Of all the things we can do for God, do we ever wonder what would really please Him? Or what would glorify Him the most?
Why was it so important to God that His people rebuild the temple, and does that still apply to us today?
This is what we will examine in verses 7 and 8 of chapter 1 of Haggai’s Book.
“Thus says Jehovah of hosts: Consider your ways.” (Haggai 1:7)
After having exposed the situation in which the Israelites found themselves, the Lord once again calls His people to carefully consider their ways and the state they were in. The people certainly wondered why things were as they were, with a real desire for change. Perhaps this is the case for us as well? Well, the Lord had an answer to give them through the mouth of His prophet.
“Go up to the mountain and bring wood, and build the house, and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, says Jehovah.” (Haggai 1:8)
This is the reason why all these things happened to them: they had given up the work of building the house of the Lord. The Lord is now clearly calling them to stop saying that this is not the time to build and then put a lot of effort and time into their own projects, and to resume the work of building the house of the Lord.
The Lord first calls them to go up to the mountain and bring wood.
It was necessary to go and get the required material for the continuation of the work. It was going to take effort and time. But it had to be done. The Israelites could not ask foreigners to do this work for them. It was their job.
It reminds us that we are all called to bring what we have—in time, in energy, in goods, in capacity, with heart—to work at the work that God is still doing.
The Lord then calls them to build the house.
It was not only necessary to have the materials and willingness, but also to put one’s hand to the work of building the house, each one working according to his own abilities on this great work.
We are all different. We are not all evangelists, or pastors and/or doctors. But we are all members of the body of Christ, and each member is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. “But now God has set the members, each one of them in the body, according as it has pleased Him” (1 Corinthians 12:18). It is God who, in His wisdom, determines the place of each one. Let us all seek to function well, each humbly in our place, for the glory of God.
In this way, we can all contribute in different ways to the building up of the body of Christ. Whether it is by bearing witness to the Lord Jesus, by a word or a tract, or by various cares given to those in the house of God. We can all contribute, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, to this great work that God is doing until now. We can also pray and support in different ways those who are especially gifted by the Holy Spirit in evangelism, teaching or caring for the flock. If we truly wish to serve the Lord, the Master Builder has work for each of us!
The Lord then said to the people that He will take pleasure in such an activity, and that He will be glorified.
Yes, God seeks worshippers who worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23), “the sacrifice of praise … that is, the fruit of the lips confessing His name” (Hebrews 13:15), and this from those who are in Christ Jesus.
But here we see that what God takes pleasure in is that we work to build His house.
Do we have to admit that we contributed only little to this work so far? Or perhaps have we quietly neglected it? Apart from attending meetings, do we take time to bring in materials and/or to build? —Go up, bring in, build! And I will take pleasure in it! This is what the Lord tells us even today. We can be sure that this activity will please Him and will meet His approval and blessing!
And this not only pleases the Lord, it glorifies Him. What glorifies God is not only our praise, but that His house be built and be in good condition. Here is what is needed! To build the house so that the praise and worship that God is seeking rises up before Him. The Lord says to us, “Go up … bring … build … and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified.”
It was not only important, but a priority for the Lord that His people work to build His house.
It was, first of all, the place He had chosen to set His name there. We read in the book of Ezekiel, chapters 10 and 11, that the glory of the Lord had left the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the temple had to be built for a second very important reason, which is mentioned to us in Haggai 2:7: the coming of the Messiah, “the desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7). Today, the house of God is “the assembly of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15), composed of all those “that are sanctified by faith in [Christ]” (Acts 26:18).
Do we see the price that it has for God that we work on His house?
As the temple was to be ready for the coming of the Messiah, today the Lord continues to build His house which is the Assembly. The bride of Christ must be ready for the coming of the Lord. And when the last stone is added to this spiritual building, He will take His Assembly to be with Him forever.
People come to Christ even today, to find forgiveness of their sins and eternal life. They need to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord wants us to realize that this work is most precious to His heart, and that we be available to do what He places before us in this great work He is doing. There is work outside to bring souls to Christ, and work inside to edify those souls, so that “we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Obviously, this state will be perfectly reached when the Assembly is finally in the presence of the Lord. Nevertheless, this work continues and must continue until that glorious moment. It is part of Christ’s ongoing care for His Assembly.
We saw that the Israelites had to consider their ways carefully. They had worked a lot, but had not benefited from it and were not satisfied with all their work. We could say that there was neither pleasure nor glory in the work of their hands.
It is in this context, well felt by the Israelites, that the Lord calls them straightforwardly to resume the work of building His house, work that they had abandoned. The Lord was going to take pleasure in it and be glorified.
Even today, and especially in these last moments before the coming of the Lord to call His Assembly to Himself, before the day of trial and wrath of God comes upon this world, we can be assured that all that is done for the building up of the house of God, His Assembly, will find all the approval of the Lord, that He will rejoice in it, and that He will be glorified by it.
The Lord calls us to build! Blessed are those who will have been faithful in His house! (Matthew 24:45-46) He is coming, and His reward is with Him (Revelation 22:12). “The work of each will be made manifest” (1 Corinthians 3:13), and there will be a reward for those who have contributed with precious materials, according to the Lord’s appreciation.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us go up, bring in, and build! The Lord comes!