Summary: God’s word gives encouragement by assuring us that God is still in control.
Text: Haggai 2:1-9
1. Illustration: There is a legend that the devil was having a yard sale. People were buying articles such as lying, cheating. etc. An article was on the end of the table that had a sign not for sale. What is this item that is not for sale, people ask. The devil said I use this a lot of times and found it to be very effective. It is called discouragement. If I can get people discouraged, then I can do almost what I want with them.
2. Discouragement is one of the Devil’s biggest tools, and he has been using it on us big time. However, God has given us a weapon to use in fighting the Devil’s tools - the Sword of the Spirit, which is His Word.
3. Romans 15:4 (NIV)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
4. Instead of discouragement God’s word gives us:
a. Strength for the Present
b. Expectations for the Future
5. Read Haggai 2:1-9
Proposition: God’s word gives encouragement by assuring us that God is still in control.
Transition: God’s word gives us...
I. Strength For The Present (1-5)
A. I am With You
1. Our text today is actually the second prophecy given by Haggai. In his first prophecy, he admonishes the people to begin the work of rebuilding the Temple.
a. They had been focusing all of their attention on themselves and their own homes while leaving the Temple in ruins.
b. Their priorities were all wrong, and through Haggai, encouraged them to get them right.
2. Because of that prophecy, the work began in September of that year. However, in only a month’s time discouragement had already set in.
a. People were coming in to celebrate the required festivals and began to mutter words of discouragement.
b. They would say things like "Oh, it will never be like it once was in the ’good old days.’"
c. Illustration: People like that are like the character "Glum" from the cartoon "Gulliver and the Lilliputians." He would always says "We’re doomed; we’ll never make it!"
3. The Lord tells Haggai to say, "Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor?"
a. You see there were people who had come back with the remnant after the exile who were old enough to remember the Temple’s glory days.
b. The word "anyone" in the Hebrew is literally "such a one who was left over" (Verhoef, NICOT: The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 95).
c. This event occurred only some fifty years after the destruction of the Temple, and there were some there that lived long enough to see this reconstruction that remembered the original.
4. He then asks them "How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all!"
a. He tells them "Compare this Temple to the old one and tell me what you think?"
b. In their minds, it was never going to be like it was before.
c. It had nothing to do with the size of the rebuilt Temple, because in actuality the new one was bigger than the original one (Verhoef, 96).
d. The problem was that did not have the resources that Solomon had at his disposal.
e. They didn’t have all of the silver and gold that Solomon had when he built the Temple.
f. They couldn’t afford to pay the skilled craftsmen from other countries like Solomon.
g. They did not have the King of Lebanon giving them huge cedar logs like Solomon.
5. They said it can never be like it once was, and they were discouraged and disheartened.
a. They thought there was no way it would ever be the same.
b. They were discouraged and ready to give up.
6. However, notice what the Lord says to the people through Haggai: "But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies."
a. The first thing that we must notice is the phrase But Now.
b. It constitutes just six letters, but they form two big words and one monumental concept.
c. What it insinuates is that things need to change.
d. Their understanding must change.
e. Their attitudes must change.
f. Their focus must change.
7. The next thing that we must notice is he says to Be Strong.
a. This phrase appears three times in v. 4.
b. It comes from the Hebrew word hazaq "which denotes a frame of mind which enables one to pursue or initiate something with fervor and diligence" (Verhoef, 98).