The Lord’s remaining children had returned from exile back to Jerusalem. But had God’s glory come back among them?
It would take more than simply gathering His people together in their homeland. God wanted more than their bodies. He was after their hearts. So He reasoned with them.
“Give careful thought to your ways,” He implored through His prophet Haggai. “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
Sound familiar? Even today, the temptation to pursue worldly gain still persists with the same empty promise of satisfaction. God was never meant to be a mere addition to our acquisitions. He, the only One worthy of worship, must be the center.
The remnant of Judah had been reluctant to rebuild God’s temple. They were too busy trying to build their own homes and reconstruct their own welfare to worry about God’s. They had forgotten the One reason the land was worth living in anyway. Without God, what good is anything this world has to offer?
Along with Haggai’s message, God sent His Spirit—the catalyst required to properly motivate His people. Their own spirits stirred by the truth, the people left their materialistic pursuits to tend to the one thing they needed most: a rebuilt temple where they could once again worship their Creator. As the people united in obedience, God encouraged them with His presence. “Be strong, all you people of the land, and work. For I am with you,” the LORD Almighty declared. “This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.”
God had reestablished His relationship with His people, reminiscent of His contract made with His people after rescuing them from Egypt. Then He appointed Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, as His own mark—a sign of authority and favor as God forgave their sin and sealed their future with blessing.
Haggai’s words still work deep into our souls today. Are we concerned more with our comfort or God’s kingdom? As God demonstrated through Judah, true and lasting blessings come only when we seek God first. Only in God’s presence do we find fullness of joy.