I read the book of Haggai the other morning and before you get too impressed with me, it's only two chapters long. But those two chapters sure do pack a lot of punch.
The Jews had been released from captivity in Babylon and sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They traveled there and started working on the temple right away. However, like it does for us, life got in the way.
They quickly forgot what they had been called by God to do and started living their old sinful lives again. They started working on building up their own houses and their own lives and forgot their purpose and 15 years passed.
God started speaking to Haggai and told him to give the people the following message:
"Is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled house, while this house remains in ruin? Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but you have harvested little. You eat but you never have enough. You drink but you never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." (Haggai 1:3-6)
God was asking the people why they lived in nice houses when His house was still in ruins. He reminded them that the harder they worked for themselves, the less they had because they were ignoring their relationship with Him. They were ignoring what God had called them to do. They were straying from Him, yet again.
God was reminding them that when we don't put Him first, we may be working harder, but we will have less.
God's blessings were being withheld from the Jews because they had moved God down on their list of priorities. God was no longer first in their lives and it was starting to show - they were working hard but never had enough, they were planting large fields but they weren't producing, they were eating and drinking but they never seemed to be full.
Isn't that how it is with us when we don't put God first? The job, the housework, the kids, the homework, the sports, the recitals, the book club, the yard work? It's easy to allow all of these things to move up on our list of priorities while we allow God to move down. And all the while, we are working harder yet we never seem to have enough.
The people listened to Haggai's message and quickly got back to work. Some of the older people were discouraged that the new temple wasn't going to be as grand as the one Solomon built, so Haggai encouraged them with these words from the Lord, "'Be strong"...declares the Lord,"and work. For I am with you."
God helped the Jews get back to work on building the temple and he will help us get back to work on what he has called us to do. Joining a Bible study, sponsoring an impoverished child, working at a soup kitchen, getting up early to pray and study the Bible, tithing regularly at church, driving an elderly person to their doctor's appointments, teaching a Sunday School class, telling a friend at work about Jesus...
What is it that God is calling us to do that we aren't doing because we aren't putting God at the top of our list?
And the really cool thing? Once the Jews got to work, God immediately started to bless them. As soon as they got the temple foundation laid, their crops started to bear fruit. (Haggai 1:18-19) God didn't wait until the temple was finished to start blessing them and encouraging them. As soon as they started being obedient, as soon as they put God first, as soon as they got to work, God was with them and he blessed them. Just like he promised.
So what are we waiting for? Let's get to work!
Just a note - I use the Life Application Study Bible. It makes understanding what I am reading so much easier!