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A traveling preacher saw a farmer admiring his own fields of wheat and corn. The preacher said to the farmer, “My, what a super job you and God have done. Just look at these crops.” The farmer was quiet for a while and then he said, “You should have seen what it looked like when God had it all to Himself.” The truth is God often works with us to fulfill His purposes, even though He could do it without us. That happened years ago in ancient Israel. After 70 years in exile, people were back in the land. They began to rebuild their Temple, but when they ran into opposition from their neighbors, they forgot the Temple and began to build themselves luxury homes. In response to this selfish behavior, God did two things: First, He sent a famine. It diminished their crops and created inflation that ate up their profits. Secondly, God sent them Haggai and Zechariah. These two prophets warned them of their self-centered behavior and urged them to change. The prophets said give God first place in your lives: rebuild the Temple to show your commitment to worship and obey God. In this way, God will reverse your fortunes. We learn in Ezra Chapter 5, that when the people did this, God changed their condition. Today, evangelism, discipleship, and social justice are still on God’s agenda. He works to fulfill His purpose by using those who give Him first place in their lives.

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