Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5, NIV)
As the Refining ministry continues the series “Major Wisdom through Minor Prophets”, I have found myself reflecting on the book of Haggai. I have been preparing to facilitate the upcoming one-night study by digging deep into various messages and translations on the material. No matter the view or angle, it seems the perspective of God is gently asking me to self-evaluate and answer the question: What am I?
Let me explain. Many of you know I tend to squawk out “Why?” when studying God’s word. Why this, why that, why would God use them, why didn’t the people just obey, why is this so hard, why does God want me doing it this way, why am I going through this valley again, etc. I am sure those around me are busting at the seams to really say, “Stop it with the whys! Just have faith and trust. Not everything is meant to be analyzed.” Yet, for me, my whys seem to be exactly what I need-WHY? Because they generate the real question God needs me to hear.
How true this is when it comes to Haggai. In an outstanding message by Gary Hamrick, he made this all too clear. He simply asked the question of WHY? Why did the Jewish exiles lose their fire and desire to rebuild the Temple of the Lord?
Well in my human, fleshy thinking I could come up with all kinds of reasons. I could even become extremely judgmental and place my thoughts on the situation without even stopping to put myself in their shoes. I might even go so far as to say, “Why in the world would they be released from captivity and not do everything possible to rebuild the Temple as God instructed?” Seriously, He is the one and only Lord who saved them from the enemy.
BUT…Did I ever stop to think about the opposition which discouraged them? Did I even once give thought to hostile neighbors threatening and enforcing legal allegations if they tried to rebuild? Did I take the time to put it into modern day perspective and reflect upon the discouragement around myself which stifles my own efforts in living for God? (I think you know the answer to these questions)
After almost two decades of discouragement, they seemed deflated and unmotivated to carry on any restoration of the Temple. So, they used the materials to build their own homes because this would cause they less stress and opposition. Sound familiar? I know it does for me. The discourager’s taunting pulled their attention away from the simple truth—The truth that we are saved from enemy when we are God’s children! We are released from captivity and the discouragement is straight from the enemy. He does everything in his power to use whoever he can to keep us from having faith and trusting in God.
YET…a turning point happens within the heart of these Jewish exiles. WHY? Because Haggai comes as an encourager. He inspired them to get back to work and put their energies into the things of God. They felt strengthened to step out and put the Father first. They choose to stop denying the Lord because of Haggai’s message. Judah was back on track and within five years they accomplished what the Lord had ask of them two decades before. WHY? Because Haggai encouraged them!!!
What Am I? An Encourager or A Discourager?
What about you?