Haggai 1:6 – “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.”
The Israelites suffered unnecessarily because they put God’s will on hold. The seeds were plenty but the crop was small and it cost more and more just to get the bare minimum. They used what they had on themselves and yet they were never content or fulfilled. They had been released from captivity by the hand of the Lord but their thankfulness was poor and their priorities were back to front. “Therefore, I have withheld…,” said the Lord. The grain, the vine and the oil were all withheld along with the dew “because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.”
The one thing that should have been their first priority, now appeared to be their last. The house of the Lord was such a truly special place because that is where God came to meet with his people. From the tabernacle to Solomon’s temple, this was God’s way of being close to the children of Israel. His presence came and dwelt among them and they could physically draw near to Yahweh and feel his holiness surrounding them. When God stirred the spirit of Cyrus to send the people back to build his house, He wanted them to experience that closeness once more.
“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.”
The Lord takes pleasure in being with his people. I wonder if we truly grasp that truth – that the God who rejoices over us takes pleasure in being with us! Some might say that things are different now and God no longer dwells in a place but in each believer so we don’t have to go to church to meet with him. While I agree that is true, I also believe that God still takes joy in the gathering of his children to enjoy his presence in a collective manner. To worship him with one heart, to praise him with one voice and to fellowship together with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The house of God is still a special place and we should not neglect to take care of it. We too need to hear the words of Haggai – “Consider your ways.” People today can still be more concerned about their own homes and having the best of everything while churches sit with crumbling walls and leaky pipes. Is that what is looks like to honour God? The buildings we use to meet as a congregation should still be treated with respect and should be used for his glory, “for I am with you… my Spirit remains in your midst.”
The glory of God cannot be tainted by sin and the glory of man will always remain subservient to it. The Israelites were stained by sin and unclean in the eyes of God and he wanted a people with clean hands and a clean heart to build his house. If they turned from their unfaithfulness and put his will first, he would no longer withhold anything from them, instead, “from this day on I will bless you” (2:19).
God is the great provider who longs to bless us out of his abundance. For this there is one requirement – to put Him first. This applies to you individually, that God remains first and foremost in your life and also to all of God’s people collectively, that we keep His Word first and foremost in the life of the Church.