Haggai 1 has this prophet getting after the remnant that has returned after their 70 year exile. His prophecy begins in 520 b.c. and is under the rein of Zerubbabel who was governor of Judah and Joshua who was the high priest. When Haggai speaks to God’s people, they have been back in Jerusalem for 18 years, but for the last 14 years, the work on God’s temple has come to a halt. The people had convinced themselves it wasn’t time to rebuild the temple – the work was too hard. “These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord’.
There was a shortage of manpower and money. There were crop failures and their enemies resisted what they were doing. Life had actually been easier in captivity. But God speaks to them through Haggai. “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins”? God expects them to focus and get after building His temple. Haggai addresses the problem head on. “Consider your ways. 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”.
Life hasn’t been so good has it? Haggai reminds them that their unwillingness to obey God’s desire is creating quite a mess in their life. And if once wasn’t enough, he reminds them even more strongly. “Consider your ways….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”. In case they didn’t connect the dots, Haggai does it for them. Their situation is because they have ignored God’s desire to rebuild His temple and put things back in place. It is about God’s timing, not what they feel it should be.
We too need to consider our ways. How we live matters. Haggai calls out the people of Judah and they finally listen and “obeyed the voice of the Lord their God.” But even more, “the people feared the Lord”. Haggai was able to touch their hearts and help them realize the God they serve and how important the work was. Through Haggai and his words, “the Lord stirred up….the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God”. The stirring of their spirit wasn’t just a spiritual experience but resulted in a stirring of action that caused them to restart the hard work of rebuilding God’s House!