Summary: Exposition of Haggai 1:12-15 about the revival among the work of rebuilding, the response of the people, and the work of God in their midst
Text: Haggai 1:12-15, Title: The Anatomy of Repentance, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/4/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: my talk the other night about the causality of the immoral lifestyle in Cambodia
B. Background to passage: Haggai had just finished a stirring message from God about the people’s failure to love God first and foremost, and desire His awesome presence through worship at the temple. The Lord speaks to their misplaced priorities and self-centered, rather than kingdom-centered existence. And according to our text today, the people responded appropriately with repentance. So, almost 20 years after they had returned and failed to rebuild the temple, and about three weeks after Haggai began to declare the Word of the Lord, they began to get busy. So, our text gives us some great insight about our response to the Word of God on a daily basis, and how to repent, and what happens in repentance.
C. Main thought: So we will look at three aspects of repentance that took place in the fall of 520 BC in Jer.
A. Two Human Responses (v. 12)
1. First note that the leadership led. The same two men that were mentioned up in v. 1 led the revival. However, the leaders were not the only ones; the text speaks of the “remnant of the people.” Explain them as those that have emerged from the chastening woodshed of God humbled and purified from iniquity. Some commentators suggested that they were the remnant because they did obey and fear. Next, note that they associated the words of Haggai with the voice of God. The prophet’s authority does not come from experience, age, education, wisdom, etc, but from God. His message is authoritative because it came from the throne. Now to the point: the people first heard/obeyed and they feared. The word implies a willing heart that listens (word can be translated “hear” as in the Shema). They listened to God, not only heard, but listened, and brought forth fruit worthy of repentance. And secondly, they feared the presence of the Lord. The fear of the Lord was very close to the center of OT teaching, and often used of the response toward judgment. Both of these words are imperfect tense telling us that their actions are continual.
3. Illustration: I’ve met a lot of leaders in the Army who were very competent—but they didn’t have character. – Gen. Schwarzkopf “The danger is that we become used to listening to the word without responding in actions, to feed the intellect without moving the affections and impacting the will.” Simply looking at Buddy when he has done something bad, and he runs.
4. If revival and repentance is to take place the leadership within the congregation must be the ones to stand up and acknowledge their failure, and lead in repentance. Within a church, people will not follow a one-man show. They want to see that all the leadership is hearing and doing what God says. Within the church of Jesus Christ there will always be those that are the true remnant, who have emerged pure from testing, and truly have a kingdom priority. And there were also be those that never get it—those that are always here, but never hear. The word never gets into their heart; they believe in a superficial sense, or at least they claim to, but fruit is not borne. Are you part of the remnant at New River? I get tired of people in the pastoral ministry/church growth movement trying to teach that leader must wait a long time before attempting major change, time to build all the necessary relationships. And I know that they are well-meaning, and probably very wise, and very pragmatic; and I know that a leader should build relationships with his people; but the only relationship that authority is based upon in the kingdom is with God. Our Southern Baptist culture says that a leader must win the support, not scripture. Scripture teaches that when the message comes from God through his messenger, it needs no other authority. We must take careful steps to prevent the monotony of our life as a Christian becoming our enemy. We must reverence the Word as they did in Neh 8 and wept because of their failure. We must be reflective and evaluative of our own life. We must be diligent to record or remember specific things about which the Lord has convicted us of. Formulate a plan, and look for accountability if you really want to obey the Lord. Discuss with family and friends how God spoke to you, and how He is working in your life. Much of all of this begins with our fearing God in a healthy fashion. We don’t worry that God may judge, punish, chasten us, much less take our life. We don’t reverence a God who had done the might wonders that the bible says our God has done. We never tremble before the presence of the Holy One who has come down to deal with us. Fathers don’t tremble before the God who will call them to account for how they deal with wives and children. SS teachers don’t tremble before God who they will attempt to speak for each week. Church members do not fear God’s wrath as they hold grudges and live unfaithfully to the covenant that we have agreed to. And if we do not fear Him, how do we expect sinners to tremble?