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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?

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).

+ Haggai 1:1-4 1In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, ’The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’" 3Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4"Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" (NIV)

GOD’S WORK WAS DELAYED!

In the same way that Jesus told His disciples that He would build His church, God’s purpose was to have the temple rebuilt, but opposition from their enemies slowed the work until it finally stopped.

DOES IT SURPRISE YOU THAT THE WORK OF GOD CAN BE DELAYED? God will not force His people to do what they do not want to do!

· Moses led the nation of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt and led them to the promised land. How many of you know that God’s plan and purpose were for them to receive what he had promised then? Unfortunately the people believed the bad report of 10 spies and what God promised was delayed forty years! The people would not listen to listen to Caleb and Joshua when they said that God would surely give them what He had promised. Instead receiving the promised land, God’s work was delayed. God told the people, “Turn back toward the desert.”

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