The Life Project: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
Casey Hooper July 22, 2012
Can you remember back to your childhood? For some of us it was a little longer ago than we would like, but we remember it anyway. Your parents were an important part of shaping your life. They helped mold your attitudes, your behavior, and your character.
My father had rules. And boy did he have a bunch of them! He had rules from soup to nuts: No slurping soup and no more than a handful of nuts at a time! There were other requirements too like keeping my room clean, bathing regularly, eating my vegetables, and not beating up my sisters. If I didn’t follow the rules, I would probably not get any ice cream after supper. And it got worse if the offense included beating up sisters or lipping off to my mom!
My father had these rules in place because he knew what was good for me physically and for my family relationship. He simply wanted the very best for my family because he loved us. My dad wanted to bless me and my family; but, sometimes my own failure to do what was right for me led to correction.
Our Father in heaven is very much the same way. He created us and has a pretty good idea about how we should live and conduct ourselves. God makes the rules of the universe. He knows what values are best for us to hold and what attitudes we should have. The Bible is full of these truths because God loves us. And because God loves us he also wants to bless us for right living. But, he won’t hesitate to correct us for our own rebellion!
In these last three books of the Old Testament, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi we find these same principles being laid down by God. In Haggai chapter 1 we find that the people of Israel have neglected the rebuilding of the Temple. God told them to do so and the Israelites were ignoring His instruction. As a result they weren’t getting their "Ice Cream". Instead this is what happened:
7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. 8 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. 9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you 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. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands." (NIV84)
Simply put, God will not honor a stubborn heart. The Israelites got their spanking! And just as I repented when I wronged my father’s rules, Israel repented and got busy. As a result God comes back in Haggai 2:9 and says ". . . From this day on I will bless you."
God never said how he would bless Israel; but, the fortunes of Israel were turned around after that point. There was less frustration and greater freedom for their nation.
Give careful thought to your ways! God will choose the flavor of your "ice cream."