Friday, December 13, 2013
Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.” Haggai 1:3 - 11 (NLT)
Not much is known about Haggai, except that he and Zechariah were partners in the task of rebuilding the temple in the 6th Century B.C. There was opposition to the project from neighboring communities, and the rebuilding work had long since stopped when the Lord began to speak through this prophet.
And God wasn’t happy!
Frankly, when you’re on God’s short list for disciplinary action, there isn’t much about life that is satisfying or filled with hope. The Psalmist says God’s discipline is like a moth in the closet:
When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us. Each of us is but a breath. Psalms 39:11 (NLT)
Was it really about the Temple?
God did really fine without a Temple for many generations before Haggai, way back to David, and even Abraham. He did fine without a Temple in the Garden of Eden. Why was neglect of this Temple such a “bone to pick” with Israel?
The message was pretty clear – God said: You’ve neglected my House; I’m taking that as a sign you’re neglecting Me, and it’s going to affect everything that’s dear to you!
If you draw the parallel lines from Israel then – all the way to us, now – the lesson is hard to miss – it matters where God is on your “To-Do” list.
God has never settled for anything less than first priority.
In the United Methodist Church we have five promises we keep as a sign of not neglecting our Baptismal Covenant as faithful servants of God:
· Prayers – to undergird all peoples and the Kingdom of God constantly
· Presence – to be consistent in worshipping with the covenant people
· Gifts – to be faithful stewards of what God has placed in our hands
· Service – to be active in service to others as we would to God
· Witness – to live in word and deed in such a way to bring glory to God.
We all have a big enough “To-Do” list; we need to be careful what we add to it.
Perhaps the list above needs to be at the top of our list. It is, after all, the way God builds His house IN us.
And that project never stops!