Lord, Your priorities come first.
Read HAGGAI 1
A Call to Build the House of the Lord
1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak,[a] the high priest:
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”
3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.
The Promised Glory of the New House
In the second year of King Darius,
a Haggai 1:1 Hebrew Jehozadak, a variant of Jozadak; also in verses 12 and 14
New International Version (NIV)
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“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.” (Colossians 3:1) On what is your heart set?
Life is difficult for the returned exiles in Jerusalem. There are food shortages and an economic depression. In the middle of all this, Haggai arises and demands that they put everything else aside and return to rebuilding the temple. What sense does that make? When they returned 18 years earlier, that was their top priority. They made a start, but local opposition brought the work to a screeching halt. They probably thought of it as a temporary postponement. However, as time moves on, the need to build their own homes, tend their fields, and earn a living push it down the priority list, and the temple work has now stalled. The sense behind Haggai’s demand is indicated by verses 8–11. The hardships they face come from God. God’s actions are not arbitrary. Instead, they actuate the curses attached to the covenant Israel freely made with him (Deuteronomy 28:1–6,15–24). The temple is at the heart of the current covenant relationship. It is here that God promises to be present and meet with his people. By neglecting its reconstruction, they show their disregard for the covenant, thereby dishonoring God. By putting their house before God’s, they have entered a vicious circle as the covenant curses take effect. We Christians live under a new covenant: Jesus warns us that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24) but must trust our heavenly Father and “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” – relying on him to meet our daily needs (Matthew 6:33, 34).
The people have learned a few lessons attaching to the exile. Now, unlike their forebears who rejected the warnings of earlier prophets, they respond positively to Haggai’s challenge. In response, God promises them his presence and power as they resume the work. We have similar promises under the new covenant (Matthew 28:18–20; John 15:4, 5; Philippians 2:12, 13).
Reflect prayerfully on your current priorities in life. Is there some way in which your relationship with God is suffering from neglect and needs to be rebuilt?
Lord, teach us how to put spiritual things ahead of earthly desires. Teach us that earthly things perish, but the spiritual endure forever.