Good morning readers! We’re inching ever closer to celebrating Jesus’ birth! Are you buried in shopping bags, wrapping, cards and holiday calendar conflicts? I spent my weekend working at the hospital and as usual it brought lots of opportunities to reflect on the sanctity of life and the importance of being in the moment. I held lots of elderly hands, met with families in crisis and even got to witness a passage to heaven. Now, as I sit in front of my blinking cursor I’m struggling to find the right way to share all the literal connections God is making with us through today’s scripture. So instead of writing my usual journal, I’ve decided to share a bit if my process instead. God has so much to say to us that for me it can be overwhelming. Sometimes I read and read and end up saying, “I really didn’t get anything out of any of that!” One way I have been able to start a meaningful conversation with God, is by taking a few verses and writing a bulleted list of how those words apply to my life. Today I chose Haggai. He’s not exactly one of the big four (Matthew, Mark, Luke of John). But his words are still powerful. I feel like I can identify with the Jews. They’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of house building and interior decorating. They don’t want to miss that sale at Hebrew Depot on black Sabbath-day! (I know I’m terrible, don’t quit reading yet!) I learned and grew from unpacking this set of verses. I hope you will too.
2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 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. 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” Haggai 1:2-11
- Verse 2: It’s just not time yet
- Haggai is one of the first prophets sent to the Jews after they are settled in their new land. He is sent to encourage the Jews to rebuild the temple. The Jew’s are sort of dragging their feet. They clung to the message that they had 70 years to rebuild but by now 69 have passed. How often do I say “no” to God because it’s just not a good time for me? Do I turn from opportunities because I’m just too busy crossing off items on my personal agenda? For me, change is hard. I’d rather stay in a situation and complain about it than take the steps to change it.
- Verse 4: You first
- Haggai calls the Jews out in a big way in verse 4. Can you hear the reproach in his voice when you read this verse? He says, “is it time for you to dwell in your paneled house?” I love that word dwell. It’s so easy to dwell with our family and friends this Christmas season. We feel as if we are entitled to staying comfortable. This scripture has really convicted me to take an inner look and consider who may be feeling left out this Christmas. Who am I excluding? Have we left Christ’s house in ruin while ours are glowing with light and love? We live in a “me first” society just like the Jews. I’m still resisting the urge to buy for myself each time I head out for Christmas shopping! Haggai’s words are well timed; build the Lord’s house and your dwelling will follow.
- Verse 5: Consider your ways
- It was God that restored the Jew’s from captivity. How quickly they have forgotten. Are we the same way? Do we prioritize ourselves and let time with Him slip away?
- Verse 6: Ye have sown much
- We often pray to God for prosperity. We work and work to gain that financial security we crave. God will not bless us in any of our labor unless we rebuild his temple and restore worship in Him. This verse is full of wisdom for us! That last line spoke to me! “And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” Please tell me that just changed your life!
- Verse 9: Ye looked for much
- What we can do on this earth will amount to little if it isn’t for His glory. Our riches here will be blown away by Him like specks of dust. As I search for money and the cutest shirt and get the latest haircut it amounts to so little in my Father’s eyes.
- Verse 10: Dry Land
- Just as he withheld rain from the Jew’s, He withholds from us. Not to hurt us but to guide and teach us. Just as a parent to a young child, we withhold the sweets until the homework is done. We teach honesty, respect and gratitude. God is teaching the Jews and us in that same parental way. He wants us to grow up to be like Him.