CONSIDER YOUR WAYS
My House Lies In Ruins
Haggai begins by establishing a timeline for accuracy. God spoke to Haggai, and he addressed two key leaders in the community. Zerubbabel was the governor of Judea, and Joshua was the high priest. God pursues his people and gives grace abundantly. A remnant returned to Jerusalem sixteen years earlier and began to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The temple had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar after he endured another rebellion. After God had brought the people back, they started well, but the good intentions and the hard work had been interrupted by the surrounding nations and an injunction from the Emporer himself. After the work on the temple had stalled, the people turned their attention to their own personal interests. The dilapidated remains of the temple served as a visual reminder that the project was still unfinished. It would seem that the people had grown accustomed to the state of the temple and if anyone raised the question of rebuilding, it was dismissed because the time had not yet come. The people had a litany of excuses, but the reality was that they were apathetic to the project. The Lord confronted his people, and the indictment must have been painful. He repeated their own words about it not being time to rebuild the temple, but he exposed their misplaced priorities. The people had built nice homes, and while there is nothing wrong with having a beautiful house when the heart pursues comfort and is willing to neglect the center of religious life, there is a problem. The people were living under difficult circumstances, and they did not have many resources, so it was not difficult to come up with an excuse. The people enjoyed their paneled homes while the temple was left in ruins. The Lord calls the people to consider their ways. If the people looked carefully at their circumstances, they would have to say that harvests were insufficient, they did not have enough food, drink, or clothing, and wages were gone before they could spend them. Haggai repeated the command to consider their ways and sketches out a plan. Haggai encouraged the people to begin gathering materials for the renovation of the temple and then begin to build. God would be pleased with the actions of his people, and he would be glorified. The people's struggles were related to the state of the temple and in connection with their selfish efforts. God called for the drought to discipline his people.
I Am With You
The people received the word from the Lord and responded in obedience. The leaders and the people went to work immediately, and they were unified in their efforts. The people understood that Haggai's words were from the Lord, so they obeyed. The people feared the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a holy thing that leads people to accept God's authority from a profound sense of his holiness. The people turned from their unresponsiveness and obeyed the Lord their God. Haggai delivered the most encouraging news of all, God was with his people, empowering, sustaining, and blessing them. God stirred the spirits of the people, and he did it through his prophet and through his word by his Spirit. The people worked together, and the project was completed in just over three weeks. Fifteen years of indifference ended when God's word and God's Spirit changed the hearts of his people.
Things To Consider:
- How can one guard against rationalizing and justifying their actions?
- Why do we seek comfort?
- How can one know if comfort has become an idol?
- How can one consider their ways? What role does community play in this?
- Why must we obey immediately?
- Why is it important just to start somewhere?
- How can we avoid getting caught up in our own pursuits?
- How does God use circumstances to discipline his people?
- What is the Spirit necessary for obedience?
- Why did the work go so quickly?