Understanding the Problem part II
At the time the remnant of Israel was released from captivity, they were given money and resources by the Persian Government that were to be used in the rebuilding and construction of the temple in Jerusalem.
From the time Moses had erected the sanctuary in the wilderness, then with the temple that Solomon built, the temple or sanctuary was considered to be the dwelling place of God, on earth. Solomon’s temple was a source of national pride, but it lay in ruins, the result of the unfaithfulness of Israel in keeping the laws of God and worshipping Him as they should. As a result Babylon not only took captives but destroyed Jerusalem, more than seventy years before.
Why had the temple been destroyed? Because of the unfaithfulness of the people. Instead of worshipping only one God, they had begun to worship many gods, the gods of the cananite and surrounding nations. They had been instructed to drive these people out, but their lack of commitment and follow through had resulted in idolatry remaining within their midst.
Now at the return of Israel’s remnant from captivity, they again failed to follow through. Instead of following through and completing the construction of the temple, they squandered the resources available. They kicked the can down the street till the resources dedicated to the construction of the temple were all used up.
How do we know this? Haggai 1:4 gives us this answer where it says: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses and this temple to lie in ruins?”
A quick Biblical word search of the word panel or paneled gives us a clue, what was happening. With the money that the Persian government gave to Israel to rebuild their temple, it has been used to purchase cedar trees from Lebanon to be used in the construction of the temple. Similar to the way cedar was used in the construction of Solomon’s temple. Elsewhere in scripture, the word panel is used to describe the palace and houses of king David and Solomon. So when panel or paneled is used in this instants it is referring to living in luxury, luxury at the expense of what was designated to be used in the construction of the temple.
Yes, they had withheld for themselves what had been designated for the construction of the temple and instead used the resources to make for themselves luxurious houses.
God says, “My temple lies in ruins, yet you dwell in your paneled houses. Therefore, consider your ways!”.
As I sat in the restaurant that evening I began to consider the churches ways, but more importantly, I began to consider my life, had I been squandering the Lord’s resources for personal gain?