The books of Haggai and Zechariah both take place during the reign of Kind Darius, over the course of his second to fourth year of reigning. These books seem to be intertwined in their messages to the people of God. While studying these books, I immediately see two major heart issues with God’s people- priority and heart motive.
Beginning in Haggai 1, we see that God’s people, while maintaining some semblance of godliness, are neglecting God and His temple. In Haggai 1:4 God inquires through the prophet Haggai, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” They are prioritizing their own desires while ignoring the temple of God. Throughout the book of Haggai, God reminds them that their works have amounted to little and that they are never satisfied because of this lack of proper prioritization. God uses this lack of success and other hardships to turn their hearts back toward Him. We then see in Zechariah that God also questions the people on their heart motive. Zechariah 7:5-6 asks, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?” While in outward appearance, the people were doing Godly things, their motive in doing so was selfish and flawed.
This shows us two things. 1- Our priorities matter. We must not only tend to God’s business and to His working in our hearts, but we must also prioritize Him. What do we reach for first thing in the morning? Do we grab our Bibles or our phones? What do we dwell on throughout our day? Is it social media or is it His promises? What are we feeding our souls? Is is truth or is it entertainment? What we prioritize is what we serve. 2- Our heart motive matters. Are we picking up our Bibles and reading a verse to check it off our to do list or to get to know more of His heart? Are we showing up for church each week to maintain an appearance of holiness to our peers or to spend time communing with other believers in God’s presence. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Our motive for serving Him or others matters.
We will all fall into cycles of improper priorities and improper heart motives, time and time again. Scripture attests to that. However, we must allow the Lord to reveal and correct these heart issues; because the Lord will receive back a repentant heart. In Zechariah 8:14, God tells His people, “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.” We see here that there seems to be a continual cycle with God’s people (and with us)- one of sin and repentance, one of wrath and of grace. God corrects those He loves, but He welcomes back a repentant heart and restores peace and provision unto His people.
In conclusion, hope in anything but the Lord is faulty, and we must be mindful of both our priorities and our heart motives.