Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Presence Will Go With You (Haggai 1-2)


I admit that it’s hard to have much perspective on the book of Haggai, having not yet gone through the return from exile in Ezra and Nehemiah. My goal in reading the prophets has been to gain perspective on the exile itself before moving on to the return, and so Haggai doesn’t exactly fit in that well at first glance. But let’s see what we can find.

The book is short and to the point. Some of the people have returned from exile back to Judah, and are managing to scratch out a meager existence for themselves in their ancestral homeland. But their thoughts are only on their own concerns. They have little energy for the things of God. And so the prophet speaks:
Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, 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 . . . 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.
I think back to Moses pleading with the Lord to travel alongside his people:
If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?
There is no life for the people of Israel without the abiding presence of God alongside them. There is no glory for them as a nation if they do not radiate with the glory of God. They were exiled from his presence for disobedience; how can they return and build houses for themselves if God is not to dwell once again in their midst?

Here again I’m struck with the nature of the God of Israel. This is a God who wants to live with man. He wants to elevate man to himself, and to condescend to live among them. The anger and frustration at their faithlessness is just another angle on that intense longing of God for his son to share his glory.

Comments:
It is short and to the point.

I gathered the following:

You're back in Judea, now rebuild the temple. The drought was because of your wickedness.

From that, I see the following principle: do God's will, however annoying you might think it is, and your life on earth will be easier.
 

I don't know that Haggai is trying to state some universal principle here. I doubt he or any other Jewish person was unfamiliar with the reality that there are times when the righteous suffer for their faithfulness. After all, they'd read Job and the story of Joseph and David. He was addressing not so much "wickedness" as complacency, and claiming that their lack of concern for the things of God was causing them to lack the blessings that come from God.
 

...as it is today...
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Yea, as you said “there is no life for the people of Israel without the abiding presence of God alongside them”. And I think that made them so ignore an important and big thing i.e. rebuilding the temple and the city. I believe this problem was originated in the human’s soul and mind which always keep looking and staying easily on the past not the future. I think of how God told them especially in Isaiah 49 verse 14

49:13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, And will (correct translation is ‘ He now ’ ) have mercy on His afflicted.

49:14 But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.

Verse 14 clearly shows that their minds were still in the past. Only God had to remind them to forget the past and they made their confession everyday on verse 49:13 would have changed their conscience out of the pitfall. Their minds still in the pitfall and away from God’s truth had made them so far from their Yahweh’s presence. This is also true for us even nowaday.
 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home