We find allegory tucked throughout the Old Testament. Though every story, every event, plays out in real time, an allegorical look often brings home a new meaning. So, whenever I read the Old Testament I ask the Lord to show me what He is saying to me, particularly me, for my issues. And He answers.
In this second smallest book of the Old Testament I learned a new way of thinking about my marriage. The idea came from that convicting verse, Proverbs 14:1: “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” (ESV)
Haggai opens with the symbol of God’s presence among the people, the Temple, in ruins – ignored for about sixteen years. The remnant of the scattered Jewish nation, in Scarlet O’Hara style, basically said, “We’ll think about that another day.” God instructed Haggai to bring the Jews together again and resume building. This second Temple could symbolize our autumn marriage
In chapter 1, verses 4- 6 and 10-11, we read that the people had rejected God and His ways. As a result, things weren’t going well. God says (my paraphrase), “Come on, people, there you sit in your “paneled” (nice and finished) houses, while my house, (your marriage relationship), lies in ruins. Look at yourselves. You work hard but have little to show for it, besides exhaustion. You cook good meals and go out to eat often, but you’re always looking for a better restaurant or recipe. Your clothes are the finest, but you feel less than lovely. Your money seems to drop into bags full of holes. Each month you wonder where it went.”
God further asks in chapter 2 verse 3, “Think back. Do you even remember the temple (your marriage) in its former glory? How do you see it now? Does it seem like almost nothing (hardly marriage at all, more like a roommate or business partnership) in your eyes?”
Now God gives direct commands. In verse 4 He tells His people to be strong and get back to work, believing, knowing He is really there with them. No more going through the days on autopilot. He will work, but we must first step out and do something. Can you think of a few ways God may be asking you to work to build or rebuild your marriage? A kiss, a smile, a benefit of the doubt, a question about the day?
Firmly, God reminds them in verse 5 that He is the same God with the same power who brought them out of Egypt.
In verses 5 we find the oft-repeated command: don’t allow “those fears” (we all have our own) which hold us back, keeping our marriage stuck in the status quo. Stuck because it seems impossible to get the joy back.
Just as the Jews were commanded not to fear the enemies all around them, we are commanded to rebuild our relationship to be what God meant it to be, powerfully representing God’s presence and love in the world. In many ways our marriage is a test. What fears keep you from moving toward your spouse in a new way?
Reap the Results
Verses 7 and 8 give us God’s amazing Promises. He’ll provide all the resources to do the job. (He owns the wealth of the world, He reminds us.) Second, and this is amazing, He promises to fill His house with the glory of His Presence. He says His (our) Temple will actually be better at the end (verse 9) than at the beginning!
Finally, He tells us our house will be one of peace– not the peace that means no trouble or complications — but the peace that means husband and wife draw together to face whatever comes. And the world sees them as a united team.
The little book of Haggai challenges us to see our marriage as bigger, more important, than we ever thought before. Read it yourself. Tell me what you think.
“Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”