Haggai 1 kicks off with a date: the second year of Darius the king (of Persia) i.e. 520 BC, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month (approximately 29th August in today’s terms) (verse 1). The Israelites have been back in the promised land for 15 years by this date. They were formerly in Babylon where they were held captive because they failed to trust God and so, disobeyed Him. The first batch of those who exiled from Babylon had attempted to rebuild the temple. This enthusiasm, however, soon died out for 15 years until this second year of Darius, where the story of Haggai began.
The Israelites claimed that the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord (verse 2). Such an excuse seemed to indicate that the people had other more important and urgent matters to attend to. God pointed out that they have instead busied themselves building and living in their ornate and luxurious paneled houses (verse 4). Closer to home, where do our priorities in life lie? Like the Israelites, do we also sometimes think, “Not yet, God”?
From verses 5 to 11, the people were challenged to consider their ways. They need to deny self-glorification or else, face God’s judgment as has so often happened around them in the past. That said, the Israelites were not left to their own means. The remainder of chapter 1 shows the Lord declaring, “I am with you” (verse 13) and He stirred up the spirit of all the people that they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God (verse 14).
As we would later come to appreciate, Jesus is the one who fulfilled rebuilding the ruined “temple”. In John 2:19, Jesus told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. He was, of course, not referring to the physical temple here but His own body, which He broke for us that He may pay the price of our sin yet later resurrected to ascend to His heavenly glory.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-45)
With the kingdom of heaven being so priceless, what else could possibly compare? Treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, (Matthew 6:19) do not last – we cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24). Neither should we be anxious about our life, food, body nor clothes for God knows we need them and will provide (Matthew 6:25-33). We should instead seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33) – that is where our priorities should lie.
Where do your priorities lie?