What is the main message of the Book of Haggai?
“Haggai encourages those who have just returned from exile to remain faithful, obedient, and hopeful for God’s promise of a new Jerusalem. Haggai challenges returned exiles to remain faithful and rebuild the temple.” – The Bible Project
The other night when I was ready to get into bed, I felt the Holy Spirit move me to open my Bible. I’ve been wanting to start reading the stories about all the women in the Bible and I was looking for the book of Ruth but instead I was led to the book of Haggai.
I have never read the book of Haggai, in fact I probably missed it before because its only one page in my Bible.
At the top of the page, it gives some context of the book of Haggai. I’ll summarise it but the very first sentence read as follows:
“Do you have trouble finishing the projects you start? “
Already, I felt convicted by that one sentence. If you have been following me and my blog, you know I want to become a published author. I just haven’t come as far as actually finishing any of the multiple stories I’ve started, over twenty stories to be exact.
Anyway, back to Haggai.
Haggai lived in Jerusalem after many Jews returned from exile in Babylonia. Those who returned started rebuilding the temple but eventually they just stopped and the temple was left half finished.
Haggai, who is a prophet, begins a campaign with Zechariah to continue to work and finish the temple and this is where the story begins.
HAGGAI 1 VS 3-6
‘Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai, “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes’
The above verse to me speaks about society today. We are always wanting more; more money, more clothes, more possessions and even when we get what we want, we still want more. We look around us, comparing ourselves to everyone we come across. Feelings of jealousy, envy and sometimes even rage rear its ugly head and we end up losing sight of who we are and what we have.
Our focus is on us and what we want and what we can get. We end up forgetting that God placed us here for a reason, that we are part of God’s plan and purpose for this earth. As children of God, we are on a mission that is greater than anything we could ever want or think we need. Our mission is to save souls and serve and build the house of the Lord.
HAGGAI 1 VS 8
‘Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house’
A clear command given by God. He gives direction, he provides resources and gives clear instructions on what needs to be done. All we have to do is listen and obey.
HAGGAI 1 VS 9-11
‘You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord. While all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called you for a drought on your fields and hills – a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get. ‘
Wow, that verse is so hard to read and, in many ways, very convicting. It forces you to take a very hard look at yourself and where your priorities lie.
The first part that really stands out for me, ‘I blew it away’. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away (Job 1 vs 21) It is in the Lord’s authority and power to give and take away as He sees fit and we need to remember that we can do nothing without Him. It is both a blessing and also something to be respected.
The above scripture then goes on to say, the Lord’s house lies in ruins while we continue to build our own fine houses. You can take that literally or figuratively. This is how I interpreted it.
In the literal sense, it means looking out only for your own needs and wants, while we know God’s people are suffering and we see opportunities where we can help, but we don’t because we are too busy building our own homes. I understand it as chasing my own dreams, goals and visions and forgetting that there are people I can help in my backyard.
Then it goes on to say ‘It’s because of you that the rain withholds its dew and the earth produces no crops’. In simple English, we end up blocking our own blessings and plans God has for us because we are so busy being selfish and self-centred and we are worried about our own needs.
Then the last part says,
“I have called you for a drought…”
The Bible says, there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3 vs 1-8)
This portion of the verse spoke so vividly to me because all of us want the harvest but hardly any of us want to put in the work. Humans are impatient, myself included and we don’t always understand why we are going through difficult times of hardships. We question everything; why are others successful and I am not? Why are things progressing for others but not for me? I believe this scripture says simply;
It is not yet your time.
It is your time for a drought.
What we must remember is the following;
HAGGAI 1 vs 13
‘I am with you, says the Lord’
We are never alone in our time of drought, God is always with us.
HAGGAI 2 vs 4:
And now, get to work, for I am with you. My Spirit remains among you…do not be afraid’
How beautiful and encouraging is that promise from God. Even when we go through a drought, God is with us. He encourages to be strong, reminds us that Hs Spirit is among us always. He will never forsake us or forget about us. We must simply continue the work He has called us for and continue to work, even during the most trying times and circumstances. God’s promises are clear.
HAGGAI 2 VS 19
‘I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates and olive trees have not yet produced their crops but from this day onward, I will bless you’
Nothing to explain there, simply take it in and understand God will bless you.
I’ll leave you with this to end off.
HAGGAI 2 VS 21
‘I am about to shake the heavens and the earth’
HAGGAI 2 VS 23
‘I have chosen you’
You are not random. God has a plan for your life. He only asks that you give Him room to work in you so that you can also be a part in building his house and his Kingdom.
The Lord has chosen you for a time such as this.