Summary: Haggai awakens the people from their complacency. Establish the priorities and make God the centre of their lives. Recognise the source of their blessings and trust God their Giver. Restore to God His due glory.
Haggai is the 2nd shortest book in the OT, after Obadiah (last Sunday).
• We are down to the last 3 books of the Minor Prophets and also the last 3 chronologically – Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
• Haggai and Zechariah spoke to the Israelites after their return from captivity, challenging the people to rebuild the Temple of God.
• Malachi is the last of the prophets. His prophesy marks the end of an era because after him we have 400 years of silence where no biblical prophet speaks or writes.
• After the long silence, we have the NT period when Jesus was born.
Haggai spoke to the Israelites that had returned after 70 years of captivity.
• In the first year of their return, they built an altar to make sacrificial offerings to God (Ezra 3:1-6).
• In the second year, they started rebuilding the Temple of God and the foundation was laid (Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16).
But it did not continue. They were distracted and pressurised by the people in the surrounding lands to give up the work (Ezra 4).
• Ezra 4:4-5 “Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.”
• Ezra 4:24 “Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.”
That’s right, until Haggai came into the picture, which was nearly 20 years later.
[Read Haggai 1:1-15]
Nothing was done to rebuild the house of God and the people have become apathetic and complacent.
• Haggai challenged them to get back to rebuilding the Temple.
• We can tell the exact timing of these events because Haggai dated them clearly. Recorded here are 4 messages spanning over 4 months in the year 520BC.
• Though short, Haggai’s words did move the people and they repented. He rekindled the passion of the people for God.
The anchoring verse that I am using is Haggai 1:9
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.”
We are going to learn from the messages of Haggai, what it takes to truly experience life to the fullest, that which is abundant and fulfilling.
The significance of this work does not lie with the building of the Temple itself, but with the restoration of a proper worship of God. The people need to have God as the centre of their lives.
• Without the Temple of God, there won’t be the worship of God. And without the worship of God, the people are left without a spiritual compass.
• They lived only for themselves, which was what happened. They lived for their own comfort and enjoyment. Their only worldview was a materialistic one, just like many today. They lives for themselves, everything revolves around them.
• They have left God actually, that’s why God addresses them as “These people say…” in 1:2, rather than, “My people”.
But Haggai is going to change all that. God sent him to awaken His people.
• What does it takes to have an abundant and fulfilling life, the kind that God has designed for us to live?
1. Establish the Priorities – Make God the Centre
The people need to return to God. Without Him, they can never be fulfilled in life, as the Lord said.
• They can work hard and try their best to get what they want, but they will never have enough, have their fill or feel warm. They are unable to keep what they’ve earned.
• Without God, something will always be missing. Blaise Pascal: "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that only God can fill."
• St Augustine of Hippo: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
We know the state of the people’s hearts from the words God quoted (1:2): “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’”
• This is a lame excuse. The Lord responded in verse 3 – my own paraphrase: “Yah right, it is not the right time to build God’s house, but it’s the right time for you to enjoy the comfort of your panelled houses…”
• They have the time and the resources to build themselves posh houses but not the Lord’s house. They considered their own wants, but not the need of God’s house.