Summary: It’s one thing to get God’s people back to work and quite another thing to keep them on the job. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. often said that the greatest ability a person can possess is dependability but too often potential workers excuse themselves and say, “Her
Keeping the Work Alive
It’s one thing to get God’s people back to work and quite another thing to keep them on the job. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. often said that the greatest ability a person can possess is dependability but too often potential workers excuse themselves and say, “Here am I Lord; send somebody else.” God’s pattern for His workers is stated in 1 Cor. 15:52. “To work is to pray,” God’s people can do any legitimate task to the glory of God.
The rebuilding of the temple was very special task, for it meant the restoring of true worship in Jerusalem and completing the project would please the Lord and be a great testimony to the unbelieving nations who were watching the remnant in Jerusalem. Haggai, delivered three brief messages to encourage the laborers to compete their assignments. In each message, he asked them to look in a specific direction to learn what God wanted them to learn. As we look at the first of these messages that encourages the people of Jerusalem, I hope it will us here today also.
I. “Look up: God is with us”
When the foundation of the temple had been laid 16 years before, some of the older men had looked back in sorrow as they remembered the glory and beauty of Solomon’s temple. It’s likely that Haggai was a member of the older generation and had seen the temple before it was destroyed, but he certainly didn’t weep with the rest of his peers. He rejoiced that the work had begun and he wanted to see it completed.
a. Discouragement (vv. 1-3)
i. Haggai didn’t ignore the problem of discouragement, he meet it head on.
ii. He picked an important day to deliver his first message.
1. October 17, the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
2. This feast was devoted to praising God for the harvest and for remembering Israel’s pilgrim days in the wilderness.
3. It was during the Feast of Tabernacles that King Solomon had dedicated the original temple.
4. Haggai wanted to people to think about that
iii. The new temple was not comparable to the first, but it was still God’s house, built according to His plan and for His glory.
iv. Times change, but ministry goes on.
b. Encouragement: God’s presence (vv. 4-9)
i. Haggai didn’t deny that fact that this new temple was not the same as the old, but that wasn’t important.
ii. The important thing was that this was God’s work and they could depend on Him to help them finish it.
iii. “Be Strong”, is what Haggai proclaimed to all the people
1. During the Feast of Tabernacles the people had the book of Deuteronomy read to them.
2. In Deuteronomy they heard three times Moses tell Joshua and the people to be strong. (Deut 31)
3. Three times the Lord told Joshua to be strong (Josh. 1:6-9)
4. King David charged Solomon with the task of building the temple and three times he told his son to be strong.
iv. “Be strong” wasn’t an empty phrase; it was an important part of their own Jewish history.
v. It’s one thing to tell people to be strong and work and quite something else to give them a solid foundation for those words of encouragement.
1. Haggai told them why they should be strong and work, because the Lord was with them (v. 4)
2. The Promise of God’s presence was an encouragement to both Joshua and Solomon.
3. Believers today can claim the same promise as they serve the Lord, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5)
c. Encouragement: God’s covenant (v. 5)
i. The promise of God’s presence with His people is guaranteed by His unchanging Word.
ii. When the tabernacle was dedicated by Moses, God’s presence moved in, for the Lord had promised to dwell with His people.
iii. The same Holy Spirit who enables Moses and the elders to lead the people would enable the Jews to finish building the temple.
iv. Zechariah who ministered with Haggai, also emphasized the importance of trusting the Holy Spirit for the enablement needed to do God’s will: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, said the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6)
v. If God were to take the Holy Spirit out of this world, much of what we’re doing in our churches would go right on, and nobody would know the difference.
d. Encouragement: God’s promise (vv. 6-7, 9)
i. With prophetic insight, Haggai looked ahead to the time when the Son of God would minister in this temple and bring the glory of God into its precincts.
ii. When Haggai looked even farther into the future and saw the end of the ages, when God would shake the nations and Jesus would return.