“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified,” says the Lord. Haggai 1:5-8
Freed from Babylonian captivity, a remnant of the Israelites returned to Jerusalem. They started the temple’s foundation, and the Samaritans who were living in the land offered to help, but the Israelites snubbed them. Consequently, the Samaritans petitioned the king of Persia to order the Israelites to stop building, and he did, but when the king understood that they had permission to build from Cyrus, he authorized them to resume building. By this time, the Israelites were focused on building their homes and settling into everyday life and forgot about building the temple.
Keith and I returned from a study abroad trip to Central Europe last week. On the 10-hour trip to Amsterdam, 2-hour layover, and then on to Krakow, Poland, I read and studied Haggai. The book is only two chapters long.
Consider your ways appears in chapter 1 twice, and Consider from this day onward appears in chapter 2 twice. Consider, set your focus, commit your ways, change your path.
That short book has haunted me for three weeks.
We visited Auschwitz and Schindler’s Factory in Krakow. We talked with family members of Auschwitz survivors. We learned of the Soviet occupation in Hungary and how it shapes the everyday life of many who endured it.
The Israelites endured Babylonian slavery. They were free now in Jerusalem and were caught up in the business of everyday life.
I returned from Central Europe with 1700 emails to attend to, most with actionable tasks on my part. The business of everyday life quickly consumed me, and yet, God’s message to the remnant kept coming back to me. Consider your ways. Build the temple first, and all the needs of your day will be taken care of.
Jesus also urged the Jews to seek first the kingdom of God, and food, clothing, and other needs will be added to them. Matthew 6:33
Even in a cold land that has been through so much, God has His remnant of believers seeking first the kingdom of God.
Most churches I have visited in Europe are filled with visitors snapping photos, and we were no exception in St. Giles Church in Prague. We enjoyed a string quartet and organ concert in it. The church and its magnificent organ were used in the movie Amadeus. That would have been special by itself.
However, the old priest (about 150-years-old according to Keith) welcomed the small group of concert-goers, about 30. He spoke with such great love, “God loves you. Jesus wants you to know that He loves you.”
After his welcome, he came over to Keith and me and wanted to know if we were Catholics. “No, we’re protestants; we love the Lord.” He wanted to know where we lived and how long we have been married–45 years. Then, he blessed us, smiled, and walked away.
That old priest had considered his ways. His mission was to tell his people and anyone who came to the church that Jesus loves them. Just as the Israelites glorified God when they put God first and built the temple, this priest glorified God.
I’m considering my ways.
Did you know that Jesus loves you? He gave everything for you. What greater knowledge is there?
Consider the fact that Jesus loves you!
Father in heaven, thank You for Your love, Your Word, and Your message from Haggai. May it sink deeply within our souls. Teach us to focus on our spiritual lives and consider our ways in light of Your ways. Stir up our spirits like You did Zerubbabel’s spirit. We want to glorify You, Lord, and take great pleasure in us. We love You, Lord!