Summary: Learn why we quit following God's lead, the consequences for it and what to do about quitting - let go and trust God's promises.
GOD’S renovation project
When we moved to Eastern Europe one of the surprising things I noticed were all the buildings in the process of being built. First of all everything was built of brick. And secondly it looked like most of the buildings were just sitting there half built or built with no windows yet or with only a few walls. People built their home with whatever money they had. Then they ran out and finally some completely gave up and immigrated. I wonder what the state of your spiritual life is? If you could draw your spiritual life like a building project, what would it look like?
What things are dragging you down from building God’s kingdom? What is holding you back? This is the question we will answer as we look at the situation of the Jewish people in the book of Haggai as they try to rebuild the Temple.
The trouble for the Jews came as a direct result of their betrayal of the Lord, they had worshipped the idols of the Canaanites, persecuted the prophets of God and the result? God sent them into captivity into Babylon and allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. It was devastating. But several decades later, the Lord opened the door for the Jews to finally return to their homeland and rebuild. They were a revived nation – they trusted the Lord again. They were led by Godly men such as Zerubbabel and Jeshua to return to the city and begin rebuilding and God miraculously opened those doors as they walked ahead in faith.
The first project? The temple which was lying in ruins. God led the Jews to get started on this awesome work and they quickly rebuilt the altar and re-established worship. Then later they completed the foundation of the whole temple. They were set to complete the project fairly quickly when the work came to a screeching halt.
What happened? The people of the land – pagans – insisted on participating in the project. The Jews refused to allow them because the Lord had commanded them to remain separate from the non-believers; to not associate with them because it would lead to following their lifestyle.
The consequence? These people of the land began persecuting the Jews. They did everything in their power to oppose the work on the temple, even writing to the Persian authorities about a rebellion among the Jews.
Fearful and discouraged, the rebuilding project stopped…for 14 years.
Why did they stop?
Discouragement. (Ezra 4:1)
It stops the work God intends us to do. Discouragement has a way of tearing us down and destroying purpose in our lives. It is one of the enemy’s most successful weapons against the believer. Hopelessness is horrible and can go on for years. Notice that it paralyzed God’s work. Discouragement says: It can’t be done!
And so this situation remained until God sent the prophet Haggai who preached the word bringing revival. It’s one of the shortest books in the Old Testament and yet packs a powerful punch. What Haggai does is that he points out the source of all their problems, discouragement, and despair. And through this he reveals the real reasons behind the paralysis of God’s work in our midst today.
The second reason for the stoppage of God’s work is procrastination. “Thus says the Lord of Hosts: these people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” (vs. 2)
Procrastination is defined as “putting off intentionally something that should be done.” It’s not that you can’t do it – it’s just that you don’t want to do it NOW. We might say: “why not put off today what I can do tomorrow.” Sounds like my ‘honey’do’ list. Very often procrastination is simply veiled in religious language – waiting on God. Yes, many times in Scripture we are called to wait – wait upon the Lord – be patient – the Lord is not slow about his promise.
The Israelites made this fatal mistake when God was ready to bring them into the promised land. 12 spies sent in and the response of 10 of them: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” (Num. 13:31). This is actually true! THEY are not able to go against the people but GOD is! The problem was that after waiting for 430 years to get back to the promised land, when the moment finally came to go there, they backed out and refused.
Many Christians can spend their entire life waiting upon God for something or other and basically resign to the fact that God will never open a door the way they want it opened. For example – sharing our testimonies.