Consider Your Ways (Haggai 1:1-15)

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I think you will agree that life can oftentimes become somewhat of a blur, and we tend to lose sight of what is really important, what is truly meaningful. We busy ourselves making a living, running our seemingly endless errands, fulfilling requirements of bureaucracy, seeking to achieve at work, organising and running a household, taking care of our health and doctoring it when it goes bad. And often the older we get the more hectic and thus the more blurred life can become.

At the end of these blurry days you may find yourself asking, “What have I really accomplished?” Sadly, this may often be our honest assessment of our productivity in the kingdom of God as well as in the rest of our lives. As life becomes increasingly blurry, we find ourselves losing sight of the priority assigned to us: to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; to be passionately involved in the building of “the house of the Lord.”

When life settles into this blur, we need to hear a Word from God which will clear our vision, enabling us to reflect and to then reorient our lives so as to put first things first. In a phrase, we need to hear God’s Word and then to consider our ways.

So it was with the returning remnant after arriving in Jerusalem after many years in Babylon. They had been given a privileged assignment but, over time, and due to some very real challenges, they had developed a blur regarding their priorities. God thus confronted them by His Word and commanded them, “Consider your ways” (vv. 5, 7). They were to “give careful thought to their ways,” and then to get about the task of building the house of the Lord, while not neglecting their other legitimate duties.

The phrase “consider your ways” is an interesting one, which literally means “to put your heart on your roads.” God was really telling them to consider the direction of their lives; to consider the road they were on and whether or not they really wanted to continue to head that way. There are times in our walk with God that we need to “put our heart on our roads.” There are times when we–as individual believers as well as local churches–must consider our ways and ask, specifically, “Are we properly investing in the kingdom of God for His glory?”

From 7-11 March 2007, Brackenhurst Baptist Church will be holding its annual World Outreach Celebration, a series of meetings in which the church focuses intently on the issue of global missions. The weeks leading up to, and including, the Celebration are always an important time for our church to consider our ways. This study is the first of a three-part miniseries in which our church, and by extension anyone else reading this, is challenged by the Word of God, “Consider your ways.” The result, I trust, is that we–like those to whom Haggai ministered–will rise up and “do work in the house of the Lord.” I trust, further, that these studies will enable us to see clearly through the blur of life and prioritise that which God prioritises.

Consider the Context

Before we seek to apply the words of this text to ourselves, let us first consider the context of our passage of study. In the opening chapter of Haggai’s prophecy, we see the right people, in the right place, who were interested in the right project and they were in the right period of history. Let’s take this apart in order to lay a proper foundation.

The Right People

First, we must see that the record of Haggai 1 concerns the right people: “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, 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” (vv. 1-2).

The Lord speaks to Haggai of “this people.” Obviously, he is speaking of the people of Israel, who had returned from the Babylonian captivity. The passage speaks later of “the remnant of the people” (vv. 12, 14). This remnant comprised some 50,000 people who had returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel the governor (Ezra 1:1-3; 2:64-65). It had cost them a good deal to leave the comfort of Babylon in order to return to a land that had been desolate for some 70 years. They were a good and godly people, willing to obey–even to the point of sacrifice–God’s Word. In many respects, the book of Haggai reads like a breath of fresh air, for in it we have a record of obedience by the people of God. Generally speaking, the prophetic books display a hard-hearted attitude of disobedience on behalf of God’s people, but Haggai is refreshingly different: the people obeyed.

The Right Place

We are told further that this word came to the remnant of the people who were in Judah. A parallel account specifically indicates that “the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 5:1). The right people were located, by faithful obedience, in the city of God. There is no doubt that God expected His people to return to Jerusalem after seventy years in Babylon; He had clearly stated as much through the prophet Jeremiah:

For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

(Jeremiah 29:10-14)

We might contrast the obedience of these Jews with the disobedience of those Jews who still lived in Persia and Babylon at this point in history. You will be aware, for instance, of Mordecai and Esther living in Susa, whereas they ought to have returned with the remnant to Jerusalem. And so, although there were many disobedient Jews who had chosen to stay in their place of captivity, there were also some–specifically these mentioned in our passage of study–who had obediently followed God’s call and returned to Jerusalem.

The Right Project

In addition to being the right people in the right place, these particular Jews were interested in the right project. Indeed, they had initially been very involved in this project. Specifically, that project involved the rebuilding of the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. The opening chapters of Ezra record the obedience of the people, and the house of the Lord features heavily in the opening verses of Haggai’s prophecy (vv. 4, 8, 9, 14). Although they had become discouraged because of their enemies, the building of the temple was a project in which they were interested. God’s house was important to them. They cared about the temple, about God’s purpose: it mattered to them.

Commentator Philip Mauro notes, “They were characterized by affection and zeal for God’s house.” This is clearly seen in their willingness to sacrifice for the project at hand: according to Ezra 1, they donated some 500kg of gold and three tons of silver to the project of rebuilding God’s house. Indeed, they were interested in the right project.

The Right Period

Significantly, they were the right people, in the right place, interested in the right project, at the right period in history. We have noted from Jeremiah 29:10-14 that God’s clearly revealed will was for His people to return to Jerusalem after the 70-year captivity in Babylon. And that, according to the opening verses of Ezra, is precisely when these Jews returned to the land:

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

(Ezra 1:1-2)

The period in which these people lived in Jerusalem was precisely the period ordained by God. It was a period that was problematic and yet providential. The record of Ezra clearly reveals the many problems that the Jews in Jerusalem faced at this point: discouragement, deception, outright hostility and threats. They were surrounded by pagan enemies who subjected them to libel and slander, and government litigation interfered with their attempts to build God’s house. Yet we should not forget that it was the right time, for it was the time appointed by God for His people to be back in the land.

There is an important lesson here for us: we are never in the wrong time or the wrong dispensation. We live in the time in which we live because that is where God, in His all sovereign wisdom, has placed us. We too will face discouragement, deception and hostility if we are serious about involvement in the work of God. Most likely, we will also be subjected to libel and slander, and may possibly face the opposition of government litigation, but we can never complain that we live in the wrong time!

The Wrong Priorities

Thus we see that these were the right people, in the right place, with the right purpose at the right period. And yet, at this very time, to these very people, God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. What was the problem? Why was nothing happening? Why was there such a lull in the advancement of the kingdom?

The answer is quite obvious from the words of Haggai in the opening verses of his prophecy: the people had wrong priorities. They had lost their focus, and this affected their faithfulness and fruitfulness. Let me explain.

When studying the books of Haggai and Zechariah (and, to an extent, Malachi) it is imperative that we also know something of the history of Ezra and Nehemiah. According to Ezra’s record, these Jews–upon their return from captivity–laboured hard on the temple for about two years. At the end of two years, the foundation of the temple had been built, and the altar completed. But then the opposition intensified. The world told them that it would not and could not be done and, sadly, they believed the world rather than the Word of God.

For 14 years after that initial surge of obedience, all work on the temple ceased. To be sure, they still worshipped God at the altar that had been built, but God’s kingdom had ceased to be their passion. They still contributed, but the work of the kingdom no longer consumed them. They still loved God, but not with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind or all their strength. In short, they no longer sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and thus they were not properly investing in the kingdom for His glory.

Instead of labouring intensely on the building of the temple, they had begun to focus more on building their own houses. Thus the Lord’s pointed rebuke, “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” (v. 4) They built their own houses with expensive panelling, but God’s house lay in ruins. Clearly, their priorities had become skewed.

But now, having laid the foundation, it is time for us to shift the focus to ourselves. We may be the right people, in the right place, with the right purpose, in the right period, but the all-important question is, Do we have the right priority? Let’s ask this question by giving due consideration to ourselves in three areas.

Consider Yourself

If we will invest in the kingdom of God for His glory, then we must consider ourselves. In his famous work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin writes:

Our wisdom, in so far as [it is] true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and [the knowledge] of ourselves. No man can survey himself without immediately turning his thoughts toward the God in whom he lives and moves … Every person therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is … urged [by this self knowledge] to seek God and is also led … to find Him.

Simply put, self-knowledge humbles us and leads us to consider God and His ways. If we will invest faithfully and fruitfully in the kingdom of God for His glory, we need an honest self-assessment of where we are in our relationship with God. Someone has compared Haggai to an alarm clock: unwelcome, but necessary. We need such Haggais in our lives, and these Haggais would challenge us to consider three things about ourselves: our words, our well-being and our worship.

Consider Your Words

We have already noted that Haggai speaks of the right people, in the right place, concerned with the right project, and the right period, and yet it also reveals something of a problem: misguided priorities. These misguided priorities were revealed, first of all, in the people’s words: “This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built” (v. 2).

In similar fashion, our priorities will be manifested by our words: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). Thus, in order to accurately gauge our faithfulness to and fruitfulness in God’s kingdom work, we can legitimately ask: What do I say, and does it line up with what God says? Does it agree, or contradict, or “excuse”?

What precisely did the people mean when they said, “The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built”? Notice that their objection was not that the Lord’s house should not be built, only that it was not time for it to be built. They were no longer convinced that it was the right point in history.

Perhaps the people, due to opposition, began to question whether or not they were living in the right dispensation to build. God’s Word was quite clear on the matter: they were to return from exile after 70 years and rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. However, the exile to Babylon had occurred in three stages. The first stage of exile (during which Daniel and his three friends were captured) occurred in 605 BC; the second stage (during which Ezekiel was taken captive) occurred in 597 BC; and the third stage, during which the city of Jerusalem and the temple were completely destroyed, took place in 586 BC.

According to v. 1, Haggai began prophesying in 520 BC (“the second year of Darius the king”). It was in 520 BC that the people cried, “The time is not come.” Perhaps some of them had been playing with their “dispensational charts.” It was clear that building on the temple needed to start 70 years after the beginning of the Babylonian exile. If you count 70 years from the first stage of exile (605 BC) you arrive at 535 BC. This would not fit their timeframe for it would mean that, in 520 BC, the people had been disobedient to the Lord for some 15 years already. The second stage of exile also wouldn’t fit the timeframe, for 70 years from 597 brings us to 527 BC, which means that work on the temple should have started 7 years before 520 BC. But perhaps there were some who reasoned that building must only start 70 years after the final stage of exile, which was in 586 BC. This would mean that work on the temple only needed to start in 516 BC, which meant that they had another four years to go. But of course such reasoning was flawed: God had brought them back from exile and He expected them to complete the work on the temple.

Their confusion seems to have arisen from the opposition that they faced: “We know we are where we should be, but perhaps this is not quite the right time for the temple to be built. We are in the wrong dispensation. We surely cannot expect much at this time.” Again, they knew that the temple had to be built, but had deluded themselves into believing that now was not the right time for it.

The legitimate question might be posed at this point, What exactly were they waiting for? We can list several (good) excuses that they may have raised in objection to rebuilding at that time.

  • The land was still desolate after 70 years of neglect.
  • The work was hard.
  • They didn’t have a lot of money/manpower.
  • They had suffered crop failures (1:10-11).
  • Hostile enemies resisted the work (Ezra 4).
  • Politicians (the government) were against it.
  • They remembered easier times in Babylon.
  • They had families to provide for, to protect.
  • They were awaiting an undeniable sign / another “word.”
  • They were waiting for hostilities to cease.
  • They were waiting for the government to be on their side.

The text does not enumerate all their excuses; it only tells us that they offered several excuses in order to put off what ought to have been done then. The problem was that their words were not in agreement with God’s Word. They needed to consider their words in light of His.

If we are God’s people then we should speak like God’s people. It is interesting that God speaks to Haggai of “this people” (v. 2), not of “my people.” It is not that the Jews were no longer His covenant people, but that these particular Jews, though obedient in returning to their land, had begun to manifest unbelieving conduct. More specifically, they were speaking like unbelievers: their words did not match their faith.

We dare not argue with God: His timing is perfect! He has placed us at this point in history with the assignment of building His kingdom, and we have no grounds to complain that the time is not right. A recent Newsweek article entitled “Remodeling the Churches” asked the question, “As European worship steadily declines, many grand old buildings have fallen into disuse. What should become of them?” In answer to this question, journalist William Underhill wrote:

For the Muslims of Clitheroe, collective worship has never been easy. It’s been 40 years since the first Asians settled in the little town close to England’s industrial heartland, but the 300-strong community has struggled ever since to find a suitable site for a mosque. No longer. In December the town council finally approved plans for the conversion of a handsome but derelict structure: a disused Methodist chapel. “There is a feeling of overwhelming relief and joy,” says Sheraz Arshad, a local Muslim leader. “Just because it looks like a church, there’s no reason why it can’t be used as a mosque.”

Given the shifting demographics of an increasingly secular Europe, the conversion makes perfect sense. Across much of the continent, churchgoing is in long-term decline, while a swelling–and devout–Muslim immigrant population needs ever more places to worship. According to a forecast by the British-based group Christian Research, practicing Muslims will outnumber practicing Christians in England within a few decades. More than 1,600 churches–about 10 percent of the country’s total–have been formally declared redundant by the Church of England. And the English have recognized the new reality: if church buildings are to survive, new uses must be found. While a handful serve as mosques or Sikh temples, many more have found roles as cafés, concert halls, warehouses or chic apartments. The pious may fret but pragmatism will often prevail.

Surely it is time for the church to rise up and cry, “Not so fast!” We fall into the same trap as the Jews of Haggai’s day if we sit idly by, declaring “The time is not come,” while Islam claims ground that rightfully belongs to God.

A missionary I know, who plans to move his ministry to a land openly hostile to the gospel, was recently counselled by some fellow-missionaries with those exact words: “The time is not right.” Thankfully, he has a greater view of God that those other missionaries seemingly have, and he recognises that the time is exactly right for this move in his ministry.

But what is our attitude concerning the work of God’s kingdom in the time in which we live? Do our words reflect faith in God’s Word, or do our words seek to excuse us from the responsibility given to us by God? As God’s people, our mouths ought constantly to be speaking of God’s kingdom, of God Himself.

Some years later, during the ministry of Malachi, we read this encouraging statement concerning the words of God’s people: “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16). Notice carefully: those who feared the Lord spoke about Him. Our words give away our heart! If it is in our heart to agree with and submit to what God has said and commanded, then the attitude of our heart ought to be manifested by our lips. And what has God said concerning His kingdom?

  • Matthew 6:33–“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
  • Matthew 28:18-20–“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

The people of God in Haggai’s day had skewed priorities, and their priorities were manifested by their words. May our words make it known that our priorities are God’s priorities.

Consider Your Wellbeing

Ultimately, what the people of God said here affected what they did and the quality of life that they lived. The Lord challenged them to examine two issues regarding their way of life.

Their Priorities

In this prophecy, writes James Montgomery Boice, “God was accusing the people of having plenty of time for themselves while pleading lack of time for God.” This is evident from vv. 3-4: “Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” Essentially, God was asking, “Is it time to pursue your own interests to the neglect of mine?”

In their actions, they were claiming that God’s interests must take a backseat to their own, but God knew that they knew better than that. Importantly, we should note that they were not guilty of committing overtly sinful deeds. They were doing good, allowable things–building shelter for themselves, providing for their families–but the good was being done to the neglect of the best. To borrow New Testament terminology, they were not allowing their love to abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement, thereby approving those things which are excellent (Philippians 1:9-11). Simply stated–and as noted above–they had skewed priorities. They had delayed in their obedience, and this resulted in them being distracted from obedience. Guzik is once again helpful, suggesting several objections that they might have raised.

  • “We can’t get much done at the temple, and I’m tired of living in a wreck. Time to start the remodel at home.”
  • “God wants me to give attention to things at home–home comes first.”
  • “I would fund more construction at the temple but all my money is tied up with my home renovation.”
  • “I’m not living extravagantly–look at the other houses in my neighborhood! Look at the chariots in their driveway!”
  • “Someone should get to work on the temple. I hope someone steps up to the job–I’ve got to finish panelling my living room.”
  • “The temple hasn’t been open for business for well more than 50 years–a little while longer won’t matter.”
  • “This isn’t the right time–later will be better.”
  • “The altar is there and we can at least sacrifice to the LORD. We’re getting by.”

Guzik concludes, “The excuses sound familiar–but God saw though them in the days of Haggai, and He sees through them today.” We need to give careful thought to our pursuits and our priorities. In everything we do, we must ask, “Does God’s kingdom factor into this?”

It is a sad reality that, in times of financial hardship, God’s kingdom is often the first to suffer. This is a sure indication of misguided priorities. The story is told of a farmer whose cow had two calves. Excited, he ran home to his wife and told her of how the Lord had blessed them, adding, “We are going to give one of those calves to the Lord.” When the wife asked which one, he replied, “It doesn’t matter, but one of them is the Lord’s.” As days past, his wife kept asking him which calf was the Lord’s but the answer was always the same: “It doesn’t matter, but one of them is the Lord’s.” One day, he came home looking downcast. When his wife asked what was wrong, he replied, “The Lord’s calf just died.”

I am afraid that many professing believers exhibit a similar attitude: we take first what we need (or what we think we need) and give to God what is left. “But how do I know,” you may ask, “when I have too much?” The answer is quite straightforward: when the needs of the kingdom suffer because your (perceived) needs must be met. Our giving is not a timing issue, but a treasure issue. That is, we give not only when we can “afford” it, but because we understand the issue of biblical stewardship, which Jesus set forth quite clearly:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(Matthew 6:19-21)

It is God’s Word which brings home the challenge to examine our priorities. Being exposed to God’s Word exposes the excuses of our words. I find it a significant fact that sound expositional ministries are generally sound financially. But we should extend the principle beyond our mere financial treasures: Do we “have time” to gather with the church for worship? Do we “have time” to get involved in Body life? Do we “have time” to build and maintain relationships with the saints? Do we “have time” to raise godly children? Do we “have time” to witness for the Lord? The answer to all of these questions–and a multitude of others–is surely, “Yes, for the time is now!”

Their Poverty

The Lord further challenged them to examine their poverty. I am not speaking here of financial poverty but of the lack of satisfaction, contentment and fulfilment they had because of their misguided pursuits.

Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes … Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

(Haggai 1:5-1, 9-11)

“Reflect on the result of your current pursuits,” says the Lord. “Do you really want to continue this way? Look at how impoverished you are!” They had no real sense of security, but only a feeling of restlessness and emptiness. In spite of all their work, their lives were a wasteland of worthless fruit. But let us admit that the Western world finds itself in precisely the same situation today. No one has stated it better than Boice.

I do not know of any passage in the Bible that better describes the feverish yet ineffective activity of our own age. Haggai’s first remark (in v. 6) is that the people had “planted much” but had “harvested little.” Since farming was their chief occupation, it is the equivalent of saying that they were always working. They were like the people in our day who take on extra jobs, who work through lunch and stay at the plant to work nights, who are always rushing around to get ahead. Yet little had come of it. They were like the person in the Pennsylvania Dutch expression: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” They were so concerned about working every possible moment that they were upset if they missed one turn of the revolving door. Yet they seemed on a treadmill. They were running up the escalator two steps at a time while it was coming down faster than they were climbing.

Not only were they falling behind in their push to get ahead–a picture of frustration00they were also dissatisfied, even in the midst of their apparent abundance. A number of the phrases speak of this: “You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm.” I do not think this means that there was insufficient food or drink–though the next verses do speak of a drought which affected the fields. The people were eating, after all. They were drinking. They did have clothes to wear. But they were not satisfied by these things and therefore always went about with a sense of longing for what was not there.

Is this not a picture of our age? More cars, more houses, more television sets, more games, more vacations … Yet people are wretchedly unsatisfied. People have everything, but they are miserable. And some of those miserable people are so-called evangelical Christians. What is the cause of this? It is the work of God. God has sent emptiness so that His people might awake from their idolatry and turn back to Him. The psalmist says, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Ps. 106:15, KJV).

In short, we might say that inverted priorities created impoverishing idolatries. The solution was for them to leave their fruitless fields, their measly meals, their wasting wages and to put first things first. “Leave the empty things and do the main thing,” cried the Lord, “and I will supply you with everything. Change your direction and I will change your fortune.” And the challenge goes out as strongly to us today as it did to those in Haggai’s day.

Consider Your Worship

There have been some stern warnings to the people of God in this chapter, but these words had a wonderful result: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD” (v. 12). This is the issue with which they had to come to grips: the fear factor.

Up until this point they were the right people, in the right place, with a wrong perspective, the wrong fear object. But now that changed: “the people did fear before the LORD.” The record of Ezra adds some additional light to this:

And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

(Ezra 3:1-3)

According to this passage, “fear was upon them because of the people of those countries.” They feared their enemies, but they handled this fear by having a greater fear: “the people did fear before the LORD.”

So it is with us: When we lose sight of the Lord then we serve a new master (cf. Matthew 6:24-34; 10:31). The solution to this is to hear God’s Word and to attain a healthy fear of God, which will result in encouragement from God and ultimately obedience to God. “And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son o Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God” (v. 14).

Let us, by God’s grace, fear Him alone and thus put first things first. As you consider yourself, consider God’s worth and be committed to God’s work.

Have you considered yourself? Are you happy with the direction in which your life is headed? If not, then consider Christ. Look to Him: He is the right way!