Alright, three takeaways for me from Haggai.
Prioritizing the Temple. God is very direct in pointing out in Haggai how His people took care of their own houses while neglecting the house of God. I think we often take for granted how our churches and its leaders are taken care of. We expect them to be there every week and be prepared to welcome and pray for us. The attitude here comes from mistakenly believing the church exists for us. Yes, the community is there to support our spiritual journey and that is important to keep in mind. But, the church is a house of worship, not a meditation room. We go to church to honor and praise our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. Wherever the church is, and wherever the church goes (since church is not a physical building, but a community of God’s people), should be treated with respect. So, when we’ve installed new fixtures and repainted our homes, should we do more to make our homes feel more comfortable or should we seek to make our church more welcoming and hospitable?
God remembers the former splendor. By that I mean that God is eternal. He has seen His people and the church both walk in faithful obedience and fail miserably. He knows our faults and potential. And He sees beyond what we remember and what we can imagine. Like Jon said in his Open Table sermon on 2/18/15, while we think in decades, God thinks in generations. It is this infinite God that we trust and follow. We can rely on Him who is well-aware of our pride, laziness, and selfish desires to accomplish through us the work of the Great Commission.
Holiness through God. The passage talks about how consecrated things cannot make other things consecrated but defiled things can spread. Attending a worship service, a bible study group, or a prayer meeting does not make us right with God. In fact, when we hold onto our pride, jealousy, greed, and anger before entering God’s presence, we are defiling what is meant to be holy. But, we are made holy when we seek out God’s holiness and ask God to make us righteous. God seeks a changed heart.
“So give us clean hands, and give us pure hearts. Let us not lift our souls to another. Oh God, let us be a generation that seeks, who seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob.” Give Us Clean Hands by Chris Tomlin