The prophet Haggai asked the Israelites, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?"
They had joyfully returned from captivity and were finally free to worship God and restore Jerusalem. They began the task of rebuilding the temple. They celebrated so loudly after the foundation was completed that the neighboring countries heard them. The enemy surrounding them knew what they were up against. They had heard of the parting of the Red Sea, Jericho's walls crumbling, and how these people had the favor of God. And so, resistance came. The enemy began to fight and bring division by discouraging them. They even sent a letter to the Persian king fabricating a story of the rebellious nature of the Israelites (they were still under the rule of Persia at this time). The king was angered and he commanded the work on the temple to stop.
It would be wonderful if the Israelites stood their ground and continued to build the temple, but that was not the case. The great rejoicing was soon forgotten. Their lack of faith was once again at the forefront of their story. Their focus turned away from the temple and to their own homes.
How often I have read the story of the Israelites in disbelief. It seems as if they failed to be strong most of the time. This group of people who had the favor of God lived most of their existence far from Him. But as I judge them, God reminds me of the numerous times I have been unfaithful and weak. I recall times that I did not stand up for the Lord. There were many moments I walked down my own path and failed God miserably. Can I really sit back and cast judgment on them?
The Israelites spent many years focusing on their own homes- almost two decades! Their homes were paneled- luxurious- and the temple was still in ruins. Disgraceful!
"(The Israelites) did not say they wouldn't build a temple, but, Not Yet. Thus, men do not say they will never repent and reform, and be religious, but, Not Yet. And so, the great business we were sent into the world to do, is not done." Matthew Henry
NOT YET-Those two words have silenced ministries. Many people intend to do the work of the Lord, they want to fulfill their calling, but, Not Yet. In the back of their mind, they are thinking about doing something, just not today. Sometimes our 'Not Yets' grow from weeks to months to years to a lifetime.
Satan has a grip on us called procrastination. And. It. Works.
How easy is it to get distracted from the Lord's work? Often, we start with upright intentions, but then our focus shifts to our own needs. When opposition comes, and the work gets difficult, we willingly go on with life and leave our calling on the shelf. I'm sure many Christians want to do the work they were called to do, but it seems they don't have the time- they're just too busy. Satan doesn't have to tempt us to be evil, he just has to keep us busy.
God spoke through Haggai, and the Israelites obeyed. He said in Haggai 2:4 -Be strong and work, for I am with you.
Here's the deal- we need to get the words, NOT YET, out of our spiritual vocabulary.
May we lay aside doubt and fear, and focus on building the Kingdom.
May we do the work He has called us to do.
May we always be aware of attacks that are meant to distract, and stay focused on the Lord.