Sermons

Summary: Three ways we can "consider our ways" in making sure our "temples" are being built properly in body, mind, and spirit.

NEARLY 2,521 YEARS AGO, ON AUGUST 29, 520 B.C., THE PROPHET HAGGAI DELIVERS A STERN MESSAGE OF IMPENDING JUDGMENT TO THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH WHO WERE NEGLECTING THE TEMPLE OF GOD.

FRESH OUT OF BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY THE PEOPLE HAD BECOME CONTENT IN THEIR FREEDOM. EVEN THOUGH THE KING OF PERSIA HAD GIVEN THEM HIS BLESSING TO RESUME CONSTRUCTION ON THE TEMPLE THEY STILL MANAGED TO LAPSE INTO SPIRITUAL LAZINESS.

THEY SOON BECAME EXPERTS OF PROCRASTINATION. WITH THEIR NEWLY ISSUED “BUILDING PERMIT” THEY DECIDED TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES FIRST. ALL-OF-A-SUDDEN THE TEMPLE WAS NO LONGER A PRIORITY.

THE FACILITIES REMAINED A DELAPIDATED MESS AND NOBODY WAS IN A HURRY TO FIX IT. IN FACT, THE CONTINUED MEETING FOR WORSHIP AMONGST ALL THE RUINS OF THE TEMPLE AS IF THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT.

EVERYONE CHERISHED THEIR OWN PROPERTY MORE THAN THE THINGS OF GOD. AS THEIR OWN HOMES BECAME EXTRAVAGANT THE TEMPLE SAT IN DISREPAIR AND RUIN. OVER A COURSE OF TIME, THE PEOPLE SLOWLY LOST THEIR PASSION FOR THE WORSHIP OF THE LIVING GOD.

REGARDLESS OF WHAT REASONS OR EXCUSES THE PEOPLE HAD FOR FALLING INTO THIS CONDITION, THE MESSAGE FROM GOD TO HAGGAI WAS TO TELL THE PEOPLE TO GET BUSY AND FINISH MY TEMPLE!

APPARENTLY, THE ISRAELITES WEREN’T MAKING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CROP FAILURE, LACK OF HARVEST, AND A DROUGHT WITH THEIR SPIRITUAL CONDITION.

HAGGAI WAS TRYING TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY WERE FOCUSING ON INSIGNIFICANT MATTERS LIKE DECORATING THEIR HOMES WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUSY BUILDING THE TEMPLE.

THEY BEGAN PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THEMSELVES AND TO THEIR OWN POSSESSIONS. THEY HAD BECOME SPIRITUALLY BLIND TO THE THINGS OF GOD. SOON, THE TEMPLE WAS NOTHING MORE TO THEM THAN “JUST” A BUILDING.

HAGGAI WAS QUICK IN REMINDING THEM THAT IT WAS MORE THAN “JUST” A BUILDING. HE TOLD THEM THAT IT WAS THE SITE WHERE THE PEOPLE COULD MEET TOGETHER WITH THE LIVING GOD.

IN OTHER WORDS, IGNORING THE PHYSICAL RUIN OF THE TEMPLE WAS A SIGN THAT THEY WERE NOT ONLY IGNORING GOD, BUT THEY WERE ALSO IGNORING THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THEIR OWN SOULS.

HAGGAI DELIVERS THE MESSAGE OF GOD THAT THE PEOPLE SHOULD “CONSIDER THEIR WAYS.” THE PEOPLE NEEDED TO STOP AND THINK ABOUT HOW FAR THEY HAD NOT ONLY LET THE TEMPLE GO, BUT HOW PERVERTED THEIR PRIORITIES HAD BECOME IN RELATION TO GOD.

NEGLECTING GOD AND PUTTING THE PRIORITY UPON THEMSELVES PROVED FRUITLESS. THEIR SELF-CENTEREDNESS HAD NOT PRODUCED ECONOMIC STABILITY NOR ANY KIND OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

THEIR ABUNDANT PLANTINGS HAS RESULTED IN ONLY MEAGER HARVESTS. THE SIMPLEST NECESSITIES OF LIFE – FOOD, DRINK, AND CLOTHING – WERE NOT BEING MET. WORST OF ALL, THEY SPENT THEMSELVES AND BECAME SPIRITUALLY BANKRUPT IN HEART, SOUL AND MIND.

ALL THEIR EFFORTS AT FARMING AND WAGE-EARNING AVAILED NOTHING BECAUSE THEY HAD PUT NOTHING INTO MAKING THE LORD THEIR FIRST PRIORITY AND FIRST LOVE.

GOD REBUKES THEM FOR WHAT THEY HAD NOT DONE AND SHOWS THEM THE FRUITLESSNESS OF WHAT THEY HAD DONE. HE NOW CHALLENGES THEM WITH WHAT THEY SHOULD DO – REBUILD THE TEMPLE TO THE GLORY OF GOD.

HAGGAI DELIVERS THIS SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE. THE GOOD NEWS OF THIS MESSAGE IS THAT IT IS ONE OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

HAGGAI ENCOURAGES THE LEADERS AND PEOPLE OF JUDAH TO START REBUILDING THE TEMPLE. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE PEOPLE RESPONDED IN TWO WAYS.

FIRST, THEY OBEYED THE VOICE OF GOD AND HIS MESSAGE DELIVERED BY HAGGAI THE PROPHET. THIS IS PROOF OF AN EFFECTIVE CHANGE IN THEIR ATTITUDES AND ACTIONS.

SECOND, THEY FEARED THE LORD. THIS IS PROOF THAT THEY DEVELOPED A NEW AWE AND REVERENCE FOR GOD BECAUSE THEY TOOK TIME TO PONDER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THEIR PAST DISOBEDIENCE AND SELF-CENTERDNESS. IT WAS ALSO THEIR WAY OF SHOWING THEY HAD A NEW SENSE OF OBEDIENCE TO DIVINE PRIORITIES.

BECAUSE OF THEIR OBEDIENCE GOD PROMISED HIMSELF TO THEM AS IMMANUEL WHICH MEANS “GOD IS WITH US!” BECAUSE GOD SAID, “I AM WITH YOU,” THE PEOPLE WERE GIVEN THE ASSURANCE THAT IMMANUEL WOULD BE WITH THEM TO GUIDE AND EMPOWER THEM TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR MONUMENTAL TASK.

IT SOON DAWNED ON THEM THAT THEY HAD THEIR SPIRITUAL PRIORITIES ALL MIXED UP. THEY REALIZED THAT THEY WERE THE ONLY WITNESSES TO GOD’S DIVINE TRUTH. IF THEY PROVED FAITHLESS, IT WOULD DAMAGE, IF NOT DESTROY, GOD’S REPUTATION.

THEY UNDERSTOOD THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING GOD’S REPRESENTATIVES IN THE WORLD. THEY WERE ABLE TO SEE HOW THEY WEREN’T DOING A VERY GOOD JOB OF IT. THEY REPENTED, OBEYED AND GOT TO WORK.

IT ONLY TOOK THEM 23 DAYS TO MAKE THEIR PLANS, GATHER THE NECESSARY CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL AND GET THE BUILDING UNDER WAY. THEY DID WHAT GOD TOLD THEM!

WHAT ABOUT US? IS GOD CALLING OUT TO US SAYING, “GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS?” THESE WORDS PASSED ONTO US FROM THE PROPHET HAGGAI ARE A CONSTANT REMINDER TO THE CHURCH TODAY. THE QUESTION IS: WILL WE BE JUST AS FAST IN OUR RESPONSE?

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