THINK ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHAT YOU ARE DOING” Around 516 BC, God’s people needed to be rattled by the Almighty. Because of their national woes, they had begun to focus on their self-preservation instead of their God-of-salvation. This is their story. Be forewarned: it definitely hits close to home.
Haggai spoke this message: “You people think the right time has come for you to live in nice houses. You live in houses with beautiful wooden paneling on the walls, but the Lord’s house is still in ruins. Now the Lord All-Powerful says, ‘Think about what is happening. You have planted many seeds, but you have gathered only a few crops. You have food to eat, but not enough to get full. You have something to drink, but not enough to get drunk. You have some clothes to wear, but not enough to keep warm. You earn a little money, but you don’t know where it all goes. It’s as though there is a hole in your pocket!’” Haggai 1:3-6.
THINK ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING. Yes, these words are directed to us, because we are just like these folks. We call on the name of the Lord, worshipping Him on designated days and in traditional ways. But what we’re most interested in is our economic stability, and comfortable lifestyle. Even our prayers reflect these desires when we ask for monetary, national, and lifestyle blessings. Our churches, which mirror our own self-centered drive and ambitions, are a mere semblance of the called-out body of Christ: the disciples, the persecuted, the martyrs, the Good Samaritans, the faithful believers.
God is calling us today to rebuild His temple. In the Old Testament, it was the place where the Spirit of God dwelt with mankind. Today, through the power of our Risen Lord, the temple has taken on a powerful spiritual dimension! “Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.
“The Lord All-Powerful said, “Think about what you are doing. Go up to the mountains, get the wood, and build the Temple. Then I will be pleased with the Temple, and I will be honored. This is what the Lord said. The Lord All-Powerful said, “You people look for a big harvest, but when you go to gather the crop, there is only a little grain. So you bring that grain home, and then I send a wind that blows it all away. Why is this happening? Because my house is still in ruins while each of you runs home to take care of your own house. That is why the sky holds back its dew and why the earth holds back its crops. I gave the command for the land and the mountains to be dry. The grain, the new wine, the olive oil, and everything the earth produces will be ruined. All the people and all the animals will become weak.” Haggai 1:7-11
“THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING” Just like our ancient brothers and sisters, the first thing we have to learn is that we ARE held accountable by the Almighty for our choices. And our poor choices do effect the entire planet, for a very, very long time, as evidenced by the lineage of Abraham.
Think about it. If Abraham and Sarah hadn’t gotten impatient with God and jumped in to make sure things fell into place for themselves in their world, Ishmael wouldn’t have been born, and neither would his 12 sons. Known as the Ishmaelites, the beginning of the Arab nation as we know it, they settled Northern Arabia from the Red Sea to the Euphrates (Gen. 37:25, 27-28; 39:1). They were known as having “their hand against every man, and every man's hand against them.” Today, Muslims believe that Muhammad himself was the direct descendant of Ishmael’s line.
After all is said and done, it is ALWAYS God’s call, and it always has been. We need only go back to the story of Ishmael to see that the Almighty cares for the Arab nation. It was God Himself who named Ishmael. Ishmael’s genealogy is even recorded for posterity in 1 Chronicles 1:29-31. And He gave Ishmael His birthright blessing as Abraham’s son. “… I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 17:20.
Indeed, every human on this planet needs to be seriously humiliated by the fact that there are eternal consequences for our failure to make wise choices. God will get our attention, one way or another. If we Christians take things into our own hands and react out of fear and hatred, maligning and neglecting our foreign brother whom God has blessed, we could soon find ourselves in a reversal of rolls, with our only hope resting in the mercy of those we shunned and alienated. God sees the big picture, and when He sees His house, He sees more souls in it than we would ever have been comfortable with in our own, manmade church houses. “…My house is still in ruins while each of you runs home to take care of your own house…”
“The Lord God had sent Haggai to speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and to the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. So these men and all the people listened to the voice of the Lord their God and to the words of Haggai the prophet. And the people showed their fear and respect for the Lord their God.” Hosea 1:12
“ALL THE PEOPLE LISTENED…AND SHOWED THEIR FEAR AND RESPECT FOR THR LORD…” And it is just that simple. If you expect a blessing from the Lord, you listen to His words, honor Him as your Lord, and set aside your preconceived fears, notions and desires. Just like Abraham, if you’re asked to sacrifice that which you love beyond words, you obey, trusting Him TOTALLY for the outcome.
“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, delivered this message to the people: ‘The Lord says, ‘I am with you!’ Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel was the governor of Judah. Joshua son of Jehozadak was the high priest. The Lord made them and the rest of the people excited about working on the Temple of their God, the Lord All-Powerful. So they began this work on the 24th day of the sixth month in the second year Darius was the king.” Haggai 1: 13-15ERV
THE LORD SAYS “I AM WITH YOU”. About 2500 years ago, Zerubbabel, the 14th great grandson of King David and direct ancestor of Joseph and probably, Mary, was charged by God with rebuilding the Temple of the Almighty. It had been in ruins for over 70 years, and Zerubbabel’s only helpers were nothing more than a fledgling group of exiles. And though Zerubbabel began rebuilding the temple as soon as he could, the foundation alone took him 2 years to rebuild.
There was plenty of opposition from their neighbors. Ezra 3:3 records, “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on it foundation, and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord…”
Haggai drives God's eternal truth home in his 2nd chapter, verses 3-9. “‘But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’”
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
It took a total of around 20 years, with lots of stops in between, to finish reconstructing the Jerusalem Temple. Today, by placing ourselves on God’s calendar, we are able to receive His eternal Word for precisely this time of the year. September 5th on our 2018 Gregorian is the 24th day of the 6th month on God's calendar, the same date the work began on the Temple reconstruction around 2500 years ago.
But that ancient temple had always been just a physical structure without the Almighty in the building. “In Christ the whole building is joined together to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you, too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22.
And what are God’s timeless instructions to each of us today, as His Temple?
"Be strong all you people of the land, and work, for I am with you. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear."
"Think about what is happening, and what you are doing..."