3Then the word of Adonai came through Haggai the prophet: 4“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this House lies in ruins?
God has seen the fine houses that his children are living in even as his own house, the Temple, is in great disrepair and lies unfinished. we saw sarcasm in the previous verse and we see it here! too. This also is a rhetorical question – God doesn’t expect an answer from his people – he expects them to think!
These verses show that God is using the disrepair of the temple to teach his children a lesson. He is saying it is important for them to build the the temple to show their praise and honor to God. It is an important thing to do because it is important to God. It is important to God because it shows him their attitude and the status of their heart to them.
How Can the Temple Apply to Us, Today?
We shall see as we read Haggai that the temple issue also is an important issue for us today, too, because our bodies are the temple of the Lord and should be treated as such. God gave us these bodies so that we could invite him to take up residence in us; He will not dwell in a temple that is in disrepair, abused and uncared-for.
But What About the Paneled Houses?
I know he is talking about the people living in paneled houses in verse four, but this isn’t the same as caring for the temple. These paneled houses refer to appearances – only how something looks – it looks good; gives us a good feeling; and it has curb appeal. But remember what Jesus said in Matthew 23:27 —
“Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
Something can look nice on the outside, but not be healthy and nice inside. This is what God is referring to when he talks about paneled houses. Also, “paneled” indicates a certain amount of wealth and extravagance that had been invested in their living quarters. They felt no such need or desire or obligation to do as much for God.