Note: This journal entry was originally posted to Facebook on May 26, 2020. A minor edit was made to this post by replacing a quote originally attributed to late Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias with a similar quote by another late Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton.
A Journal Entry
The Old Testament prophet Haggai designated a word of admonishment for the Israelite people who had recently returned from exile. He reminds this religious nation that their temple, their main place of worship which was razed to the ground by the Babylonians remained in shambles, dilapidated to the point of shame. Mind you, to the Jew, the temple was second only to the Laws of Moses so forfeiting their attention to this structure meant they had forsaken their love for their divine law and their God.
The purpose of this post-exilic book is clearly stated in the first paragraph of chapter one from verses 2-6:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
Haggai reminds the Israelites, from the king to the priests and the people, that no matter how great their harvest, how much food they stock up on, how much drink they consume, how much clothes they have, or how much much they earn from their work, it will never be enough.
Like a man forced to repeat the same feat over and over without cause or ultimate purpose were these people who were fattened by the luxuries of life but could not enjoy these delicacies because their attention had shifted from God to the telluric, the mundane, the materialism that corrupts and vanishes with time.
Their ardor for God had diminished so God allowed their pleasure of life to dissipate with it.
How telling of our times.
Today we replace our relationship with God with just about anything that would distract us from our need for Him. In a sense, we have replaced worship with entertainment to dull our sense of God’s greatness with an amplified repetitious uproar mistakenly called worship music. Instead of melodizing orthodoxy, we are content with mind-numbing, cultic-like rhythmic cycles of man-centered songs that accomplish not the humbling of man in the sight of his Creator but self-glorification. We’ve transformed our worship of God into the amplification and gratification of human emotions.
Our politicians have become our priests, our political party is our religion, our primer ministers, presidents, and monarchs are our demi-gods. And none of these has to date been able to do away with the uneasy feeling in our gut that we are one term or one policy away from catastrophic doom.
Advancements in our technological age and the age of information have given us the ability to eradicate many maladies and diseases whilst creating new ones in the human heart.
We are a wealthier nation, people, and society today than any other that has ever existed yet we struggle with the reality of income inequality, corruption, bribery, bankruptcy, and homelessness.
Our affinity for life is blasted through social media but our forests, closets, rivers, and more are filled with the bodies of people who have resorted to suicide. For them, life was too painful to deal with or perhaps too dull to live through.
We are everything for everyone accomplishing all things in the name of life but are unable to determine when life begins, who gives it value, why it exists, and where it is destined to go once we close our eyes for good. This conundrum has caused more anxiety in the morally upright atheist who aspires to live a better life but doesn’t know why he should than it does the immoral cleric who thinks he understands the purpose of life but fails to live up to it.
G.K. Chesterton put it this way in his book The Everlasting Man:
“Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other the good things in a society no longer work that the society begins to decline; when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless. We might almost say that in a society without such good things we should hardly have any test by which to register a decline; that is why some of the static commercial oligarchies like Carthage have rather an air in history of standing and staring like mummies, so dried up and swathed and embalmed that no man knows when they are new or old.”
We are fat. We are full. We are rich. We are bold. But all in all, we are empty because we have forgotten about the temple of God.
As God told the remnant of Israel then He tells us today: Consider your ways.
It is true that we need not visit a temple, a structure, a church by which to reach God for He is above and beyond the temporal establishment.
The new temple in which we worship God is in our heart, mind, and soul and we continue to ignore not just this new temple but the God who created it. This philosophical complacency irrevocably wrests our life in the plain of meaninglessness.
It is no surprise king Solomon alludes to the notion that life under the sun is meaningless, ad nauseam, in truth stating that life without God, without a Creator, purpose, meaning, morality, destiny; life without the Person who originates and culminates the reason for our very existence and pleasure becomes unequivocally without the slightest sense, notion, touch or idea of meaning.
I pray our people, our nation, our society may come to terms with this reality that replacing God with wealth, health, prosperity, pleasure, experiential bliss, spiritualism, Winfrey-ism, scientism, nationalism, socialism, capitalism, oligarchism, and you name it will result in nihilism.
The human heart is a vacuum and once you remove God from His rightful place in your life you replace that void with something else. Something less.
Consider your ways. It is time to rebuild your relationship with God.
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