Command to Rebuild the Temple
Open Your Bible
Haggai 1:1-15, Ezra 4:24-5:5, Ephesians 2:19-22
BY Guest Writer
Scripture Reading: Haggai 1:1-15, Ezra 4:24-5:5, Ephesians 2:19-22
Practically speaking, the Israelites had good reason to put off building the temple. It wasn’t too far in the past that Babylon had burned the first one to the ground. They feared that if they put all of their time, money, and political capital into rebuilding it, it might end up being a waste in the end. What if someone else came and destroyed it again? In response, they lived safe, small lives that created little of lasting value. But then Haggai arrived with a word from the Lord, and twice he says to God’s people, “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5, ESV).
Consider your ways. Think carefully about what you do and why you do it.
When I consider my ways, I realize that like the people of Israel, I spend time farming in fields that bear no real fruit in my life. I pour money and resources into things that are temporary—things that, though opulent, never feel like enough. I dress my spiritual wounds with consumer comforts. I go to quick-fixes, partly because they seem to temporarily work, and partly because I’ve been conditioned to reach for them without even thinking. I spend a lot less time considering, and more time acting out of compulsion. Much like the Israelites, I often feel like my money goes into a “bag with holes” (v.6).
Yikes. Sorry, God.
It would be easy to stop there and conclude that this passage is meant to encourage me to be more holy with the way I spend money. But is that what Haggai is saying? Is the point to give more to charity and stop wasting time? Maybe. Lord knows I have work to do in those arenas. But I think there’s more to what God is saying here. Over and over again throughout Scripture, the Lord invites His people to give Him everything—not because He is angry with them or needs something from them, but because He wants to prove Himself trustworthy.
In this story, God doesn’t leave His people to build the temple alone. He gives them His presence. He tells them, “I am with you” (v.13), and He doesn’t stop there. Along with His presence, He provides for them abundantly. Though the Israelites are willing to sacrifice their hard-earned money to build the temple, God works a bureaucratic miracle, and King Darius ends up paying for the whole thing!
Though it is terrifying to risk everything, our God delights in filling our empty hands. God didn’t need Israel’s finances—He wanted their faith. He was less concerned about their wallets and more concerned with their willingness to take Him at His Word. He pointed out the powerlessness of their pennies in order to wake them up to their purpose.
At the beginning of this story, the Israelites looked at rebuilding the temple like powering through a spreadsheet, a to-do list. By the end, they’ve experienced what it’s like to live with the resources of a holy, all-powerful God. It’s exciting to serve a God this big, this extravagant and trustworthy. He asks me to consider my small ways, and then He invites me into His bigger, more miraculous plans for my life.
Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.