Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A short study on a short book

The Jews in Haggai aggainwere under Persian rule, during the reign of Darius. Lethargy had set in, possibly because their situation was so improved compared to Babylonian occupation and captivity. They had gotten lackadaisical about God’s house since returning to Palestine. Living comfortably, they decided it was not the right time to rebuild God’s house.

God’s word to them was, “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin” (Hag 1:4)? Disobedience wrought drought and disaster.

You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it (Hag 1:6).

Twice God tells them, “Give careful thought to your ways” (Hag 1:5, 7). Drought was an attention getter. God longs to bless his people, but sometimes he is not allowed to. The remnant however, listened and began work on the temple.

We too, can become lukewarm, comfortable, and complacent. Preoccupation and worry with daily life can make our hearts grow cold. It is like having pockets with holes in them. We strive so hard and have nothing to show for it. We are afraid to let go, sometimes afraid of what God will do if we allow him to have his way. It is sometimes difficult to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prv 3:5-6).

Our walk with God or lack thereof differentiates us from those Haggai addressed. If we are in fellowship with him, seeking to do his will, then we too, are like the faithful remnant. It may be difficult to identify with and we may even vilify those living comfortably while God’s house “remains a ruin” (Hag 1:4). God’s word to his remnant was “I am with you” (Hag 1:13; 2:4), “I covenanted with you” (Hag 2:5), “…my Spirit remains among you” (Hag 2:5), “Do not fear” (Hag 2:5), “’The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (Hag 2:9).

Obedience was the vehicle that took them from famine to feast and festivity. From the laying of the foundation, God promised a marked change. “‘From this day on I will bless you’” (Hag 2:19).

There are several ways we can apply Haggai to a concrete situation or problem in contemporary life. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Hag 1:6). Many can identify with that sentiment. Some are deceived into believing they cannot afford to tithe. Otherwise faithful believers may express that. When I am faithful, I cannot afford not to tithe demonstrating God’s economy is unlike ours.

The Bible. New International Version.

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