Today’s Reading: Zephaniah 1 – Haggai 2
Today’s Reflection: Haggai 1:4-6
4) “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5) Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6) 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.
Haggai was a prophet who was among the first of the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. Though they were still under the dominion of the Persian empire, they had been given permission to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1). Soon the difficulty of the work, and the distractions of the foreign peoples around them caused the Jews to forget the work they had started. Haggai criticized what he saw among his people—their focus on self and neglect for the house of God.
This isn’t a message about devoting your resources to building churches rather than on yourselves. To understand you must remember what the temple represented under the Old Covenant.
Exodus 25:8 – And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.
The house of God was where God came to dwell among His people. When Jesus came and ushered in the New Covenant with his sacrifice on the Cross (Matthew 26:28) He also granted us the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-8). No longer does God dwell among his people in a building, but rather He dwells within each of us. We are now temples, or houses of God.
1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Understanding this, today’s text takes on an entirely different but very relevant meaning. We each have many priorities in our modern lives—work, family, relationships, even entertainment and leisure—and we tend to build up these things by investing our time, talent and treasure (or money) into them. But are we investing in ourselves as spiritual houses? Are we making ourselves inviting habitations for the Holy Spirit to dwell in? Or are we spending all of our resources on other priorities, while our spiritual houses lie in ruins?
The Word tells us if we neglect the Lord’s house, all of the other things we invest in will ultimately come to nothing. If His temple is in ruins, soon all other parts of our lives will be too. But if we invest in our spiritual selves in the ways God instructs—obedience (1 Samuel 15:22), prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14), bible study (2 Timothy 2:15), Christian community (Hebrews 10:25), praise (Psalm 34:1), and worship (Revelation 14:7)—we will see our entire lives come into harmony with God’s will for us. Our lives in this world will never be perfect, but if we obey God and work with Him to build up our spiritual selves, we will have peace (Philippians 4:7) and joy (James 1:2) regardless of our circumstances (Philippians 4:12-13).