“Consider Your Ways”

Richard Thetford

God’s children, who had been in Babylonian captivity, have returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel with the purpose of rebuilding the city and the temple that had been destroyed. They started to build the temple but then the temple work was stopped. In fact 16 years had passed since a remnant of God’s children returned to Jerusalem, and still the temple had not been completed. The people’s personal affairs begin to interfere with God’s business. As a result we find Haggai preaching to them, hoping to stir them up to want to finish building the temple. He calls for all the builders to have a renewed courage in their Lord, a renewed holiness, and a renewed faith in God. In Haggai 1:4-5, we find the word of the Lord coming to Haggai and saying: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!” What happened to these Jews who had returned to their homeland? Why have they not yet finished the temple to God? It seems that they got caught up in their own ways and forgot about the Lord. We can read in Haggai 1:6 where even though they are planting their crops, making clothes, and earning wages, it is as if they are not benefiting from these things. Why do you suppose that is? It is because they were caught up in doing for themselves and not considering the Lord. Haggai preached to them to give first priority to the Lord and then they will be able to enjoy the blessings from God. They listened to Haggai and turned their efforts to serving God. They finished the temple 20 years after they began to build it, but remember 16 of those years they did not work on it. It was only after they began to put God first, that they started to reap His blessings.

Learning From Haggai

As I study the Old Testament, I understand more and more what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). As we read these stories of old, we see that there is an application in them for our lives today. Haggai encouraged God’s people to “consider your ways!” We also should consider our ways in everything that we do to make sure that we are living our life in accordance with what God would approve of. We can work, work, work, but if we are doing it only for ourselves and not for the Lord, then it will not be of any benefit to us. Once the people began to listen to Haggai teaching them that they must first do God’s will, then things started working out for them. We need to understand the words of Jesus as He said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34). When we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness FIRST, then we can rest assured that everything else that we NEED will be provided for us. When we do this, then we will not have any need to worry because we have put our life in God’s hands, knowing that He will provide for us if we are faithful to Him!

Consider God’s Way

We should ensure that we are considering God’s way in all that we do. Paul wrote in Romans 11:22: “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” We certainly can learn from reading the pages of the Old Testament how God dealt with His children then. Knowing this, then we should understand how He will deal with His children of today. God is good and God is severe. As Paul put it, as long as we continue in righteousness toward God then we can expect nothing less than His goodness, which includes all the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). But if we choose to be disobedient then we can also expect to be “cut off” from being with God in heaven. I don’t know what it is that motivates you to follow directions, but as for me, KNOWING that if I do not do God’s will that I will spend an eternity in hell, I am moved to want to please my God! I want to go to heaven don’t you? If you sincerely do, then you WILL honestly strive to obey all of God’s commandments so you can have that eternal rest with Him! Remember, “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

I encourage you to “consider your ways” as Haggai encouraged the people of God to do long ago. If you are living righteously before God, then keep it up (Revelation 2:10). If you are not living righteously, you need to repent (Acts 8:22; 17:30), and be determined to live righteously before God forever more! Won’t you “consider your ways” today?