Rebuild the Temple
1 On the first day of the sixth month of the second year that Darius was king of Persia, the Lord told Haggai the prophet to speak his message to the governor of Judah and to the high priest.
So Haggai told Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua 2-5that the Lord All-Powerful had said to them and to the people:
You say this isn't the right time to build a temple for me. But is it right for you to live in expensive houses, while my temple is a pile of ruins? Just look at what's happening. 6You harvest less than you plant, you never have enough to eat or drink, your clothes don't keep you warm, and your wages are stored in bags full of holes.
7Think about what I have said! 8But first, go to the hills and get wood for my temple, so I can take pride in it and be worshiped there. 9You expected much, but received only a little. And when you brought it home, I made that little disappear. Why have I done this? It's because you hurry off to build your own houses, while my temple is still in ruins. 10That's also why the dew doesn't fall and your harvest fails. 11And so, at my command everything will become barren—your farmland and pastures, your vineyards and olive trees, your animals and you yourselves. All your hard work will be for nothing.
12Zerubbabel and Joshua, together with the others who had returned from exile in Babylonia, obeyed the Lord's message spoken by his prophet Haggai, and they started showing proper respect for the Lord. 13Haggai then told them that the Lord had promised to be with them. 14So the Lord God All-Powerful made everyone eager to work on his temple, especially Zerubbabel and Joshua. 15And the work began on the twenty-fourth day of that same month.
Verse 2 gives us insight into their frame of mind. They were saying to themselves, “Sure, we’ll rebuild the Temple eventually. Only for now, we need a little financial and political stability. Some of us are homeless, and the economy is in a shambles. The Temple can wait.”
But the Lord’s response is that these people have their priorities mixed up. Is it proper for the people of God to devote all their energies to the construction and completion of their own homes while the House of God is a rubble? Moreover, the prophet points out that, for all their efforts to improve the economy, things have not got better (vv.5-6). The people had laboured for their own welfare, but had succeeded only in incurring God’s disapproval. As long as the Temple remained in ruins, they themselves would remain in ruins. They might have avoided their folly if they had remembered that God blesses those whose chief desire is to serve him (Deuteronomy 28).
And so, they respond in obedience to God’s urging through the prophet (v.12). God “made everyone eager,” and in a remarkable burst of activity, the rebuilding work began in the confidence that the Lord was with them (v.13).When we have our priorities right, when we put God’s kingdom purposes before our own, we too shall hear the words of the Master, “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
O God, help us to “look at what’s happening” around us and to discern your voice, that, in the reordering of our lives along the ways of your will, we may find you near. Amen.