Summary: God calls us to refocus our priorities and not become content with a life which is not highly interactive with God.
Today we are going to star on a series of three sermons on the book of Haggai.
Put up your hand if you are confident that you can find the book of Haggai without help from your index?
That doesn’t surprise me. And I don’t really want you to feel bad too bad about it. Because the reality is that the book of Haggai is quite easy to overlook.
Now – before we go on any further let’s find it.
(make sure everyone has it).
You can see why it is so easy to overlook can’t you.
For one thing it only has 2 chapters ... 38 verses in all. That is 0.002% of the whole of the Old Testament. That would be like taking a tablespoon of water out of a bucket filled with water. So you can see why it is easy to overlook.
But not only that. The book of Haggai only talks about a very small slice of history. We know this because some very specific dates are mentioned.
• The first date is the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month (Hag.1:1).
• The last date is the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius (Hag.2:10).
The calendar they used at that time was a bit different to ours. However it is quite easy to correlate the dates – and we get the following.
the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month = 29th August 520BC
the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius = 18th December 520BC
That is 112 days. 16 weeks. You can see why it is easy to overlook.
Now let’s have a read of the first chapter.
Read Haggai 1:1-15
So if we were to summarise what this chapter is about we would say – it is focussing on rebuilding God’s temple. Specifically it is the second temple build by the Israelite nation.
It was nowhere near as glorious as Solomon’s temple, or the temple which was there in the days of Jesus.
Indeed, when Jesus came there was no more need for the temple – because there was no more need to make sacrifices.
The temple in Jerusalem was destroy in 70AD by the Romans and has not been rebuilt.
So here is the situation.
Haggai is a short book ... covering a very small slice of history ... focussing on a building that is no longer relevant for us.
So what is the point ... really.
The point is this:-
Haggai is written to people who need to be energised.
And that is a relevant issue isn’t it.
We live in a world that drains us.
Work demands so much ... sometimes at the expense of family.
We try and get by ... only to find that we keep struggling.
There are so many competing demands ... and we can’t keep up.
We get to the end of the day deflated and exhausted.
That is often our experience. But that isn’t how God wants it to be.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
God wants us to be energised. And Haggai is telling is how it is possible. In this specific case The Lord is helping us to be energised when our priorities are wrong.
On one side the people are saying, The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built. (vs.2)
On the other side the LORD is saying, Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin? (vs.4)
Obviously there are two competing interests. Let me give you a quick history as to how this situation came about.
The group of people Haggai is speaking to have only recently come from living in Babylon. Life in Babylon was pretty good. They were allowed to establish businesses, with some becoming quite wealthy. They were treated kindly by the Babylonians … much more like neighbours then strangers from another land.
So when it was time to go back to Israel from Exile some were very hesitant. In fact many chose not to return. What they came back to was devastation.
The walls of Jerusalem were in ruins.
The temple was non-existent.
The homes and buildings which were left standing had been neglected for over 50 years.
The farming land had not been cared for and was infested with weeds.