Summary: When you’re knee-deep into a project, you can tell how well things are going and they weren’t going well for the people in today’s passage. God promised the people a fresh start, but that didn’t change the fact that what they were called to do was impossi
Have you ever faced something that looked impossible? Maybe you were diagnosed with something that seems impossible to overcome. Maybe you’re facing a family crisis and you can’t see the way out. Maybe you’re looking at a mountain of debt that is about to come crashing down on you. Whatever it is, from where you’re standing, it looks impossible. One thing about impossible situations. They rarely look completely impossible till you try to get started on them. Have you ever noticed that? Once you decide to finally get started, you can easily motivate yourself to get moving in the right direction. But then when you finally get started, the impossibility of the task can really get hold of you. It’s like this—before the basketball season started this year, there was an exhibition game where Mountain State University played WVU. I’m sure that in the locker room before the game started, Mountain State was hyped up and motivated to go up against the Mountaineers. I’m sure they might have even had some confidence. I’m sure they had a pep rally and listened to their fans cheer them on and were really motivated to go play. But then the game started. And before you knew it, WVU was up 30-8. At that point, how motivated do you think the Cougars were? Do you think, at that point, they fully realized how impossible their task was? You see, a diet doesn’t really get hard until after you’ve gotten started, and you’re hungry and all the food around you smells really good. When you get the horrible diagnosis of cancer, you can psych yourself up that you’re going to beat it pretty easily, until the treatments start taking their toll. That huge pile of debt doesn’t seem nearly as impossible until you start trying to pay it off. And impacting our world for Christ doesn’t seem that impossible until we get started. Remember where the remnant was. They had lived in the ruins of Jerusalem for 16 years without doing what God had called them there to do. He had called them back to Jerusalem to rebuild His temple. They got started right away and then quit for 16 years. Can you imagine how impossible their task was? They were just a tiny group of people. They weren’t skilled architects or builders. They were mostly just simple farmers. And here God had called them to build a magnificent structure that was supposed to represent the very presence of God in the midst of His people. But finally, after God sent Haggai and Zechariah to remind them of what they were supposed to be doing… finally, after 16 years, they got started. Now, they were three months into it. Three months—just long enough for the excitement to wear off. Just long enough for the frustration to build. Just long enough for Haggai’s first two messages to fade off into the distance. Just long enough for the impossibility of their task to really sink in. And when it really sunk in, God gave Haggai two more messages to give them. We looked at the last one a few weeks ago. In the last message, Haggai told the people that God was ready to give them a fresh start. There wasn’t any undo button. But from this day forward, God told them that they could start fresh. And the way that they were going to start fresh was by taking a good hard look at where they were. He told them to make an honest assessment of their situation. Don’t gloss over it. Don’t whitewash it. Just see it like it is. And then He told them to remember where they had been. In other words, remember what God had saved them from. But not only what He had saved them from, but what He had saved them to do. Finally, He told them that they needed to look where they were going. They needed to understand the mission that God had given them and place their eyes squarely on that goal. That was the message that Haggai gave the people in 2:10-19. And it was a good message. But, like happens a lot with good messages, I’m sure that there were some skeptics in the crowd. I’m sure that many of the people in the crowd started weighing what Haggai said against what they saw. And it didn’t quite match up. Okay Haggai, I get it. I see where we are. We’re in a big pile of rubble. And I see what God saved us from. We were captives and now we’re free. And I know that He’s given us a job to do. He told us that we’re supposed to rebuild this temple and eventually completely rebuild Jerusalem. I know that’s the goal. I know that’s what we’re shooting for. I get the message. But that message doesn’t change the fact that we’re a tiny group of people who are doing nothing but getting older. It doesn’t change the fact that we are completely unskilled and unqualified to do this work. It doesn’t change the fact that we’d be lucky to be able to build a barn, much less the temple of the living God. It doesn’t change the fact that what you’re asking us to do is completely impossible. Now, how did the people know that it was impossible? Because they had been working on it for three months already. And when you’re three months into a project, you can tell how well things are going. And things weren’t going well. God promised them a fresh start, but how was that going to change the fact that what they were called to do was impossible? Because God specializes in doing the impossible. That’s why God gave Haggai this second message right after he gave him the first one in verses 10-19. Verse 20 says that the word of the Lord came to Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month. That was later on in the same day as the last message. The people got two sermons that day. And trust me that they needed both of them. God promised the people a fresh start in the first message. Now, He’s going to tell them how they are going to be able to do the impossible. And I want you to notice how God works here. So many times when we’re facing an impossible task, we want a how-to list to help us through. God doesn’t typically do that. What does He do instead? He brings us back to His promises. He brings us back to His promises and calls us to step out on those promises in faith. That’s what He did here for the remnant. Just take a glance through our passage. How many times did God say, “I will”? Let me help you out. He said “I will” or “I have” seven times. Those are promises made by a God who is faithful to keep His promises. In verse 21, God promised, “I WILL shake the heavens and the earth.” That was a reminder to the people that God is completely sovereign over all of His creation. All creation belongs to Him and He is in complete control of it. In the first part of verse 22, God promised, “I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms.” That’s a strange combination of words, isn’t it? As a matter of fact, this is the only place in the whole Bible where that combination is used. And the reason God uses it here is because He’s not just talking about overthrowing evil earthly kingdoms. He’s not even just talking about overthrowing their kings. He’s talking about overthrowing the power BEHIND the thrones of evil kingdoms. And who is that power? Ephesians 2:2 calls him “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” That power is Satan. And what does God promise that He’s going to do to him? He promised that He will overthrow him. The wording that He used there is very specific and it would have brought to mind a very specific memory in the minds of the remnant. Because the wording is the exact same wording that’s used when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And God is promising the remnant that He’s going to do the same thing to Satan. Then in the second part of verse 22, God promised, “I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen.” The word “destroy” there literally means “shatter”. God was promising that no earthly nation would be able to stand against them because He would shatter them. Then He went on to say that He was going to “overthrow the chariots and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.” Those words would have immediately reminded the people of how God rescued their ancestors from Pharaoh’s army by overthrowing his chariots and riders in the Red Sea. Those were promises from God. And God is faithful to keep His promises. But that’s not all that He promised. Because in verse 23, He promised to take Zerubbabel, His servant. When God used the words “My servant” of Zerubbabel, He was reminding him of his lineage. And He was reminding him of the One who would come from that lineage. Zerubbabel was a descendant of King David. And God had promised long ago that the Messiah would come from that line of David. Then God promised Zerubbabel that He would make him a signet. The signet was the approval stamp of the king. And whoever carried the king’s signet was completely owned by the king and had all of his authority and approval. The king’s power and authority was his. Finally, God promised Zerubbabel that he was specifically singled out and chosen of God. Those are some pretty significant promises, aren’t they? But did you know that God has made us those same kinds of promises? You see, bad things are going to happen. Difficult times are going to come our way. Things are not going to be easy for us as we work to accomplish our mission. There will be wars and rumors of wars. The earth will shake. The heavens will shake. Evil kingdoms will try to come against us. Wars and strife will happen. But, in the midst of it all, God is still in control and He has made us a promise. He has made us a promise, and He keeps His promises. God has promised us that He is sovereignly in control of all of our circumstances. Nothing will come upon you or me that has not passed through the hands of God. He has promised that, through the cross of Christ, He has overthrown Satan. The throne of kingdoms is defeated and one day he will be permanently cast into the lake of fire where he will no longer come against anyone. That is a promise and because of that promise, all of the adversaries that we face when we do God’s work are defeated also. We have victory over our adversaries, because Jesus has already won the victory on the cross. And just like with the remnant, there are even more specific promises for you. If you have trusted Jesus as your savior, you are a signet just like Zerubbabel was. As a child of the King, you have the authority and power of the King to do the job that He’s called you to do. Acts 1:8 gives us our job and reminds us of the power we have to do that job. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And finally, and probably most importantly, if Jesus has saved you, just like Zerubbabel, God has specifically singled you out and chosen you. Ephesians 1:4 says that Jesus has, “chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” And because God has chosen us, do you know what that means? Paul tells us in Romans 8:29-33: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” That is a promise of God. And God is faithful to keep His promises. So because God has made us those promises. And because God is faithful to keep His promises. What does that mean when He calls us to complete an impossible task? And make no mistake about it, the task He’s called us to IS impossible. Remember that He’s called us to impact the world for Christ. He’s called us to reach our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the world for Jesus. He hasn’t called us to be comfortable. He hasn’t called us to an easy life. He hasn’t called us to sit back and wait for heaven. He’s called us to build this house. And because of His promises, we can do it. Why? Because remember, God specializes in the impossible. He loves to show His strength through our weakness. So, how are we going to do the impossible task that’s before us? The only way we’re going to do it is by completely leaning on God’s promises.