Summary: Exposition of Haggai 2:1-9 about the discouragement in God’s people about the temple rebuilding project
Text: Haggai 2:1-9, Title: God’s Cure for Depression, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/11/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems like there is not enough time in a day to get it all done…where you forget who your spouse or family is because you don’t see them? And to top it off Murphy’s Law begins to become reality in every circumstance in your life? How about a month like that? And you feel like just giving up, crawling into bed, and sleeping for three weeks? Abe Lincoln--below
B. Background to passage: The date of this second prophecy of Haggai is Oct 17, 520 (a little over a month from the first message, and less than a month from the time that they began work again on the temple). It seems as though disc. and depr. had set in hindering or stopping the work. App: godly encouragement is needed for God’s people to do God’s work. The root of the discouragement was stress, fear, and embarrassment at the grandeur of this second temple compared to the first. Exp the seventh month. And so God confronts the problem directly of those who remember the former glory of the temple, and are stuck in one of those “I wish it could be like the good ol’ days” mentalities. Preach a little here about this methodology of handling problems and about this mentality, and the people who usually hold it, and goal not to recreate the past, but…. But even if it is not a mood like that that causes us discouragement and depression, we all wrestle with it. When we have great expectations and grand dreams, and they don’t turn out that way…when we are trapped in a relationship, marriage, or job that is not fulfilling…when everyone close to us is pulling away, moving, or leaving…when our children or grandchildren are not living up to God’s plan for their lives…when we try and try to get ahead financially, but just can’t seem to do it, we can all experience discouragement.
C. Main thought: In our text, God speaks to all you who are weakened from discouragement in two ways
A. A 3-step plan based on God’s presence (v. 4-5)
1. After bringing up the problem in the clearest of terms, saying that the sight of the temple is equal to nothing in the eyes of those who had seen the former temple, God gives them three things to do be begin to remedy their depression. And all of these things are based on God’s presence with them. Note the word “for” after the command to work. First He says to “be strong.” Note the repetition. Note “for I am with you.” In telling them this, He is not telling them to be strong in themselves, but to further rely on an outside source of strength. Secondly, He tells them the central command of this text, and of this book—work. God tells them to get to work. Work, for I am with you. He calls them to remember their purpose as a generation, what He has called them to do. Thirdly, he gives them a negative command, do not fear. They were afraid of other nations, of embarrassment, of lack of resources. Don’t fear, My Spirit is with you. This is esp imp. to the leaders. And he follows these with promises.
3. Illustration: Above the caption "Strong Man" was a photo of a workman displaying what seemed to be superhuman strength. He appeared to be lifting a piano up to a second story apartment porch. An explanation under the picture plus one discernible clue, however, told the unseen story. By looking closely I could see a cable attached to the piano. The real power to lift it was coming from a crane above, rather than from the man below. The man riding the bear with the rattlesnake in his hand—see below, tell about Dr. Patterson’s son-in-law who was discouraged as a pastor and called Dr. P to whine, and Dr. P told him to go to the ten doors beside the church and tell them about Jesus. Tell about the guy who was praying that God would show him His will, and all the people kept coming by, and he kept blowing them off. Quote the third verse of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” the family who read Ps 23-see below,
4. For NT and OT believers a command to be strong means for us to further trust and rely on God’s strength. He is calling us to remember where the greatest true reservoir of strength lies—in Him. During times of doubt, depression, and discouragement we must actively, consciously turn our thoughts toward God and reaffirm our trust in His grace. So don’t tell others to “suck it up, get over it, and do better.” Remind them of the greatness of their source of strength. Look to the word. Nine times in this text today, we are reminded that these words are from God. So, track down God’s word for you at this time. Come to me, and I will give you some verses to meditate on. Yes, meditate. Sometimes the best medicine for discouragement and depression is to get to work on something meaningful. And since earthly things are temporary, look for something with eternal significance. There is much to do here at NRBC for the kingdom. If you are bored, discouraged, depressed, etc, come drive the van for ESL and witness to the children who all speak English; let’s get together and go to Americus and help there; the road in front of the church can always be picked up. You will find satisfaction in giving yourself away in service to Christ. You will live when you begin to die. Remember that ultimately nothing can hurt you, and God is with you and will give you strength to endure. Preach to yourself, renounce fear openly. Pray and praise.