We’re finishing our journey through The 12 Minor Prophets this spring. We invite you to continue reading along with us as we wrestle with what it means for us to be God’s people today!
Steve & Amy Allen: Haggai
When we were asked to share our reflections on the book of Haggai, I was a little intimidated. While Steve had read through the Bible several times, I had never read this particular prophet. We were surprised and delighted with how much we could see of our own life and faith journey in the two short chapters that make up the book of Haggai.
Chapter 1 opens with a call from God, through the prophet Haggai, for the people to build the temple. God noted that the Israelites, having returned from captivity, had had plenty of time and resources to build fine homes for themselves but had neglected to build their place of worship, essentially ignoring their relationship with God.
I can’t think too harshly of the Israelites. I thought about the busyness of returning home with my family after a long vacation. So much to do!! Laundry needing to be washed, folded and put away. Luggage to be stowed. Cleaning to be done. Routines needing to be reestablished…
How easy it is to get caught up in the urgent and forget the eternal. Maybe the Israelites weren’t intentionally neglecting God. Maybe they, like us (Steve and I), just go too busy.
Continuing on in chapter 1, God points out how unsatisfied the Israelites were. Nothing they did seemed to satisfy them, no matter how hard they worked. In their busyness they had forgotten about the Giver of Blessings, and so nothing seemed enough.
God goes on in verses 7-9 commanding the Israelites to go up into the mountains and bring back the resources needed to build the temple so that He might take pleasure in it and be honored. Steve and I couldn’t help but associate “building God’s house” with “building a relationship with God.”
If the Israelites built the temple, they would have a tangible reminder of God in their midst daily in the form of a building. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we become more aware of Him around us. As we walk with Jesus, we see Him weaving through our lives and are able to see how blessed we are. We can also start to see how He delights in us.
After Haggai delivers God’s message to the people, they repent! Yay!!! They took the message seriously, as they should since God is God. The amazing thing is God’s immediate response: “I am with you.” How amazing, how quick to forgive is our God. Not only did He promise to be with them, His Spirit stirred up the people and gave them the creativity and motivation they needed to get the job done. He not only blesses – He equips!
As the people began to build the temple, I imagine they started to reminisce about how beautiful the old temple was. As the old folks told stories of the glory of Solomon’s temple, the work they were doing probably seemed less glorious. I can imagine they became discouraged as they compared the work of their hands and available resources to the magnificence of Solomon’s creation.
God told His people to take heart. Although they couldn’t see it, this temple would be marvelous beyond their imaginations for one simple reason – this temple would see the promised Messiah. Jesus would walk through its corridors and be present with His people. Nothing could compare with that!
How often do we reminisce about “the good ‘ole days?” Whatever we are going through always seems more complicated and wearisome compared to “back then.” However, like the Israelites, we can be assured that what is coming will be just as good, or in some cases, better than those good ole days. Instead of reflecting on what we have lost, we need to look forward with expectant joy toward what God has planned for us.