“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
Haggai was one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. I wondered why a prophet would be referred to as a minor prophet. It seemed to me that saying he was a minor prophet was like saying you had a minor heart attack. There’s nothing minor about a heart attack, just like there’s nothing minor about a prophet of God.
But then I did some reading and found out that it’s not the importance of the prophet that has them referred to as minor. It’s the length of the book, which for the minor prophets is anywhere from one to fourteen chapters. That’s small when you compare it to Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah. Their books are 66, 48 and 52 chapters respectively. So I can accept the term minor prophet based on that rationale.
In this verse, Haggai is referring to the post Babylon captivity Jews who had started and then stopped the second building of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. Evidently they could find the time and material to build their own, comfortable houses. They even had the resources to add wainscoting and line them with cedar boards. As much as they grumbled about how bad the times were, they were able to build some nice abodes and lounge around in them.
Meanwhile the Temple of the Lord was just sitting there unfinished and one would assume just wasting away. It was a convenient time to build their own homes, but not the Lords.
This verse was directed at the priests, scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of that time. The leaders were fulfilling themselves and not the needs of the people. For if the leaders saw fit to line their pockets and make sure they are taken care of, what will they do for the people they are to serve? Nothing, but that’s a thought for another day.
Today I wanted to write about my thoughts when I first read this verse, before I did any research. This is where my instincts took me.
The “paneled house” is the worldly house, the material world that we live in. We strive every day to take care of that house. Every day we work at making sure the bills are paid (well most of us). Every day we make sure the house is maintained (again, most of us), and sometimes we even work harder to make and buy things that are bigger and better than what we currently possess. We do all this for our physical comfort.
Every day we put more into maintaining and improving our worldly house, and in the process we ignore and forget about the spiritual house. We don’t maintain it, we don’t look to improve it. And so it lies in ruin, every day eroding as the issues of the worldly house don’t allow us to walk by this deteriorating piece of spiritual property and shake our heads in disgust.
Unlike an actual piece of rundown property, we don’t ask, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this rundown house? Why is it such an eyesore? All someone has to do is put a little TLC to it and it could be beautiful.” No, all we can say is, “I, need to do something about that.” If you wait too long to do anything about it, the spiritual house could be condemned, bulldozed, and gone forever.
So Haggai is telling us to dwell in your spiritual house, maintain it and keep improving it.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.