Week 6 – Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 5: Zechariah and Ministry Cont’d – Don’t Pour Your Life Into A Bag With Holes: Haggai 1
The King’s letter brought the rebuilding of the temple to a halt. The response of the Jews to this new situation is very disheartening. In the opening chapter of Haggai we find that not only are they not building, but they are prospering in nothing because of drought. It is easy to see how discouraging this situation could be: unable to build, unable to provide for their families. But the truth of the matter was that God did not want them to be in this position. Furthermore, the reasons that they were in this position were not the obvious reason that we, and they, might assume. The people were saying, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” (Haggai 1:2) God did not see it this way. Instead, He put the following question to the Jews through Haggai:
“Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:4)
Obviously, God did not regard the king’s interdict as the only hindrance to the building. In the next verse He challenges them,
“Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord, Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord, Ye looked for much and lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land…” (Haggai 1:5-11)
Lesson Number 4: There is a time to resume the work. God does allow times in which He brings a ministry to a stand still, at least from our perspective, but this does not mean that it will always be so. It is vitally important to be on the ready. Psalm 123:2 paints a beautiful picture of how our eyes should be upon the Lord, “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of the maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.”
You’ve probably heard the saying, “at his beck and call”, well, that needs to describe our relationship to God, and the above verse portrays it perfectly. A “beck” is a gesture used to get someone’s attention or indicating that something should be done: a nod, a wave of the hand, a lifting of the finger. In some cases it is a very obvious motion, but in other situations it may be very slight. Like the servant and the maiden in this Psalm, our eyes need to be upon the hand of our God, waiting for the slightest direction.
Lesson Number 5: Don’t be content with the wrong things. Is it wrong to own your own home, a car, a closet full of clothes? No. Is it good to be content with what God has given us? Certainly. Is it wrong to be so content with what God has given us that we fail to see that there is work to be done for Him? Yes! This was the situation in Jerusalem. Yes, the king’s directive had initially brought the work to a stop, but it was the people’s complacency that kept it there. It is easy to get in our comfort zone and miss the fact that God is directing us forward. We can even be busily, contentedly working away in the ministry that He has given us and miss the fact that He has more for us to do. Don’t forget lesson number 4 – Always be ready to move at the Lord’s command.
Lesson number 6: When nothing prospers check to make sure you’re doing God’s work. There are times when things simply do not go well. We live in an imperfect world. Things break, processes move slowly, economies crumble. These things are all a part of life. But there are other times when things don’t go well because we are not doing what God wants us to be doing. This applies both to getting behind God and to getting ahead of Him. In this case, the Jews were well behind where God wanted them to be. He wanted them to be working on the temple, they were content to sit in their ceiled houses while the temple was still in ruins. So, God brought drought. The result was that nothing prospered. Even for those who earned wages, it was as though they were dropping them into a bag with holes. As human beings, we have a limited number of days, a limited amount of energy and strength, and these are the things that we most frequently pour into ministry. What a waste if we are pouring them into a bag with holes. Examine your bag, does it have holes? Are you laying up treasure in heaven, or are you pouring your life uselessly out on the floor? Take the question to the Lord, be sure that you are doing what He has for you to do.
Up Next: Week 7: Lessons From the Prophets Cont’d
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