Summary: In one sense, the remnant was just like us--they had free access to the Word of God. God had just spoken His Word to them through Haggai and Zechariah. God’s Word was available--what were they going to do with it? What are we going to do with it?
1. Obedience was immediate
2. Obedience was inspired
3. Obedience was inclusive
4. Obedience was investigated
Imagine if you will, not having access to a Bible. Throughout history, that’s the way it’s been for most people. In the early church, the Bible consisted of the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It also included copies of all the letters that we now call the New Testament. As an apostle or a direct eye-witness of Jesus would write an inspired letter, the Spirit-led churches immediately recognized it. They immediately recognized it and included it in what would later be called the canon of Scripture. That continued to happen throughout the first century until around 90AD when the Apostle John wrote and distributed the Revelation. With that writing, Scripture was complete. It was complete, but it was also in demand. It was so much in demand that believers in the local churches would spend hours and hours writing their own copies by hand. We get bogged down by reading and memorizing Scripture. But these early believers copied Scripture word-for-word. There were thousands of these copies making their way through the churches. And then came the persecution. Not so much the Jewish persecution. They were content with just beating and killing Christians like James and Stephen. But the Roman persecution. The Romans saw how much the Christians valued their Scriptures. So not only did they kill the Christians. They confiscated and burned their scrolls and later on their books. But no amount of persecution could stop the spread of the written Word of God in the people’s language. That is, until Christianity became legal in 313AD. And then when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 323AD, things got much worse. Gradually, over the years, the Word of God was taken away from the people. The Catholic Church declared that the only legal Bible was a Latin translation called Jerome’s Vulgate. Well, that might be OK if anybody spoke Latin. But nobody did except the priests. Things got so bad that if anybody had a copy of the Bible in their own language, they were killed. Can you imagine living in that time? Living in a time where you knew that God had spoken to mankind and recorded His words in a Book. But you weren’t allowed to look at it. And even if you could sneak a peek at it—you wouldn’t understand it. Can you imagine how you would long to see God’s Word in your own language? How you would long to see His words yourself? To read them yourself. To understand them yourself. Then why don’t we have that same feeling now? We have free access to God’s Word. Most people are literate and for those who aren’t, the Bible is even available on tape. Why don’t we hunger for it? Why don’t we obey it? The remnant had gone for a long period of time without hearing the Word of the Lord. With the exception of Daniel in Babylon, the prophets had been silent since the exile. The remnant had quit the work on the temple. They had fallen for the lies of the opposition. They had given up. And God was silent. They had no purpose. They had no direction. And they had no temple. Once again, they were disobedient and God left them alone. They were without God’s Word and without God’s presence in His temple for 16 years. But then God broke the silence. He spoke. Just like always, God is the initiator. He always takes the first step. Just like He did with the remnant. He spoke through the mouths of two prophets—Haggai and Zechariah. By the way, those are the same Haggai and Zechariah whose prophesies are included as books of Scripture. God spoke through those two men. And He basically told the remnant one thing. He basically told them to get busy. Get busy doing the work that He called them to do. He told them to get the temple built. Now at that point, the remnant was no longer like the people of the Middle Ages who had no access to Scripture. At that point, the remnant was like us. They had free access to God’s Word. God had just spoken to them clearly and plainly through Haggai and Zechariah. There was no mistaking the fact that God’s Word was available to them. The question was, what were they going to do with it? What were they going to do with the Word of God? Isn’t that the same question we’re faced with? We are blessed to live in a country where the Word of God is freely available to anyone who wants it. I would say that most of us here have more than one copy. The question is, what do we do with it? Do we leave it on a shelf? Do we only bring it out as a showpiece on Sundays? Or do we do what the remnant did when they heard God’s Word? See, when the remnant heard God’s Word, they did what He said. They were finally obedient. That’s what I want for us tonight. I want us to take the Word of God that we have such free access to. I want us to take that Word and be obedient to it. In order to do that, we’re going to look at four aspects of obedience. The first aspect of obedience to God’s Word is that obedience is immediate. Look at verses 1-2: