1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.” 3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" 5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: Give careful thought to your ways. 6 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. 7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD.
• Around 520 B.C. the Persian King Cyrus allowed 50,000 Jews to return from exile to Jerusalem.
• Approximately ten years later Darius became King and Haggai was called by God as a prophet.
• Haggai was the first prophet after the Jews had returned from exile.
• Haggai began his ministry as a senior adult and it only lasted 4 months. This reminds us that we can do great things for God at any age and even if it is only for a short period of time.
• Haggai was a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah and also of Confucius in China.
• Some scholars think he was born in exile, others say he was carried into exile and returned, but either way he was God’s man.
Verse 2 - . . . "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' "
• When the exiles returned to the land, the Lord had told them that one of their priorities was to rebuild the Temple so they could worship Him again.
• They had been in the land for ten years but they had not even started rebuilding the temple.
• Their excuse was that it was not the right time yet to rebuild the temple.
• Though timing is important, the reality was that they just kept finding excuses not to do what God asked them to do.
• We tend to be good at making excuses for why we cannot obey the Lord right now.
• At some point, we have to stop making excuses and start obeying God.
Verses 3-4 - Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"
• While the people were making excuses, God was calling a prophet to set them straight.
• Most of us do not like it when prophets point out our mistakes.
• We prefer preachers that comfort us and make us feel good about ourselves.
• But one day we will stand before the Righteous Judge and give an account for how we lived our lives.
• In that moment we will be thankful for some prophets who spoke into our lives and corrected us before it was too late.
• Prophets ask tough questions that seldom have easy answers.
• Prophets make us think in ways that are often uncomfortable.
• Haggai asked the people why they lived in paneled houses but the temple was in ruins.
• He was referring to fancy wooden panels similar to wainscoting, except that the panels would have been thicker and had hand carved designs on them.
• Since there were few trees in Israel, such wooden panels would most likely have been imported from foreign lands.
• They were VERY expensive luxury items.
• They had time, money and energy for such luxuries BUT God’s house was still a ruin.
• We find the time, money and energy for the things that are really important to us.
• We may fool others and even fool ourselves about our priorities. But we do not fool God.
• Our calendars and our checkbooks reveal our real priorities!!!
Verse 5 - Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: Give careful thought to your ways.
• Who is speaking in this verse?
• God – so we should pay attention.
• What does God say?
• God says that we should THINK about our actions.
• Our actions reveal what is really important to us.
• We tend to rush from one activity to another without thinking about whether those activities are pushing us toward the Lord or drawing us away from Him.
• We tend to make financial commitments without considering how they will impact our ability to support God’s work.
• We tend to spend our brain power thinking about too many things that do not matter.
• Every so often we need a prophet to make us stop and think about what our REAL priorities are.
• Most of the time God uses a person as prophet.
• Sometimes God uses illness, job loss or some other tragedy that forces us to stop and think about our real priorities.
• When we ignore the warnings of the prophets, we end up taking care of our own desires and wants first. Then we offer God whatever is left over.
• When there is nothing leftover but crumbs, then we give God the crumbs.
• Do we want to stand before God on Judgment Day and offer Him mere crumbs?
Verse 6 - 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.
• No matter how hard the Jews worked, they never seemed to get ahead.
• The blessing of God was NOT on them because they were living in disobedience to God’s priorities. That does not mean everything they were doing was wrong, just that it was not what God wanted them to be doing.
Verse 8 - Go up into the mountains and bring down timber . . .
• We cannot GO with God if we remain where we are.
• If we keep doing the same things we have been doing, we will keep getting the same results.
• At some point we have to get out of our rut and do whatever it is that God has called us to do with our time, energy and money.
• Once they got up to the mountains they had to choose which trees to take down. Not every tree was right for the job.
• Some trees were deceased or too crooked to use. Other trees were healthy but too small and needed more time to grow. They had to choose the best ones to use.
• Some things are clearly wrong to do. Others things are not wrong but just not right for the situation. We must choose the best things in life that meet God’s priorities.
• The first priority any of us must make is to trust Christ as Savior. Salvation must be our most important priority.
• When salvation by faith alone through Christ alone is not a priority in our lives, it is impossible for us to make the right choices in life on a regular basis.
• Even with Christ it is a challenge, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can understand spiritual truth and apply it to our daily lives and reap the benefits of godly lifestyles.
Verse 8 - . . and build the house . .
• It is not enough to just think about things and make choices about what to do.
• We must follow through on our choices and TAKE ACTION.
• James 2:26 - Faith without works is dead.
• We must act on our new priorities, otherwise we are just talking and talk is cheap.
Verse 8 - . . . so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD.
• Building the temple was not about gaining honor for the people who built it, but about obeying God and giving honor to Him.
• When Christians start making right choices and prove our priorities through real action, our lives get better. We are often tempted to take the honor for ourselves for this improvement.
• This leads to pride, which will get us back in trouble. All of the honor must go to the Lord.
• We must stop making excuses and start obeying God.
• We must be honest about our priorities and the results that flow from them.
• We must make choices in life based on God’s priorities.
• We must take action that proves our priorities are real.
• We should give the honor to the Lord for whatever good comes from our actions.
Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at: