As you recall in yesterday's post, the Israelites of 520 B.C. had a problem. They were unsuccessful upon their return to the former capitol of the kingdom, Jerusalem. Their crops were withering. Their livestock was dying. The work they were doing was resulting in nothing but literally rolling out of the pouches and pockets they put it in.
They had the effect; God through prophet Haggai communicated the cause to them:
"'You looked for much and indeed it came to little, and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?' says the Lord of hosts. 'Because of my house that is in ruin while every one of you runs to his own house.'" (Haggai 1:9)
God was clear: His people were not honoring him. The Temple, the former dwelling place of His glory, the place where He was to be worshipped and glorified, was a heap of ruins. And after 18 years of their return, little had changed - oh, they had worked on their own prosperity, building houses with wooden paneling, reclaiming fields, starting businesses, but their house of worship was an eyesore in the midst of their rebuilding, the undeveloped center of town that every one turned away from and pretended was not there.
God told them the cause: what was His suggestion for the solution?
"'Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I make take pleasure in it and be glorified,' says the Lord (Haggai 1:8).
Three commands - simple, but direct:
1) "Go up to the mountains" - Get up. Stop what you are working on, the plans that you have laid for yourself about the things of your life and go to the place I tell you.
2) "Bring wood" - As John MacArthur points out, after 70 years of the Exile the trees had re-established themselves. Wood was a necessary component of building - indeed, the people of Israel had paneled their own houses with it. They knew what it was. They knew how to use it. They just never used it in the service of God.
3) "Build the temple" - Put aside your own plans and work on the House of the Lord. Turn away for a time from doing things that are all about yourself and do something that is about Me.
Why? "That I may take pleasure in it and be glorified".
Two points here. The first is that the results of the Israelites work would be the glorification of God to the surrounding nations. It is not that unreasonable if you think about it: people know what we value and treasure by the amount of energy and time we put into it. People who love their cars constantly care for them and people who love their dogs constantly groom and care for them. No different, says the Lord. The completion of My house of worship shows what you value and draws attention to the One who is worshipped there.
The second? Perhaps the most stunning. God says He will take pleasure in the work of their hands.
Let that sink in for a moment. The Creator of the Universe states that He will take pleasure in the fact that humans build something for Him. He could do it Himself in a heartbeat if He wanted to - but He gives His creatures the power of casualty, the ability to please Him through the work of their hands.
Tomorrow we'll discuss how the Israelites responded. The thought for myself - and hopefully for you - is this: What one thing has God spoken to your heart about that would glorify Him? Do you understand what He is asking for? And do you understand - and believe - that doing so will glorify Him and bring Him pleasure?