Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. (Haggai 1:5-8)
Consider Your Ways
The captivity of Israel had been completed and the remnant of God’s people returned to Jerusalem finding the city in ruins. Everywhere the impact of seventy years abandonment following the destruction by the Babylonians was evident in broken walls, burned gates and the once glorious temple of Solomon completely destroyed. Spirits were low and the heart of the people filled with despair. An attempt to rebuild the temple had begun but facing persecution the project had been on hold for eighteen years. The Lord sent Haggai the prophet to induce the people to resume their work of rebuilding the temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua son of Josedech, the temple would be finished and worship restored to the house of God. Haggai delivered his message to the Jews in the year 520 B.C. urging them to build reproving their unfaithfulness and apathy. The temple was finished four years later in 516 B.C.
Haggai’s task was a monumental effort to reprove the people for their sinful disregard for the glory of God and His house. Twice in the opening refrain of his message, the prophet tells the people to consider their ways. They needed to see how much God had blessed them. He had brought them out of captivity a second time. His wrath had subsided and a remnant was brought back to the promised land to dwell in the place of the Lord. Why should they live in comfortable homes when the house of God lay in ruin and because of neglect remain unmoved for eighteen years? The Law of Moses had told the people that if they would obey the Lord He would bless their crops, their lands, their family and the nation. Returning to the impoverished land they had worked hard but had little to show for it. All the work they did brings back little gain. Did they not stop and consider why they were suffering and why the Lord’s hand had not been blessing them? Again the prophet tells them to consider their ways. The house of the Lord was in ruin and they lived in secure places of comfort. This was bringing shame on the name of God and failing to give Him the glory due to His name. Haggai exhorts them to rise up and build. The admonition of the prophet is a timeless message for men to consider.
The greatest need a man has is to stop and consider his way, his walk of life, his place in the scheme of God’s plan and most importantly his eternal soul. This requires a reflection that is often not an easy image to look upon. Self-examination is the purging of the soul of self and allowing the true character of the spirit of man to come forth. Haggai was telling the people to look around and see what value their efforts brought them while the glory of God was being despised. Regardless of the pursuits of carnality when a man neglects the spiritual part of life – he is empty. Anything that conflicts with the word of God will come to nothing. Man was created to glorify God and failing to do so will leave a man empty, hollow and miserable. Everyone should seriously consider their ways but sadly most men do not. The real tragedy of life is when years are spent in the pursuit of wealth, power, pleasure, and influence realizing at the end of life what really mattered was a relationship with the Creator of all things. Indifference to God is seen daily. Thoughtlessness about eternity does not change the reality of the unending nature of a world without time and distance.
Twice the Lord admonished the people to consider their ways. His word should resonate with the clarity of His divine will. If a doctor warns of a medical concern a man will take note and when a legal expert advises a certain course wise men follow the counsel. Why is it that when God tells me to consider the heart that men neglect and fail to heed the warning? He is urging men to take a look at their lives and give attention to where they find themselves. In the days of Haggai, the people had turned apathetic and lethargic in their feelings toward the building of the temple. This reflected their view of God also. No greater warning can the Lord give than to tell men to consider their ways. It is easy to become so comfortable in religion that worship to the Lord becomes drudgery and weariness. Going through the motions is only motion going nowhere. It was time for the people to arise and build. Thankfully they heeded the word of the Lord and the temple was finished four years later. This same message of exhortation is needed for the people of God to rise up and build the kingdom of God as purposed in the New Testament. It is time to rise from laurels of apathy and contentment, consider our ways and get busy building the spiritual temple of God. Let the glory of the Lord rise from the ashes of neglect so the world can see the glory of the church Jesus bought with His own blood. Consider your ways.