About the year 537 B.C.E., Cyrus the Great of Persia issued a decree for the Jews exiled in Babylon to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1, 2) The following year, in accord with Jehovah’s purpose, the people laid the foundations for a new temple. The returnees rejoiced and praised Jehovah for blessing the initial stage of this important project. (Ezra 3:8, 10, 11) But soon, opposition to their rebuilding arose and the people became disheartened. (Ezra 4:4) About 15 years after their return, the Persian authorities banned all construction work in Jerusalem. To enforce the ban, regional officials arrived in Jerusalem and “stopped [the Jews] by force of arms.”—Ezra 4:21-24.
Faced with this serious obstacle, the Jews deceived themselves with false reasoning. “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built,” they told themselves. (Hag. 1:2) They concluded that God did not want the temple built immediately. Instead of seeking a way to do his will, they abandoned their sacred assignment and became absorbed in improving their own homes. God’s prophet Haggai pointedly asked them: “Is it the time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house [Jehovah’s temple] is waste?”—Hag. 1:4.
Do you see a lesson in this example? A wrong view of the timing of the divine purpose could lead us to lose sight of the importance of our spiritual activities and become sidetracked with personal interests. To illustrate, imagine you are expecting guests. Anticipation of their visit may lead to a flurry of activity as you attend to necessary household chores related to their stay. However, then you receive word that your visitors are delayed. Will you abandon the preparations?
Recall, though, that Haggai and Zechariah helped the Jews to understand that Jehovah still wanted the temple rebuilt without delay. “Be strong, all you people of the land, . . . and work,” Haggai urged. (Hag. 2:4) They needed to get on with the work at hand, confident that God’s spirit would back them up. (Zech. 4:6, 7) Can this example help us avoid reaching wrong conclusions about Jehovah’s day?—1 Cor. 10:11.