Haggai is a short prophetic book in the Old Testament dealing with a specific time and situation. Israel had returned to her land from exile (as God had foretold and as a result of His faithfulness.) They returned to devastation and destruction. The temple – that magnificent edifice built by Solomon – was gone. The city walls were destroyed. It was a deeply discouraging sight, and not surprisingly, the people were focussed on survival, building new homes for themselves from the rubble.
Haggai’s word challenged them to look to rebuilding God’s house, to put their spiritual priorities above their personal ones. (Haggai 1:3-11) This challenge remains pertinent to every day and age. It is always easier to focus on our personal needs rather than on God’s kingdom.
Haggai spoke specifically to Zerubbabel (the governor of Judah, the top political dog, so to speak), to Joshua (the high priest, the chief representative of the Jewish faith) and to the remnant of the people in the land. His message acknowledged that the task seemed daunting (especially to those who could remember the glory of the former temple), but urged them to ‘be strong and work. For I am with you… Do not fear.” (Haggai 2:4-5)
This message comes to us today with renewed force. Paul tells us to ‘be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’, urging us to put on the full armour of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes. (Eph 6:10-11) We need to be strong and to work. The harvest is plentiful, Jesus said, and we must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field. (Matt 9:37-38) There is much to be done and so many practical ways we can serve God. It’s time to consider our priorities, to seek God first above everything else and not to shirk. As Paul said, ‘whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.‘ (Col 3:17)