Summary: God had to reprimand his people for not building his house. Their eyes were on their own selfish desire. This message is for a church in decline.
Last week we examined the life of Solomon. We discovered that he asked God for wisdom to govern his people but chose not to use it. So we read these sad words concerning the nation of Israel.
1 Kings 11:9-13 “The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”
After Solomon’s death his son Rehoboam became king. The people pleaded with him to lighten the heavy load his father had placed on them. Remember from last week, Solomon received 25 tons of gold in taxes each year from all the tribes of Israel.
Rehoboam replied, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”
A revolt began to take place in all the tribes except for Judah.
Soon the word came that Jeroboam had returned from Egypt. Jeroboam was an official for Solomon. Ahijah, the prophet of Shiloh, met him and told him that God had chosen him to be king over all the tribes of Israel except for Judah. When Solomon heard about this he realized that Jeroboam would be the servant that God would give his kingdom to so he attempted to kill him. This forced Jeroboam to flee to Egypt. Upon Solomon’s death he returned. The 10 tribes of Israel proclaimed him their king so Israel was split into the northern and southern kingdoms.
Israel, the northern kingdom, would be ruled by 19 kings, each of them wicked and sinful. Two hundred and nine years after Solomon’s death, the Jews of Israel would be taken from their land into Assyria.
The southern kingdom, Judah, would have 20 kings, eight of which would be obedient to God. Three hundred and forty five years after the death of Solomon the Jews living in Judah would be banished to Babylon.
Twenty-three years before the event took place the prophet Jeremiah warned on this impending doom.
“This entire land will become a desolate wasteland. Israel and her neighboring lands will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:11)
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the destruction of Judah 102 years before it occurred. He also spoke of one named Cyrus 129 years before he was born who command that Judah be restored 149 years before it happened.
“‘But I carry out the predictions of my prophets!
By them, I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again,’
and to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt;
I will restore all your ruins!’
“When I speak to the rivers and say, ‘Dry up!’
they will be dry.
“When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’
he will certainly do as I say.
He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’;
he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’” (Isaiah 44:26-28)
One hundred and two years have passed since Isaiah gave this prophetic word. Babylon has fallen to the Persian Empire. In Cyrus’ first year as king of Persia, it is impressed upon him by God to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Among them was the grandson of king Jeconiah. His name was Zerubbabel, a direct descendant of Solomon. He is appointed the governor of Judah and along with the high priest, Jeshua, is responsible to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem.
Ninety-one years have passed since Nehemiah has rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. Now the temple works begins. But the people become discouraged over the progress and they allow complacency to settle in. They conclude that they need to be more settled in. Sixteen years pass as the work on the temple stops. So God sends the prophet Haggai with a message of reprimand for them.
Haggai 1:4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” Everyone received a letter this week about our financial situation. This financial struggle is not something that is exclusive to us. I talk with pastor friends who are experiencing a decline in giving also. Many are seeing a much greater drop in percentage of giving then we are. Many mega churches operate off the financial giving of less than 50% of those who attend. In Haggai, God is asking these people who have been blessed with the opportunity to return to their homeland why their attention has been averted to meeting their own selfish desires while placing his reason for them being there on the back burner. Then He gives them this command.