Here's a question to ponder: Why do you make the choices in life that you do? Have you ever wondered that? Too often, we tend to focus on what we do in life, when we do it, where we do it, or who we do it with? However, if we're going to be truth seekers and discern the motive behind our actions - which is what God expects of us - then the question that should be of upmost importance to us is "why"; why do you do the things you do? This question, and more, is what we will uncover in today's Bible Speed Art post, "The Why of Your Life".
Let’s begin by taking a dive into the one source we have to anchor us to absolute truth in this life, the Bible. Our reading today comes from the Old Testament book, Haggai. This small, two chapter book is one that many of us might not consider a deep read, but after today my hope is that we can unearth valuable information that applies to our life, even to this day.
Then the word of the Lord came through the prohet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have 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.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin while each of you is busy with his own house.”
So, to better understand what is being said here, a little bit of background is helpful. To do this, we can look back at another Old Testament book, the book of Daniel.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
We learn from Daniel that, prior to the book of Haggai, Babylon conquered Judah and ultimately, the temple of the Lord that had been established by God for His presence to dwell in the midst of his people, and to have a place for the sacrifices to be offered that would provide a annual covering for their sins, was destroyed. However, as we flash forward to the book of Haggai, we learn that the people are leaving captivity and being brought back into the land promised them by the Lord. Babylon had been overtaken by Persia and the exiles of Jerusalem were returning home.
If we continue looking elsewhere in the Old Testament, we see that the Jews actually begain laying the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:7-11). However, the foundation gets completed but the rest of the temple lay in ruins. This is where the prophet Haggai comes into play. The Lord sends Haggai to the governor and preist of the Jews with the message we read above. To paraphrase, “Why are you rebuilding your homes and your lives, but the temple is still a pile of ruins?” And this is where our Bible Speed Art lesson begins today.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
As we look at the verses from Haggai, are we to assume that God didn’t want the Jews to rebuild their lives? Is that why he sent a prophet? Of course not! That thought is absurd. God provided the promised land for the Jews in order that they might establish their lives in the land. The message that came from Haggai was not about that at all. However, it does bear the question: What is the priority in your life? God’s will and purpose for your life, or your own?
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
To begin, let’s establish right out of the gate that there is nothing wrong with having plans for your life. However, when we prioritize our plans above the will of God, we find ourselves quickly running headfirst into a brick wall. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts: Everything ever created, was created for a purpose. And that includes you. You were created, not by the great powers of a mother and father, but by the Creator of all life. Mom and Dad might have had a hand in creating the physical body, but it was the Lord God who created your soul and spirit and then knit you together at conception. The Bible actually says this about it:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, you eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
As you can see, you were created by the power and purpose of the one, true, Almighty God. Your days on this earth are not by accident. However, how often do we seek out that purpose for which we were created? Or do we spin our wheels on whatever we choose without ever seeking the truth first? In the case of the exiles that we read about in Haggai, we learned that they laid the foundation to the temple, but then delayed the completion of the temple in order to focus on rebuilding their own lives. This shows that the the priorities being set were not on the will of God, which began to serve as a deep issue in their lives.
The same is true for us today.
What did you spend today building? What foundation are you building upon? Your agenda, or the purpose given you by the Lord? Have you even paused long enough to even consider the question?
Give Careful Thought to Your Ways
Why did we call this picture, “The Why of Your Life”? Well, if we take a look back at the verses from Haggai, we will see this answer quite clearly. Twice in the verses we read (verse 5 and then again in verse 7) we see the Lord Almighty use the phrase, “give careful thought to your ways”. Let’s examine the meaning of this phrase and why it was used in these instances.
For starters, when looking at the Hebrew language for this phrase, we see that it has a meaning of setting and establishing your heart upoon your deeds. Furthermore, it is a phrase of discernment, looking at the heart behind the actions. Therefore, it’s not just looking at what your deeds are, or when they were done, but rather “why” you did the deeds that you did. It’s a phrase that gets to the heart – or the root – of one’s actions.
Therefore, in the case of it’s use in verse 5, after the Lord Almighty tells them to discern their motives, he then proceeds to mention all that they have been doing and how unproductive and unfruitful it has been.
“You have planted much, but have 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.”
The 2nd time the phrase is used, the Lord Almighty is telling them to go get the timber and build the temple so that he may take pleasure in it and be honored (vs. 8). So, why is this significant? Simply: If we never seek the truth and examine the motives behind our actions, then how can we ever expect to live fruitful and productive lives for the Lord? Why would we expect him to bless us? Just because we go to church? Or sing in the choir? Or read the Bible? If the heart behind our actions is bent on building our own agendas and not fulfilling the purpose to why He created us, then the actions we do our not only unproductive, but there is no way to actually please the Lord and honor him. We will look at why this is in the next section.
The Importance of the Temple
Why was the rebuilding of the temple so important, and what does that have to do with life today? As we mentioned earlier, the temple was the place established by God where the Jews could find a covering for their sins by offering an annual sacrifice. Also, this was the place set by the Lord to be the place where his presence would fill and be in the midst of his people. Therefore, the temple should have been of the utmost importance for the Jews, so for them to leave it in ruins and not give it the priority it deserved, was a huge statement. What could possibly be more important than having the presence of the Living God in their midst, offering them grace and mercy through an annual sacrifice.
Now let’s flash forward to today. We know that Jesus was the sacrifice that was offered once, for all time, and for the sins of all mankind. As it says in the Bible,
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Therefore, we know that we have no need for going to temple to offer annual sacrifices. However, as Paul so brilliantly writes to the church in Corinth,
Do you not know that you yourselves our God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
And there is the tie in! The temple of the Old Testament is no longer needed because you are the temple where the Spirit of the Lord dwells. Christ laid the foundation of that temple for you, but are you going to let it lay in ruins, or are you going to build upon that foundation with the purpose of pleasing God the Father and bringing honor to him? If not, then why would you expect anything you do – whether done under the umbrella of Christianity or not – to be blessed by the Lord?
Pleasing and Honoring
How do I please the Lord? That would be a great question to ask, and one that can be found all throughout God’s Word. In this instance, we can look at the Hebrew text for the phrase “take pleasure in it” that is used in the book of Haggai. There is a part of that word that has to do with “making amends” and “paying for (sin)”. Therefore, we can clearly see that God’s hope is for you to come into repentance, where you turn to Him and turn away from your sin. To surrender your life to the Lord, and live a life that is evidence of his grace (receiving something you do not deserve) and mercy (not receiving something that you do deserve) and love (sacrifice), is a life that the Lord can take pleasure in and that will ultimately honor him above all else.
So, the ultimate question is this: Are you living a life that pays honor to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ? When people in your life encounter you day-in and day-out, can they clearly see the presence of God’s Spirit dwelling within you, or does your life resemble the world all around; a world that would rather build on Woke agendas, homosexual and trans agendas, political agendas, religious agendas, financial agendas, and social media agendas rather than on the absolute truth of God’s Word, the sacrifice that he offered through his Son, and his Spirit that he gives to sanctify you and make you holy? Are you building a way that brings all glory to the Father? It might be easy to want to throw out a quick answer, but I urge you today to “give careful thought to your ways”. Truly examine the motive of your heart, and why you are doing what you are doing?
The time has come for the children of God to make a stand and be bold. There is not excuse for standing on the fence and validating things of wickedness and calling them good. God does not tolerate calling a lie, truth. He does not like you calling darkness, His Light. So, today, examine your heart and make the choice to stand in truth, for truth. There is no other option for the children of God, because God’s children worship Him the Father in Spirit and truth. God’s true believers will live their life to show that the Spirit of God is in their presence – it is our spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1-2).