The Lord’s House in Ruins — Haggai 1:3,4

Haggai 1:3,4

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.

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Lord of Hosts’ Temple – Haggai 1:2

Haggai 1:2

2Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: ‘This people say the time has not come—the time for the House of Adonai to be rebuilt.’”

The Name of God

This version of the Bible specifies the name of God used in various passages. In this passage it is Adonai-Tzva’ot or Lord of the Hosts (i.e., Armies).  I think it is important to know which name is used because it helps us understand our Lord better. This comes from the Judaism 101 website which can explain it better than I:

Because a name represents the reputation of the thing named, a name should be treated with the same respect as the thing’s reputation. For this reason, God’s Names, in all of their forms, are treated with enormous respect and reverence in Judaism.*

What We Know & A Sneak Preview

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is telling his people he wants his house to be built.

Since the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is saying this, do you think it might be important? Is that all he is saying? What do you think his opinion of the people is? What should we be looking for in this passage ?  How does it apply to us?

I looked ahead and I’m giving you a sneak preview.

These are the people who returned from exile in Babylon. I doubt they are the original people who returned from exile because we hear nothing about Ezra or Nehemiah in these passages. I think we can say that they have been in Judah for a while, since it sounds like they maybe have thriving businesses. Those who returned were, at first, very focused and intent on rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple. As time distanced them from the original returnees, the urgency to rebuild waned. Making a living, building houses, supporting themselves – all this became their primary focus and the temple took a backseat.

Because God has been forced into a back seat, he is not happy. He has something to say about the spiritual condition of the people of Judah at that time, and he is using the temple as a point of contention around which to build the lesson he wants to teach them. But, we can also read this and take a take about our intention toward the Lord and our spiritual condition.

The people in this scripture have been making excuses for not building the temple – for not renewing it and committing their time to its care. Keep this point in mind as we go through this. But there’s more. There are probably three issues to look at here.

One issue is the temple; another issue is the people’s physical well-being and spiritual health;  and the third issue is their attitude toward God.

God’s Complaint

Doesn’t the phrase “This people say …” sound like it was said with a bit of sarcasm? Isn’t it the kind of phrase used by an authority when  someone has made a judgment when they have no right to do so. As I read this verse, that is the first thing I think about: The people can say (and believe) one thing, but God knows what He wants. It is not for the people to decide whether the time is right or not.

This is also a phrase that questions the priorities of the people. It doesn’t say it in so many words, but doesn’t it make you just a little uncomfortable – like a little niggling itch in the ear that you can’t scratch?

These people know that God wants His temple built, but they are ignoring His desire. Instead of focusing, even a bit, on what God wants, they are busy going to their own paneled homes, which speaks of very nice houses, while the temple lies in ruins. And that causes them other problems … .

Thank you for reading …

If you’d like, read the next couple verses and consider them and then head back this way to see if we agree on what it says.


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A Call to Build the Temple – Haggai

Haggai and the Temple

Even though Haggai is a very short book of prophecy, it has an important message.  Haggai shows how important the physical temple is to God and therefore is of great importance to His people. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard it said that there are many levels of meaning to scripture and this small book illustrates a second level of meaning into which we Christians need to be tuned in order for us to live a life that follows the way of the Lord.

Let’s start by looking at just the first verse.

1In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of Jehovah by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,

A Little Background

The ancients didn’t have the convenience of a calendar as we know it. The ancient Hebrews had a lunar calendar that helped them keep track of the change of months, and therefore religious festival timing as well as for agricultural needs. For time periods that encompassed a year or more, they looked to what they thought was the most stable or notable happening around which they could record an event. This first verse tells us much about the time, place and people involved.

Darius is a generic title which more or less means “king”. It turns out there were four kings named Darius and this is not the first Darius who over-threw the Babylonians as described in Daniel. This Darius is the fourth one named Hystaspes and the events described occurred in the sixth month of the second year of the reign of Hystaspes.

Haggai is a prophet living in Judah and we know this event occurs in Judah because Zerubbabel is indicated as the governor of Judah and Joshua is the high priest (not the Joshua from the book of Exodus) . We also read that God is revealing His word to the Israelites through Haggai to Zerubbabel and Joshua.

The Command to Build the Temple

Now we have a little background of the book of Haggai; the setting, the people involved, and by the title of the post, you know that it is in regard to re-building the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews – at least some of them – have returned from exile in Babylon and were adamant about rebuilding the Temple, but their enthusiasm waned and the reconstruction stopped. This book is about God’s word to His people about returning to the re-building of the Temple and what He did to bring about a change in the people.

I do hope you don’t pass this off as unimportant, because it is important for us, today. Please come by tomorrow and I’ll bring you a few verses further.

God Bless.


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