Summary: The God who is in control is the God who chooses us. This is the sixth and final sermon in a series on the Book of Haggai.
Confidence in God's Control and Choice - Haggai 2:20-23
The God who is in control is the God who chooses us.
Have you ever had that dream when you're driving a car and suddenly you lose control? The steering wheel comes off in your hands, the gas pedal sticks and the brakes don't work. People who study dreams say that this kind of dream might indicate that you feel like you are losing control of some part of your life. Maybe in you feel like your life is out of control. You're not in the cockpit and as far as the pilot goes, this is how you feel (show picture of pilot outside of plane).
I wouldn't be surprised if Zerubbabel had that dream. Maybe not driving a car or flying in a plane, but maybe riding a runaway chariot. We have been looking at the book of Haggai and today we reach the last message. Let me give you a recap.
The city of Jerusalem has been destroyed because of the Israelites persistent sin and idolatry. God sends the Babylonians who capture the city, kill most of the people and burn the city to the ground. The survivors are brought to Babylon as captives where they remain for 70 years. At this time, the Persians take over and a new king makes a decree that all the Jews who want to return to their homeland can. They are given the task of rebuilding the temple and starting worship again and to pray particularly for the good of the Persian empire.
About 50,000 people respond and they return to Jerusalem. They find the city a ruin and it takes them a couple of years before they start rebuilding. They lay the foundation with great celebration. But soon the surrounding people oppose them and even send a protest letter back to Persia. They force the Jews to stop and for 16 years nothing is done on the temple. But then God acts. He sends two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah to challenge and motivate the people to start the building again. This book records Haggai's message.
We saw in chapter one how God challenged the people to return to their true purpose, to rebuild the temple. And at the end of the chapter we see the response of the Jews. They begin working and the power of God falls on them. In chapter 2 we see that after about a month of work, the project is threatened by discouragement. The people fight with comparison. The new temple is nothing compared to Solomon's temple. But God redirects the people back to the building project. He tells them to be strong, to work and to not be afraid. Then He reminds them of these three great encouragements, God's presence, God's power and God's purpose. And then God promises them His blessing. The Jews could expect to see bumper crops that year.
In this final message, the Lord directs His words, not to the people, but to one individual. Zerubbabel was the governor of the people, their leader. The weight of leading these people fell on his shoulders. Even with all of these encouragements and promises by God, I'm sure he still had his doubts. Would God really bring an end to the drought? Would there be food, especially since they had to cut back on time spent farming because of the work on the temple? And there was still the treat of the people around them. Would they conspire to stop them again? And not only was Zerubbabel concerned about the nation of Israel, I could imagine he was uncertain about his own standing before God. It was true, he had taken a step of faith by leading the people out of Babylon to travel to Jerusalem. But he had failed in his objective of building the temple. Under his leadership the project had ground to a halt. He had failed God. Would the Lord still accept him as the leader of the Jews? Would the Lord still chose to use him in God's service? In this last message, God answers Zerubbabel's fears. Specifically I want to look at two points this morning: 1) God's control; and 2) God's choice. But before we look into God's Word, let's look to God. Let's pray (pray).
The God who is in control is the God who chooses us. First let's look at God's control. Look at verses 20-21 (read verses). This passage clearly states that there is a plan for history and there is a Person who is in control. Look at the number of times God says, "I will" in this passage. He says it five times. The reason God knows the future is because He is the One who conducts the future. He shapes it and directs it the way He wants. In this passage there are two areas where God has control of. First God has control over nature. Take a look at verse 21 (read verse). This is the same thing that God prophesies in Haggai 2:7. What does the heavens and the earth cover? It encompasses all created things. The heavens covers the stars in the sky. The earth is the planet we live on. God is in control of the created universe. And the Lord says that He will shake it.