At first glance Haggai 1:2-11 might seem like nothing to do with us today; after all, we don’t have to build a temple to God in order to worship Him. But when we look deeper there is a powerful message to the 21st Century Church that must be heeded.
The Lord who rules over all says this: “These people have said, ‘The time for rebuilding the Lord’s temple has not yet come.’” So the Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai as follows: “Is it right for you to live in richly paneled houses while my temple is in ruins? Here then is what the Lord who rules over all says, ‘Think carefully about what you are doing. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but are never filled. You drink, but are still thirsty. You put on clothes, but are not warm. Those who earn wages end up with holes in their money bags.’”
“Moreover, the Lord who rules over all says” ‘Pay close attention to these things also. Go up to the hill country and bring back timber to build the temple. Then I will be pleased and honored,’ says the Lord. ‘You expected a large harvest, but instead there was little, and when you brought it home it disappeared right away. Why?’ asks the Lord who rules over all. ‘Because my temple remains in ruins, thanks to each of you favoring his own house! This is why the sky has held back its dew and the earth its produce. Moreover, I have called for a drought that will affect the fields, the hill country, the grain, new wine, fresh olive oil, and everything that grows from the ground; it also will harm people, animals, and everything they produce.’”
Richly Paneled Houses
Verse four hits a spiritual target dead center when looking at it in the context of the 21st Century Church. Our physical lives are elaborate, lacking nothing at all. Even some of the poorest among us are wealthy in comparison to many in the Third World. Almost everyone has a cell phone, internet, cable television, a car if they need it, a roof over their head, and food at every meal. This is nothing to be ashamed of or to hate but sadly having these things and other earthly possessions has become our primary focus.
The physical house that is our lives is a finely decorated house when all the while God’s temple is in ruins. Yes, you heard me right, God’s temple. I am not speaking of a church building because we should all know there is nothing holy or righteous about a building but it is who is inside at any given time that makes it a place of worship and spiritually clean before God. It is the people who are inside that are the true temple of God.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
We are so concerned with the physical that we often forget about the spiritual. Which is more important? Which will last forever if we are Christians and which will allow us to lay up treasures in heaven? The spiritual of course.
Think About It
You have dedicated all of your life to securing earthly riches and possessions but when the end comes will you take it with you? Will not all these things burn in the great day of judgment? Yes they will burn and so will those who reject our Father together with his Son.
We fill out bellies with food that provides nourishment but that is only temporary; having left a hole that requires refilling in only hours. We drink to satisfy our thirst but we will never satisfy that which is fleeting. We purchase expensive clothes in an attempt to impress those around us but over time they wear thin and are riddled with holes and must be discarded. We work forty, fifty, and some of you even sixty hours a week for a pay check that leaves your bank account almost as fast as it is deposited.
Why do we continue to focus on this that has no real meaning? Why do we spend so much time attempting to achieve a dream that someone other than our Lord told us needed fulfilling? The answer is simple; we are focused on the material, the physical, and the fleshly desires of our heart.
Pay Close Attention
If we would come to the realization that God desires our full attention and that we must focus on the upkeep of His temple then we would be doing His will and this would both greatly please and honor our Lord. But instead we expect to be rewarded for the little time we spend cultivating our field. We expect our spiritual lives to be perfect when we spend less than eight hours a week developing it. We expect to be able to move mountains, heal the sick, and to cast out demons by our very word but yet when that does not happen we ask, “Why God?”
God has given you your answer yet you refuse to have ears to hear. The Lord says, “Because my temple remains in ruins, thanks to each of you favoring his own house!”
If we would simply listen to the Lord and throw off the chains of slavery to the flesh we could become a more glorious and pleasing sight to the Lord than the Temple of Solomon. We would be a house worthy to be called God’s. All we need to do is obey the Lord our God and respect Him. Then the Lord would say, “I am with you!” And with those words we would be all the more energized and encouraged, just as the whole remnant of the people was when they obeyed God in Haggai 1.