Summary: A WORD TO THE CHURCH--HAGGAI (Part 1) Satan cannot destroy the church, but he can slow it down. This first message focuses on fulfilling God’s purpose through right prioriies. What should be the believers # 1 priority and how can we keep it #1?
· Each of us knows how the World Trade Center fell to the ground September 11, 2001; some of us actually watched the towers fall. Few of us think about what it took to make the towers stand. The construction of this massive complex made up of seven buildings and a shopping concourse began in 1966. Prior to its destruction, the World Trade Center had been the world’s largest commercial complex, home to many businesses, government agencies, and international trade organizations. Most prominent among its structures were the 110-story rectangular twin towers. As you might imagine the construction of the twin towers moved from the center out and the bottom up, so as crew worked to add floor upon floor, others were busy working to complete the lower floors. Some of the lower floors were actually completed with tenants renting office space prior to the final completion of the towers. Finally after seven years of construction the towers were officially opened in September of 1973; The cost for the entire WTC exceeded one billion dollars. (HowStuffWorks.com and TheHistoryChannel.com)
God is building us into a great church. The building of the church does not happen overnight; God doesn’t just miraculously make it happen. God uses each of us in the process of building His church, because the construction of the church has little to do with the building that we worship in each Sunday. The making of a great church is about you and me reflecting Jesus to our world; it’s Jesus in you and me.
For you and me to be the great church that the Lord has designed us to be, we must choose to cooperate with God in the process. YOU AND I ARE A PART OF THE MIRACLE THAT IS PRAISE A/G! But it will cost us all something; it requires time and effort–it takes laying down our lives.
Satan would like to destroy the church; he would like to see it all come crashing down around us like the falling of the WTC twin towers. Thankfully, that’s impossible for the devil to do. Jesus said, “the gates of Hell itself cannot defeat His church” (see Matthew 16:18).
This morning we are going to begin a series of messages which focus on what God is wanting to do IN US and THROUGH US as He builds us into the church that is Praise A/G. In order to accomplish that, we are going to look at a book of the Bible that many of us may have a hard time pronouncing let alone finding in our Bibles. Over the next few weeks I want us to look at the building of the church through the eyes of the prophet Haggai. (Now if you are not sure where to find Haggai in your bibles, just open them to the book of Matthew and turn left 3 books–Matthew, Malachi, Zechariah, and Haggai.)
This morning’s message is “God’s Work Delayed.” Satan cannot destroy the church, nor can the devil stop the building of the church, BUT HE CAN SLOW IT DOWN. Satan can coerce or entice any of us to forget our role in the building of the church; the devil seeks to blur our perception and distort our priorities leading us away from Christ and His church.
It’s my prayer that through this series taken from the prophet Haggai that each of us will come to see not only God’s plan to build the church, but also our role in its construction.
As you turn to Haggai, we need A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON to understand his message. Haggai is the first of the three prophets at the end of the Old Testament who spoke to the remnant who had returned to Jerusalem after Israel’s seventy years of exile. It’s possible that Haggai is an old man in his 70’s or 80’s; if so he would be one of the few in all of Israel who could remember the majesty and splendor of Solomon’s temple which had been destroyed by the Babylonians (Note Haggai 2:3).
In 538BC, King Cyrus of Persia issued a decree allowing the Jewish exiles to return to their homeland; King Cyrus further decreed that the Jews could rebuild the city of Jerusalem including their place of worship, the Temple. The first Jews to return to Jerusalem laid the foundation for a new temple beginning in 536BC; the book of Ezra describes how this work was being done with great excitement and rejoicing. Unfortunately, when the Samaritans and other neighboring nations heard that Jerusalem and the temple were being rebuilt they opposed the Jews. As a result, work on the temple stopped in 534BC leading to spiritual lethargy.
The people returned to rebuilding their own houses. Finally in 520BC Haggai and a younger prophet by the name of Zechariah began urging Zerubbabel and the people to resume the construction of the temple. The book of Haggai contains four messages from the Lord, three of which specifically deal with the construction of the temple. Four years after the prophet announced the word of the Lord to the people the temple was completed and dedicated with a great celebration (Ezra 4-6).