Haggai spoke to a group of people that had already started to build God’s house after their return from Exile in 536 B.C. However, work had stopped for 16 years due to various reasons and God was speaking through the prophet Haggai to these people.
Zechariah 1:2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” 3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Don’t be distracted
Hag 1:7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.
The people had started building the temple but they soon got distracted with their own things. The house of God was left in an unfinished state for 16 years while the people concentrated on building their own house. Because the people abandoned God’s work and focused on their own lives, God ensured that whatever they did will not be productive. Like them, we could be distracted with God’s work for many reasons. And as a result we may not be enjoying the full blessings that God had intended for us.
What has God called you to do? What are the things in life that could distract you from this?
Don’t be discouraged
Hag 2:2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
This is the Lord’s saying directed to one man Zerubbabel because he was the leader of the building project. God expects that they will be discouraged when they see the state of the temple now compared to what it was. God promised that because He was with them, they could do a wonderful work despite this.
Zechariah 4:10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”
Another reason why Zerubbabel should not be discouraged is that God will help him to remove all kinds of obstacles that may hinder him from completing the project.
Hag 2:21 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.
Don’t be desecrated
Hag 2:13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”
14 Then Haggai said, “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
When we do God’s work, we need to do it with clean hands. God is not going to let people who are living in sin to do His work. That does not mean that we need to be sinless before we can do God’s work. Nobody is sinless. But we cannot live in deliberate disobedience to God.
Haggai gave the illustration that if something that is clean touches something that is unclean, the clean thing will become unclean. If we carry out the holy work of God with our unclean hands, we pollute it.
2 Tim 2:21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
We are to set ourselves apart, holy for God’s work. If we defile ourselves, we will be removed from that special position. Don’t be desecrated.