Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Matthew 6:33
Jesus notably proclaimed these words during His Sermon on the Mount, and even though Jesus lived more than 500 years after the prophet Haggai, this verse provides a fitting summary to the LORD’s oracles through the Old Testament messenger.
As a prophet during the first return from exile, Haggai spoke to a people who were desperately attempting rebuild a life known only through stories. The deportation to Babylon lasted seventy years, long enough for the conquered generation to pass away. Then, somewhat like the Israelites under Joshua, their children and grandchildren prepared to reclaim the Promised Land.
Bit by bit, they rebuilt Jerusalem, but still something was wrong. Their homes, farms, and businesses were all returned to working order, but they still seemed to be walking uphill. Life in their renewed homeland was supposed to be sweet, yet everything was going against the grain.
Enter Haggai, with a message from the Most High:
You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.Haggai 1:9
God’s house, the temple, remained incomplete and, consequently, so did their very lives.
The temple was the place of God’s dwelling presence within their midst; therefore, neglect of the temple revealed the people’s apathy toward their God. Each person sought their own wealth and prosperity without giving much thought at all to their worship and devotion of the LORD. They served the kingdom of self rather than the kingdom of God.
We are no different. Seeking self above God is the natural impulse of sin-marred humanity. The oracles of Haggai are, therefore, no less applicable to us today. We too need to be reminded that God and His kingdom must be our ultimate priority. Only then will all other things work as they ought.