Haggai 1: 1 – 15
Take your own inventory
“1In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’”3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” 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. 9 “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. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” 12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD. 13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the LORD.” 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.”
How did we get here?
Mostly everyone has heard about king David. Under his reign our Precious Lord had done great things. David conquered much of the land that the Holy Yahweh had promised to the seed of Abraham, the Israelites. In fact, a blessing that David had never expected was Graciously given to him by Almighty God. He promised David that his seed would always be the lawful kings. Then things began to go south starting with David’s first heir, Solomon. The Mighty Holy One had visited Solomon and communed with him personally on two occasions. The Ever Living God had asked him to name a wish and beyond our imaginations would grant him. His wish was for ‘wisdom’. God told him that it was a great answer. And because he did not ask for extreme wealth, long life, or vengeance over his enemies, our Holy Father told him that He would give him all of that plus as a bonus make him the smartest and richest king that ever lived. But there was a condition. Solomon was told that he could not amass riches, wives, or horses. If our Lord offered you this same blessing would you agree to His conditions? Well, Solomon broke all the Lord’s conditions.
As a result of this violation the Gracious Ruler informed Solomon that the United Kingdom would be divided. The kingdom consisted of 12 tribes. Solomon’s son would be given two tribes because of the Lord’s unbroken promise to David that a king of his lineage would sit upon the throne. This kingdom would be referred as the Southern Kingdom. Adoni Yahweh then gave 10 of the tribes to a man named Jeroboam. This division was referred to as the Northern Kingdom.
Every king of the Northern Kingdom was evil. For their sinfulness the Lord allowed them to be conquered by the Assyrians. Then for hundreds of years our Holy Lord protected the tiny little nation of Judah previously known as the Southern Kingdom. Ultimately, the kings of Judah also turned to the same wickedness that their former relatives of the North committed. The Babylonians conquered them, which was the third world power. The first two were Egypt then Assyria. Ultimately, in time, the Medes and Persians overthrew this empire as the dominant power.
The Holy One had compassion on the Jewish captives living in exile. He had issued a judgment of banishment from His land for 70 years. The book of Jeremiah chapter 29 tells us about this edict, “4 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace. 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD. 10 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”
Our Amazing Lord selected the man hundreds of years before he was born to be his agent to free the Jewish captives. This man was Cyrus, kings of the Medes and Persians. He not only freed the Jewish captives, he gave them incentives to return to their land. All the religious artifacts were returned to the Israelites and they were also offered governmental support in reconstructing their capital city, Jerusalem, and their Holy Temple. We read about this action in the book of Ezra chapter 3, “1 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. 4 They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day. 5 Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the LORD. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, although the foundation of the temple of the LORD had not been laid. 7 They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia. 8 Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD. 9 Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah, arose as one to oversee those working on the house of God: the sons of Henadad with their sons and their brethren the Levites. 10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar of”
The people set up the altar and began again to offer sacrifices to God. Then trouble hit. The surrounding nations were antagonistic against their efforts. At first they tried to corrupt the Israelites efforts from within. When that didn’t work they brought false accusations against them six years after the work began
The antagonists managed to influence the king to issue an order for the Jews to stop working on the Temple. Then for the next 10 years nothing is done as far as work is concerned on the Temple. A new king by the name of Darius becomes the leader of the Media – Persian Kingdom. This is the same Darius that we read about here. Our God then raises up three prophets to speak to the Israelites – Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
I would like to title this message as ‘Consider your ways’. However, since our Lord mentions this point many times in this little book probably a lot of teacher’s are using this title. So, I will call it in the modern Philly translation, ‘Take your own inventory’. Today there is no physical building for us to build like the Jews built the Temple. The Bible says though that our body’s, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, where God Himself dwells within us. We are much like the people who lived during Haggai’s time. 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. 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 then is not the volume of demands. – 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.
As believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we like the people in this bible story started out great – on fire for the Lord. We annoyed everyone around us and amazingly we didn’t care when we did no. We wanted everyone we came in contact with, especially your families to know the same awesome God. It reminds me when two people from the local church were standing by the side of the road, pounding a sign into the ground, which read: ‘CAUTION – DANGER! THE END IS NEAR! TURN YOURSELF AROUND BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!’ Just then a driver sped by and yelled out his window, ‘Leave us alone, you religious nuts’. Then in a few seconds screeching tires and a big ‘SPLASH’ was heard. One of the sign men looked at the other and asked, ‘Do you think we should have just said, BRIDGE OUT?’
Then something happened to us. We started settling down in our Christian walk. We stopped living as though our Lord was coming back today. The fire hasn’t gone out, but it has dimmed a little. Perhaps trouble hit us also at work or at home. You know the enemy still works the same today as he did before. He just rewraps his attacks. If he cannot do damage from within then he will try it from false accusations. There may be some people here today whom co-workers or possibly your own family have hurt you. Probably the hardest to deal with is injury we receive from other believers. You expect the worldly people to treat you wrong, but not you own brothers and sisters.
We need to slow down to the speed of life. We need to realize everything is okay. Our God Is still on His Throne. He Is still in control of all things. You can rest assured. We know the ultimate Judge – He Is our Father – The LORD God Almighty!.
Over in Babylon during the Israelite captivity there was a man going through some persecution. He was a man committed to God. His name is Daniel. Let us read what happened from the Lord’s Words, 1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. 4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”6 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! 7 All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the written decree. 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. 11 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” 13 So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” 14 And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15 Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.” 16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” 17 Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. 18 Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” 23 Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God. 24 And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den. 25 Then King Darius wrote: To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you.26 I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Daniel was taken captive as a youth. Our God allowed him to ascend to one of the highest administrative office’s in the Babylon Empire. When the Media Persian Empire overthrew the Babylonians, he became one of the top ranking officials of this new world power. Today it would be explained that he was a high official in Iraq and after Iran overthrew this kingdom, he became a high official in Iran. It just doesn’t happened this way folks. When the evil people couldn’t harm him from within based on their jealousy, they attacked his religion. King Darius was tricked into their wicked scheme. However, God came to Daniel’s rescue and Darius would remember this later when accusations would be brought against the Jews in Jerusalem. Darius might have responded – fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
“1In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”
The first thing I want to point out is in verse 1 and that is how timing is everything. ‘“1In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet.’ Our God is excellent at timing. Here we have the second year of Darius’s reign when the Word of the Lord came to Haggai. Why are all the specific points mentioned? You see, if you dig in a little and research the Jewish calendar, you will find that this date is a special holiday – August 29th, 520 BC. The Jewish calendar runs for 30 days each month. It is a Jewish festival day called the new moon festival. By the way, guess what the name Haggai means? – Festive, festival, or my festival. Just like his name, his message was to tell the people of God, His desire to have a festival of Joy again in their hearts and minds. All the people came to Jerusalem for this festival. God gave Haggai a captured audience to give his message. In case you are not up on the lunar cycle. The new moon is a time when the night is the darkest. The sun upon the moon’s surface at all was reflecting no light. Just like the new moon with no light to guide them, the people did not have any divine direction. It is perfect timing for our God to respond. He will show that He IS the Light of the World.
Besides this perfect timing I want you to see His talking to the leaders in verse 1, ‘to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”
Zerubbabel was appointed governor of the area because of his royal heritage. His name means ‘begotten in Babylon’. Although he descended from the royal line of David, he was born in a Babylon. The other leader was Joshua the High Priest. His grandfather Seraiah was taken during the third assault on Jerusalem and was put to death by king Nebuchadnezzar. His son Jehozadak was taken as a captive to Babylon. The mantle of the High Priest was passed on to Joshua as he returned with a group of Jews back to Israel. His name means ‘Jehovah Is Salvation’. He certainly Is!
A question for me to ask us all is this, ‘why is the message directed to the leaders and not directly to all the people? Our Holy Magnificent King knows that if He ignites the vision of the leadership, it will inspire the people. John Wesley once said, ‘If your pulpit is on fire, they will come to watch you burn.’
The Apostle Paul said to the new church leader Timothy to encourage him to be bold for the Lord in the book of 2 Timothy chapter 1 this, ““6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Like these leaders we also need a push from God. It is so easy to settle down and accept things as they are. We do not want to make any waves, which would place a spotlight on ourselves. Everyone who is a Christian is appointed to serve and represent our Master, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ.
Haggai’s message was direct and to the point. Our Lord was about to test their motives. He rebuked them for their procrastination. Everyone had come up with the thought that the time had not come to build the house of The Lord Yahweh. After all if God wanted it built it would just be a smooth project, would it not? Things were hard enough just getting by. When things got better, then maybe they would think about rebuilding the Temple. These Scriptures have a special word from God to us regarding this attitude;
Matthew 6: 25 – 34, 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
It is interesting to note that five times in this chapter the signature of God is ‘The Lord of Hosts’ He wanted to remind them exactly Who He Is. He has the Authority over all of Heaven’s angels. He Is the Great, ‘I AM’. He can be anything we need. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 12 our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commented about His ability to call down 12 legions of angels to help Him, if He so chose. In the book of 2 Kings chapter 19 we read this interesting fact, “35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.”
One angel wiped out 185,000 enemy soldiers in one-night 12 legions equals 7200 angels. You can just imagine what that amount could do.
Israel did not have a standing army. They were not trained in warfare. They were still subjects to a foreign king. They did not want to stir up any trouble. They did not want any problems so they just went along with the status quo. The sad part is that they had their eyes upon the power of man and put their trust in what they saw with their eyes and left off doing what God had showed them initially to do. They had come to accept and believe that the interruption of the work of the Temple, caused by their enemies, proved it was not yet the proper time. They were God’s people right? We are also God’s children, would you also agree? Yet look at how God spoke of them. Notice in verse 2, the message begins with ‘This people’, not ‘My people’. The people were not acting like they belonged to God. Our Holy Father was saying, ‘You have distanced yourselves from My will and plan for your life. There is no difference between you and others.’
I had the opportunity at my church to start an addictions program, which I titled ‘Christian Alternatives’ to Addictions’. Sadly, I witnessed some heartbreaking experiences. One night after a meeting a received a call asking me if I just heard the news about Ron. I had just seen Ron hours before at the meeting. He was active in attending the weekly meetings. What I did not know was that Ron enjoyed the fellowship but when the meeting was over would go and use. He apparently had purchased some bad stuff. He died with the needle still in his arm. Ron like the Israelites of Haggai’s time were living two lives. Professing to be one thing but living and doing a different lifestyle.
Today, too many people profess that they are Christians but do not possess the life of our Lord Jesus in their walk. Have you ever experienced a co-worker or neighbor’s surprise when they find out that you are a Christian? If that doesn’t convict you, nothing will.
What do you think the reason was for their procrastination? Well, first of all, I would suggest that the people had a prophetic misunderstanding,. What do I mean by that? The people were interpreting Scripture incorrectly. For example in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5 we read this, 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
Are you supposed to actually do this? - Of course not. Our Precious Majestic Teacher is instructing us that everything is a matter of the heart. It is how we think and act. The returning exiles had accepted a fatalistic resignation. In the book of Jeremiah as previous mentioned our Supreme Judge passed down a ruling that the Jews would be banished from re-inheriting the land for 70 years. They then incorrectly took the position that nothing could be done for the entire duration of 70 years. They said, ‘The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.’ This was a wrong interpretation.
Their real thinking was selfish. It was a dislike of the trouble, the expense, and the danger arising from their enemies. Our Lord Jesus said that if the world hated Me, they would also hate you. Do not be surprised if you try to act more Christ like, that people will come running to crucify you also.
It is amazing how the unwilling heart always finds excuses. The altar was in place now, so why not just sellte down with the minimum and not go out on your limb. Why volunteer for any other hassles.
There are a few things that I have learned in life. One – there are no such things as coincidences. God Is in control of all things. Second – our God always displays mercy and grace even in the midst of His correction. How does this figure out? Let’s look at the dates all this took place. Jerusalem falls in 586 BC. The Lord allows the people to come back in 538 BC. This equals 48 years, not 70. What a Merciful and Gracious God we have. The people had built an altar and in 536 began working on the Temple. Then for 6 years work was done on the Temple. Then persecutions start in earnest and the people stop working on the Temple. Our Holy Yahweh sends Haggai to get them refocused on the right priorities, that is, their relationship with Him.
You want to be blessed amazingly. Look at this fact. Guess when the Temple was finished? It was in 516 BC. – 70 years after the desolation of Jerusalem. Our Holy Father to the exact date did not wait to reinitiate His Love and Relationship with His chosen. He didn’t have the people wait 70 years and then be allowed to go back to Israel. In His Awesome and Wonderful Heart, He had planned all along to fellowship again to the very day their punishment had ended. What a Neat and Great God we have.
“3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” 7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!”
Not only was there a prophetic misunderstanding, but there was also a pre-occupation with materialism Look at verse 4, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”
Instead of investing in God’s Kingdom, the people were investing in their own things. How often do we take the resources God has put within our hands [time, talent, money, and wisdom] and use them for ourselves. When it comes time to really buckle down and obey the Lord with His resources, we find that there is no time, energy, and money. It was all a matter of commitment, or in this case a lack thereof. You see they may have had an interest in seeing the Temple rebuilt, but there was no commitment. Commitment and interest are two different things.
Once a chicken and pig took a trip together. After many miles and many hours on the road, they got hungry. Finally the sharp-eyed chicken spotted a restaurant. Approaching the door they read a sign which said, ‘Ham and Eggs – our specialty!’ “hold it!’ The pig shouted.” “What’s the matter’, asked the chicken. ‘Plenty’ replied the pig. “All they want from you is a contribution. They are asking me for total commitment.”
Today Christianity seems to be less a matter of commitment and more a matter of convenience, thus the excuses.
I was thinking of a few more excuses;
1. God wants us to take care of our own families not others
2. The job is too big. We will never be able to finish
3. I am not gifted in that area
4. Someone else will do it
5. We need to pray about it some more.
I have this plaque on my office wall that I hope you like. It says, ‘May those who know us, love us. And for those who don’t know us, may God turn their hearts. And if He does not turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles. So we will know them by their limping.’
What was our Holy Father’s solution in dealing with this problem? Look at verse 5, ‘Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways’. It was God’s reproof for the people to stop and think over seriously what direction they were taking due to their priorities being out of order. He wanted them to stop and take their own inventory. To consider what they have been experiencing in the recent past. He was telling them that they were missing out on some great things that He would like to do for them and through them. They were however reaping poverty – spiritual, physical, and emotional. When you are without blessings in your personal life, you start to get used to them not occurring. You become indifferent to it so much that you become unconscious of it. You do not even ponder why your life stinks. Why it is so dry.
When we abandon a divine priority we incur puzzling losses. We find a reduction in the quality of life. All their labor left them impoverished, hungry, thirsty, cold, and empty. Lat verses 6 through 11;
“ 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. 9 “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. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
They had unmet expectations. They were unsatisfied in their personal lives. A lean harvest, endless hunger, inescapable misery, insufficient clothing, economic distress [Their take home pay couldn’t take them home]
Look at these beautiful words our Lord uses;
1. Heaven dew refers to God’s glory in our lives
2. The earthly fruit – Fruit of our Holy Ghost – Love, Joy, Peace Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and Self-Control
3. The lands grain – Increase of our ministry or service to our Lord
4. Oil – The anointing of the Precious Holy Spirit in our lives.
Fortunately, Haggai’s message did not go on deaf ears. In verse 12 through 15 we see the people’s obedience.
“12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD. 13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the LORD.” 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.”
They all responded correctly and look at what our Holy Lord said to them in verse 13 – ‘I AM with you’. Nice to have you back. Let’s do some great things together.
Haggai’s total ministry lasted 3 months. He gave 4 messages as listed in these two chapters. The first was listed in chapter 1 beginning with verse 1. It occurred on August 29th 520 BC. The second is in chapter 2 beginning with verse 1 and occurred on October 17th 520 BC. He gave the 3rd and 4th on December 18th, 520 BC as listed in chapter 2 beginning with verse 10. Three months or 90 days was his total ministry. In Alcohol Anonymous or AA, a person-seeking sobriety is encouraged to commit to 90 days of attempting to stay sober by going to 90 meetings. People inform them that if they wind up not liking this plan, then they can gladly have their misery back.
If you are a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ, I would also encourage you to ‘Consider your ways’ or to say in Philly, ‘Take your own inventory’. Take time to reflect where are you in your relationship with the Lord. Are you satisfied? If you are then great! If not, I would challenge you to try a period of 90 days seeking the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Get in His Word. Meet Him early in the morning, at lunch, and at evening. Talk to Him throughout the day in prayer. It says in the bible that the Lord’s eyes go to and through the whole earth. Looking for a man or woman whose heart is stayed on Him, so that He [our God] will make Himself strong in that person’s life. If you do, I am sure that you will see and know that the Lord is with you in an amazing way. Your life will change for the better; your family will experience amazing things happening.