Analogies can be very useful in transferring a pertinent message from one subject to another.
It can point from one physical thing to another or from the physical to the spiritual. Consider what God said through the prophet Haggai. “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:4-7). There was a lethargy among Judah at the time (520 BC) in regard to rebuilding the temple. They were more interested in their own homes than they were in God’s. Their reasoning is expressed in verse 2, “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’” (Haggai 1:2). God’s answer to all of this is, “Consider your ways!”
This serves as a perfect physical analogy for its spiritual counterpart. There was a physical temple, and there is a spiritual one. The Apostle Paul wrote, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22). We are presently in the process of being built up into God’s spiritual temple. Is there any lethargy in us that is holding back the building process? In Haggai’s time, God’s people were not living as though the time was upon them for completing God’s physical temple. They lacked zeal and focus collectively and individually. The effect of that was that they were not prospering on the physical level – they were falling behind.
Based then on our zeal for completing the spiritual temple, are we prospering and moving forward in the spiritual sense? Judah’s effort would have revolved around doing the physical work or construction. Our work, however, is spiritual in nature. We just noted that we are being built together for a habitation of God in the spirit. As blocks that are to be put one upon the other in a perfect fit, are we zealously using the Holy Spirit to chisel and refine our surfaces? We can know by the fruits in our lives. If we are overcoming selfishness and relational dysfunction steadily, then we are prospering and moving forward in the spiritual sense.
An imminent sense of time and zeal are of the essence in our collective and personal work of spiritual refinement. It proves whose house we are. “but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:6). With zeal, we are able to hold fast our confidence to the end, and we will be able to accomplish our pressing spiritual work on the temple. Only by stirring up the Holy Spirit can we have the zeal to live as though the time for finishing God’s temple is upon us now. It is very important that we take note of the fact that Paul said, “If we hold fast the confidence.” Whether we are spiritually prospering or not, ultimately depends on each of us personally.
So, as God said through Haggai, let us each “consider our ways.”