Haggai 1:3-4 “Then came the word of theLordby Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?”
The temple was built by Solomon and housed the Ark of the Covenant which is why it was referred to as the house of God because it is where the presence of God dwelt among His people. Later, Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians, the people were taken captive, and the Temple was destroyed. The book of Ezra records how the exiled Jews returned to Jerusalem and started rebuilding the Temple.
Today, God’s presence is not within a temple. Acts 7:48, “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with human hands; as saith the prophet,” As a Christian, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside of us. The heart is God’s temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
Zerrubbabel set out to rebuild the Temple that for so long sat in ruins. Even with 50,000 people to join him in his building project, it still took them 20 years to complete. However, in the middle of their building, the people ceased working. The Temple sat unfinished and in ruins for years until Haggai encouraged the people to pick up the building once more.
Like Haggai, I take a look at the state of the youth group today and I am concerned that the temple of the heart of the teenagers sits in ruins. What does your relationship with God look like? Do you even have one? Do you talk with Him? Does He talk with you? Do you feel like God is your best friend or even family? Is God just a casual acquaintance? Is your temple sitting in ruins?
Haggai was written to Zerubbabel and the people to motivate and encourage them to pick up their tools and rebuild! It is my goal with this article to encourage you to pick up the tools and rebuild your relationship with God.
What is stopping you from rebuilding your Temple?
–False Friends? “Now when the adversaries (emphasis mine) of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.”-Ezra 4:4,5. The people offered to help build the Temple with Zerubbabel but they were not friends. They were, in fact, their adversaries. There are supposed “friends” in our midst that offer to help us get closer to God, but in reality, they hinder us in our walk with the Lord. Take inventory of your friend group. Who is helping you grow closer to the Lord? Who is hindering it?
-Fear? The people were ordered by the king to cease their work. They left the building to sit in ruins because they were scared of the consequences. We are hindered from building our relationship with God when we fear what may be at stake. Following Jesus requires total submission. It’s all or nothing. Often times, it is this very thought that instills the fear of trying to rebuild our relationship with God.
-Vanity/Self? “Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?” Haggai 1:3,4. The people were content to build their own houses but ignored the house of God. Because they ignored the Lord’s house it was causing a drought. They looked to what could possible be the reason for their drought and Haggai rightully pointed out that it was their own fault! They were shooting themselves in the foot. However, we do the same thing when we put our own personal desires above God’s. We are not willing to put in the effort. Because of our lack of effort, we will never experience the blessings of being close to the Lord.
-Apathy? I imagine that there were some people who just did not care about the Temple. It didn’t mean anything to them. Why invest in something that means nothing to you, right? Does having a relationship with God appeal to you at all? If God never spoke to you for the rest of your life, would you even care?
Encouragement to Rebuild (Haggai 2)
“Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.”-Haggai 2:2-5. It may not be the most impressive Temple to men, but the Lord’s presence is still there. You may not read through the Bible every month or pray for hours on end. You may only spend 5-10 minutes with the Lord each day. It’s not the quantity of your time with God, it’s the quality.
Three times in this passage, the Lord says be strong and work. We have to put in the effort and that’s going to take discipline. A walk with the Lord is absolutely worth the effort. When life isn’t easy, be strong and work on the Temple.
“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.”-Haggai 2:8,9. Finally, you have to be willing! God has all the necessary resources. God is already doing His part. A lack of a relationship with God is a failure on our part.
Sin will defile the Temple
“Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.”-Haggai 2:13,14. Haggai warns that building the Temple without taking care of their sin will result in defiling the Temple. If we are going to have a proper relationship with God, we must rid ourselves of the sin that hinders our relationship. We must be willing to humble ourselves and repent of our sin. 1 John 1:9
God has chosen His people.
“In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.”-Haggai 2:23. Haggai encouraged Zerubbabel that He was God’s signet, a seal or symbol of authority, and that God had chosen Zerubbabel. God chose us from before creation to have a relationship with Him. Ephesians 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” What’s important now is now that God has chosen us, will you choose Him?
Landmark Baptist Church
Haines City, Fl