Read Haggai 1:1-11.
What was happening here and, more important, why was this happening? Even more important, how might this same principle be happening to us today? How might we be guilty of doing the same thing?
“For over a year the temple was neglected and well-nigh forsaken. The people dwelt in their homes and strove to attain temporal prosperity, but their situation was deplorable. Work as they might they did not prosper. The very elements of nature seemed to conspire against them. Because they had let the temple lie waste, the Lord sent upon their substance a wasting drought. God had bestowed upon them the fruits of field and garden, the corn and the wine and the oil, as a token of His favor; but because they had used these bountiful gifts so selfishly, the blessings were removed.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 573.
Haggai confronted the people with their current situation. Futility of labor was one of the curses that resulted from the breaking of God’s covenant (Lev. 26:16, 20). Until the people turned their attention to this priority, there would be no prosperity for them.
Haggai possessed great zeal for the Lord’s temple and wanted the people to complete its reconstruction right away. His ambition ran contrary to the complacency of those who did not care about the temple as much as they cared about their own comfort. While Haggai’s great concern was for the temple, the people were interested most in their own houses.
The Lord used Haggai to stir the people’s hearts toward God’s concerns. God could not be honored properly as long as His house sat in ruins. The temple in Jerusalem symbolized the divine presence among fallen humanity. It was a visible reminder to the whole world that the Sovereign Lord is God of heaven and earth. How could the children of Israel witness to the true God when the very symbol of that God (see John 2:19, Matt. 26:61) and the entire plan of salvation, was in ruins? In many ways, their attitude toward the temple revealed a deeper spiritual problem: their loss of the sense of their divine mission as the remnant people of the Lord.
Do you see any warning here for us?