Haggai 1: 3 – 6
3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
For years I always said, when introducing the Reading on the Sunday nearest 25th January, that it should be from Haggai. It was my little (OK even by my standards very little) joke and usually got a groan from the congregation, until one year I did not say it, and was accosted at the door at service end with questions about ‘what happened to the haggis joke this year?’
But just as it is a disservice to one of Europe’s greatest poets to equate him with haggis, neeps and tatties, so it is a huge disservice to this Prophet to just use his name to make a pun.
Haggai, like the other “Minor” prophets, brought a great message, or indeed messages. His time can be pinpointed due to the references he gives as 520 BC. The exile has ended, the Israelites have returned to their homeland and Jerusalem, all is well.
Or is it? Are the people happy and content? The clear message is ‘No’ – there is something missing.
As Haggai says, they have the material comforts, but they do not bring fulfilment; the food does not fill them, the drink does not satisfy, and their clothes fail to provide enough warmth.
Haggai has the answer. The people have got all they need for their physical lives, but not for their spiritual lives. They live in well-appointed houses, yet the Lord’s House remains in ruins. To achieve fulfilment the Temple must be rebuilt, and soon.
Haggai’s messages pre-echo many of Jesus’ sayings.
Man does not live by bread alone
Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s give unto God that which is God’s
Do not worry about tomorrow
… And several more.
2540 years after he stood in the Market Place and proclaimed his messages, Haggai speaks to us too, with the same message. If you would be happy, ensure your physical and spiritual selves are equally as strong as they can be.
Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, thankfully you know how we become bound up in our day to day cares and woes, so much that we forget to appreciate the beauty of your creation around us which shows your glory for all to see. Forgive us, we pray, and help us to keep you in the centre of our lives in good times and bad.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,