Command to Rebuild the Temple

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Haggai 1:1-15, Ezra 4:24-5:5, Ephesians 2:19-22

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.

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50 thoughts on "Command to Rebuild the Temple"

  1. Roisin Judd says:

    I’ve never thought of it as God wanting to show he is trustworthy – framing it like that helps to challenge the mindset that we are being tested in some way!

  2. Selina Loggins says:

    Amen! I trust You Lord God…

  3. Kelle Anne says:

    I am so grateful God’s plans are bigger than mine!

  4. Maiya H says:

    Wow, how timely was this!! Consider my ways…He is always with me. How am I spending my time and money? Am I willing to trust Him with everything?

    God has more than proven Himself to be faithful in my life on countless occasions. I trust Him to continue to be

  5. Kristen Elizabeth says:

    Trust and he will do more than come through for me.

  6. KC Derond says:

    Those first few verses just go to show that we are never and never will be satisfied with earthly things. No matter what we do, we cannot satisfy our own desires. Once we turn to Jesus, He reveals how blessed we are with Him at the centre of our lives! I pray we remember this and seek Him above all things.

  7. Ashley Thomas says:

    These verses were so convicting! Money means nothing to God- no matter how much I have, He loves me, He has a plan for me, He will take care of me. I need only out my faith in Him.

  8. Steph C says:

    “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (1:5-6). If I am consumed with living my life how I want to live it, I will never have enough. Living for earthly priorities isn’t supposed to be fulfilling. I was created to yearn for “something more” when my desires and priorities don’t line up with God’s. God alone satisfies the desires of every heart. My identity cannot be in my family, my job, my bank account, or my hobbies. Though nothing is inherently wrong with any of those, my identity must be rooted in being a child of God!

  9. Mercy Rwiza says:

    I really love how God just wants us to trust and totally believe in his word while our human brains give us a totally different picture of things. He asks us to trust that what seem impossible is possible if we trully believe in his words. He is not limited; he can do everything, all the time everywhere at the same time. He really can do it if we trust in him; but when we don’t trust him we end up doing our own things which most of the time will always fail ; and then whe we fail we blame him for the same things he tried to warn us against doing.

  10. Amanda says:

    We recently found out that my husband has to move away for a year for work. We just bought a house and weren’t planning on leaving yet, so we have to decide whether to separate for a year, or move together and risk our property and financial security in order to keep our family together. Thank you, Lord, for the reminder to invest our time and effort in things that matter (our marriage and raising our kids) rather than money and property. I trust that God will take care of the details as we prioritize our family over finances.

    1. Allison says:

      Praying for this! God will honor your faith in trusting Him in this situation!

  11. Theresa Mitchell says:

    “I will be with you, declares the Lord.” Have faith. Trusting is never easy but yet God wants it from us and He promises to be with us through whatever. Thank you my Father.

  12. Abigail S says:

    Such beautiful conviction that nothing we do here that feeds our temporary satisfactions bears fruit for the eternal. Especially during this time of year when we can be so easily manipulated by consumer comforts!

  13. Alexis says:

    This has been a theme for me in the past few months- do I, CAN I, trust God at his word even when things seem impossible to overcome?
    God, I am willing. Help me to trust you.

  14. Mari V says:

    So much is going through my head again this morning. But I was reminded by the devotional that my God wants me to trust HIM at his word. “God is more concerned with “My” willingness to take HIM at HIS word.

  15. Churchmouse says:

    In today’s Scriptures the phrase that excites me the most are “the Lord roused the spirit.” I could sure use some rousing from the Lord! Too often complacency and self pity creep in. I need rousing! Too often complaining and whining creep in. I need rousing! Too often negativity and doubting creep in. I need rousing! Praying today for a fresh rousing of my spirit from the Spirit . Get me back on track and refocused on the things that are on the heart of my God. Enough of me and more of Him! Rouse me, oh Lord!

    1. Susan Richardson says:

      The same phrase stood out to me as well. Stir my spirit L-rd!

    2. Terri says:

      This phrase jumped out at me also!!! The Hebrew word for “roused” has “the idea of opening the eyes”, “to wake”. This word is translated of God motivating or moving people to do things in other scriptures (Ezra 1:5, Job 8:6). I too pray for God to open my eyes to what He wants me to do. More of Him and less of me in my vision.

    3. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

      I too long for more of Jesus and less of me.

  16. Cassie Schneider says:

    Lord, help me to be more considerate with my money and my time and less compulsive.

    We live in a world that is so focused and driven by money and consumerism. I pray that I learn to become more aware of what I am supporting and living for and that I become a better example for my children so that they learn how to navigate a life that is full of Faith and truly for our Lord.

    1. Andrea Boykin says:

      Yes! Amen to this. I need this pray this too ❤️

  17. Kelly Chataine says:

    Taking a good, hard, long look at my life. I want God to direct my path but only if that means I have the flexibility in my employ to care for my grandson, be home when needed for Dennis, and not have 14 and 15-year-olds swearing at me.
    Press the pause button ~ rewind ~
    How is that trusting God? God may want that for my life but He may have a different plan.

    Yesterday in one of my morning classes, I talked about Jesus with two very rough students. I invited them both to ask me questions to feel free to continue our discussion. Later in the day, another rough student yelled at me for asking him to put his phone away and ended up calling me the most horrible name loudly enough that several different rooms could hear. He then proceeded to slam his fist into a locker while still screaming. I know he wanted to smash his fist in my face but for what reason? It shook me. I have never heard so much foul language in my presence as I do this year. I have never been called names, at least not to my face, as I have this year. My heart breaks for the state of our young people.
    So Lord, here I am. Please, direct my life and caution me when I want to take everything into my own hands and orchestrate the result.
    Hineni (pronounced he-nay-nee) and means, “Here I am, Lord.”

    1. Anne says:

      Your desire to have a heart of surrender is an inspiration. May God protect you as you serve Him in your classroom, and provide peace and encouragement for you each day.

    2. Pam says:

      Praying for you Kelly- you may be the only Christian influence your students have in their lives. Praying for the Holy Spirtit to give you strength, wisdom, patience, and divine guidance as you deal with them everyday.

    3. Cecelia Enns Schulz says:

      Oh Kelly, praying that God fills you with His strength and power. That you feel His presence as you go about your day. That the same grace He has poured out on you will overflow to the unlovely ones you encounter. Because He loves even them. Praying your identity is secure in WHOSE you are and that every ugly moment at school rolls off you like water off a ducks back. Lord, place your hand of protection on Kelly, lead her, guide her steps. Bless her heart of seeking YOUR will. Wrap her up in Your loving arms.

    4. Hilary says:

      Praying for you and the students, Kelly!

    5. Alexis says:

      Praying for you and your students, Kelly. Thank you for being a light in a place of darkness; may they all see the love of Christ in you <3

    6. Maura says:

      Praying His protection around you Kelly. Jesus be praised, sounds like you are needed right where you are. Young people are dealing with so much anger and I think often they have no idea exactly why they are angry. Be it the lies of the world, their home life, or the desire to be in control of something when life is so out of control. You are a light. Praying Jesus shines through you and you feel His all encompassing peace. And, your students will be drawn to Jesus through you. Our God is mighty and His love has no end. So many needing such love. Thank you for being in this battle. I will be praying. Know God is near and He wins.

    7. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

      Praying for you Kelly. Praying that the Lord will keep his arms around you and you will feel His protection as you teach these children who probably have never had a Christian influence in their lives. ❤️

    8. amarose says:

      Kelly you are a light and an inspiration to me as to what it means to be a teacher and a christian. I’ve learned so much about how to live my faith in the classroom from you and I’m thankful for your example. Keep pressing on, fighting the good fight and God will give you the strength you need to do the work he has called you to do.

  18. Lindsey Bailey says:

    God desires my whole heart more than He desire my comforts. Build His house first. This was convicting to me. We tithe religiously. Yet, sometime it feels as though, the wind blows away the extra money that we thought we would be able to save. And, no matter how much we bring in, it’s as though it is just short of enough. Doctors’ bills, repairs and all the things seem to erode away the excess. I’m thinking tithing religiously falls short of God’s heart for giving. I pray that I am so connected to God’s heart that the Spirit leads me to give to the homeless man who is on the corner, to the family in need of extra money, but hasn’t told anyone, to the friend who just needs a free cup of coffee. God, open my clenched fists and worried heart to give freely. You will provide the abundance.

    1. KimN says:

      Thank you for these thoughts Lindsey. Very convicting to my heart. I’m guilty of figuring out exactly what I “owe” God in tithe form rather than pouring out or sharing what HE has blessed me with in the first place. Be it money, time, knowledge, resources or especially the love and forgiveness lavished on me, may I also have open hands Lord.

  19. Allison says:

    Though I read the devotion every day, the comment section is a community that I sporadically interact with. But, I want to ask you online sisters to pray for me. I’m feeling stuck, and as a pastor’s wife, I feel like I don’t have a safe space to vet my thoughts and emotions. Could you pray both that I could get to the root of this issue and find a mentor of sorts? Thanks ladies! Have an amazing Thursday!

    1. Momtomany says:

      Praying Allison

    2. Laura says:

      Praying for you! Praying God will bring someone alongside of you to encourage your heart.

    3. Julianne says:

      Hi Allison,
      I will be praying for you. As your sister I would be honored to listen anytime. 903-810-0303.

    4. Anne says:

      My heart aches for your request and resonates with your situation as a fellow church staff wife. May God provide the trustworthy, godly counsel we need.

    5. Kathy says:

      Allison, my husband has been a youth pastor for most of the 37 years of our marriage. (Yes, he is an “old” youth pastor!) I understand exactly how you feel. It is hard to find a safe place to vent thoughts and emotions. I have a very, very small handful of people that I can trust with my issues and most of them are not a part of my church. If you need someone to talk to please call me: 423-413-1871. I will be praying for you in the meantime.

    6. Susan Richardson says:

      Praying for you! I’m not a pastors wife, but I have often felt the same, no one to talk through my emotions with. I find myself going to the Psalms and using them to pray through my emotions.

    7. Mari V says:

      Praying for you Allison

    8. Donna Wolcott says:

      Praying for you ! Pastors families give so much and the church members sometimes forget they need uplifting too!

  20. Heidi says:

    The MSG puts it this way- “take a good hard look at your life… think it over.” Thats a bit sobering…! My life- my whole family’s life, is in a season of very unexpected uproot and transition. It’s one thing for us parents to have to go through, but it can be so frightening and feel so unstable for our little ones… My heart aches for them. And i want so badly to be out of this season, but i fear it’s not ending soon. And this verse- take a look at your life. Your choices. Your value and where it’s been placed- I think it has so much to do with everything we are going through right now. I have such a prayer request that my husband could have his eyes opened to see this. That he could have the boldness and courage to take a look at our choices and the value in them. That he could receive God’s mercy and reject the enemy’s condemnation. And we could move forward in grace to the next season God has prepared for us… this one is so so heavy…

    1. Allison says:

      Praying Heidi! Change is hard. And the old adage that kids are resilient, is true, but also so false. Praying for you and for them. And for your husband. Praying for peace in the midst of the chaos!

    2. Kelsie says:

      Heidi, God is working the most when we feel like he is working the least. During this time of transition, I pray the Lord would fill you with strength so you can react to all situations with a confident heart! God works all things together for good. This strength will pour out over your husband who needs grace during this time. Be bold and courageous for him. You are not going through this alone. Instead of asking God “why us?” ask him “how can we glorify you in this hardship?” I’m praying for your faithfulness during this test.

    3. Kelly Chataine says:

      “Take a good hard look at your life . . . think it over.”
      Thanks for sharing that translation. It sure seems on point.

  21. Hannah says:

    “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

    I am so guilty of putting my own house before the Lord’s. I am guilty of valuing my comfort over his calling, and my rest over his invitation to join in the great work He is doing. I am guilty of being a church consumer, instead of a contributor.

    Forgive me, Father! Give me courage to step beyond the cage of my own comfort and into the abundant life that you promise.

    1. Abbey says:

      I wrote your response in my journal today. This spoke so much truth into my life. Thank you!

    2. Genesis says:

      So good!

    3. valerie says:

      This convicts me…..
      Thank you Hannah!