Spiritual Slumber?

A few weeks ago I started a series through the book of Haggai. From the feedback of the local church it’s been a wonderful journey of learning and application. I’d like to share some devotional thoughts from my study on this blog for the benefit of you all. In addition, I will try and post my extended study notes once I have finished preaching through the entire book.


Spiritual Excuse: Time!

One major point of application from the text is that spiritual slumber is often accompanied by the excuse of time. Haggai 1:2, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuild.”‘”

The people of Israel were indifferent to spiritual realities because they themselves had been too busy with worldly distractions. This, in turn, led to their de-prioritization of God. Theologically, the use of one’s time is a major theme in Scripture. The Bible constantly talks about how believers ought to use the time that they have been allotted. Paul instructs the Christians in Ephesus to be mindful of their time, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15-16; Col 4:5).

“He sets forth their excuse for not rebuilding the Temple. They were saying it was just not time to come and rebuild the house of the Lord. It was a complaint that the time was not proper nor auspicious. The root of the difficulty was coldness in them toward the things of God. How easy it is to camouflage that dread condition in any of us with an abundance of excuses, evasions, and subterfuges.”[1]

Spiritual Explanation: Life’s Comforts

A second major point of application that can be taken from the text is that they cared too much about this life’s comforts. While the first aspect speaks of their lack of time for the godly pursuits of life; this tells us that how they decided to waste their time. Haggai 1:4, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”

Clearly, the people of Israel had cared more about tending to their houses than tending to the things of God. This confrontation from Yahweh through Haggai points out the problem at hand, Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?’” Taking the language from verse 2 Yahweh points out how the people have used their time. While verse 2 speaks of the people’s statement that there is no time, the reason is given here in verses 3-4. It is clear that the emphasis is placed on the people’s actions, you yourselves.[2] The reason is because their time has been used for their luxury, paneled houses. The phrase paneled appears in several places in the OT (1 Kgs 6:9, 7:3). In the first occurrence it is used in reference to the paneling supposed to line the Temple. In the second occurrence it is used to describe the paneling inside Solomon’s house, the King of Israel.

The contrast is clear. While the people live in luxury, this house lies desolate. The house as a reference to the Temple of God. The term desolate points to the “dry” or “wasteland” of where the Temple once stood. The term communicates the idea of “ruin.”[3] This same word will later be used to describe God’s judgment of bringing drought (cf. 1:11). It is often used in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Isaiah spoke of coming judgment while Jeremiah and Ezekiel were both prophets who ministered during the exilic period. The people had let the construction go to waste. they had exchanged their own personal comforts for the abandonment of Yahweh’s glory.

Conclusion

I wonder how people view their priorities today? My prayer is that God would direct my heart away from life’s distractions. We can often be so consumed with life in our westernized society than to remember the priority of obeying God. Beloved, watch the time you spend. Beloved, watch how you spend your time. May it be used for the obedience to God’s Word for the glory of His name.

[1] Roy E. Hayden, NIDOTTE, “חָרֵב.”

[2] Emphatic use of the pronoun לָכֶם֙ אַתֶּ֔ם.

[3] Charles L. Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, 238.

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