Haggai 1 – Not Your Temple

Haggai 1 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Today’s PassageHaggai 1

Between our recent excursions into Ezra and Nehemiah and our present entry into Haggai, the theme of the moment must be rebuilding projects. Haggai, a short book that is mostly narrative, opens with God calling his people to rebuild the temple. Despite their initial reticence, Haggai’s prophetic message moves them to begin work.

I can’t help thinking how high-school me would have read a passage like this. In my enthusiasm to apply the Bible to my life and prove myself not merely a hearer but a doer of the word, I would have immediately asked myself what sort of temples in my life needed rebuilding. At the question “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” (4), I would scrutinize my own world for houses for God that I was allowing to lie desolate, looking for the thing which, through this passage, God was calling me to do. There was a reason God brought me to this particular passage today; there was a reason why I read these words at this point in time. God had a message for me.

And that’s fair. God is trying to get things through to us via the books in this Book. But I think a big part of what he’s trying to get through to us is a sense of perspective. God gave this message to Haggai in the second year of King Darius. Insight for Living informs us that the temple fell and the Babylonian Exile began in 586 BC; the events of the book of Haggai occur around 520 BC. That’s nearly seventy years that Haggai lived in a world without the temple, seventy years before God issued the command, “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified” (8). It wasn’t yet time.

And for every instance like this one where God said, “It’s time to move,” I can point to another instance where someone moved when God said not to, where the necessary patience was in short supply. Think about King Saul in 1 Samuel 13, overwhelmed by Philistine armies and waiting for Samuel to arrive and make the appropriate offerings to God. Saul jumps the gun and presents the burnt offering and peace offering himself in violation of the requirements of the Law, and Samuel prophesies that God will give the kingdom of Israel to another man, whom we later discover to be David. Or think of Peter, rushing in to defend Jesus himself in the Garden of Gethsemane and cutting off a soldier’s ear, only to get rebuked and see Jesus undo his work.

The point of our passage today is not that Haggai was a man of action; the point is that he listened to what God actually said and delivered his message. The point is that in Israel’s long and complicated history, there was a time when the temple was destroyed, and then there was another time when God brought his people back to Jerusalem, and then there was still another time when he called those people to rebuild the temple. You and I weren’t alive then, and we’d do well to learn that the Bible doesn’t revolve around us.

At only two chapters, this book is going to be over before we know it. I’d better be thinking about what passages we’re going to look at next when we jump back to thinking about thankfulness.

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