by Doug Smith
We are considering the message of Haggai 1 - priorities. Or, to use the illustration from yesterday, we need to get the big rocks in first.
Big Rock #1: The Word of God (The Basis of Our Priorities) - v. 1-11
Whenever we hear a command, it is natural to ask, “says who?” If the one giving the command has knowledge, authority, or our best interests in mind, we are more prone to listen. Twenty-seven times out of thirty-eight verses, Haggai uses words that indicate the message he brings is from God. His message has authority because it comes from the One with all authority. We should read and hear God’s Word as His message, not as man’s opinion. We should receive it as communication from the king.
Notice how the Word works. It exposes our excuses, even as it revealed theirs: “the time has not come yet” (v. 2). Sometimes God’s work requires things of us that are not easy, but now is always the proper time for obedience to God’s commands. It searches our hearts, rebuking our misplaced priorities, even as it reprimanded the people for being more intent to build up their own homes instead of restoring the place of the public worship of God (v. 3-4). They were living in paneled houses fit for royalty while the temple lay in ruins! God’s Word interprets our experience, even as it showed them that they were experiencing hard times as a result of their disobedience (v. 5-6, 9-11). It reminds us of our responsibilities, even as they were reminded to get to work on the temple (v. 7-8). God’s Word instructs us in the way we should go, and calls for us to examine ourselves, considering our ways, and change what we are thinking and doing.
We need to take time for God’s Word, making a point to read it daily. We need to listen to it. We need to study it, meditate on it, memorize it, obey it, and share it. Husbands, perhaps you need to give your wife a break from her responsibilities (particularly if you are parents) so she will have adequate time in the Word. Parents, be sure you are reading the Bible, even if it is something like Catherine Vos’s The Child’s Story Bible, is a good way to include this in your family life. As the children get older, set aside times specifically for them to read their Bibles, perhaps a 30 minute slot where everyone in the family quietly reads their Bibles. Single parents, it is hard, but find a way to fit it into your schedule, even if in shorter intervals. Make time for it. While not a single mother, Susannah Wesley would put an apron over her head to indicate to her many children that she was spending time alone with the Lord!
Pastors, be sure that God’s Word is central in your preaching. Let the text determine and shape the message. Preach the point of the passage you are expounding. Include plenty of Scripture reading in the worship service, and be sure it is read with enthusiasm and life.
God’s Word is the first big rock that we need in our lives. If we don’t make a point to get it in, there will be enough distractions to make sure that it doesn’t get in at all.
Tomorrow we will consider the second big rock: the worship of God.