Consider Your Ways: Build the House
Do you need to be encouraged? You carry about your day half-heartedly, routinely or unproductively. It could be that this discouragement is the reason why you don’t contribute like you ought to build into your local church. The origin of discouragement is ignorance of what God is doing and how God is working. We lose sight of His purposes. In the book of Haggai, we find about 50,000 who have been released from exile and begun to settle again in the land of their origin. Building the House of the Lord was once thrilling but now they’re discouraged to restart the project that was halted. The LORD raised up prophets Zechariah and Haggai to encourage the people. Hearing and obeying the voice of the LORD is the sure remedy to discouragement. May we all hear the word of the LORD by Haggai and be encouraged to build the house.
Haggai 1: Build the House
V1-11 A Call to “Consider Your Ways”
Haggai is extremely specific about the times of his prophetic utterances. The first came on our calendar on August 29, 520BC. The temple had laid dormant in construction for 16 years (Ezra 3:8-11); only the foundation had been laid. The people willingly embraced a decree by Ahasuerus, King of Persia, which came about because of jealous Samaritans who were not permitted to join in building the temple.
What people were saying is found in verse 2, “the time is not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.” But the word of the LORD climaxing in verse 8 is the opposite, “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.” Why such a discrepancy? The people of God were content with obeying men rather than God and weren’t glorifying God. They wouldn’t stand against their adversaries but rather acquiesced to those that feigned initially to want to help (Ezra 4:23). It is the same in the local church today where adversaries come from without and even within (Acts 20:29-31). A local church must stand for the truth of the word of God for God’s glory (1 Tim 3:15).
The people of God were to consider their ways. Instead of putting their energy toward building the house of God, they invested considerable energy into their own dwellings. How different than the attitude of David who languished that he lived in a house while the ark of God was in a tent! They had settled in and were seeking to build up a nest egg, and lavish in the comforts of the world. The people were not progressing in acquiring capital and put more and more energy into day to day living.
Where do our priorities lie? The LORD told the people that they must prioritize building His house rather than theirs. What would our local church be like if we put the same energy into them as we put into the maintenance of our home? What would our spiritual lives be like if we put the same vigour into it as we did our business? For the sake of the church as a body, Paul tells us that servants need to serve, teachers need to teach, encouragers need to encourage, givers need to give, rulers need to do it diligently and ones able to show mercy need to do it cheerfully (Rom 12:6-8). May we all consider our ways.
V12-15 – Obedience and its Results
What did the people do as a result of the message from Haggai? They obeyed and feared the LORD. The people did the strenuous work of going into the hills to gather wood and build the house. Even the older prophet Haggai and the younger Zechariah joined in (Ezra 5:2). The preachers were not hypocrites, but obedient to their own messages. The work was hard but they would have the ability to complete the work because of the LORD stirring up the spirit of all the people. Discouraged spirits became invigorated because they were obedient.
Lastly, we must not miss Haggai’s message to the people in v13 because of their obedience, “I am with you, saith the LORD.” Isn’t this what we crave to know, that the LORD is with us? It is a sad thing to be like Samson who “did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16:20 NKJV). The presence of the Lord is the most precious thing we can know both in our own lives and in our local churches. It is in the midst of the local church willing to do what is in accordance with His name that our Saviour promises to be (Matthew 18:20). Consider your ways and build the house of the Lord His way for His glory. Be encouraged that in doing this He will be pleased in it.