“Thus says the Lord of hosts; “Consider your ways.” Haggai 1:7
This is pretty potent advice here. It seems like you can take it or leave it for whatever you think it’s worth. But I’m pretty sure that when God says something, it’s not just advice; it’s a command. And I’m pretty sure that in honoring that command, one finds fulfillment, completion, satisfaction, blessing, and a real relationship with God Himself. Which would mean, that not honoring that command, or throwing the “advice” to the side and doing your own thing, would lead to unfulfillment, incompleteness, dissatisfaction, cursing, and a lack of a relationship with God.
Actually, verse 7 is the second time that God asked the people of Israel to consider her ways. In verse 5, we hear, “Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts; ‘Consider your ways.’” That’s twice in a really short time so maybe it is imperative that the people of Israel and we consider our ways after all. The Compete Jewish Bible, written from a Jewish Messianic viewpoint, puts it this way, “Think about your life!” Were they? Are we? Am I? And when they did, do we find them doing something about it? When I do, is there something that I do about it?
Now, I’ve been heading backwards from the New Testament or New Covenant. First was Malachi, then Zechariah, and now Haggai. We’re in Darius’ reign and we’re still under Zerubbabel, and Joshua, the high priest. And people were living again in Jerusalem during the captivity but they were fixing up their own houses and leaving the House of God in ruin. Lord, You even say that the people were saying, “It’s not time to rebuild the Lord’s house.” But it was time to build their own houses.
That makes me think about the condition of the Lord’s House at that time. Because You pose a question, “Is it time for you to live in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” I wonder if the paneling in the House of God was broken down and rotting and being uncared for? It seems so. Think about it. The House of the Lord, is where God would come meet with His people. It’s where His presence appeared. But no one was giving that the time of day. They were taking care of their own lives, their own houses, their own families, and seeking the will and presence of God had become less important. I suppose it was glorifying themselves before glorifying the Lord. “Let me get my house in line before I think about You, Lord.” And You, had a problem with that thinking, Lord. Rightly so.
Stop and think about what that attitude was producing, that attitude of providing for self and leaving your God out of the picture. They were sowing much, but getting little back in the harvest. They ate but were never satisfied. They drank but were never satisfied. They provided their own clothes but weren’t satisfied. They earned money but it never sustained. It was like putting it into a bag with holes. Think it over. Think it all over. It’s the same today for some of us. We have high expectations but it comes to nothing. We try to bring it home only to see it blown away like “dust in the wind.” Why? “Because My house lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” (slightly paraphrased)
But the truth of the matter is that we aren’t in charge of our lives. We don’t have what it takes to build our own houses sufficiently. God, in His sovereignty created the heavens above us and the earth and designed it to bring forth produce in it’s season and in His season. He is the Master of everything and by His command was everything made. Now here’s the truth. Back in the very beginning of what we know, God created. And Jesus was part of it. Jesus is the very image of the Word of God and how we see it all come together, from Genesis to Revelation. “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:2-5) Now if all life comes from Him, how can we live apart from Him? How can we ever think that we are sufficient to build our own houses and neglect Him?
Paul reminds us that we are not “sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant…” (2 Corinthians 3:5,6) It’s not about me. It’s all about God. We keep having pounded into our minds that it’s all about us, but it’s not. It’s all about the One who created us and gives all things to us. So what can we do about it?
We do like the Israelites. The change our focus and get it back on You, Lord. We do what You ask us to rebuild Your house and to shine Your glory into the world around us. We look to You first and let You look to our needs. We go up into the hills and we bring work and build Your house, so You can take pleasure in us taking pleasure in You. Then You are glorified. The truth is, we can try to care for ourselves, but we are insufficient. You know our needs better than we do.
Do I feel like I’m working hard and sowing much but reaping little? Consider my life. There’s a lot to consider, day by day, and moment by moment. Consider “the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26) Consider if things I try to do seem to be all futile efforts. Is it just because I am giving from me? My way? What if I reconsidered and went to God first to give of what You give me. Maybe that’s what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 9? “Here’s the point: he who plants sparingly also harvest sparingly.” It’s not just about planting. It’s about planting in You, Lord, and for You. If I plant for myself, my harvest will all be for myself, and that’s not a harvest You bless. You bless those who plant for You and toward the needs of others. That’s a harvest after Your own heart, and You bless the planter in You. “Each should give according to what he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God has the power to provide you with every gracious gift in abundance, so that always in every way you will have all you need yourselves and be able to provide abundantly for every good cause…” I’m not rich by my country’s standards but I know this, that every time I step out for God’s glory to help meet the needs of others, every time I choose to step out to build His house first before mine, He provides way beyond what I have. I don’t even know how it will be harvested but I know that He’s provided for me to be a part of the sowing. And since nothing He does returns void, I can know that He will bless the harvest in HIs time.
I can feed myself gluttonously on all kinds of food. But there is only one food that will satisfy. “For the bread of God is He which came down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.” (John 6:33) Jesus is the only bread that satisfies. He said, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes in me shall never thirst.” He’s the living bread that came down for us. And if you are thirsty, He says, “Come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37) Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman at the well, hold true for us today also. “if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you,’ Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water.” Why? “Because “he that believes on [Jesus], as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)
Really, it all boils down to the character of God. God, You flow out in love over all people. You do good because You are good. You love because You are love. You give because You are generosity. You provide because You are Provision. I can’t help but thinking about the word, “fulness”. The people were taking care of themselves but it led to emptiness and being unfulfilled. But in You, You bring fulness into our lives. All things are Yours, and in Jesus, You provide them to us, the called out ones, His body, Your body, and fill us with the fullness of Him that fills everything from even before the time of creation as we know it. (Ephesians 1:22,23) And when we turn our focus off of ourselves and our provision and put it back on You, we experience “the riches of [Your] glory, [and are] strengthened with might by [Your] Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith; that [we] being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of christ, which passes knowledge, that [we] might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19) Why? “Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13)
This is what glorifies God. This is what pleases Him beyond words. “For it pleased the Father that in Him [Christ] should all fulness dwell…” (Colossians 1:19) We only find our completeness in Christ. We will only find true fulfillment in Him. He’s the piece that fills everything up. He’s the piece that brings everything together in God again. And what a shame to ignore Him. What a shame to leave His house, His presence abandoned. I don’t want to be apart from You. I don’t want to do things my own way. I’m absolutely prone to error. I have no idea how to even satisfy myself. But in You my joy can become full. I can choose to be full of myself, or I can choose to be full of You. That means that I need to be concerned about Your glory above mine. So let me be more concerned with building Your house and let You take care of building mine. May I continually consider my ways and line then up in and with You.