It’s amazing how challenges and struggles that the men and women in the Bible faced are often similar to the ones we face today. Though the setting and context can be different, the heart issue is often very much the same. Read from the Christian Basics Bible about Haggai’s struggle to get the returning exiles to get their priorities straight.
Haggai’s central challenge was that the returning exiles simply weren’t giving God their best. Of course they needed to build homes and plant fields, but this had become the sole object of their attention. They weren’t content with simple homes but wanted luxurious houses (Haggai 1:4). These personal projects had consumed their resources, leaving little to give to God’s work, meaning that his house (the Temple) remained a ruin (1:4). So God challenged them to bring timber and rebuild his house; then he would “take pleasure in it and be honored” (1:8). Only then could he lift the curse they had brought upon themselves (1:10-11; Deuteronomy 28: 38-40).
It is always easy to rationalize not giving God our best. Here the people were saying that the time wasn’t right (Haggai 1:2). But this was just an excuse. God is realistic – he knows we need a home, clothes, and food (Matthew 6:25-32) – but Jesus said our priority is to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,” promising that “he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). When we get our priorities right, God’s provision is always released to us.