“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says:
‘Give careful thought to your ways’” (Haggai 1:5).
At times, someone may ask us to stop and consider our actions. This was the case in Haggai’s day.
Haggai authored one of the final Old Testament books. He wrote the above words 15 years after the exiles returned from Babylon. Upon their return, Jerusalem and its Temple lay in ruins. Almost immediately, the people rebuilt the city walls and other structures. The Lord blessed their work. Within seven months, they set up the altar of burnt offering. Soon, the Temple’s foundation would be laid.
Then, the work stopped. For 15 years, nothing more happened. This is when the Lord addressed the people through Haggai. The Lord took the people to task for reversing their priorities. Instead of first rebuilding his house, they feathered their own nests by building themselves fine homes. As a result, the work on the Temple was neglected.
Twice, the Lord states, “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:5 and 1:7). This repetition is for emphasis. The Lord wanted his people to stop and carefully consider their actions. He had a reason for insisting that the Temple be immediately completed: “That I may take pleasure in it” (1:8). He wanted his house to be built now with the finest materials as a fitting place for him.
In the phrase “that I may take pleasure in it,” the key word is pleasure. The Lord “take[s] no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezekiel 18:32) or even “in the death of the wicked” (Ezk. 33:11). Rather, he finds pleasure when sinners humble themselves before him. His desire is for everyone to “repent and live” (18:32). The Lord wanted his house completed with no further delay so that repentant sinners could come before him to “turn from their [evil] ways and live” (33:11).
The Lord still offers grace and mercy to repentant sinners in his house. After his law reveals our sin and hopelessness, he shares the gospel. Then, by faith, we may turn from our evil ways, trusting confidently in Christ’s forgiveness.
The Lord redirected greed and laziness to become repentance and forgiveness. He did it with six simple words: “Give careful thought to your ways,” that called a nation to repent. Eventually, it led his people to trust in his full forgiveness through Christ.
Lord, lead us to “give careful thought to your ways.”
You love us and you want us to share eternal life with you
through your Son, our Savior.
Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 or firstname.lastname@example.org