(This scripture is from the Old Testament Book of Haggai. Haggai was a prophet who encouraged those returning from exile to rebuild the temple of God as set forth in the Old Testament Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The dates of these prophecies were precisely stated and span a four month period from August 29, 520 B.C. to December 18, 520 B.C. Many of the Jews had returned to rebuild the temple in 538 B.C. but after completing the foundation, they were met with opposition from surrounding peoples and this coupled with their fear and distractions of their own lives caused the work on the temple to halt until 520 B.C.)
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ”
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
Haggai 1:2-12 (Version – NIV)
Do you feel like you have been in exile? Do you feel like you have returned from exile and are trying to do great things for the Lord? Do you feel like all your efforts are being thwarted? Do you feel like no matter what you do, you can’t get ahead?
That’s what God’s people were feeling. They had done great things for God and had returned to Him – returned to help rebuild his temple – but then they were met with had returned to Him- returned to rebuild the temple – but then they were met with opposition and distractions. Neighbors started fighting with them. They retreated to their own homes, building their own lives and taking care of their own needs.
They may have been thinking, “Let the leaders figure out what we should do”; or “who am I to continue building when others are saying we don’t have the authority to build”. Regardless of the way it happened, it ended up with everyone thinking about their own needs and forgetting about whom they ultimately serve – God.
Isn’t the same thing happening now? Aren’t we struggling with our own focus? Who are we serving – ourselves or God? In our churches, aren’t we relying and waiting on our leaders to tell us what to do while at the same time failing to seek out what God wants us to do?
So this week, as you contemplate your next step in life’s journey, make sure you are focusing on your first love – Jesus Christ. Refuse to be distracted. Seek His timing and His purpose. Don’t fall into the lethargy of waiting on others to do what it is you should do for yourself. Seek Him first.