Life is busy, isn’t it? It seems hard to catch our breath at times as we rush from one obligation to the next. Fatigue, stress, and a feeling that our schedule is out of control are common to many of us. And then we start over the next day.
The Israelites of Haggai’s day were not so different. They had been in exile in Babylon, longing to return to their homeland, Judah. After seventy long years, they finally did. There was only one condition to their freedom. They were to rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, the Temple where the Spirit of God had resided among the people before their exile. They were going to be busy people.
And so they made the long and difficult journey to Jerusalem and, as promised, immediately began to rebuild the Temple. Before long, their work stalled—due to intense opposition from the people who had taken up residence in Jerusalem during the Israelites’ seventy-year absence. Finally, with only the foundation completed, they stopped work altogether on the Temple, deciding that “the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house—the Temple” (Hag. 1:2).
Being industrious, they turned their attention to other tasks that did not generate as much opposition. Yes, they were busy people. And they were busy with essential things: raising their families, making a living, building their homes—all good things, except for one problem. They became so busy that they left God behind.
After patiently waiting ten years for the people to resume rebuilding the Temple, the Lord had an important point for them to think about: “Consider how things are going for you!” (Hag. 1:5). They needed to consider that even though they worked hard, they had little. Although they had food, drink, and clothing, the supply was never adequate to meet their basic needs. While they earned money, it was never enough to make ends meet. In case they missed the connection, God laid out how these shortages were tied to their neglect of their relationship with Him. In their attempt to gain more, they had pushed God to the sidelines of their lives.
God had a solution for them. “Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house” (Hag. 1:8). What would they do? They could stubbornly continue with their own busy pursuits, or they could change their priorities. They chose wisely, for “the whole remnant of God’s people obeyed the message from the Lord their God. And the people worshiped the Lord in earnest” (Hag. 1:12).
They became people who put God first in their lives. They were still busy, but their priorities were in order. As they headed out to gather the timber needed for rebuilding, pleasing God was their top priority. God knew their sincerity and responded to it: “I am with you, says the Lord!” (Hag. 1:13).
As we rush from one thing to another, do we ever sense the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “Consider how things are going for you”? Or have we become so busy that we have crowded the Lord God out of our daily lives?
“I am with you, says the Lord!” There are many ways for the Lord to be with us. He may fill our lives and thoughts as we continue our journey of learning to obey, love, and trust Him. He may be nothing more than an afterthought in our busy lives, or He may be someone we deliberately try to shut out of our lives and thoughts as we step away from His guidance. Worst of all, He may be someone we have totally rejected…even as He continues to call to us in love and warning.
God is with us. Are we with Him?
© 2010 Arlina Yates