Summary: Exposition of Haggai 1:1-11
Text: Haggai 1:1-11, Title: Disguising Your Despising, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/18/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Against all those monks, who tried to think of the best ways to serve God, stood this one command: “Honor your father and mother.” Luther said, “Where will these poor wretches hide when in the sight of God and all the world they shall blush with shame before a young child who has lived according to this commandment.” [Luther’s Large Catechism] You could feed hundreds of the poor and give shelter to thousands of homeless, but if you despise your mother, you are despising God. A little child handing her mother a freshly picked dandelion has outdone you.
B. Background to passage: Just as God said would happen through Isaiah and Jeremiah, Cyrus the Persian released the Jews to return to their homeland in 538 BC. Their primary goal was to rebuild the temple awaiting the return of God’s hand of blessing and possibly the Messiah. That went well for about two years. Then all sorts of political turmoil, opposition, and apathy took its toll and produced a job that ceased before it really got started, and a discouraged people indifferent to God’s house, His desires, and His glory. Sixteen years later, on August 29, 520 BC (the day before the New Moon Offering), God calls Haggai, who had been a part of those taken from Israel in 586 BC and had returned and helped build in 538 BC, to be a prophet, and deliver a message to the people. Four times in our text today Haggai uses the title for God “the LORD of hosts” emphasizing God’s sovereign control over all things including the myriads of angelic forces used to bring about His judgments upon his covenant people. And the whole discussion of the book is framed in covenant terms—God’s faithfulness and Judah’s failure to keep its part of the covenant.
C. Main thought: Our text this morning will highlight the main thrust of the book of Haggai by pointing out the problem, its results, and giving God’s prescription about how to begin to fix it.
A. The Problem (v. 2-4)
1. Haggai is very clear that he stands in a long line of classical prophets that boldly proclaim “thus saith the Lord.” So, quoting God (not a rabbi, or even his own opinions), he gives us a quote of the people. It had become their slogan to justify their lack of commitment to God and his temple. They may have said that for a couple of reasons (political unrest, economic stress, waiting on the 70 year to pass, waiting on the Messiah), but God is not impressed. And it is not that God has a desperate need that Israel can fill (because God has no needs as though He lacked anything) through the temple. In fact, the building is not the problem at all, only a symptom. It was the symbol of God’s presence among His people. And so their problem was that they didn’t love God! They didn’t want His presence, only his blessing. They didn’t care about His desires, His pleasure, His will, nor His glory. They were consumed with their own prosperity, agendas, personal comfort, and priorities. They were totally self-consumed. Remember that it had been 16 years since any effort had been exerted.