Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.”
The prophets often had to confront spiritual laziness at various times in the history of Israel. No two messages were ever quite exactly the same. The unique circumstances in which Haggai’s message came are worth careful reflection. They can enlighten our attitudes toward love for the Lord.
The post-exilic Jews had returned from Jerusalem. They came from poverty and servitude to a new degree of self-determination. Some were becoming wealthy in their endeavors. Their one specific task under Zerubbabel as governor was to rebuild the temple. This is why they had been released from captivity. Nehemiah and Ezra give us the other side of the projects these new settlers were called to do. For some reason, the work had slowed down and suspended. The people grew materialistic and contented in their own homes. They invested time, energy, and money in decorating their own houses while the house of God lie unfinished. Haggai is tasked with the messages from God to call them back to this work.
The message calls them to think about their circumstances. God was not being honored. They had put their personal comfort above spiritual commitment. And they were not really prospering there. God was not blessing their spiritual apathy. They were not keeping covenant with Him and He was not going to bless disobedience (Haggai 1:6).
There is instruction here for our own days. No place or time has been so blessed and so easily apathetic than our own. Even in the worst economy in 60 years, materialism abounds. The housing market may be down, but you can’t tell it by what people want. Luxury is still worshiped in America. And Christians are not immune to the apathy and lethargy of materialistic thinking. We need to consider our ways. We need to remember that our commitment is to honor and worship God in and with all things, not just have the things in and of themselves.