TEXT: Haggai 1: 1-7
Right from the cradle of human existence, God has always taken delight in mandating His chosen people to worship serve and discharge one function or the other and would always demand absolute obedience and commitment to His commandments. From the very first day we were baptized into Christ, we entered into an agreement with the Lord God Almighty, to serve and obey Him absolutely.
In life, it sometime becomes necessary to take a cursory look at ones actions and inactions especially when there are any perceived negative trends in our lives with a view to ascertaining whether they are in tandem with the generally accepted social and godly norms and standards. Both God and a sane society expect us to lead morally upright life and where there are observed negative departures, it becomes inevitable for us to consider and sometimes re-consider our dispositions and conducts. Most often than not, the grand reason why many are short of approved standards is due to loss of focus and misplacement of priorities.
The inspiration of this homily is drawn from the seeming carefreeattitude of the Jews towards God’s mandate, resulting to the need to conduct a retrospective assessment of the effects of their actions on their lives.They failed to give due regards to the things of God and that prompted God to challenge them through Prophet Haggai.
Careful evaluation is a worthwhile exercise. That is why teachers give tests and employers of labour hold job reviews. Socrates wrote: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Each day we need to carefully put into consideration the trend of our Christian race with a view to ascertaining whether we are still firm in faith as will be reflected by the highlights and lowlights. We should meticulously examine what we do, say, think, who we choose as friends, what we set as goals, and where we are going. If God and the things pertaining to His kingdom are not first in our lives, then we need to retrace our steps and do the needful in the light of the scriptures.
Background of the Text
In the year 536 BC, Judah was taken captive to Babylon. Jerusalem together with its temple was destroyed and the ruins were monumental. Seventy years later, about 50,000 Jews were allowed to return from captivity. It was God’s intention that the Jews rebuild the temple and as result, He (God) stirred up Cyrus, the King of Persia to empower them to do this and even directed his people and subjects to donate precious materials for the startup of the rebuilding project – Ezra 1:1-5. Interestingly, the Jews quickly started the rebuilding process of the altar and began offering sacrifices. They laid the foundation to rebuild the temple barely two years into their return. At least 14 years had passed and other things began to take precedence. They gave lip service to the priority of God and obviously were living with other priorities.The people were absorbed by the routine of life which included but not limited to farming, building houses, raising families, involvement in commerce and that sort of thing and thus neglecting the divine mandate of rebuilding the ruins of the Temple of God. They momentarily got used to life without a Temple. God’s reputation and glory were however at stake. He could not be properly honoured so long as the house He called home lay in ruins. The Temple symbolized God’s presence.
Consequent upon this, God, through Prophet Haggai urged the Jews to ‘CONSIDER THEIR WAYS’. Haggai put it in simple but logical terms thus:
- You worked hard, but earned peanuts,
- You sowed much crops but the harvest scanty,
- You put on clothes, but have not received the desired warm
- You made plenty money only to disappear as soon as it is earned.
- You ate food and would not be filled.
- You consumed drinks but your thirst still persists.
Why? Because they had mistaken their priorities. They needed to put God first. They needed to rebuild His Temple
The Motive for The Admonition
- To remind Christians of the fact that keeping track of our spiritual calling requires constant self-evaluation of our ways of living in the light of godliness and righteousness.
- To re-emphasize that bountiful blessings are accruable to obedient children of God what give optimum regards to the tenets of the scriptures.
- To highlight the both the immediate and remote dangers in paying lip service to the things and priorities of God.
The Meaning of Consider
- To look at carefully
- Study mentally
- Look at attentively
- Give careful consideration to
- Show consideration for
- Take into account
The Imperatives of Careful Consideration of Our Ways
- God is not pleased with Christians who pull back and chicken out after putting their hands to the plough (Luke. 9:32). As Children of God, there is a cross to carry daily if we must reap the benefits of salvation contained in the promises of God (Gal. 2:18, 20).
- II Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith’’. And Hebrews 11: 6 emphasized that without faith it is impossible to please God. It should be the utmost desire of a true Christian to please his Creator at all times.
- As Christians, it is our daily responsibility to put our spiritual lives on check and in order if we must have a true spiritual fellowship with God and experience the blessings of God.
- Like the children of Israel, some of us have allowed selfishness, laziness, procrastination and misplaced priorities to prevent us from building or rebuilding our spiritual lives to the glory of God.
- To enjoy the various and varied benefits of our salvation, we must learn to put God first, giving Him the top-most pride of place in our daily priorities. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Mathew 6:33. Just like the Israelites in Haggai’s days, many Christians are more concerned about building their own kingdom rather than God’s so they are missing out on God’s blessings
- Haggai’s call is also a wake-up call to Christians today; we must stand up, resist the devil and go ahead to do only those things that a pleasing to God, He is asking us to reposition ourselves in God, to consider and reconsider our priorities.
- Our God desires absolute obedience and adherence to His precepts as handed over to us. The following case study will amplify this fact:
- King Saul – as regards the charge to absolutely destroy the City of Amalek – 1 Sam. 15: 1-7.
- Nadab and Abihu – disregarded and violated the no-strange fire introduction and usage in the altar commandment – Lev. 10: 1, 2.
- Jonah–His decline to proceed to Nineveh to preach to the people – Jonah 1: 1-3
- Moses – His violation of the instruction to speak to the rock – Num. 20: 6-8, 10-12.
- We are to meditate the authority of God day and night- Psa. 1: 2. It is on this strength that the writer of Hebrews says we should not forsake the assembly of the Saints- Heb. 10: 25.
- To constantly examine ourselves 1Cor. 11: 28. Recalling our text, we find that it was lack of self-examination and evaluation that made God to challengethe Jews to consider their ways.
The Message for Christians Today.
Like the Jews, we Christians are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people that are called to serve the Lord God Almighty -1 Pet. 2:9. As Disciples of Christ, we are expected to be Christ-like in all spheres of our existence. We were called to be saints- Rom. 1: 7. Serving God requires due diligence and absolute allegiance to the authority of our Lord God Almighty. As the Light of the world, we are to remain shining examples to unbelievers through our good works – Matt. 5:14-16. Similarly, as the salt of the earth, we should not allow our savour to be lost, (Matt. 5: 13).
As true Christians, we are to prioritize the pursuit of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness for us to stand any chance of benefiting other mundane amenities in life, (Matt. 6: 33).
The first commandment for Christians is to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength – Mk. 12: 30. It is only a careful Christian that can persistently track the potency of his show of love to both God and fellow humans.The book of Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 6 points out frankly that without faith it is impossible to please God.
In the light of the foregoing facts, it is however sad to note that a great many Christians have lost track of their divine calling. They,like the Jews have allowed the concerns, pleasures and intrigues of this mundane life to overwhelm their spiritual commitment towards pleasing God.To such culpable Christians, the same message by Prophet Haggai to ‘consider their ways’ is applicable to them as well.
Searchlight on the Some Aspects to Consider
- Evangelism: The task of taking the Gospel to the world has been handed over to Christians by our Lord Jesus Christ. It thus becomes a command and a sole responsibility of the Disciples of Christ to discharge this great commission. But a cursory look at the attitude of Christians towards this task speaks volume about the fact that the love for this divine duty has waxed cold in recent times. Some Christians feel that it is the duty of Ministers/Preachers to evangelise. But Christ charged ALL to go and preach –Matt. 28:18-20, Mk. 16: 15. Paul admonished Christians to preach the word in season and out of season- 2 Tim. 4:2. Apostle Paul further advised us to entrust the things we have heard in the presence of many witnesses to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others – 2Tim. 2:2.
- Upright Christian Living. We are not to conform to this world, but rather transformed – Rom. 12:2. Paul enjoins us to bless those who persecute us and curse not- Rom. 12:13-15. Jesus implores us to exhibit integrity in our conducts and earthly dealings, when He says, ‘’ let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’and let your ‘No’ be ‘No’. Matt. 5: 37, 48. We are advised not to be slothful in our dealings – Rom. 12:11.
- Giving/Benevolence. Do you seem to pay careful attention to the quality of your weekly giving? Do you grow your giving as your income (salary, stipend, emolument, bonus, profit, interest etc.) grows? Remember you are to give as you are prospered. Do you also give due regards to the practice of the pure religion as the scriptures specify thus; ‘’Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’’ (James 1: 27)
- Faith in God.Have you found time to carefully assess the quality and efficacy of your faith in God? Remember that without faith it is impossible to please God – Heb. 11: 6. Also be conscious of the fact that we are to be fervent in spirit – Rom. 12: 11. Do you have confidence in the prayers offered in the Church or do you hold allegiance to those offered elsewhere? Do you have some form of personal protection or belong to some secret fraternities for self-aggrandizement? The message is – ‘consider your ways’.
The Benefits of Careful Evaluation of Our Lives
- Our labour in the Lord shall not be in vain – 1 Cor. 15: 58.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised to be with the faithful Christians to the end of the world Matt. 18: 20.
- God will provide our necessities – Mt 6:31-33.
- God will multiply our seed for sowing – 2Cor. 9:8.
- God is glorified when we put Him first in our priorities with respect to everything we think, say, and do.
The Impending Doom For Not Paying Careful Consideration
- We stand a chance of falling away from grace and faith. ‘’Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall’’ (I Cor. 10: 12).
- The spoken words of God may slip away from us – Heb. 2: 1.
- The planned salvation for mankind will evade us – Heb. 2: 2-3.
- We will suffer in penury in this life.
- Our supplications may be hindered.
To The Unbaptized Amongst Us
The fact remains that God does not wish that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. For the unbaptized, it is also worthy to pay a more careful attention to what Acts 17: 30 says, ‘’The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent’’.
You ought to do the way the Jews did when they got the message from Prophet Haggai – they feared the Lord and obeyed His voice. Haggai 1: 12.
Further examination of our text showed that the Jews took to heart the message of Haggai – Hag 1:12 and thus returned to site for the rebuilding activities.
As a result, there was an assurance from God thus: “I am with you, saysthe LORD.” (Hag 1:13). The phrase “I am with you” is interesting and similar to the promise made by Jesus in the Great Commission- Mt 28:18-20.Thus we have the assurance that if we observe all that Christ commanded, if we give due consideration to the things of the Kingdom,He will be with us always.
Yet this blessed assurance is for those who do not let the Lord’s houselie in ruins while they dwell in paneled homes.
May we be blessed in the Lord, Amen!
SERMON PRESENTATION By Bro Idorenyin Archibong