In Haggai’s first-of-four sermonettes, the prophet’s thesis is simple and direct. Get busy! Build the temple! Fifteen or sixteen years earlier, construction had begun. But now, weeds grew inside the foundation of the Lord’s temple.
You’ve procrastinated long enough. It was time “for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt”(Haggai 1:2). The people had returned from exile and built comfortable homes for themselves, while God’s house was abandoned, ignored, forsaken.
Your priorities are misplaced. “Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4). In fifth-century B.C. Judah, the primary building material was stone. Those that lived in wood-paneled houses had gone far beyond the necessities and had sought a luxury found in Solomon’s palace (1 Kings 7:3).
Haggai was preaching primarily to Zerubbabel the governor and to Joshua the high priest (Haggai 1:1), but today God’s Word is preaching to me and you. What is our priority? What is our god? What do we worship? Is it our business or our bank account? Is it our personal pleasure, prestige and power? Are we preoccupied with our paneled houses?
Twice, once in verse five and again in verse seven, Haggai wrote, “The Lord of Armies says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways’ ” (Haggai 1:5, 7). Consider this, God said. “You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to be happy. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it” (Haggai 1:6). “You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why?” (Haggai 1:9)
The Israelites might have said, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” But why? God answered the question: “When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it... my house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house. So on your account, the skies have withheld the dew and the land its crops. I have summoned a drought” (Haggai 1:9–14). God intervened to get their attention. He had ruined their harvest. He had withheld the dew. He had summoned the drought.
Good news! The people heard God’s message.
“Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, delivered the Lord’s message to the people: ‘I am with you—this is the Lord’s declaration.’ The Lord roused the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of the Lord of Armies, their God” (Haggai 1:12-14).
In just four years of concentrated efforts, the temple was completed (Ezra 4:24; 6:15). “Then the Israelites, including the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy” (Ezra 6:16).
How about us? Have we heard His message? Are we procrastinating? Are our priorities misplaced? With what are we preoccupied? Will we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness?” (Matthew 6:33).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.