God was speaking through the prophet Haggai to the nation of Israel about rebuilding the temple.
I wanted to share my interpretation from what He was saying to the people at that time to what I believe He’s saying to us today. I may be completely wrong, so please offer me grace and ensure it aligns with your interpretation of Scripture, or you can just throw it out. Last warning is that the inner voice in my head sounds slightly “hood” if you know what I mean, so I also apologize for that… that’s just what the voice in my head often sounds like LOL.
Bear with me as I pasted the full text of Haggai 1 and half of 2 below, and bolded the text that I’d like to touch upon. If you must, you can jump down to my interpretation sections for the TL;DR version… but I highly recommend reading the original text first.
These chapters talk about the rebuilding of God’s physical temple, but as I was reading it, all I kept hearing and seeing in my mind was how it reflects the church (meaning “Christians”) and God’s temple today.
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
God says…“Why are you putting the most important thing, your relationship with ME, off? I’m asking you to rebuild the temple (you). You don’t pray regularly, you don’t read My Word regularly, you don’t go to church regularly, you don’t share my love with others regularly, because you don’t think it’s the right ‘time’ yet. You tell yourself you have to do this and that and the other to get right with Me first, and then you’ll get to these things. But these are just excuses to delay action! You’d rather consume yourselves with your busy schedule and chill in the comfort of your own homes, than prioritize Me and My plan for you.” (Ch 1 Verses 2-4)
5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
God says…“Look at all the work ya’ll are doing. Just working tirelessly every day, running the rat race. But what has it amounted to? Yah you’re alive and physically sustaining yourself by this world’s standards, but you haven’t built up any treasure in heaven. You have nothing to show for it spiritually. You’re working and striving and earning your paychecks and checking off your task list, but at the end of the day, you’re EMPTY. Oh and BTW, you know y’all can’t take any of that stuff with you right?” (Ch 1 Verses 5-6)
7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.
God says…“Think about it and really consider what you’re doing with your lives… OK now stop thinking about it and just go do it! And do it for My glory. Paralysis by analysis people, seriously.” (Ch 1 Verses 7-8)
9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of theLord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
God says…“Haven’t you noticed that with everything you’ve focused on instead of Me, whether it was a job or money or human relationship or self-pleasing thing- whatever you’ve idolized above Me, I’ve either taken it away or allowed some turmoil to enter in some shape or form around it? Haven’t you learned from that yet? This isn’t because I’m trying to torture you. I’m trying to teach you a lesson that will save your eternal soul. I’m teaching you that you can’t depend on these earthly things, because they’re all temporary and will come and go. You need to depend completely on Me, and Me alone because I AM ETERNAL. So now My house… My temple (which is YOU), is all messed up because you only care about controlling everything yourself and you’ve kept me out of it.” (Ch 1 Verse 9)
13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
Haggai 2:1-9 & 19
2 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
God says…“OK, so you got my call and you understand what you have to do. I’m pretty clear in My Word if you have any questions about what I ask of you BTW. I realize this isn’t easy, so you have my PROMISE that I’ll be with you the entire way. I’m going to give you My Spirit to help you and empower you to do all I ask. So be strong and walk this road in confidence because I AM WITH YOU.” (Ch 1 Verses 13-14, Ch 2 Verses 4-5)
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”
God says…“And remember, everything you have- all of your resources, whether it’s your time, talent, or treasure, is Mine. It’s not yours and when anyone leaves the earth, no one takes any of it with them so stop hoarding it. Use it wisely. Use it to glorify Me and to bless others in My Name. Sow it back into the kingdom. And don’t worry, you’ll get something in return. You’ll get something that surpasses the value of anything in this entire world… you’ll get ME…MY love, MY joy, and MY peace. And I will bless you with abundantly more than this world can give. Oh and then you’ll get hooked up in Heaven too BTW, but don’t let that be your motivation. But I got you, don’t worry.” (Ch 2 Verses 8 & 19)
So I realize that may have all sounded somewhat condemning, with God calling us out and all. Some of you may chalk it up to, “Well that was the God of the Old Testament speaking, He’s not really that harsh or critical anymore. You know, Jesus was pretty chill.”
Sorry, but WRONG. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow! And He doesn’t mince His words or beat around the bush, He never has and He never will. If you think Jesus did, go read the New Testament again right quick. He’s stern and clear because He LOVES us. It’s called tough love, and successful parents all employ it properly with their own children. He’s wants to keep us from messing up our lives, He wants to give us an abundant life, and He wants us to end up in eternity WITH Him after this life. That’s why He speaks straight to the point on matters of heaven and hell, because our eternity is THAT important to Him. Still don’t believe me? Then check out what He did on the cross.
So my prayer for us today, is that we do better. We do better than those people over 2,500 years ago who didn’t even have the completed Bible to read, couldn’t even turn to the saving sacrifice of Jesus, and didn’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them at the time.
Look at us today, we have all of the man-made tools and resources we need to “live a proper Christian life”; and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we have too much stuff cluttering our walk, and people are getting lost in the mix of everything. If that’s an issue for us, then we need to scale it WAY back and focus on these 4 simple things: The Bible, our prayer life, reliance on the Holy Spirit, and finding a solid Christ-centered, Bible-believing church/fellowship of believers that will help us along the way. And with all of this, we need to sincerely ask God to change us from the inside out.
Let’s not fall into the same trap of making excuses and delaying the rebuild of God’s temple like the Israelites did. Let’s do better.
[From November 6, 2015]