7Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: “Set your heart on your ways! 8Go up to the hills, bring wood and build the House. Then I will delight in it and I will be glorified,” says Adonai. 9“You have looked for much, but indeed, there is little. What you have brought home, I have blown away. Why is this?”—it is a declaration of Adonai-Tzva’ot—“because My House lies in ruins, while you are running, each to his own house. 10Therefore, because of you, the sky has withheld dew and the earth has withheld its yield. 11For I have called for drought on the land, the hills and the grain, on the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on mankind and beast, as well as all labor of hands.”
Review of the Previous Post
Never let it be said that our God minces words or dances around the subject with hints – He determines the who, what, where, when, why and how of His message! In the previous post, we read in verse five of God telling the people to “set your heart on your ways.” God wants them to take an honest look at the path they have been walking. He goes on by outlining what has been happening in their lives in verse six, explaining the troubles they have been having.
“Think About Where You’re Going … “
In verse seven, He again tells the people to “set your heart on your ways.” But this time, He is telling them to take action (v.8) to make things right between He and His children. “It is time I had a house to live in. It’s time I had a fine paneled house (v.4) like you have, it’s time I was glorified.”
As I read verse nine, I get the sense that God is puzzled, although, I think it is, to a degree, sarcastic. He seems surprised that His people – His kids – just don’t catch-on to what’s happening.
He asks the question: Why do you expect much but find little and what do bring home is diminished (blown away, like just a piece of lint pulled from the bottom of a pocket). It is because “My House, My Temple lies in ruins while each of you runs to his own paneled house.”
Times are Tough Because …
This passage is an example of discipline – not a very welcome word in today’s world because it implies punishment. God is creating and allowing hardship in order to make his people consider the reason for that hardship, which, in turn, will cause them to open their eyes and understand that He is their provision and should be treated accordingly. As it turned out, He had to tell them out-right.
God caused a drought so that not even the morning dew would water the ground. The crops would therefore not be fruitful. In fact, God’s call for a drought affected all lands, all people, all livestock and all crops, and as we see in the next section, God’s message as delivered by Haggai did not go unheeded.
This part of the scripture in Haggai is about the discipline that God brought on those who returned from exile in Babylon when they turned away from rebuilding the temple.
It cannot be denied that God told the Israelites as far back as the Exodus from Egypt that if they followed his commands they would be His people and He would be their God. Yet, throughout their history, they would devoutly trust Him and then slowly they would turn to what was “right in their own eyes” and turn away from Him. Consequently, God would exact a discipline on them, the severity of which seemingly depended on the depths to which they had fallen.
Those who were watching knew that if a prophet came into town that they had better pay attention. Check out 1 Samuel 16:4:
And Samuel did that which the LORD spoke, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said: ‘Comest thou peaceably?’
They were were very frightened that the spokesman for God had shown up in their village!
The Godly Art of Discipline
Some who criticize Christianity and look for excuses for rejecting God like to use the “always angry god” argument. I can see why they do – because the anger is easy to find in a cursory reading of the Old Testament. Read almost any book of the Old Testament and you can find examples of God punishing, scolding, disciplining, taking the lives of people – not only enemies of the Israelites, but also His own people who messed up. I can understand that and I, too, had that same “angry god” thought until I began to read more carefully and think.
The truth is that God created the human race because He wanted a family that he could love and they would choose to love Him back. But we turned our backs on Him at the very beginning and because of that, as long as we are living in this world, we will always have the tendency to turn our back on Him. Therefore, like any good father, God disciplines out of love so that we will return to Him and once again we can be a loving family. Unfortunately, many of us have had earthly fathers who have been down-right cruel and so it is nearly impossible to equate our Heavenly Father with good and good intentions.
With the conclusion of this section, we have come away with two lessons to be learned:
- God wants His temple to be kept in good repair – in fact, it should be our priority;
- God’s Temple is not just an edifice on a hill or street, it is our own body, and so we need to keep it in good shape;
- God works in our lives to spur us into opening our eyes and ears to see and hear what He is trying to tell us and to see the path that He wants us to take; and
- God created us out of love so that He could have a family to love that would love Him back.
Thank you for reading and God bless.