Not Enough Time for God
The year was 536 B.C. At the merciful allowance of Cyrus, the ruler who had united the Medes and Persians, Zerubbabel led a group of Jewish exiles on a return journey to the city of Jerusalem. When this band of exiles arrived at Jerusalem, they found a city devastated and ravaged by both man and neglect. The houses and city lay in ruin, the walls were torn down, and the land had been neglected for several decades. Truly the picture had to have been discouraging for these returning exiles.
Upon returning to Jerusalem, the people quickly restored the altar and laid the foundation for the temple. At this point, the Israelites shifted their interest and concerns to their own needs. In the manner of their ancient forefathers, whom God delivered from Egypt, the Israelites soon lost sight of their commitment to serve God above all else. The people of Israel spent their time rebuilding their own homes and cities while neglecting the house of God. Sixteen years after the Lord liberated the Israelites, He sent a strong word of rebuke and warning through the prophet Haggai. (See Haggai 1:1-15)
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” (verse 2, ESV) The Lord then said, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” The problem faced by Israel was not the building of their own homes. The problem Israel faced was that they had neglected the Lord’s house. The Israelites should have spent their time first rebuilding the Lord’s house. Then, the people could have focused on their own homes.
During the 16 years of focusing on their own houses, the Israelites suffered because they neglected the Lord’s temple. The Lord told Israel to consider their ways. The Lord said, “Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” (vs 5-6) The Lord withheld the produce of the ground from Israel. The Lord kept back the dew, the rain, the crops, the grain, the new wine, the oil, etc. Those whom the Lord had delivered from exile could have been enjoying bountiful harvests during those 16 years, had they only put the Lord first.
After receiving the message from the Lord, Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, along with Joshua the high priest and the rest of the remnant of Israel came together to work on the house of the Lord. On the 24th day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king, the people heeded the message of the Lord.
Just like the Israelites, Christians can often find their lives too busy to serve God. It seems that every generation of man brings more challenges and obstacles to the lives of Christians. Businesses require many hours a week from their employees. School systems require more in homework, school functions, and sports activities. Families also have to factor in time for their vacations, hobbies, recreational activities, etc. With such busy lives, who has time to worship God and study the Bible?
The Israelites suffered greatly because they neglected God’s business. Christians will likewise begin to suffer when they neglect their service unto God. For instance, Hebrews 5:12 addresses the neglecting of one’s Bible study. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12) The recipients should have been teachers of God’s word. However, their spiritual growth suffered due to their lack of studying God’s word.
Another area often neglected by Christians is the worship service. The church in Corinth was neglecting to observe the Lord’s supper in the manner which Jesus commanded. As a result, the apostle Paul wrote the following, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:28-30) It is God’s will that the worship services, which are to be in spirit and in truth, edify or build up the members of the church. Through the worship services, Christians provoke one another to love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Another victim of a busy society is prayer. Families become so busy they have “no time” for family meals, thereby removing that wonderful opportunity to pray together. Morning prayers are forgotten, evening prayers are no longer heard in the house, and prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication are swallowed up by busy and selfish lives. The apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, . . .” (1 Timothy 2:1-3) In an even simpler fashion, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Give consideration to the time you have devoted to God. Are you too busy building your “paneled” homes and acquiring your wants and desires of life? Are you allowing God to take priority within your and your family’s life? Be sure to make time for God today!