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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Haggai 1:29; 2:45, 9, 1819, 23comment (0)

January 24, 2013

By Michael Wilson

Related Scripture: Haggai 1:29; 2:45, 9, 1819, 23


Bible Studies for Life 
Director, Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, Samford University

HAGGAI: A MESSAGE ABOUT PRIORITIES

Haggai 1:2–9; 2:4–5, 9, 18–19, 23
Hurricane Sandy delivered a devastating blow to coastal communities along New Jersey’s shoreline. Cleanup and rebuilding of the area will take years. Many popular destinations including the boardwalk and amusement park on Coney Island were destroyed. Yet little time passed after the winds subsided and the sun came out before folks were cleaning up and beginning to rebuild. A mass influx of help in the form of hundreds of volunteers, utility workers and friends occurred the very next day. Such help continues even now.

One would think the returning exiled Hebrew people would be overjoyed to reclaim their historic house of worship. One would think reconstruction of the temple, understood to be the dwelling place of the Lord God — their God — would be one of the first projects taken on by the people. Not so. Years passed and the temple still lay in disrepair, an eyesore unsuitable for worship and certainly in no condition to be called the house of God. Haggai’s prophecy was a response to the misplaced priorities of a people who cared more about themselves than about the God of their salvation.

Right Priorities Come From God (1:2–9)
God demonstrated great patience, waiting more than a decade for the people to rebuild the temple. But even God’s enduring patience was tested in this case. Failure to prioritize rebuilding the temple was evidence of the people’s growing lack of priority for important matters of faith and practice. Haggai’s prophecy was a call for change and action. “Think carefully about your ways” was the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet. Perhaps the returning exiles simply became overwhelmed with the challenges of getting their lives back in order. No doubt they faced many hardships in resettling a land they had not lived in for decades. Maybe they intended to rebuild the temple someday. Maybe they simply had too many other things to deal with that kept them from addressing what was clearly the most important thing.

If we are not careful, we can fall into a similar pattern. Our lives are filled with demands and challenges that require focused attention and energy. Could it be that in our own faith and practice we have unintentionally entered the realm of misplaced priorities? Maybe we need to hear Haggai declare to us, “Think carefully about your ways.”

Right Priorities Help Us Work (2:4–5, 9)
“I am with you” (v. 4). “My Spirit remains among you” (v. 5). Twice Haggai’s prophecy called the people to think about their relationship to Yahweh. These statements emphasized that God had returned to dwell with God’s people. In an earlier time, the glory of the Lord departed from among the Hebrew people due to their disobedience and unrighteousness. Their judgment was to live in exile for generations. But that time had passed. God declared a new time had come. The declaration generated positive motivation that helped the people reset priorities, to focus on restoring the House of the Lord. God’s presence in our lives can provide similar motivation for us when our priorities need a righteous reset.

Right Priorities Bless Us (2:18–19, 23)
The prophet reminded the people of the tough times through which they had come, when basics of daily life were hard to come by. God’s word to the people was that these challenges came as a result of their waning devotion to the Lord. When their priorities were adjusted and they gave focused attention to the way of the Lord, God assured them they would know blessing and fulfillment. Their priority reset was demonstrated by rebuilding the temple, the symbol of God’s presence. Perhaps we too need to take Haggai’s message to heart. In what ways do our priorities need a righteous reset?

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