Haggai: 8 Lessons in Priorities (Part 4)

Posted on February 10, 2018


By David Ettinger

I have been a longtime writer for the magazine Zion’s Fire. Here’s an article I wrote from 1999, and felt it would make for a good blog series, in four parts. (I freshened it up a tad.) Today, Part 4, Lessons 7 & 8. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here. 

Lesson 7. Reinforcing Right Priorities
Man’s Priority: To live for self.

Outcome: Missing out on God’s blessings.


Again, God, knowing the nature of His creation, felt the need to continue to hammer home the consequences of humanity’s disobedience. Though the Israelites were at that moment strong spiritually, the Lord knew it would not last. Therefore, He found it necessary to remind them of their past ways: “Now give careful thought to this from this day on – consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple. When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty” (2:15-16).

God is reminding the Israelites that in the days of their disobedience they were always in want. No matter what they did of their own volition, it was not good enough. So it is with Christians today. Though we are told to be “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13), it is not a bad idea to once in a while look back on our lives before we came to Christ and see how bankrupt we were spiritually.

God’s Priority: That His people live for Him.

When we turn our lives over to the Lord and dedicate every day to Him, God promises us something precious in return: “From this day on … give careful thought … Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. From this day on I will bless you” (2:18-19, italic added).

It is as if God is almost pleading with His people: I am longing with all of My heart to bless you, if you will only do what I ask you to do. And so God makes the same offer to us as Christians, yet it seems so difficult for us to accept. Where we keep falling back on old ways, God desires to renew us daily by His compassion (Lamentations 3:22-23). Where we live too much according to the precepts of this world, God would remind us that our inheritance is in Heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Where we look too often with disfavor at our daily circumstances, God would have us know that we are blessed “with all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3).

Haggai’s Message to Us: Don’t live for self when we can be living for the Lord.

Lesson 8. Rewards of Right Priorities (2:20-23)
Man’s Priority: To see the small picture.

Outcome: Not to see that we are part of God’s eternal plan.


Judah’s governor, Zerubbabel, could not have felt like a very important man. After all, he was in charge of a motley bunch of returned exiles which had just come out of the stupor of a 16-year lethargy. He was facing opposition on just about every side (Ezra Chapter 4), and he was living in a city (Jerusalem) which was still in disrepair, especially the walls designed to protect it (Nehemiah 1:3). That he was being used of God for such noble future purposes must have been the furthest thing from his mind. Yet what God saw concerning him, the good governor could not have even imagined: “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother” (2:21-22).

God has a day of wrath and justice coming, and he sought to tell Zerubbabel that the work the governor was doing in His own day would in some way play a role in God’s future glorious day. So with us, it is almost impossible to see beyond the confines of our daily lives how God can use the little things to accomplish mighty purposes. Our smallest efforts to do good, no matter how insignificant they may seem at the time, could result in monumental achievements for the kingdom of God, some of which we may never be aware of until the day we reach Heaven.

God’s Priority: That His children see eternity.

What Zerubbabel certainly could not have known during his day was that God had an eternal purpose for him far beyond the scope of 520 B.C. Israel. “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty’” (2:23).

And so, too, it is with Christians. We prioritize our lives to survive the moment; God fashions us to be instruments of eternity. We can barely see beyond the next five minutes, let alone the next day; God’s vision stretches endlessly. We can only see ourselves in the constrained existence in which we live; God sees us as soldiers in His vast spiritual army. That we are part of God’s greater picture is often difficult to acknowledge when we see no more than the small picture.

haggai BibleHaggai’s Message to Us: Live your life in the face of eternity.

The children of Israel, during the days of Haggai the prophet, had a serious problem: wrong priorities. They put their own needs above the Lord’s desires and so brought judgment upon themselves. It was not until they righted themselves, repented, and obeyed God that the blessings began to flow. Today, as Christians, we must endeavor to make God’s priorities our own that we might fulfill the wonderful, eternal purposes which He determined for us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.