Summary: In this second message of Advent Pastor Terry looks to the prophecies of Haggai’s Desire of Nations as Man’s hope for experiencing the Glory of God.
For the last three weeks we have been “majoring on the Minors” – the Minor Prophets that is, as we have looked at the coming of Christ, the Messiah through the prophetic eyes of men like Hosea, Zechariah and now, the prophet Haggai.
Haggai and Zechariah came on the scene of Israel’s return from exile and together encouraged the people to rebuild the Temple and restore the city of Jerusalem.
The book that bears Haggai’s name contains only 38 verses separated by two chapter divisions. In those 38 verses are three prophetic messages delivered to Joshua the High Priest and to Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah representing the spiritual and the material interests of the people of God.
God couldn’t have picked a better man to bring these three messages to the people. Haggai was the “pastor’s pastor. He was a true encourager; He could expose the silver lining in any dark cloud. His very name means “festive”. Haggai did not like to see people down in the dumps. He was the poster child for unity and goodwill. But more importantly, he wanted the people to see the correlation between obedience and blessing.
The dilemma that Haggai faced some 500 years before the birth of Christ are no different for the Church today, nor is God’s desired response from you and I.
A quick survey of the book reveals that there were three interpersonal conflicts that the people of God felt. At the time of Haggai’s prophecies, the remnant had been back in Jerusalem for nearly 16 years. When they first arrived, they celebrated God’s merciful deliverance and put all of their efforts into showing, in very practical ways, their gratitude for God’s provision as they poured resources into rebuilding Solomon’s Temple, but within less than a year, their enthusiasm began to wane.
God’s mercy was revealed through a message of confrontation and correction.
Do you have trouble with the concept of God bringing correction? Consider Paul’s words in the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 12:5-8 (God’s Word Version)
5 You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: “My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.”
7 Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. 8 If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family.
The people of God had lost focus, they’d lost sight of the purpose God had for them. It wasn’t just about fixing up a building, it was about creating a habitation, an environment for the Glory of God.
In order to bring them back to a place of focus on God’s purpose, Haggai had to address three areas of sin in the people’s hearts. Their sin wasn’t some egregious action like murder or rape, it wasn’t really an “action” at all. It was an attitude that led to inaction.
If there is one thing that Advent does for us, it calls us to an active response.
God had brought the people back to Jerusalem to rebuild a city, to reestablish the Glory of God. The Desire of Nations was coming and preparations needed to be made. As with you and I, before we can get the “house” in order we must get our hearts in order.
Haggai revealed three areas of sin that called for a sincere repentance.
1. The sin of disinterest
Judah’s disinterest for God’s purposes had lead to a spiritual dissatisfaction in “things”
• They had concentrated on their own welfare than on God’s work.
• (Read verse 6) they worked and worked, toiled and labored but still were not satisfied. God said it was like working for a wage and putting that money in a bag with holes.
• Their lack was not a run of bad luck, it was a divine response to putting their own interests before God.
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.
"You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.”
But then God comes back in the next verse and reminds the people “I am with you”. And in verse 14, “the Lord stirred up” their spirits.
2. The sin of Discouragement
To experience discouragement is not a sin, but to wallow in it – that is contrary to the nature of God that dwells in you – that is sin!