Summary: Because of God’s presence and plan, we can live with unshakeable strength and courage.
[To receive free sermons by email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org]
Let’s review last week’s introduction to the book of Haggai:
• Author: Haggai the prophet
• Date: 520 B.C.
• Recipients: The exiled Jews who had returned to their homeland to rebuild the temple
• Occasion: Opposition and apathy had brought the work to a standstill
• Purpose: To motivate the people to complete the rebuilding the temple
The book of Haggai is called a Minor Prophet, but it has a major message for our lives today.
“IT’S NOT LIKE THE OLD DAYS”
Haggai’s first message was given to people who were apathetic about the work. His second message was given to people who were discouraged in the work.
It’s one thing to be motivated to start something. It’s another thing to be encouraged to not give up.
It’s easy to start a new project. It’s easy to start a new diet. It’s easy to start a new exercise program. It’s more difficult to persevere, especially when disappointments come.
[Read Haggai 2:1-9]
Haggai’s second message was delivered on October 17, 520 B.C., almost a month after the beginning of the work. The people were now discouraged. Why were they discouraged? Because they compared the current temple to Solomon’s magnificent temple (destroyed sixty-six years earlier by the Babylonians).
October 17 was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jews would have been reminded of Solomon’s temple because it was during the this festival over four centuries earlier that Solomon had dedicated his temple (1 Kings 8:2). The older Jews who had seen Solomon’s temple were disappointed with the rebuilt temple. In comparison, it was nothing.
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?’” (2:1-3).
The older generation had also expressed disappointment sixteen years earlier when the temple’s foundation was completed. “And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard from far away” (Ezra 3:11-13).
“Who despises the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10).
Comparing can easily discourage us. (“I’m nothing compared to…” “Our church is nothing compared to…”)
God’s work done God’s way is never INSIGNIFICANT.
WORDS FOR DISCOURAGED PEOPLE
What does God say to us in our times of discouragement?
1. Be STRONG.
“‘But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work’” (2:4a).
Why? Because of God’s PRESENCE.
“‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you’” (2:4b-5a).
a. The ALMIGHTY God is with us.
God is repeatedly called “the LORD Almighty” in the book of Haggai (14 times). The KJV says “the LORD of Hosts.” “Hosts” refers to the armies of angels. “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:11).
God said, “My Spirit remains among you.” “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
b. The UNCHANGING God is with us.
The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual reminder of the Israelites’ exodus and their 40 years in the wilderness. Maybe the great acts of God in the past (ten plagues, parting of the Red Sea, manna) had intensified the people’s present gloom (not even God is what He used to be!). Maybe they were like Gideon, who said, “If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’” (Judges 6:13).
The same God who parted the Red Sea was with them now. God hadn’t changed. And the same God is with us now. God hasn’t changed. And He will never change.