Haggai 1:4-5 “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” Haggai is one of the minor prophets so named because their message is small. The book of Haggai is only two chapters long, yet in four of the verses it clearly tells us that God spoke to Haggai with a message to be repeated to His people. Overall, Haggai was in a period where the Assyrians had taken Israel (the Northern Kingdom) captive and Babylon had taken Judah (the Southern Kingdom) captive. The king of Babylon had his army go through the land and move anyone that any kind of skills, learning, or beauty and bring them to Babylon.
After 18 years and under a new king of Persia, 50,000 people of Judah were allowed to return to their homeland. They found the devastation that had been left behind. The fields and streets of Jerusalem were overgrown with weeds and briars. The fields had rocks strewn in them as was the habit of conquering armies of the time. The houses were in ruins, the Temple was torn down.
But they came to their homeland cheerfully and began the work to restore the temple. They cleared the site and got the foundation laid. Then Life got in the way. They stopped work on the temple and began work on their own homes, streets and fields.
And they worked hard at it. Haggai tells them in Haggai 1:6 “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
You see, God was not blessing them. They had allowed life to get in the way of repairing the Temple. They had allowed their own “needs” to supplant what they were send back to the Promised Land to do. They were to raise up the Worship of Almighty God, rebuild His Temple and make His name great again! Yet, life got in the way.
They stopped working at what God wanted and began to work for what they wanted and the more they worked the less they had.
Haggai 2:17 “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.”
God has gentle ways of turning His people back to Him and He has not so gentle ways if the gentle ways do not work. God had used the natural elements of the world against them, yet they just worked harder instead of smarter. If they had completed the task they had been sent to do, then Gods blessing would have come upon them and they would have prospered greatly. Yet, as I have said, Life got in the way and they turned from the important project to begin too work on what they wanted.
It is very much like that today. God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, still wants to be worshipped. Yet we allow life to get in the way and we go about trying to satisfy all of our own desires. We work hard, then spend it on toys. We go on vacation and leave God back at the church building.
I have a friend named Don. Every year he would take his wife and son on vacation in the northeast of the United States. His mother lived on Massachusetts and they would usually drift by to visit then go on to Maine for a lobster dinner. It was their one extravagance each year. Don a good church member, but when on vacation he usually allowed himself one beer with his lobster dinner. He thought he was far enough away from New York that no one would know.
Things went as things do and his son grew up in church. His Sunday School teacher taught the good and bad of life he would face. She focused for a month on what alcohol did to families when it was allowed to overcome one of the parents. When Donnie was six they went on their normal vacation.
When they got to their favorite restaurant and Don ordered his lobster and his beer, Donnie looked at him in shock. “Dad! That is beer! It is bad!” “Well, son, you are right, but I only allow myself one and it is only on vacation,” Don tried to explain. “But, Dad, if it is bad at home when isn’t it still bad here?” Donnie reasoned.
Well, as you judge this, some of you will agree with Don and some of you will agree with Donnie, yet God looks at motives (hearts). God’s Word tells us in ICorinthians 10:31-32 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” Don thought he could cheat a little. Don thought noone would know. He thought he could leave his church behind and indulge in a small guilty pleasure, yet God went on vacation with him.
Well, I would ask you about today in the USA or rather in our Oklahoma. As we do our work do we consider God in our daily tasks? Do we ask ourselves what would please God today. When God is not pleased, we are not blessed with abundance. He wants to bless us for in being blessed Christians should, would and could praise God for His blessings.
God wants a thankful people. 1 Chronicles 16:8 “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.” lThessalonians “5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Don’t let life get in the way of pleasing God. Colossians 3:17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”