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Devotion by John Piper
The first message from the Prophet Haggai to the people of Israel in chapter 1 reveals to the governor, priest, and people that the reason they are all frustrated is that they have tried to make their own lives comfortable while neglecting the temple of God.
Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now therefore consider how you have fared (or: 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 earns wages to put them in a bag with holes Haggai 1:4-6).
So they lived in perpetual frustration and discontentment. Nothing satisfied. We can’t pass over this lesson easily. It’s for us, too. If you devote yourself to sowing and eating and drinking and clothing yourselves and earning wages, but neglect your ministry in the body of Christ (the temple of God, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17), you will live in constant frustration. If you spend your time and energy seeking comfort and security from the world, and do not spend yourself for the glory of God, every pleasure will leave its sour aftertaste of depression and guilt and frustration.
The reason I mention the glory of God is because of verse 8. Haggai’s remedy for frustration goes like this: “Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the Lord.” Both then and now the real problem is not the neglect of a building but indifference to the glory of God. The temple of the Old Testament existed for the glory of God. And the Church today exists for the glory of God (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Indifference to the growth and spiritual prosperity of the Church and its mission is always a sign of failure to love the glory of God. And the sour fruit of this failure is a life of chronic frustration. He who seeks to save his life will lose it to continual frustrations; but he who loses his life for the glory of God and the good of his cause will find life, deep and fulfilling. Verse 9 sums up the situation in Jerusalem: “You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourself each with his own house.”
Then in verses 12–15 Haggai reports that Zerubbabel and Joshua and the people obey and begin to work on the temple, on the 24th day of the sixth month. So, after 18 years of neglect and frustration, the people begin to learn their lesson: “seek the kingdom first, and all these other things will be added” (Matthew 6:33).”