By Brent Moore
Pastor to Adults, First Baptist Church, Clarksville
Focal Passage: Haggai 1:1-11; 2:5-9
It is so hard to do what you are told when you want something else. Kids have a hard time obeying their parents when they really want the new toy. Husbands have a hard time fixing the leaky faucet when their truck needs to be washed. All of us tend to believe our own excuses for not doing what we know we need to do. The people listening to Haggai the prophet are no different. They want acceptable things before doing what God called them to do; build a new temple.
The temple was central to worship for the people of God in ancient Israel. Submission to the command of rebuilding it would lead to the people receiving other things they seek. Abundant food, multiple clothing items, and adequate housing would follow obedience to the main thing; restoring the house of the Lord. Jesus said almost exactly the same thing, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you (Matthew 6:33).” The unbeliever eagerly seeks tangible things; but the people of God are called to build a kingdom that is imperishable.
Haggai is preaching to a people dragging their feet on the commands of God, and they are suffering for it. God is clear in the passage, “think carefully about your ways.” The reason the Israelites have so little is because God withheld His blessing. God is punishing His people “Because My house still lies in ruins.” The writer of Hebrews gives reason for this type of reaction. “The Lord disciplines the one He loves.” It is out of love the Lord is withholding good, for the purpose of producing peace and righteousness in His people.
In our day we often fail to see there are spiritual dimensions to our obedience and disobedience. The drought is not simply a drought. The lack of fruit in our lives is not happenstance. For the believer, God orchestrates all things for our good and His glory. If one is in rebellion, do not be surprised that “hard is the way of the transgressor (Proverbs 13:15).” This gives opportunity for all “to be about the Father’s business (Luke 2:49).” The business in the day of Haggai is the rebuilding of the temple so Israel can worship and be a blessing to the nations. For New Testament believers it is being the hands and feet of the Kingdom of God until He comes again.
In the final section of this passage the Lord proclaims He is going to “shake the heavens and earth” leading to “final glory of this house [that] will be greater than the first.” The temple being built in the day of Haggai points to a greater reality; the kingdom which is to come. Even as the Lord is asking for the temple to be restored, it will be destroyed again. But that is okay, because the temple points to Christ who cannot be extinguished. Hebrews is a great help in alluding to this passage as to why the Lord had us make “created things — so that what is not shaken might remain.” What remains is “a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:26-28).”
If God is going to set all things right in Christ we need to seek Him first. We need to ask questions about how we can be a part of the Kingdom of God right now. We are going to need grace in these days as the culture is actively at war with the purposes of God. But we are assured that if we seek Him first, He will freely and generously give us all things.
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.