PFOA : Haggai 1:1-15

Haggai 1 : 1-15

The end of the exile of the Jews in Babylon was signalled in 538 B.C. by the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. This was something the Jews had been looking forward to. The restoration of the nation of Israel, beginning with the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, was underway and this generation had been invited to participate in it.

Although this prophecy of deliverance and hope had been delivered by many of the OT prophets, sadly, when the opportunity arose to return and rebuild, many chose not to return. They remained in exile because they did not trust God even when He had caused the king to give them permission (Ezra 1:1). The few who returned began to rebuild their homes and lay the foundation for the temple. But the initial excitement and enthusiasm did not last; soon they lost momentum and at the first encounter with some external opposition, the work stopped. For the next ten years, no work was done.

This was the context of Haggai’s prophecy. The people had lost sight of their purpose to rebuild the temple. They were caught up with the daily issues of life. There may have been an economic downturn at that time. Haggai described them as: “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (Hag 1:5). Their investments had been unprofitable; their appetites were not satisfied, they were constantly seeking for more, and life was not cosy and comfortable. Prices were rising. On the other hand, there were others who had the wealth and means to pamper themselves with luxuries, living in “panelled houses” (1:4).

The overall attitude in God’s eyes was that “These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord” (1:2). It was not the external opposition that stopped them (Ezra 4); this was nothing like the opposition Nehemiah faced when rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Rather, other things have taken priority. While it is true that since the exile, the worship of pagan idols like Baal and Molech had been eliminated from Israel, idolatry remained, taking different forms. Idols continued to usurp God’s pre-eminent position in the lives of the people, so that God referred to them as “These people” instead of “My people”.

Churches that have a building programme will immediately resonate with Haggai’s message.

But the lesson is applicable to every person and every community that claims the name of Christ. Haggai repeats the God’s admonition, “Consider your ways”, two times (1:5, 1:7) and two more times to “consider” (2:15, 2:18). Consider your life – has something, or someone taken first place, displacing God from His rightful position? Is it your job, career, position, advancement, success or wealth and prosperity that occupy you most of the time? When in moments of relaxation, what comes to mind; is it your ambition, happiness, comfort or achievements? Are there relationships, friends and family you value above God? Then these have become your idols. “While each of you busies himself with his own [interests] house” (1:9), have you left God out? We don’t reply to God with an outright “No”. Instead we say “Wait …” or “Not yet …”, (1:2).

Zerubbabel led the Jews in repentance. They acknowledged their sin and obeyed. God stirred their spirits and they began to work in earnest (1:14).

May the Holy Spirit stir each of us out of our comfort zone, our lethargy, and our carelessness for the things of God. May we pray that we have a healthy fear of God (1:12), repent and return in obedience to follow Him closely.

Let us consider :
• The prayer of a person tells you what is most important in his/her life. What are you praying for?
• Listening to the corporate of prayers of the church tells you what the church is about. What is GBC about? Is it about the spiritual growth and discipleship of the members? Is it about the rebuilding of the church? Is it about revival?

 

Tony Chan