The Command to Rebuild the Temple
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
The People Obey the Lord
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, “I am with you, declares the LORD.” And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
Haggai 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Many times we bankrupt our lives. We pursue things that are unfulfilling; invest in things that hold no return; waste and squander. Where our focus holds many times is to our benefit and not that of others or the Kingdom.
The people had been in captivity the years predicted. After that time King Cyrus declared that those living in Babylon could return home if they wanted and rebuild the temple. But not long after they lost their purpose and priorities and as Ezra wrote of in chapter 4, became apathetic and the work stopped. The prophet Haggai began walking the streets of Jerusalem, speaking boldly to their state of complacency and urging them to reorder their priorities toward God’s will.
“Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!”Haggai 1:5-7
Consider your ways. Step back, look at where your plans have brought you. Evaluate where your focus has driven your decisions. What return do you have from what you’ve given so much of your life toward?
God looked at the people and asked how they could live in such places when his own house was in ruins. He looked at where these had spent their money on things that didn’t matter. Ironically when people work toward material things or live toward our own goals – it’s never satisfying. We’re just as empty as we were before.
There is never satisfaction or fulfillment in life when it’s focused on things, wealth or possessions or anything that we believe tangibly will bring it.
As Haggai spoke, something happened – the Spirit of God stirred the people. As the end of this chapter alone, with convicted hearts, they responded back to God… and He stirred His Spirit among them.
Just 23 days after Haggai’s feet walked the streets, the people began rebuilding the temple. Rarely would a prophet’s voice bring such a quick response. Why? Because their conviction led to change; their change led to action; their action coincided with God’s will and the Spirit of God empowered them.
For us, maybe it’s time to step back and look at what reward we’re pursuing right now. What are the things where we’re investing in and how fulfilling is it? What do we chase after? Are we apathetic or energized? In our spiritual lives are we driven or lazy?
Give careful thought to your ways…
Haggai 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
We just finished studying Zephaniah who warned of God’s future judgment on Judah, and as predicted, they were carried off to captivity by Babylon. That bondage lasted 70 years until Babylon was conquered by King Darius of Persia around 539 B.C. Soon after (Haggai writes it was in Darius’ second year), the Jews were released to go back to Israel. This is where Haggai picks up.
“In 538 B.C. Cyrus King of Persia allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity. Two years later (536 B.C.) construction on the temple began, led by Zerubbabel. The work stopped after two years (534 B.C.). After 14 years of neglect, work on the temple resumed in 520 B.C. and was finished four years later in 516 B.C.”David Guzik
Haggai’s prophecy begins in September of 520 B.C. after the 14 years of neglect. So, as you can see, the dates line up very well. The people had started working on the temple but they failed to finish. There were many factors that played into their choice to rebuild.
They Remembered Their Past
There are many reasons why we should detach from our past. We are no longer that person, and through Jesus, those decisions are covered by His blood. But God allows us to experience trials in order for us to be strengthened by His presence. He will discipline us and that discipline will produce growth. God’s people had just spent 70 years in exile. It was fresh in their minds and they knew the pain it had caused. Before that time, they were indifferent to God’s ways as they embraced sin. God used the practicality of life’s struggles to teach them His ways. When you touch a hot stove, you get burnt. Sooner or later, you learn to stop touching the stove. Freedom in Christ is not a moral checklist. It is the freedom to choose what pleases God instead of what displeases Him. Through Christ, our past can light the way to our future.
They Had A Healthy Fear
God’s people not only embraced sin, but they also ignored His prophets. So when Haggai spoke, the people knew God meant business. A healthy fear is a component of our faith that takes the Word of God seriously and cooperates with Him in His work.
Then Zerubbabel and Joshua and all the people who had returned from the exile in Babylonia, did what the LORD their God told them to do. They were afraid and obeyed the prophet Haggai, the LORD’s messenger.Haggai 1:12 GNB
They Needed Inspiration
Many times we feel like failures so we don’t even start. Sometimes when God calls us to something, we only go half-way. God’s goal was a rebuilt temple. He promised to be with His people on this journey but they needed to commit in order for His encouragement and His presence to be felt. It was a leap of faith, but God met them in their obedience and inspired them to complete His work.
The LORD inspired everyone to work on the Temple: Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah; Joshua, the High Priest, and all the people who had returned from the exile. They began working on the Temple of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of the second year that Darius was emperor.Haggai 1:14-15 GNB
When He calls us to step out, He will inspire us to finish!