“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” (Haggai 1:5,7) This is what the Lord Almighty says—not less than 25 times—in the two short chapters of the book of Haggai. “Lord of hosts,” this designation for God is frequently used in the prophetic books but is most commonly found in Haggai (14 times), Zechariah and Malachi. While there is a great comfort for Israel in this name, there is a reminder in it as well that God is the Lord of the Israelites’ hosts. He is their Commander-in-Chief and they are responsible to Him. Haggai affirmed the divine authority of his message. He had spiritual common sense and self-awareness that he was God’s messenger. His messages have several truths that are practical, brief and to-the-point—but most importantly they are from the Lord, thus emphasizing their urgency and authoritative nature. The prophets ask people to consider carefully the consequences of their indifference. This same admonition is given five times in this book (1:5,7; 2:15,18 twice) and is designed to shake the people out of their complacency.
Two mistakes were committed by the people—firstly, they drifted from their priorities and secondly, their self-centeredness. They were not just disobedient, but God reminded them that they had also become dissatisfied. They were called to realize that despite all their selfishness, they didn’t have enough drink or clothing or wages (vs. 6). They were reminded that only when they put God first would He provide personal satisfaction and material necessities (Matthew 6:33). God is urging you to reorder your priorities in accordance with God’s will. The expression “these people” (Haggai 1:2) instead of “my people” is used to draw attention to God’s displeasure with Israel’s spiritual apathy. Their attitude is reflected in the statement they made, “the time has not…come.” Haggai asks the people to give careful thought to the consequences of their misplaced priorities. The people had wrongly concluded that it was not yet time for them to rebuild the temple. But God reminded them that it was not the right time for them to live in paneled houses while the temple lay in ruins. David felt that it was not right for him to be dwelling in his fine home while the Ark of God was kept inside tent curtains (2 Samuel 7:2). God’s people must put God and His work first in their lives. Only in this way is God honored. “Those who honor me; I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).
Haggai’s first message: A call to action—build the temple.
The prophet’s rebuke: Their priorities are wrong—they put self before God.
Haggai’s admonition: Get priorities right—put God before self. Only when you choose to put God first can you experience his blessings. It is important to observe here of people’s response and corrective action. It is appropriate, but unusual for people to respond so quickly to God’s word.
The response of the leaders and people to the prophetic message:
- They obeyed the voice of the Lord, their God, and the message of the prophet Haggai.
- They feared the Lord (they had new awe and reverence for God).
The response of the Lord to the people was a word of encouragement as they anticipated rebuilding the temple: “I am with you”.
What is your top-most priority right now? Where does God rank in your life? Are you neglecting the assembly and forsaking the worship meetings because of other duties/priorities? It is easy to make other commitments more important than doing God’s work.
The people returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple, but they never completed it. But Haggai’s message encouraged the people to complete rebuilding God’s temple. He warned them against putting their possessions and job ahead of God. We must put God first in our lives.
C. M. John- Renew In Knowledge Core Team (to be continued)