Having now studied the book of Haggai, God’s word to this oft-forgotten prophet remains upon my heart even as I prepare for a lengthy dive into the letter of Ephesians. As I’ve noted throughout each sermon, the primary message of Haggai was for the returned from exile Jews to stop neglecting God’s still desolate temple and to begin rebuilding it. The people’s sin was essentially a failure to prioritize God’s interest over their own. They continued busying themselves with their own homes, while for fifteen years making no moves to build God’s house. Furthermore, the LORD brought a drought upon the people of Judah in order to call attention to their disobedience. For these reasons, I argued that the overall thesis of Haggai could be summarized by Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Haggai’s message, therefore, is ever resonant. As a redeemed idolater, I continuously fail to seek God’s kingdom before all others. Like the people of Judah, I repeatedly busy myself with my own home to the neglect of God’s house. I have no moral high ground over Haggai’s original audience. Had I been in their shoes, I would have committed the same sin, if not a greater one.
Yet the good news of the book of Haggai is that God had not neglected the people of Judah. The drought upon their land was strike from God’s rod of correction. It was loving act of discipline from the Father, warning them against continuing down the road of sin, which ends in death. And when the people did obey, the LORD did not continue to hold their sin over them (although He did not overlook it either); instead, He responded with a pledge of His presence. His grace then continued as He met their discouragement with promises of blessing and hope.
As a disciple of Christ, I find this pattern to be virtually a daily occurrence in my life. Each day, I awaken to a warring set of impulses, one of the flesh urges me to seize the day for myself and the other of the Spirit compels me to deny self and magnify Christ instead. Though the impulse of self often triumphs, I am daily reminded by God’s own Word that He will not forsake His people. My security before God is not found in my own obedience (or lack thereof); instead, I have been brought into the fold of God’s people through the substitutionary death of God the Son on my behalf. Just as the people of Judah did not cease to be God’s people during their years of sin, so my place among God’s people is not conditional upon my degree of obedience. Instead, I rest in the obedience of Jesus that has been applied to my account.
Of course, this good news of the finished work of Christ does not eliminate the need for me to repent of sin and walk in obedience. Rather, from this vantage point of knowing that my justification before God is complete, I am emboldened to repent (now knowing that I will not be rejected) and to obey (now knowing that His Spirit indwells me).
The good news of Haggai, ultimately, is that it points to the person and work of Jesus Christ the King and Savior.