He Says, We Says
I am not God.
However, before you too eagerly resound with a hearty “Amen,” let me remind you of another important truth. You are not God either. In fact, there is only one God and none of us are Him. Now, I know that sounds elementary but the reality we practice is often quite the contrary. We might not be blatant in terms of our attempts to overthrow the throne but it is prevalent nonetheless. Within the human heart there is a broken place that constantly seeks to usurp His sovereignty. It’s tragic but true.
Take the Israelites here in Haggai for example. Years before the writing of this book they had been given a divine mandate, a heavenly purpose if you will. God had directed them to return to their native land and rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed in a previous generation because of their repeated and unrepentant years of idolatry. Initially, the people began the work with great enthusiasm. The foundation was laid amidst tremendous jubilation. But then persecution and opposition arose and the people lost sight of God’s Word. By the time Haggai shows up the people have completely abandoned God’s commission. Instead of rebuilding the Temple they are busy playing their own version of “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.”
“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”
Can you picture the scene? The Temple was trashed but their own houses were “tricked out.” God’s dwelling place was a dump and they were polishing their palaces. God’s house? Lying in ruins. Their homes? Lavished in riches. Somewhere along the way the people had managed to get sidetracked, distracted from the original Divine vision and purpose. God’s work was traded in for personal comfort and convenience. Heavenly labor became lost in the haze of their own spiritual lethargy. And in the process, God’s command had been abandoned to their own personal longings and desires.
And so, God intervenes. He reminds them that what He said back in the day still held true in the present. Time had not negated His will for their lives. His plan was still intended to be their purpose for living. With a clarion call from heaven, God reminds them that their chief priority should be His glory. Their primary pursuit should be building up the place that housed His presence. In other words, it was time to reevaluate where they had been investing all of their time, effort, and energy. They had spent years laboring for themselves and all the while God’s Word had become a forgotten thing of the past.
Now, I know that this is a challenging word but I trust that the message has become clear. Far too many times we stray away from His purposes in pursuit of our own plans. We make transitory things like comfort, convenience, and security our primary passions. Yes, God still holds a place in our lives. The foundation is there but we haven’t built anything viable upon it in a long, long time. Prayer is neglected. The Word is ignored. Worship is forsaken. Intimacy with God is abandoned for others things that at the time just seem more important. And all along the way we keep making the wrong choice, placing the greater value on what I want than what He wills.
The book of Haggai is ultimately a book of incredible revival (something we are going to look at it in the weeks ahead). But it begins with a wake-up call for the people of God. Their lives had become increasingly difficult, demanding, and disappointing. They worked hard but had little to show for it. They were frustrated, weary, and spiritually starving. Fortunately, God in His mercy and grace comes to them with a word of restoration, reminding them that what He says will always take precedence. The plan for His people wasn’t working out because they were no longer following the blueprint. God was saying one thing over their lives but they were saying something entirely different. Little wonder that their lives had become defined by lethargy and lack.
Revival begins with a return to His Word. It was true for the people in Haggai’s day and it’s no different for us. Looking for real, lasting change in your life? Then begin with His Word. Make it a part of every day. Make it the start of every day. All throughout the day. Every step along the way. Haggai ends with a glorious scene of restoration and renewal. But it all began with a simple reminder to return… return to His purposes, return to His Word, and ultimately, return to Him.