“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord. ‘You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ Declares the Lord Almighty, ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.’” (Haggai 1:7-9)
After spending 70 years as captives in Babylon, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem. The Persian emperor Cyrus issued a decree: the Jews were to rebuild the temple of the Lord. Zerubbabel, who was of the royal line of David, led the Jews back home.
When they got back home the rebuilding began. They set up a new altar and they even laid the foundations of their new temple. But when they encountered opposition from different groups and nations surrounding them, the temple construction stopped while the Jews turned inward, building their own houses, and working their fields while the temple lied unfinished and in a shamble.
But…their lives were in shambles, too. Even though they spent all their time on themselves, planting and building, there was little food, little wine, little clothing, little rain, and little money. At this time, a new prophet named Haggai speaks up in our focal passage for today, “Give careful thought to your ways!” Haggai then confronted them with the fact that, because the people have ignored God’s work, God has withheld rain, food, and prosperity from their lives.
The book of Haggai begins as a wake-up call to the Jews who had neglected the temple, but it ends with an example of how God delights in His children’s obedience. Bottom line…put God’s work first! As you read these verses, remind yourself to make God primary! “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then He will add to you everything else that you need!” (Matthew 6:33).