Pressures, demands, expectations, and tasks push in from all sides and assault our scheuldes. Do this! Be there! Finish that! Call them! It seems as though everyone wants something from us – family, employer, school, church, clubs. Soon there is little left to give, as we run out of energy and time. We find ourselves rushing through life, attending to the necessary, the immediate, and the urgent. Too often, the important is left in the dust. Our problem is not the volume of demands or lack of scheduling skills, but values – what is truly important to us.
Our values and priorities are reflected in how we use our resources – time, money, strength and talent. Often our actions belie our words. We say God is number one, but then we relegate him to a lesser number on our ‘to do’ lists.
Twenty five centuries ago, a voice was heard, calling men and women to the right priorities. Haggai knew what was important and what had to be done, and he challenged God’s people to respond.
In 586 BC the armies of Babylon had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem – God’s house, the symbol of the his presence with them. In 538BC King Cyrus decreed that Jews could return to their beloved city and rebuild the Temple. SO they travelled to Jerusalem and began the work. But then they forgot their purpose and lost their priorities, as opposition and apathy brought the work to a standstill.
It was into this situation that Haggai speaks, calling them back to God’s values. “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (1:4)
The people were more concerned with their own needs than with doing God’s will and, as a result, they suffered. Then Haggai calls them to action, “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.
And God’s message through his servant Haggai became the catalyst for finishing the work.
Haggai is a small book, only two chapters long. But it is filled with challenge and promise, reminding us of God’s claim on our lives and our priorities. Just as Haggai urged people to get back to doing God’s work, so he speaks to us today, urging us to reorder our priorities in accordance with God’s will. What is God calling you to do? Have you neglected that calling? Haggai challenges us to put aside all else, and obey God. To do our part in building the house of the Lord, not a temple like in Jerusalem, but to build up God’s kingdom, his reign of justice and peace here on earth.