Read Haggai 1:1-15
All of us face pressures and problems in life. This will be true in 2024 as well. We need to live according to God’s priorities for us rather than “caving in” to pressures, problems, or wrong desires.
We can find ourselves having the wrong priorities for many different reasons. In Haggai's day, God's people struggled with this issue of priorities.
Haggai is one of the shortest books in the OT. It is named after the prophet, whose messages permeate the whole book. Because so many specific dates are given in the book, we know that Haggai’s prophecies took place in a four-month period in 520 B.C.
The Jewish Exiles had returned to Isarel in 538 B.C. due to the proclamation of Cyrus the Persian. They were allowed to rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed. About 50,000 people returned to Jerusalem and its environs and began to rebuild the Temple. But due to opposition and political maneuvering by surrounding people, the work halted. You can read about this background in the first six chapters of Ezra, especially 4:1-4 and 5:1-6:22.
But the work on the Temple had been discontinued for many years (around 16) when Haggai came on the scene. And we find out that God was not pleased with the cessation of the rebuilding of the Temple. The people had developed other concerns and priorities.
We need to remember the importance of the Temple for God’s people and to God Himself at that time. This “building project” was not just a good idea. It was God’s direct concern and command; it represented the place and presence of God in the midst of His people.
So, the people had really developed a problem of priorities, which led to procrastination concerning the work. The problem was that the work on the Temple had been replaced by personal concerns. People were building their own houses and taking care of personal matters. This led to God sovereignly calling for a drought on the land.
The only real solution was for God’s people to put God’s Temple, God’s will, indeed God’s honor before their own personal concerns.
Let’s see this as we study this text.
The prophet Haggai was used of God to reveal the people’s problem and to provide a definite solution. This is what prophetic preaching does. So, God is speaking through His prophet to address this situation.
(1) The Wrong Assumption (2)
The wrong assumption was that it was not the right time to build the Temple.
(2) A Probing Question (3-4)
God’s question indicates that God’s people were giving time to their own houses but not building His house.
(1) The Futile Situation (6, 10-11)
The Futile situation was that God’s people were seeking to prosper, but God Himself had called for a drought that made such prospering impossible.
(2) The Divine Explanation (9)
God clarifies that the drought He has called for is directly related to their setting aside the work on the Temple.
(1) Consider Your Ways (5, 7)
God’s people were to honestly look at their circumstances, their lives and their hearts to realize that they need a change in their lives.
(2) Act in Obedience (8)
God’s people needed to get back to the work on the Temple as God desired them to do for His own glory.
The prophetic ministry revealed the problem and provided the God-given solution.
The resolution of this problem of wrong priorities presents a pattern for us today.
The people heeded God’s Word through the prophet and got back to the work of building the Temple.
The fact that the people worshipped or “feared” the Lord indicates that they did this work for the Lord Himself and not just a “knee-jerk” response to the prophet. God always wants our hearts as well as our hands.
This renewal of the work was a joint effort on the part of the people as they were stirred to do the work by God Himself.
The obedient response of God’s people demonstrated a change of priorities and the end of the people’s procrastination. It also led to the experience of the blessing of God when God called off the drought. (2:19)
As we begin this new year, is there some act of obedience that will give God honor and glory? Has there been procrastination in our lives, which really is simple disobedience to what God wants us to do? Sometimes all we need to do is to start doing something we know to do, and it will give God honor and glory. Going forward with God can lead to further blessing in our relationship with the Lord.