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These two cycles show how significant God a place God plays in our lives, whether we like it or not. With each cycle there is a low and a high. We start looking at each cycle at its low.
Let's look at the first cycle here: Caring for the Discouraged.
Each cycle has a low and high. We will start by observing the low.
The word 'guilt' is not used in Haggai. There is the actual guilt - the failure of living by God's standards. Along with moral guilt come guilty feelings - easily irritated because of one's own disobedience.
We should note that guilt brings us in a situation where God must confront us. This is called judgment. He can choose to postpone this judgment, but it is certain. God always holds people accountable for what they have done. The LORD is the Law Giver (Legislative) as well as the Enforcer of the law (Policeman) and Maintainer (Judge) of the Law.
Notice the clarity this visit of God has:
Before we think of a chemical imbalance, we ought first to consider if there is a spiritual imbalance. Have we in some way violated what God has desired for us to do? If so, we are lacking righteousness.
God's confrontation highlights this imbalance. God doesn't have to show up to establish this. He will eventually. Because of this reason, we ought often check ourselves whether we have left something undone or done things that displeased the Lord.
In this case, they could have corrected their situation more than ten years earlier and avoided the second stage we will now observe.
The Book of Haggai begins by describing what has and has not been occurring in the lives of the exiles. We will not go into a full discussion here for this can be found elsewhere. More important is to note how they have neglected to fulfill what they knew they should have been doing.
They had started rebuilding the temple more than ten years earlier but just stopped. The former temple lay in ruins. There must have been some construction done, but for the most part it all just sat there. As is typical, people would no doubt avoid going by this spot as each site or mention of it increased their guilt.
We instead read how they busied themselves on building luxurious homes for themselves.
"Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?" (Haggai 1:4).
It appears they were preoccupying themselves with these personal projects so that they could keep the ruins out of their minds. Guilt occurs because we either have neglected to do what we were supposed to do as in this case, or because we have done things which were not right.
In this case they left undone which should have been completed. Clearly the issue was not their work on paneling their houses but neglecting their duty to rebuild the temple. The "while" in the verse above shows how God's house lay desolate.
Guilt always leads to difficult situations. God calls them to actually, "Consider their ways." In other words, God is telling them that if they were wise, then they would have discerned their problem earlier on. They could have done this by observing the increasing difficulties they were facing as listed in Haggai 1:6.
Sown much, but harvest little;
Eat, but not satisfied;
Drink, but not enough to become drunk;
Put on clothing, but not warm enough
Earns, wages put into a purse with holes.
Verses 9-11 reveals even further difficulties. The LORD is saying that He is fully responsible for bringing these difficulties into their lives because of their neglect of rebuilding the temple.
You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away.
Why?" declares the LORD of hosts, "Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. "Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. "And I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands." (Haggai 1:9-11).
The pattern is ever so clear: Sin brings Judgment. In verse 1:6 Haggai tells them the solution is to get on with doing what God wants.
Difficulties in life are not always because of our sins, but it often is. We are wise to consider our ways.
Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways! (Haggai 1:5; see also 1:7).
Most people get discouraged when they run out of food, not enough clothes, not warm enough, earnings dwindle away, etc. Life becomes oppressive rather than liberating. God actually uses weather patterns, agricultural problems, etc. to catch and hold a people's attention. After serious storms, people always seem more 'God' conscious.
God disciplines His children. It is a modified judgment with a purpose other than settling accounts. If God was just judging, then He would not tell them to observe their ways. The action has a higher purpose. Look again at the cycle chart above and see where the stars are located. They are in these cases as they often are at the low points. God magnifies His grace and mercy by helping man at his weakest point. If judgment does not end a person's life, then God has a higher purpose of showing mercy and grace.
Disobedience leads to guilt which in turn brings lots of problems that led them to difficult times. Many people go on and on in their lives without ever getting the connection that they should turn from their rebellious ways. Usually, if a person is quiet and listening, he will see how to solve these problems (1:8) along with all of the difficulties. God has been talking all along, but they were too busy on their distracting projects.
What hobbies are you involved in? Are you working extra hard? Why?
Do you have a second job? Why? Do you hear people say that you are too busy?
Would you describe your life as one that is blessed or cursed? Do you find things coming your way or going against you each step you take?
Are you low on money? Hard to keep afloat? Considering bankruptcy?
Do you hear God speaking to you about something you should do or haven't done? Has one or two concerned people suggested that you should change something in your life?
Did you brush them away or listen to them and thank them for their help?
Next => Let's look at the High aspect of Cycle #1- Haggai 1:12-15.
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Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988