And then a little later, God-of-the-Angel-Armies spoke out again: “Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over. You have spent a lot of money, but you haven’t much to show for it. You keep filling your plates, but you never get filled up. You keep drinking and drinking and drinking, but you’re always thirsty. You put on layer after layer of clothes, but you can’t get warm. And the people who work for you, what are they getting out of it? Not much—a leaky, rusted-out bucket, that’s what. That’s why God-of-the-Angel-Armies said: “Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over.” [Haggai 1:5-7 (MSG)]

loggerhead shrike “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” sang the Rolling Stones in 1965. Back in 520 BC, the Jews of Jerusalem were probably singing their own version of that song. Sixteen years earlier, upon their return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they had started to rebuild the temple just as God had instructed them to do. Within two years, however, construction had stopped. Granted, they had hostile neighbors who, fearing a prosperous Jewish state, harassed them. In actuality, though, they were more to blame for their delay than were their political opponents. Questioning God’s timing, they’d grown discouraged, lost focus and become more concerned about building their own homes than finishing God’s house. God sent a message to the people through the prophet Haggai pointing out that the harder the people worked for themselves, the less they had to show for it. By ignoring God and fulfilling their needs first, the Jews were destined to remain unsatisfied. Moreover, God was angry that He had been ignored. So angry, in fact, that He sent a drought to destroy their crops and livestock.

Although we’re not building a temple with hammers and nails, we also need to heed Haggai’s message. We should be busy building up God’s kingdom and the church of Christ. Yes, our homes and families, our jobs, even our leisure activities are important, but not as important as God and the task He’s given us. When our relationship with God comes first, the rest of our lives will function better. He will give us the strength and guidance to find peace in our lives. We won’t have to search for happiness; it will be ours. We will, indeed, be satisfied.

They’ll build houses and move in. They’ll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates, For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won’t work and have nothing come of it, they won’t have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by God, with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed. Before they call out, I’ll answer. Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard. [Isaiah 54:21-24 (MSG)]

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