Friday, November 10, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Haggai 1-2
Only two chapters in length and easily overlooked in the pages of our Bibles, the Book of Haggai is a calling to God’s people of the day to “Get to Work!”
The historic timeline of Haggai is, as the opening verses state, “In the second year of Darius the king [the king of Persia], in the sixth month, in the first day of the month” (Haggai 1:1). Having toppled Babylon, Persia emerged as the dominant world empire under Cyrus king of Persia (Ezra 1:1). As a testimony of God’s sovereignty over men and nations, we read:
Ezra 1:2 – “Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”
The 70 year Babylonian captivity ended (Ezra 1:3-4), a remnant of Jews answered the king Cyrus’ invitation to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, who served as governor of Judah, and Joshua the high priest (Ezra 2:1-2), the foundation of the new Temple was laid (Ezra 5:16).
After laying the Temple foundation, critics arose and the people’s focus moved from rebuilding the Temple to building their own homes (Haggai 1:4). When reminded the task of rebuilding the Temple was not complete, the people answered, “The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built’ (Haggai 1:2).
Does that remind you of someone you know? Perhaps yourself? You do not say “No!” outright; however, by your procrastination you justify not obeying the will of the LORD. Are you in the throes of wrestling with the will of the LORD and when His Word convicts and His Spirit moves you say, “The time is not come”?
The LORD was longsuffering; however, the time of reckoning had come and He sent His prophet Haggai to rebuke the people for failing to build the Temple. Haggai admonished, “Consider you ways!” (1:5, 7), and warned, the LORD was withholding His blessings and the labor of the people in the fields would be futile until they rebuilt the Temple (1:6-11).
Hearing the Word of the LORD spoken by the prophet, Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, “obeyed the voice of the LORD their God…and the people did fear before the LORD” (1:12). Because they responded with humility, the LORD encouraged the people, “I am with you, saith the LORD” (1:13).
Haggai 1:14 – “And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,”
Criticism and opposition soon arose against those building the Temple and the LORD sent Haggai to remind the people He was with them and would bless their labor (Haggai 2:1-2). The most verbal critics were the elders, those one would think should be the most ardent supporters for rebuilding the Temple. The book of Ezra reveals there were “many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men”; remembering the first Temple, they bemoaned the superiority of that Temple compared to the one being built (Ezra 3:12-13). [Remember the saying, “the good old days”?]. The LORD answered the critics of His people saying,
Haggai 2:4 – “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:”
There were also enemies without who, on at least three occasions, attempted to disrupt and curtail the rebuilding of the Temple. Some made a pretense of assisting in building the Temple; however, Zerubbabel wisely refused their offer (Ezra 4:1-3). Those same enemies later accused Judah’s leaders of sedition (Ezra 5:3-17). After Darius became king of Persia, they attempted a third time to stop the work on the Temple accusing the Jews of lacking authority to build (Ezra 6).
I close with a few observations from this small prophetic book.
The first, those who labor in ministry ought always be ready for opposition. Looking back over 38 years of ministry, the last 22 years as Senior Pastor at Hillsdale, my most vocal critics were among those I thought would be my most ardent supporters. My friend, if you dedicate your life to live by faith and serve the LORD, expect criticism and opposition!
An inspirational lesson we take from today’s scripture reading is, when God’s people receive the Word of the Lord with humility and obey His will, a spirit of unity pervades the work and God blesses His people (Haggai1:13-14).
A third lesson concerns the sin of misplaced priorities and procrastination. When confronted with the unfinished work on the Temple, the people said, “The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.” (Haggai 1:2).
Some reading this commentary have made procrastination a lifestyle. You don’t outright refuse to obey the LORD; however, your excuses and failure to “Do Right” and obey Him has become emblematic of squandered years and a wasted life!
Friend, putting off to tomorrow what God would have you do today is foolish! Failure to obey the LORD today soon turns into weeks, months and years. Before you realize it, a lifetime has passed! An old gospel song captures the tragedy of procrastination.
By Dallas Holm
1) Have you wandered along
On life’s pathway
Have you lived without love
A life of tears
Have you searched for that
Great hidden meaning
Or is your life
Filled with long wasted years
Wasted years, wasted years
Oh, how foolish
As you walk on in darkness and fear
Turn around, turn around
God is calling
He’s calling you
From a life of wasted years
2) Search for wisdom and seek
There is One who always cares
3) Give it up, give it up
The load you’re bearing
You can’t go on
With a life of wasted years
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith