Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 174 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Haggai 1 today and our focus is on misusing Scripture to justify expensive church buildings AND the blessings that come when we obey God and put Him first .  We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in New South Wales, Australia, Lisbon, Portugal, Panama City, Panama, Federal District, Brazil, Saxony, Germany, Wakayama, Japan, Gelderland, Netherlands, Dubai, UAE, Cebu, Philippines, Bihar, India, New York, New York, Monterey, California, Phoenix, Arizona, Dallas, Texas and Wichita, Kansas.  Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Today we are in the Old Testament, and facing one of the more misused passages in the Bible. The Old Testament book of Haggai may be the single most obscure and lesser known book in the Bible – certainly in the top 5. Haggai was a minor prophet who lived during the time of Zechariah, Malachi, Nehemiah and Ezra – roughly 500 years before the birth of Jesus. He prophesied about the building of the second temple, and expressed God’s displeasure with the people of Jerusalem, who had returned from the Babylonian exile and had built up their houses and the city walls, but had failed to build up God’s temple. We find some tremendous theological truth in this passage, but the misuse of this chapter can be kind of dangerous and manipulative, and I’ve seen it personally more than once. Consider these verses:

The word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?”…“Because my house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house. Haggai 1:3-4;9 

How has this verse been misused? Quite regularly, pastors and church leaders have used this verse to justify building a nicer or bigger or more upgraded church building – with the implication that God isn’t satisfied with the current building, and He’d like whatever church to build Him a better house. Such verses can sometimes be used to launch giving campaigns that are designed to build bigger facilities. What’s the problem with that? Well, I imagine sometimes it is good for a church to expand or improve its facilities, and it is not something that is forbidden in Scripture….though I suspect that the Church in America has quite overspent on church buildings rather than underspent. That said, the problem for us using this passage to justify the building of a building, because this passage is talking about the Hebraic Temple in Jerusalem – it is not talking about First Presbyterian down the street, or First Baptist whatever. This is an Old Covenant passage that is pointing to the Old Covenant reality of the Temple as a dwelling place for God in a peculiar and particular way for the Jewish people. We are in the NEW Covenant now, and the Temple situation is massively different for us. How is it different? Well – let’s read our passage and then discuss it.

So – how is the temple situation different for us Christians in the 21st century than it was for the Jews in 520 BC – doesn’t God still want a good place to live in? Well, here’s the thing: there is no longer a temple that God dwells in like He did in the temple in Jerusalem. Why not? Because something radical and earthshaking and paradigm shifting happened when Jesus rose from the dead: the temple of God isn’t a building anymore. What is it? Let’s ask the apostle Paul!

16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 

Yes – YOU are God’s temple

We see it in 1 Peter 2:5 too: you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

and 1 Corinthians 6:19 Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

and Ephesians 2:21-22, 21 In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

the PEOPLE of God are now God’s temple, so it is disingenuous at worst, and ignorant at best to use passages like Haggai 1 to justify expensive building campaigns. Perhaps the modern church has focused too much time money and attention on bricks and sticks buildings and not enough on the real dwelling place of God: the people!

One more truth here that is universal and holds up in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Consider verses

Now, the Lord of Armies says this: “Think carefully about your ways:You have planted much but harvested little.You eat but never have enough to be satisfied.You drink but never have enough to be happy.You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm.The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it.” Haggai 1:5-6

This is a profound challenge from God that points to an important reality: There are blessings that go with obedience (see: passages like Isaiah 48:18, ““If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river,And your righteousness like the waves of the sea. as well as Hebrews 6:7, James 1:12, James 1:25, 1 Peter 4:14 and more” and there are troubles and even curses that come along with disobedience.  Sometimes when we find ourselves unable to succeed, our paycheck runs out before  the month does, we are dissatisfied with life…the trouble may simply be that there are areas in our life where God is calling us to obey Him, and we aren’t. That, I believe, is the enduring message of Haggai 1 – God is a Father who blesses His obedient children and withholds blessings from disobedient children in order to steer them back to the right and good way.

Bible Memory verses for the month of June: Daniel 6:23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted in his God.

Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
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