Bible Passage: Haggai 1
The moral of the story of three little pigs is worth the time and effort to build something good. The first chapter of the Book of Haggai summarises the story about the people of God (Israelites) that while they have been living at the beautiful homes made of woods, while the temples have not been rebuilt. Because of this, the harvest was so poor, and people are dissatisfied. This probably implies that if Israelites obeyed God and rebuilt the temple, that they will be blessed. So, God tells Israelites to reconsider their ways, so Israelites have regained their strengths and obeyed God and they built the temple together. So, what is the moral of this story? Of course, the moral of this story depends on how you tell the story, and it depends on what you’re focused on. Are we to focus on Prophet Haggai who was telling the truth? Are we to focus on the crops that are not doing well? Or the temple that is still lies in ruins? Depending on which elements that you’re focused on, the way they apply the story to your life will be different. The moral of the story is also depending on how you relate yourself to the story. How do we interpret the Book of Haggai?
Here are some examples of how people read the Book of Haggai.
The first kind of interpretation is to apply directly to our lives, which means prosperity gospel. You give money to God, and God will make you to succeed in your lives and God will give you prosperity and enjoyment. This is exactly The Book of Haggai teaches us.
The second kind of interpretation, and this is more common to our circles. It is to see our relationship with God as works based relationship. You give God something, and God will something back to you. What can we give to God? Our works. And what can God give to you? It is certainly not wealth, but it is salvation.
In my opinion, this could be more dangerous than prosperity because this distorts God’s love, God’s justice and the essence of God’s relationship with us. So, what is the moral of the story of the Book of Haggai? It depends on how you tell the story. Of course, this does not mean that anyone can interpret the Bible in their own way and arrive at their own conclusion. Because God had already told us the most important key to interpret Bible. Since the fall, the entire story of mankind is centered on one person and one event. That person is Jesus Christ, and that event is His death and resurrection. How does The Prophet of Haggai bring us to the cross of Christ? In order to answer that question properly, we need to first tell the story of Haggai in greater detail. The historical details of the book of Haggai were actually given in the book of Ezra. In the book of Haggai, the Israelites started to build their homes. They focused on their own wellbeing. They were panel houses, are used to describe only two buildings in the Old Testament. The first one is the temple of the Lord, and second is the palace of the King. Israelites have the resources, but they did not want to spend it to rebuild the God’s temple.
And now that we mentioned about the temple, we come to a very interesting place – relating to the moral of the story. At this point of sermon, this is where most preachers were now transition from Israel neglecting from building the God’s temple to our live in the 21st century. They asked the congregation, “Have you been neglecting to rebuild the God’s temple in your life as well?” What does it mean for us to rebuild the temple? What does the temple of God even represent my life? A common guess is a church building. The books of Haggai and Ezra often being preached when it comes to renovating the church or building a new church. The temple is the place where God meets men, and the Temple represents three things:
1. A presence of God
Before the time of Moses, nobody exactly knew where to find God. It was always God who shows Himself to people. But now as the Temple has been built, the people of God not only knew where God lives, they knew where God lives among them.
2. A grace of God
When the mankind was first made, there was no separation between God and men. But after the mankind sinned, they were forever separated from God, because the Holy God cannot live with sinners. But if God lives with sinners, one thing has to be solved – that is the thing that separates God and men in the first place, which is sin.
3. The worship of God
It is the place where men come and give themselves to God. If the temple represents presents, grace and worship of God – then the rebuilding of the temple is a response of faith. It is the faith of Israelites, they knew that the presence of God, the grace of God and the worship of God is above all else in life. It is the faith of choosing God over earthly comfort and security, it is to prioritise God over themselves.
If the temple represents the place where God is present, where God’s grace is shown, and where God is worshipped properly – then what does the temple represent ultimately? It can be none other than Jesus. The temple in Haggai’s time does not represent church buildings, it represents Christ. To build the temple of God, for us in the 21st century – is to live in comfort, the peace, the security of this life, to see them as secondary; and to make seeking God, knowing God and worshipping God first. What does it mean to prioritise God? It is to prioritise our obedience to God over following our own sinful desires. It is to prioritise our own relationship with God over any kind of relationship we have with people. It is to prioritise to value of God over the value of anything in this life. When we read the book of Haggai in this way, we realised the book of Haggai teaches us something new – it is the book that tells us about the gospel even before Jesus Christ comes. It is the book that calls us to put God first and ourselves second. This is the moral of the story.