Summary: Today we see the ’Body of Christ’ showing disinterest in every matter that is important to God, being discouraged with everything that is going on around them and being dissatisfied with life as a whole. It is now time for certain things to happen in the
Opening illustration: Pressures, demands, expectations and tasks push in from all sides and assault our schedules. Do this! Be there! Finish that! Call them! It seems as though everyone wants something from us ~ family, friends, employer, school, church, clubs etc. Soon there is little left to give, as we run out of energy and time. We find ourselves rushing through life, attending to the necessary, the immediate and the urgent. The important is all too often left in the dust. Our problem is not the volume of demands or lack of scheduling skills, but values – what is truly important to us.
Our values and priorities are reflected in how we use our resources – time, money, strength and talent. Often our actions belie our words. We say God is number one, but then we relegate Him to a lesser number on our “to do” list.
Twenty-five centuries ago, a voice was heard, calling men and women to the right priorities. Haggai knew what was important and what had to be done and he challenged God’s people to respond.
Today in the ‘Body of Christ’ we face the same dilemma and there needs to be that one man who will wake-up, call and challenge the church to slumber no more, follow in Godly footsteps and do the will of our Lord.
Let us catch up with the story in the book of Haggai and stop doing the same mistakes Israel did but learn a lesson to follow God’s instructions very closely and keep Him always as number 1 in our lives.
Introduction: In 586 BC the armies of Babylon had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem – God’s house, the symbol of His presence with them. In 538 BC, King Cyrus decreed that Jews could return to their beloved city and rebuild the temple. So they traveled to Jerusalem and began the work. They started well by building altars, offering regular sacrifices and laying the temple foundation. But then they forgot their purpose and lost their priorities, as opposition and apathy brought the work to a standstill (Ezra 4: 4, 5). They put away working on the temple for 16 years because their enemies mocked their efforts. Then Haggai spoke, calling them back to God’s values. "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" (1: 4). The people were more concerned with their own needs than with doing God’s will and as a result they suffered. Then Haggai called them to action: 7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! 8 "Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the LORD. (1: 7, 8). And God’s message through His servant Haggai became the catalyst for finishing the work. Through the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, the temple was completed within 5 years (520 – 516 BC).
Even though the book of Haggai is small; it is filled with challenge and promise, reminding us of God’s claim on our lives and our priorities. As we read Haggai, imagine him walking the streets and alleys of Jerusalem, urging the people to get back to doing God’s work. And listen to Haggai speaking to you, urging you to reorder your priorities in accordance with God’s will. What has God told you to do? Put all aside and just obey Him.
What problems did Haggai face with the Israelites?
(a) Disinterest (1: 5, 6): The people built their houses and ignored the Lord’s temple. Thus they were fruitless. God will bless the results when He is glorified and given the first place in your lives.
(b) Discouragement (2: 4, 9): The older generation had seen Solomon’s temple thus were not interested in this one.
• Haggai’s message (2: 4) ’Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ’and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ’and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts.’
• God’s assurance (2: 9) ’The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ’And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.’
© Dissatisfaction (2: 19): When the people started working, they wanted an immediate reversal of all their years of inactivity (2: 10 – 23).
Application: Do not expect the work of three months to undo the neglect of 16 years.
God’s Word to the people ~ 2: 19 ’Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’