Summary: The Lord calls His people to consider their ways before Him.
Consider Your Ways
Haggai 1: 1-15
The setting for the book of Haggai comes at a crucial time in the nation of Israel’s history. He lived and prophesied just after the return of Israel from Babylonian captivity. In 538 B.C., Cyrus, King of Persia, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. Zerubbabel was appointed the governor of Judah and Joshua, the son of Josedech, provided spiritual guidance as high priest. About 50,000 Jews returned and quickly began rebuilding the Temple in 536 B.C., but strong opposition from the outside and indifference within caused the work to be abandoned. (Isn’t it amazing how little it takes for the children of God to abandon His work?)
We have picked up some 16 years later, around 520 B.C. God had called Haggai and Zechariah to challenge the people to continue the work of the Lord in building the Temple and to consider their ways before Him. It is apparent that the people had quickly forgotten the captivity, already growing complacent with their newfound freedom and prosperity, v.4.
The church has not endured the suffering Israel did, but we too have grown complacent with our freedom and the prosperity we enjoy. The call has been given, but we seem to have ignored the work we have been left to accomplish. I have no doubt, we are not faced with the severity of opposition Israel faced and yet we are lacking in our service to the Lord.
Two times in these verses the word of the Lord came saying: Consider your ways. He wanted them to consider the lack of effort in regard to the Temple and the lack of spiritual fervency. This challenge is relevant for our day as well. I want to consider the life of Israel at this crucial time, as it relates to us, as we think on the challenges to: Consider Your Ways.
I. The Neglect of the People (2-4)
A. They Neglected the Time (2) – Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. Keep in mind, they had been back in Jerusalem for 18 years. It has been 16 years since any productive work had taken place toward rebuilding the Temple. The people were without a place to worship the God who had brought them home and away from bondage. There seemed to be no urgency in getting the house of God repaired and ready for worship. They felt as if the time had not come yet.
It is clear that a lot of Christians today are neglecting the time. They just can’t sense the need to be productive for the Lord. Apparently they feel that the time will come, but it hasn’t arrived yet. There is no time like the present. We can’t regain time lost. We are drawing closer to the Lord’s return with each passing day. You don’t have to pray about serving the Lord. I can assure you that He desires us to be diligent in labor today! God will judge is for putting off what we know to do for a future generation.
B. They Neglected the Temple (2) – Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. They weren’t just neglecting the work of God, they neglected the house of God. There was no cooperative desire to see the house of God reestablished. Apparently there was no concern for a place to worship. The one place that God had ordained to meet with them in OT days was neglected and abandoned.
It is dangerous to neglect the house of God. Many in our day will come when it is convenient, but really they neglect the house of God. They do not support it with their presence as they should; they do not support it with their tithes and offerings, and many do not support it with their prayers. There is no desire to see the church grow and expand, reaching lost souls for the glory of God. Listen, if we are not obedient and committed to the vision, we are neglecting the house of God. You can sit on these pews every Sunday and still neglect the house of God!
C. They Neglected the Truth (3-4) – Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,  Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? The people were not invisible to God. He saw the lives they lived and the desires they possessed. They were unconcerned about His house, but they were diligent in obtaining ceiled houses of their own. They failed to see the need for God amidst all their newfound prosperity. They had lost their focus. God had not brought them out of bondage to simply grow wealthy and prosperous. He had brought them out so that they might worship Him and live for Him.