Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? My house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses.”
—Haggai 1:3-4, 9b (NLT)
Do we get so busy with our lives and our own perceived needs that we neglect what God desires? In this chapter, Haggai stirs the remnant of God’s people to rebuild what has been lost—to place God’s wishes first before everything else. They have re-built their own homes, but ignored rebuilding God’s temple that was destroyed before the exile. They have done as they wished, and reaped the negative benefit of their actions. “You have planted much but harvest little,” Haggai imparts. “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” (Haggai: 1:6, NLT)! Isn’t this so like us? We build our lives without surrendering to God’s will, and allowing Him to guide us. We fulfill our desires without considering His wishes. We place our wishes above His own. And we lose as life sifts us like sand.
At the same time that Haggai was prophesying to the Jews in Judah, Ezra was a priest who led Judean exiles living in Babylon back to their home city of Jerusalem. They returned to re-build their own homes, but neglected the temple to worship the Lord who has rescued them from exile! Many along with Ezra caught the vision of what Haggai had stirred in Zerubbabel. The temple must be rebuilt. And with a call to place God first, an awareness grew in the Judeans that they had not surrendered to the loving God who had brought them home. Repentance burned in their hearts to rebuild what their sin had destroyed. Work began to rebuild God’s house. This is the same call and promise to us. If we place God first, we will understand where we have failed and not allowed His will to change us.
When Tattenai, the governor of the province, wrote to King Darius about what was happening in Jerusalem, he informed him, “The king should know that we went to the construction site of the Temple of the great God in the province of Judah. It is being rebuilt with specially prepared stones, and timber is being laid in its walls. The work is going forward with great energy and success. We asked the leaders, ‘Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and restore this structure?’ This was their answer: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built here many years ago by a great king of Israel (Ezra 5:8, 9, 11, NLT). When we follow God’s will, we will receive His promise. And that promise responds to the vision that God has inspired—to allow God to rebuild our lives as only He can.
Lord, help us to catch the vision you desire. Your will and purpose come before our own. And when we place you first, what you build in our lives will never be in vain, but resound with your glory.
© 2018 Lynn Lacher