Summary: The time has not come to build the house of the Lord.
The Lord of hosts doesn’t call the exiles “His people” because they were ignoring His will. They say the time is not right to restore the temple. They are using an injunction issued by the Persian court against the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem as an excuse for not restoring the temple and the harassment of the Samaritans.
When Haggai was sent to Zerubbabel and Joshua the injunction had been overturned by the king of Persia and the harassment by the Samaritans had declined because they lack the support of the Persian. The captives that have returned from Babylon are using the need to build houses for themselves, provide food and
clothing for themselves and their families as an excuse for not restoring the temple.
These people, like many Christians today, didn’t say they wouldn’t do the work they were called to do, re-store the temple. They didn’t say they wouldn’t obey the will of the Lord, what they did say it wasn’t a convenient time to do it. We often hear professing Christians or those who know they need to turn from their sinful ways and sinful deeds use it is not the right time as an excuse for not doing what they know and admit they should be doing.
In His message to Zerubbabel and Joshua through Haggai the Lord tells them as the civil leader and religious leader they were not doing what they should be doing and this is not a good example for their people. Those who are leaders in the church need to set a proper example for those that come under their care. Political leaders and educators should set good examples. Parents should set proper examples for their children. Why should I attend church services if those who hold positions of leadership are involved in worldly activities the Bible condemns? Why should I obey the law of the land, when political leaders, from the president down are involved in all sorts of cor-ruption. Why should I attend church when my parents attend when it is convenient for them.
The Lord asked the question, “You say it isn’t time to build the house of the Lord, but it is the time to build your houses, plant your crops, tend your flocks and vineyards?” What is even more shameful these people are using the gifts the Lord had provided to build His house, to build their houses, buy seed, and food. They ask, “Why am I facing the problems I am facing? What do they expect?
The word of the Lord through Haggai is telling not only Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people of his day, but the leaders of this nation and the church and the people of this century, they are to “Consider your ways.” Evaluate what you are doing. Compare what you are doing and what you are not doing. Consider this, what have you gained by seeking to satisfy your desires over the desire of the Lord? Where are you? Look at what you have done.
“You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; You drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” You have not prospered seeking self-satisfaction. You thought you could escape poverty by not restoring the temple and keeping the resources that have been given to you and spending them on what you thought would bring
you comfort and happiness. Instead of cheating the Lord, you have been cheating yourself. Crop failure has dragged you deeper into poverty. What you earn you are unable to keep because the cost of living is constantly increasing. Compare what you have done and what you are suffering.
It is important to remember there are those who suffer because someone or some group has done something to cause the suffering or has not done something that would have prevented it. I believe there were a few faithful who were trying to restore the temple. But their progress is hindered by the actions of those who should have been working alongside them. This is true in the church today.
The Lord tells the people there is a remedy. The cedar wood that was purchased for the restoration of the temple from Lebanon (Ezra 3:7) that was used to build your houses must be replaced. The Lord will not stir up the spirit of the king of Persia or the neighbors of the Israelites as He did when the proclamation
was sent through out the land and the people were given gifts of silver and gold and a free will offer- ing. Now they must provide the material to restore the temple. They must “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and restore the temple.”