10. Building God's Home: Haggai
Haggai's message convicts and inspires us to take up the calling of building God’s house: the family of his people.
“You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the Lord of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.” -Haggai 1:9
We have an intrinsic desire for purpose, but it’s often deadened by our competing wants for things such as security, comfort or ease. When God comes in, he reawakens this desire and calls us to something higher.
We see this play out in the book of Haggai. After many years of enduring the consequence for their sin, the Israelites have at last returned home from exile, but their beloved city of Jerusalem remains in ruins. Most tragically, their temple, the dwelling place of God’s presence, has been destroyed. God commissions Haggai to serve as a prophet to Israel in this period of rebuilding.
Haggai, however, is confronted with the reality that the Israelites are apathetic to the state of their temple. They claim that the difficult economic times make it too hard to build God’s house, but Haggai observes that the Israelites do have the time and resources to build nice homes for themselves.
Haggai confronts the people about their misplaced priorities, “Are your personal homes more important than God’s house?” Convicted, the people join together to revamp their temple-building work.
Haggai continues to spur the people on in their work. He reminds them of God’s promise for the New Jerusalem and restored temple to be the place from which the whole world will be redeemed and all the nations gathered into God’s everlasting kingdom. “Find hope and motivation in light of this coming reality!” Haggai urges his people.
But Haggai also warns his people, “Going through the motions of rebuilding the temple is not enough. Only true repentance and faithfulness to God will lead to the coming of God’s kingdom.” The book of Haggai is left hanging with the question of whether God’s kingdom will come with this generation. But this hope won’t come to fruition until God himself comes to build his temple.
When Jesus came to earth, he declared himself to be the very temple of God! Just as Israel’s temple was a holy dwelling place for God’s presence, so Jesus Christ was the indwelling presence of God among humanity! Jesus fulfilled God’s promise of restoration through the new temple, launching the age of God’s kingdom reign and restorative work with his death and resurrection, to be completed at his second coming.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he sent his Spirit to live in the hearts of believers. God’s own presence came to live inside of his people! This means that together, Christians now make up the temple of God. And just as in the book of Haggai, God calls to Christians to join in the work of building his temple.
What does this look like today? If God’s temple is composed of God’s people, then when Christians love one another, they are strengthening God’s temple. And when Christians love those who do not know God, they are reflecting the love of Christ so that more might be welcomed in and added to God’s temple!
Is your life shaped by the priority of building for God’s temple? We easily become preoccupied with building our own homes: we have careers to grow, images to maintain, families to take care of. But the message of Haggai, fulfilled in Christ, convicts us and reminds us of the hope that motivates faithful action!
The hope that God will complete the mission of building and restoring his home means that we, as the people of God, get to live as a sign and foretaste to the world of what God is going to do! The end of the Bible describes the new creation after Christ’s return as possessing no temple because God’s presence will permeate every square inch! When Christians live together as a unified body of love, a small-scale version of the temple that will one day be the entire cosmos, they are building something of eternal, lasting value! They are inviting the world to see and desire God and the eternal life he offers!
RESPOND: In what ways are you putting your own home before God’s temple? Take a moment to consider with God how you might love others to build up his temple today.