God was upset with His people. They had returned from captivity in Babylon, and were busy about the work of rebuilding their lives. As people often tend to do, the Jews had forgotten about God’s work as they built fine houses for themselves and lived in luxury (Haggai 1:2-4).
Is it possible that people can become so accustomed to pursuing the “good life” that they forget about the One who gives life? The Jews had returned to find Jerusalem in ashes. It was quite an accomplishment, then, to rebuild their homes and businesses from such a devastating scene. While the people worked feverishly on their own homes, the temple of God remained a pile of rubble. God’s command to the people was, “Consider your ways (Haggai 1:5)!” What were some of the people’s excuses for neglecting His work?
“God has not given us sufficient blessings” — People may often rationalize away serving God and others because they feel like they do not have enough to give. God explained to His people that they faced a drought because they had misplaced their priorities (Haggai 1:8-11). If they would merely get busy building the temple, God would bless them with what they needed.Brethren, many of our supposed hindrances in accomplishing the work of the Lord are self-imposed! So many times God’s work goes undone because we’re busy looking at the size of our congregation, the size of our pocketbook, and the size of our problems instead of the Giver of all blessings. Let’s not be guilty of rationalizing away our potential in the Lord because we are discouraged by what we don’t have!
“We have no leadership” — Perhaps the greatest reason for inactivity in any congregation of God’s people is a lack of spiritual leadership. In Haggai’s day, Zerubbabel was the appointed governor of Judea and Joshua was the high priest. One would think that these men above all others would recognize what needed to be done, but for nearly twenty years God’s house was ignored! Notice, though, that when God’s word got into the leaders of God’s people, their spirits were stirred within them (cf. Haggai 1:13-14). Those who desire to lead God’s people today need to feast daily on God’s precepts. He always provides motivation, direction, and encouragement through His word!
“The world is a different place than it used to be” — Solomon had built a temple that brought fame to Israel (2 Chr 3-6), but that temple had been demolished (2 Chr 36:18-19). Now, the people were building something that was a mere shell of its former glory. Those who remembered the former glory of God’s temple wept when they saw the lackluster beginnings of the new one (cf. Ezra 3:12; Haggai 2:3). The second temple was built, but it never captured the beauty and majesty of the first. Sometimes, people in the church yearn for the “glory days” when people were turning to God in droves and were more interested in spiritual things. To those who give up simply because people’s attitudes toward the church may have changed, God says, “Be strong and work, for I am with you (Haggai 2:4).” What greater motivation do we need to continue God’s unchanging work in a changing world? Let’s be zealous for spiritual things, for God will not be pleased if we leave His work undone! — John Baker