The time has not yet come
Haggai 1: 1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua[a] son of Jehozadak, the high priest:
2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”
3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
The time has not yet come …. that implies an inaccurate reading of the situation, procrastination, inertia, fear, lack of commitment.
Haggai wrote during the period when some Jews had returned home from the Babylonian exile. This remnant had the responsibility to re-build the temple. Led by Zerubbabel they completed the foundation within two years (536BC). This raised concern among the Samaritans and other neighbours and the work was halted.
When Darius came to power in 522 BC he facilitated the earnest renewal of the re-building process. Haggai was conscious of the fact that the Jews were more to blame for their inactivity, with respect to the re-building of the temple, than their opponents. His mission was to arouse them from their lethargy.
He sought to point out that the time has indeed come!
The question I ask today is: Has the time come for us today? What is it that we have been putting off in the belief that the time has not yet come?
What is the equivalent of a panelled house that we have built while neglecting the things of God?
Could it be that the reason why we plant much and harvest little is because we have failed to deal with something whose time has come?
Are we eating and never having enough because we have been pushing back something that needs to be addressed now thinking that the time has not yet come?
Do our purses and pockets have holes torn out because of neglect of action we should have taken but have put off because we feel the time has not yet come?
Today, devoted Christians are an embattled minority. We are the remnant charged with defending the faith. It is our responsibility to undertake the re-building process. We have to stand up and be counted.
Yet alas, like Haggai, I sense that we are guilty of thinking that the time has not yet come for us to take bold and decisive action in the process of re-building.
Like Haggai, I have a sense that we are using the cover of a number of factors and situations to mask and justify our inactivity. Today, the call is for us to arise from our lethargy and to be proactive in the service of God and Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Do you have a sense that Church membership is growing by leaps and bounds or dwindling?
Is there a sense that those who are still attached to the Church are getting increasingly more active and dedicated?
Are we getting better at sending the Gospel message out to those who are perishing outside of Christ?
What about the number of Christians who are falling away or becoming lukewarm? Are we excelling in keeping on fire for Christ?
What of our fellowship? Are bringing more and more of our brothers and sisters into our inner circle? Are we more interested in their well being? Are we more integrated in their lives?
Like Haggai, I suggest that the time has indeed come for action!
The time has come for us to shake off sloth and lethargy. We must wake up to the reality that our inactivity represents a misreading of the situation. There is a compelling urgency to get active now. This is not a time for complacency.
The laid back, lukewarm, spectator approaches make a lie of the fact that as the remnant, God looks to us to defend the faith and to re-build the Church. As many walk aimlessly without Christ and our nation careens toward destruction there is an urgent call for us to get into action.
Haggai pointed to the Jews living in panelled houses while the temple remained in ruins. What is it that so engages us that we are unable to pay due regard to our responsibilities as children of God?
What is it that is so compelling that you are not able to consistently worship with the saints? What is it that detains you such that you cannot attend Bible Study or in some cases, even study the Bible?
The Jews are admonished to ponder on whether the hardships that they are encountering are not as a result of their misplaced priorities. Can this be true for us today?
Are we generating less income than we need? Are we persistently hungry and thirsty psychologically and spiritually? Do we have a feeling of emptiness?
Is there a sense that we are not filled spiritually? We want more and we somehow never seem to get enough and so frustration sets in and we become even more empty. Could it be that the root cause is that we have been living as if the time has not yet come?
Could it be that we have not been ready? Could it be that we have not faced the starter’s pistol?
While we have been on the warm up track getting ready, the race has in fact started. When we should be pushing toward the finish line we are still stretching and thinking about how we plan to run the race. The race is on in earnest and we are being left behind.
By the time we wake up to the reality it will be time for the awards and we will wonder in amazement how we could have missed. We did all the training signed up for the race. We were even there on race day but somehow missed because we failed to realize that the time had come for a different kind of action.
The time for preparation had passed but we did not we did not see that. So we continued in our getting ready mode. We act as if the race is some time in the future.
Does that apply to us collectively and to some of us individually? We are in perpetual preparation but never ever being engaged in the real action. We spend our time on the warm up track but never venture into the stadium where it really counts.
The vacuum that we sense is of our own creation. It is a result of our failure to be fully engaged in the process, individually and collectively. The time has indeed come for bold decisive action in the arena where it counts.
More people are dying in their sins than ever before.
More Christians are being enticed from the faith than ever before.
More Christians are living lives that are indistinguishable from those who are in the world.
More young people have the need for Christian mentoring than ever before.
More businesses need strong Christians to stem the tide of corruption and unethical practices than ever before.
More communities are need in Christian influence and outreach than ever before.
There is an ever increasing demand for resources that a proactive Church could provide.
The time has indeed come!
The time has come for us to be present physically, mentally and spiritually in our worship, Bible Study, fellowship and outreach activities.
The old rationalizations have worn thin. You are presenting them to God…not man. He sets the standard as to what is acceptable. He will be the judge.
The time has come for us to be more engaged in our study of Scriptures. The more informed we are the more we understand God’s will for our lives.
The time has come for us to be more willing to share the Gospel and the impact of God in our lives with others. Social networking is all the rage. The time has come for us to reflect God in our postings. Let people know where we stand in defence of the faith.
Friendship evangelism is the most effective means of encouraging people to come to Christ. The time has come for us to encourage people to want to go to heaven because that is where their friends will be.
The time has come for us to be more proactive in engaging our young. This is a time for Christian mentors to step forward and take charge of providing guidance to our youth. Dysfunctional homes leave many without any source of proper guidance. If ever there was a time for Christians to shelter and protect our youth it is now. Friends the time has indeed come.
The time has come for us to be generous in our giving – to the church and to those in need. Haggai links holes in purses to inactivity. Are we stopping God’s blessings in our lives because we are stingy in our giving to Him?
Malachi 3: 6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
The time has come for us to draw closer to our brothers and sisters. Again, the old excuses have worn thin. If you feel left out, who have you sought to let in?
So what if someone has said or done something that upset you? Ever had a little spat in your family? Did you abandon them because of that?
The time for reconciliation among brethren has indeed come. We need to move past whatever differences, reservations, hurts, mistrust, frustrations we are carrying. The time has come for us to pull out a clean sheet and start again. It does not matter whether the other party is a brother, sister, evangelist, group leader or not. The time has come for clean sheets… the time has indeed come for reconciliation and a new beginning.
The time has come for more high impact outreach activities. Even as we emphasize friendship evangelism we still need to increase our influence in communities. The time has come for vibrant and fruitful outreach programmes that impact the lives of those who might not otherwise be encouraged to give their lives to Christ.
The time has come for the renewing of our minds. The time has come for us to re-dedicate our lives to Christ and to re-capture that energy and excitement that accompanies the baptismal experience. The time has indeed come for us to set aside all distractions, to beat back all the wiles of the devil and to commit now to being proactively engaged in putting God first in our lives.
The time is indeed here when we need to be seen as beacons for Christ in a world that needs for each and every Christian to let their light shine brightly.
Will you recognize what time it is? Will you fully grasp that the time has indeed come?