Summary: Be strong and work for the Lord, for He is with us and will help us. Do not be discouraged by the ’good old days’. Look at the need of the hour and do our best for His glory.
Let’s recap. The Israelites came back from 70-years of captivity in Babylon.
• They started to rebuild the Temple but the Samaritans opposed them (cf. Ezra 3).
• They were so discouraged by the conflict that they stopped work after laying the foundation.
• Nothing was done while the people busy themselves with their own lives.
And so God sent Haggai. He came out delivering four messages from God, in a span of 4 months.
• Through him, God stirred the hearts of the people and got His work done.
• We see this same pattern throughout the Scriptures.
• God fulfills His purposes through people, called at specific moments, to do His work.
• Haggai obeyed and saw the nation turning back to God. You can never underestimate what God can do through one man.
It is the same today. God has a call on your life.
• It is good to always pause and ask ourselves: What is God expecting from me today?
• God does not call all to be pastors. But we are all called to serve Him.
The people tried to make their own lives comfortable while neglecting the temple of God.
• It was not the physical building that God is concerned about, but His place in their lives.
• No temple means no worship. With God out of their mind, He will be out of their lives.
• They were in constant frustration and discontentment. Nothing satisfies.
• It is a reminder to us today. If we devote ourselves to sowing and eating and drinking and clothing ourselves and earning wages, but neglect our ministry in the Kingdom of God, we will live in constant frustration and lack.
• Something will always be wrong about your life – God is absent!
Last week we ended the story at a good note. Last part of chapter 1 tells us…
• God stirred the hearts of the people. 1:14b “They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God…”
• Let’s continue with Haggai 2:1-9
Your past does not really matters to God.
• You may have spent 70 years in captivity; you may have left Him out of your life for the past 16 years… Just get back to doing what God says is right.
• They people heard the Word from God, they were touched, and started the rebuilding, but most of all they needed the courage to get the job done.
The problem will not be a lack of resources or a lack of a Word from the Lord.
• The problem could very well be in your heart – fear, discouragement, doubt…
• Most of the time, it is the emotion that is going on inside of us that hinders us from doing what is right. “You just don’t feel like it!”
God anticipated their disappointment and came with a Word.
• It came 21st day of 7th month, barely a month after they started the building work.
• It’s usually like that – talk is easy, but when we get down to the work, things are not that easy-going and we got discouraged.
• Perseverance does not come naturally. We need faith in God, and we need to sweat and toil… Not many can persevere in a ministry for the long haul.
And so God spoke to them. When God speaks, He is addressing an issue He sees in us!
• Haggai asks, ’Who is left among you that saw this house in its first glory? How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?’
• Think about it, many of the older folks had seen the beautiful Temple built by King Solomon.
• And what was it like? Built with white limestone, with gold exterior and the interior of the temple was made with imported cedars of Lebanon, decked out with precious stones, and the whole place was overlaid in gold.
• The altar, the cherubim, the floor, the front porch and the Holy of Holies were all covered in gold. We have the golden lamp stands and golden tables of showbread. Even the nails were gold. (Someone estimated that the Holy of Holies would cost about US$20 million today.)
This was what they could remember!
• So as far as they could see - even though God told them to build this new temple – it was a far cry from the previous one!
• Then, nations all around came to see the Temple. People stand in awe of it.
• Now, their nation was about 50,000 strong, and they had just been through a generation in captivity. And nothing they see now is like before. It’s quite hopeless! “We’re just wasting our time.”
Does that sound familiar? I think anyone of us who have served in a ministry, for one time or another, has felt the same kind of discouragement: the sense that you work and work and the product seems so miserable.