Perspective 1- Laura Rath

The first half of this chapter reminded me how easy it is for us to get discouraged in trying to do what’s right, which leads to frustration and complacency.

The people return home to Jerusalem and right away rebuild the altar. Their focus is on God and worshiping Him. Next, they move to laying the foundation for the temple, and during that time, the enemies of Judah and Benjamin do whatever they can to discourage them from building.

After time, the people get tired of their enemies constantly working against them, and they decide that maybe now isn’t the time to build the temple after all. Discouragement leads to frustration, and frustration leads to complacency.

The people’s focus shifted from God and worshiping Him, to themselves, and it doesn’t take long for their priorities to change.

The issues may be different, but it still describes us today. We get tired of fighting the opposition to what we know is right—what pleases God, and it’s not long before we start to wonder if it’s really worth the frustration. If it’s not hurting anyone, maybe I shouldn’t get involved. I can just mind my own business and take care of my own.

And complacency creeps its way in to our attitudes and lives.

Perspective 2- Dan Petrak

Perspective 3- Barb Miles

Cyrus was king of Persia at the time when the temple was to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.  Cyrus had no problem with the rebuilding.  He even sent for the gold pieces that had been taken from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar.  The priests and the Levites returned to Jerusalem and their surrounding home towns. They returned to worship their God with burnt offerings and sacrifices at festival times.  At this time they began the rebuilding of God’s temple.

But the people from Babylon came to Jerusalem to discourage the rebuilding.  For awhile there was too much opposition to the rebuilding and work ceased.  When the rebuilding resumed, Darius was king and was asked to prove why the rebuilding had resumed.  A decree was found from King Cyrus in his first year of reign approving the rebuilding of the temple.

After many years of delayed building, God decided to intercede.  Through Haggai and Judah, they told God the people were dragging their feet and were no longer enthusiastic about rebuilding the temple.  The Lord reprimanded them saying “Give careful thought to your ways.  You have planted much, but 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.”  This reminds me of how I can be so complacent with satisfaction of my lifestyle.  And how I should do more planning around my stewardship.  God has blessed me with family and the comforts of daily living.  I have a home church where my faith is nurtured regularly.  So in return for my thankfulness I hope I will remember this story when I make my annual commitment to the Lord and to constantly look for more opportunities to share my faith.  Or I hope God gives me a kick in the … to jolt me out of my complacency!

Perspective 4- Pastor Ron

Timing and patience are the two words that came to mind when I finished reading this chapter. To be sure, there is much more to this part of the story, but timing and patience are what jumped out at me.  Let me explain…

The people have been living in Babylon for at least 50 years, some as long as 70 years, and then Cyrus becomes King of Persia. In his first year he sends back 50,000 of the exiled with orders to rebuild the temple! If that is not enough, he sends with them gold, silver, and all that had been plundered from the temple when they were first exiled. Can you imagine the reaction of the people? First disbelief and then uncontrollable joy! They arrive in Jerusalem and begin the rebuilding project. This time the people have their priorities correct – rebuild God’s temple, offer the sacrifices, and remain faithful.

What is their reward for this faithfulness? Those in the surrounding nations don’t like the idea of them rebuilding the temple. They see it as a threat, so they stymie the progress for 6 years and bring it to a complete halt for 10 years.

16 more years pass by before they start making some real progress on the rebuilding effort. If I put myself in their place, I would wonder what is going on. The king has given his blessing and provided the material for the temple to be rebuilt. It seems that God is going to allow the people to return, at least in some small way, to the way it was in the past. Then one set back after another. I would have been very frustrated.

Which brings me back to the two words that I thought of when I finished this chapter – timing and patience. In God’s plan, the timing was perfect; in the minds of the people, it didn’t make sense. God’s plan, of course, is the right plan, but it would require patience.

How much doesn’t make sense to us today? Two words – timing and patience.