by Tim Hall
God’s projects sit unfinished while his people busy themselves with other things.
Haggai’s message was not meant to be comfortable. When he arrived in Jerusalem in 520 B.C., the temple of God was still not constructed.
Eighteen years had passed since King Cyrus of Persia had released the Jews from their exile. The king even provided them with materials and money to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4).
But 18 years later the construction was not complete.
“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Haggai asked the people (Haggai 1:4, NKJV).
His point was obvious: The people had plenty of time and energy, but seemed to have difficulty making time for the Lord — the one who had released them from their captivity!
What was Haggai seeking? “‘Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Haggai 1:8).
When they made time to do the will of God, they would find their lives blessed more richly than was presently the case.
Things have changed since Haggai’s time. God’s people live under a different covenant, and there is no central location for worship as there was then. We can worship God as effectively in Kalamazoo as we might in Jerusalem.
But does that mean there is no temple to be constructed? Do we still have trouble finding time for the Lord?
Peter’s words apply to us: “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
There is deliberate effort involved in building up the temple today, just as there was in Haggai’s day. But when God’s people are distracted by other things, the work does not progress.
A little boy watches his friends play a game. “When is my turn?” he asks, anxious to get into the action. The others act as if they don’t hear him. In our illustration the Lord is the one watching as we go about our busy lives. “When is my turn?” he asks.
Do we have time to hear what Jesus said? “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
“All these things” refers to the things we all work to obtain: clothes, food, etc. God promises to take care of our needs if we’ll put him first.
The question sounds like a no-brainer: Why aren’t more people giving God his turn?
by Tim Hall