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.
2. 2 Sam 7:2, Philip 2:21, Isa 56:11, Matt 16:24,
3. Illustration: Edwards saw that one of the chief works of Satan was “to propagate and establish a persuasion that all affections and sensible emotions of the mind, in things of religion, are nothing at all to be regarded, but are rather to be avoided and carefully guarded against, as things of a pernicious tendency. This he knows is the way to bring all religion to a mere lifeless formality, and effectually shut out the power of godliness, and everything which is spiritual and to have all true Christianity turned out of doors.” tell about the man in Ontario, Canada who refused the promotion within the bank that he worked and excelled in, so that he would not be drawn into the unrealistic expectations and time commitments at the expense of his family, drawing on Elijah’s Mt Carmel experience Tozer says, “Current evangelicalism (in the ‘50s) has laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who while in love with the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire.”
4. Oh what a sad parallel with our society and culture! We seek to purchase, acquire, and obtain stuff so that we can live a comfortable existence. Sacrifice is not even a word that we use, unless we are talking about other people sacrificing for us. We are the richest nation on the earth, and you would think that we would have time for God and His priorities. In general we (myself included) are not driven primarily in our lives with the pleasure of God and doing everything that we can to bring him glory. We are content to have religion and church just as long as it doesn’t interfere with our occupational goals, or our recreational pursuits, or our children’s extracurricular activities. We are content to have church and not experience the presence of God. There is no brokenness to our hearts if we come to church and nothing happens. If God doesn’t show up, doesn’t speak to us, doesn’t save people, doesn’t move in our midst, we don’t care!