October 27, 2016

Read Haggai 2:10-19

For two summers in a row, a momma cardinal has pecked the windows of my dining room in an attempt to scare the cardinal in the glass away. It is quite pitiful to watch. Sometimes she leaves tiny smears of blood from the tip of her beak. Periodically, one of us will go out and try to scare her away but she faithfully returns. We have hung all manner of devices up to create an unwelcome atmosphere; yet, she persists. If I could only reason with her. I would tell her that her instincts are good. Her desire to protect her nest is God-given. But, I would also tell her that she is misdirected. She is engaged in a fruitless battle. She is neglecting other important responsibilities in order to combat an illusion. I would tell her she is only hurting herself.

O, that we would not be birdbrained! How many times have we been like the well-intentioned cardinal? Much like the Israelites in the time of Haggai who returned to rebuild Jerusalem, the Beautiful City, and failed to direct their attention to what made it so. Ezra tells of the old timers who recalled Solomon’s magnificent temple as they gazed upon the newly laid foundation. They were both jubilant and mournful.  Unable to control themselves, their cries filled the air and were heard from a great distance. And, then they all got discouraged went to work on other things - quite the letdown. If only they would realize the Lord’s presence in the temple was what made their city great. The homes and other wonderful municipal amenities which had once been in Jerusalem were only so because of His Presence.    
Much like the cardinal in my yard, they had work to do and found themselves distracted and discouraged by things of no consequence. Instead of recognizing the constant frustration they were encountering as God attempting to get their attention, in order to refocus them through their need, they just kept on pecking. Haggai rebukes these efforts and tells them their focus should be to rebuild the temple, and then they will have the Presence, the peace, and the prosperity of obedience.