Repetition in the Scriptures is like a holy highlighter. I keep going back to Haggai – the short 2-chapter Old Testament book of prophecy because I cannot shake a powerful repetition here that we should not ignore. In these 38 verses, God repeats three words five times: “give careful thought” (1:5, 7, 2:15, and twice in 18). They are all situated in the same general context. “Give careful thought” to what is happening to you and around you. They are a word of chastisement amid the encouragement we talked about a couple of days ago (9/2/20)
Haggai declared in these passages “You plant much but harvest little. You eat and drink, but are never full. You put on clothes, but cannot get warm, You earn wages, but you have holes in your pockets” “You expected much, but it turned out to be little.” “You thought you had plenty, but you did not.” (paraphrased). Even the crops had failed. Why? “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house” (1:9). Remember that these were exiles returning from 70 years of Babylonian captivity to find Jerusalem was decimated. After a good start, the people abandoned the temple restoration and instead rebuilt their own homes. There they stayed, settled and lethargic.
I know – you’re wondering when this is going to turn into the encouraging word for today. Well, today the word is “give careful thought.” The Israelites needed to “give careful thought” as to why they were finding disappointment in every endeavor. It was because they had turned away from wholehearted obedience to God to serve themselves. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that this is the condition of the U.S. And a glance in the mirror tells me this is often the cause of my own issues as well. It never fails that when I don’t seek the kingdom of God first, things start to fall apart. Just a gentle suggestion here: might your struggles – like mine – have their roots in disobedience? Notice that the Israelites didn’t stomp their feet and shake their fist at God in rebellion. They just got more involved in their own stuff and slowly shifted their focus. Beloved, do you need to “give careful thought” to what’s happening in you and around you? The best part is – when we turn back to wholehearted obedience, blessings follow.