Haggai 1

The people adopted a fatalistic attitude, saying, 'the time is not come... that the Lord's house should be built'; and started to build up their own affairs. Some sixty years ago we heard Christians saying, in spite of the Lord's words in Acts 1: 8, that the time for the evangelization of the distant heathen was not come, and they settled down to build up their own spiritual affairs, as they considered them to be. It was not wrong for these Jews to build themselves some houses, but it was wrong for them to settle down to this and let the house of God lie waste, hence the drought, and God did 'blow upon' all their efforts.

It is not wrong for us today to care for our own spiritual state; indeed we are admonished. 'building up yourselves on your most holy faith' (Jude 20), but as the succeeding verses show, this is to be done as the fruit of the love of God, which expresses itself in 'compassion' upon some, and as to others saving them with fear. We are not to concentrate upon ourselves to the exclusion of God's work and God's interests today. The word of our Lord still stands, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you'.

Do we modern Christians require a word of rebuke, because we neglect God's interests in favour of our own interests? We fear that all too often we do. Let us accept the rebuke with the humility of mind that becomes us.

This is what the people did, led by Zerubbabel and Joshua, and they set to work in obedience to the word of the Lord. Haggai was to them the Lord's messenger, bring ing them the Lord's message, and he gave them the assurance that God Himself was with them in the prosecution of the work. It was so pleasing to God, that the very day they recommenced the work is placed on record in the last verse of the chapter; exactly twenty-three days after the word of rebuke had reached them.

The assuring word from the Lord, 'I am with you', really settled everything. The Apostle could write, 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' and this, though stated in New Testament days, was just as true in earlier days. The people soon discovered that difficulties vanished when God was with them, as the book of Ezra has shown us. Their adversaries sprang to life directly the work recommenced, and reported their activity to headquarters, but another king was now on the throne in Persia, who rescinded the decree of Artaxerxes, and restored the original decree of Cyrus, under which the remnant had returned. So once more the voice of the Lord was being obeyed: and obedience is ever the way to blessing.