“You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the LORD of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.” -- Haggai 1:9
Appearances are a glimpse of what is hidden (Anaxagoras)
I do not like what is going on in the world around me. I enjoyed seeing good people stand up in the townhall meeting and shout down arrogant politicians. So, too, it was encouraging to see probably hundreds of thousands marching on Washington on September 12. These are positive signs. Still, it seems that our representatives think they can ignore their constituents and continue to enslave us and destroy the economy with bad decisions. Afghanistan is deteriorating. The situation in Iran calls for action. The world becomes daily more dangerous and chaotic. Debt is soaring. Unemployment is worsening. Inflation threatens. I could begin to think that we are doomed.
As the exiles returned to Jerusalem from captivity, they took on the great task of rebuilding their society. It seemed reasonable to cultivate their fields, build houses for their families, along with barns and sheds for their own use. Time passed, and they found that they were not doing well. The crops gathered seemed insufficient for their needs. Things went wrong. It didn’t rain when it should. They were plagued with minor difficulties that aggregated to a serious strain on their existence. From out of this period of struggle a prophet arose and began to speak.
Haggai says that the problem is not climate change, pollution, government policies, health care, or corporate profits. Spiritual ills manifest themselves in the material world. The storms of life may be fanned into existence by the wings of a dark and distant moth I would rather ignore. I need to change my priorities. Neglecting the temple means trouble. My focus must be on the “house of God” – my spirit. I have spent too much time and effort on taking care of self, the soulish part of me, while ignoring the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. I need to go up and clean away the debris, locate the foundations and repair them. I need to begin to raise the walls and restore the holy place and the holy of holies. When the Lord has a resting place in me, I will be at rest in Him.
There was the tabernacle – the tent of meeting, and there was the temple. I tend to think of myself as a tabernacle of the Spirit. Paul uses that image in Second Corinthians 5:1 speaking of the physical body. But there is also the ultimate temple that is being built, and First Peter 2:5 calls us individually “living stones ... being built up as a spiritual house.” In perfect fractal fashion, the inner man is a microcosm of the greater Body of Christ.
This means that, if the world needs changing, not only must I build up my own inner man, but I must help my brother as well. I suffer for my neighbor’s neglect of the temple just as he suffers for mine. I wonder sometimes if the temple isn’t pretty strange looking. Are there places where stones are missing? Is one corner completely finished and another yet to begin? Do the walls rise higher with each generation, or does the Lord have another way to finish it? I guess I’ll find out someday. Meanwhile I need to do what I can where I am. I recall that there was no sound of the hammer when Solomon’s temple was raised for each stone was perfect as it came in and fell precisely into place.
Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another … -- 1 Thessalonians 5:11