Summary: Haggai gives us four signs which we need to be aware of and alerted to in our culture
Don’t Miss the Signs
* Signs are a part of our life. Everywhere we look we sign stop signs, road signs, speed limit signs, school zone signs, caution signs, and the list goes on. In fact, billboard sign have become so prevalent that some communities has declared a moratorium on new signs. Candidly, sometimes there are so many signs that we tend to miss the message.
* I suggest that this is the case in spiritual matters. This is what I see in our text this morning. As we have heard the words of Haggai, there are four signs which I have discerned, but we need a context to grasp.
* Most of us know that Solomon built the ornate temple of the Lord and some 400 years later, in 586 BC (approximately), the city & the temple were destroyed by the Babylonian empire with King Nebuchadnezzar leading the way and taking the people in captivity. For a half-century this was the life of the Jewish people. Then in 539BC Cyrus, King of Persia, defeated the Babylonians and began to allow the Jewish people to return to their homeland. Led by Zerubbabel, they returned to Jerusalem to resettle and rebuild. Believing they had divine mandate to rebuild the temple, the foundation was laid. This was a huge event. Ezra 3 tells us that the younger people shouted for joy and the older priests wept loudly. In fact, the last sentence in Chapter 3 says, “And the sound was heard far away.” However, Ezra 4 & 5 tells the story of opposition to the rebuilding of the temple and town. Candidly because of the opposition, people lost interest in completing the project & so what should have taken 3 or 4 years, was delayed for 15+ years.
* Haggai comes on the scene in 520BC with a poignant, convicting message from Jehovah God. He preaching (prophesy) is aimed at awakening God’s people to HIS work and will, which they were not doing. Don’t miss this, “they didn’t realize what they weren’t doing.” They missed the signs. Today, from this text, let me encourage you to not miss importance signs.
1. Signs of Spiritual Apathy – To be apathetic is to be indifferent, to have a lack of concern, lack of passion, motivation, or even interest. So the question is how can a people who claims to be God’s people become apathetic to His wishes, will, and words? I’ll suggest 2 practical ways;
a. Replace God’s Word. – In verse 2 we read three words which give us one clue as to how people (who belong to God) can become apathetic. The verse says, “The Lord of Hosts says this; ‘THESE PEOPLE SAY.” To tell the truth this is almost like us saying, “They say” when we know what “they say” is untrue. In fact, this is exhibit A that people tend to think we know better than God. God says, “Do this” but we say “it won’t work or should wait.”
* This is exactly what happened in Jerusalem. God performed the work of returning them to their homeland, gave them the resources, and at the first sign of opposition they chose to replace what God had clearly directed them to do. Before we get too judgmental of these people, we might need to consider that the tendency of the modern day “church person” is to do the same thing. For instance, our Lord Jesus said, “I am THE way, truth and life, and NO ONE gets to the Father except by me.” While no one here would openly take issue with this, many times our attitude says something differently. Admittedly, our stated reason for this is to show compassion and grace. For instance, someone dies. The family looks to you for encouragement. You know the deceased to be a good person, but you also know that he/she rejected every effort you made to share Christ. As far as you know, this person died in their sin, so “What do you say?” Do you replace God’s truth with the words which, you think, they need to hear or do you take every thought captive, measure every word, pray about your response, and find a way to honor God’s word and plant the seed of salvation in their lives.
* As much as we might not appreciate this illustration, compassion is not given by false theology and false hood. Additionally, when we replace God’s word with our own words, pretty soon, we will come to believe our words over God’s truth and apathy will set in.
b. Resist God’s Word. – Look at verse 3 and sense the tone with which God asks the penetrating question. When I read this verse, I read it this way, “Is is REALLY time for YOU YOURSELF to make it all about YOU and your desires and abandon what I’ve told you to do?” Going out on a limb, I will say this, when any of us begin to focus on “self”, resisting God’s will is close at hand. Why? Because God calls for self-denial, sacrifice, and service. God says, “Take up your cross and deny yourself.” We say, “Take up yourself and deny your cross” and in doing so, we resist our call from God. Here is the tragedy; anytime we resist anything, we become cold and hard like a callous. Callousness breeds apathy.