The year is 520 B.C. Came the Word of the LORD by Haggai, the prophet, unto Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest, saying (Haggai 1:2), “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.” Then came the Lord’s answer (verse 4), “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?”
The background of this text is that in 537 B.C. by the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled (Ezra 1:1-11). King Cyrus made a proclamation in his kingdom that God had charged him to build Him a House at Jerusalem. He charged the Jews in captivity: Who among you would go up to Jerusalem and build the House of the Lord God of Israel? Ezra 1:5 says, “Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.” (42,360 raised up plus 7,337 servants and their maids. And they went back to Jerusalem to build the House of God. They did lay the foundation of the Temple, but persecution came and a new king Ahasuerus stopped the building of the Temple. So the work stopped as recorded in Ezra 4:1-24.)
Our story takes place in 520 B.C. in the times of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. These two prophets brought the Word of the Lord to start again to build the Temple. Then Zerubbabel and Jeshua started to work on the Temple. Ezra 5:2 records that work began with the prophets helping the people build the Temple. Then the enemies came again and tried to stop the building. They sent letters to king Darius to stop the building as had been done 17 years earlier. However, this time Cyrus’ letter was found in the records to build the House of God, so Darius allowed them to build the Temple.
Our text deals with getting the people to begin work again. But in verse 2, the people said, “The time is not come.” But God replied (verse 4), “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled (completed) houses, and this house (the House of God) lie waste?”
This sets the stage for the question, “What time is it?” That is for you. Is it time for God’s Work, or must that be delayed in the face of opposition?
First note, most look out for themselves first, before they do God. If God has called you to His Service, there are several Scriptures that should be examined. (See Luke 14:26-33.) Here God commands His disciples to deny all, even their own life; to bear His cross and follow Christ; to count the cost, or you “cannot be my disciple.” In Luke 9:57-62, one man said, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” Christ related that to follow Him, you must: 1) realize that if you follow Christ, you may not have a place to lay your head; you may not own anything; 2) family must come second to His Service, even when they die, “Let the dead bury their dead”; 3) when He calls, He becomes first in your life, not family; for if you look back, you are not fit for the Kingdom of God.
Second, you must not look at your present enemy. Don’t let the enemy decide when you are to work for God; follow God’s command. Don’t fear the enemy. Christ told His disciples that they would be hated by the world, for the world hated Him (John 15:18); for they were not of the world, but had been chosen out of the world; so the world would hate them (John 15:19). Therefore any time you do God’s Work, there will be opposition by the enemy of God. Persecution is going to happen when you stand for God and do His Work. The darkness hates the light, for the light reveals their evil and depraved hearts.
Thirdly, Romans 8:31 tells us, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” This is where faith comes in; God is able; God cannot lie. God has all power, and there is no way for you to fail, if God has called you to His Service. Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Therefore, the Just live by Faith (or by Christ).
So, what time is it? Is it your time or is it God’s Time? Who have you put first in your life, is it God or is it you? If you have put yourself first, you have made a wrong turn; a wrong choice; you have chosen fear. But God has given us, not a spirit of fear, but of Power and of Love and of a sound mind. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:7-8).
You cannot prosper as a child of God, if you have put yourself first. God demands our all and nothing less.
Is it “time for you” or is it God’s Time?
(This devotional was previously posted on October 1, 2010.)