haggai: what time is it?

Haggai is a short book. In the Old Testament only Obadiah is shorter. It has 38 verses altogether. Yet, in those few verses the words time, day, month, and year appear 23 different times. The book begins with the words, “In the second year…” (1:1) and ends with the words, “On that day…” (2:23). A case could be made that the major theme of the book of Haggai is time.

Time is a funny thing. While time is a universal reality, we each measure it and experience it in different ways. Thus, there are over 400 calendars in the world including the Jewish (lunar), Greek (lunar), Roman (solar), Gregorian (modified solar), Mayan (Venus), Chinese, Islamic, and Russian to name a few. And all calendars (both ancient and modern) are imprecise and approximate
in marking the irregularities of the earth’s rotation on its axis, the moon’s rotation around the earth, the earth around the sun, and the galaxy through the universe.

To make things more complicated there is more than one kind of time. Nature has its own time (kosmos), and its movements, rotations, and rhythms are plotted with approximations. History has its own time (kronos), but even the most precise chronologies are mere interpretations when identifying the beginning or end of an era. And of course God has his own time (kairos), those opportune times when timeless eternity invades our cosmic world and disrupts our chronological time.

We are told that the sons of Issachar were, “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chron. 12:32). In contrast, Jesus condemned some of the religious persons of his day as being hypocrites for being able to accurately discern nature’s timely patterns and yet utterly unable to analyze the spiritual time that was marked by His presence (see Luke 12:54-57).

God still breaks into time and speaks truth and direction that is both timely and timeless. But it is up to us to hear and respond. So, what time is it now? What time is it for you in your life? What time is it the church? Are we a people who can discern the time? Will we respond to the coming season? Surely God knows. Surely time will tell.