Summary: Blessings come after obedience. We are blessed when we obey but we don't always see it right away.
Waiting for Blessings
Rev. Brian Bill
We all have important dates in our life. I know my birthday is coming up but I’m not telling you when because I just want to slide by this one. The date of our wedding was July 13, 1985. Beth’s birthday is marked in my memory. The birthdates of each of our daughters is indelibly etched in my mind. The dates of my parent’s birthdays are on my calendar. I even sort of remember the birthdates of my four sisters…though I usually end up sending belated birthday cards to them. I even remembered February 14th this year and gave Beth a dozen roses, a mushy card and we enjoyed a meal together at La Mex.
And on this date in history, many things happened. Some were pretty superficial while others were more significant.
• The “Family Circus” cartoon strip debuted on February 19, 1960.
• The first test flight of a Boeing jumbo jet took place on February 19, 1969.
• On this date in 1945, 30,000 U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima.
• And it was on February 19, 1913 that the first prize was inserted into a Cracker Jack Box.
As we wind down our study of the Book of Haggai, there are some time stamps that give us the setting for the prophet’s sermons.
Haggai 1:1 – “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month…”
Haggai 2:1 – “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month…”
Haggai 2:10 – “On the twenty fourth day of the ninth month…”
Pastor Jeff reminded us of the significance of this last date, which corresponds to December 18, 520 B.C. on our calendar: “It had been exactly three months since they had started rebuilding the temple. It had been two months and three days since his last sermon…And in exactly five years to the day, the Temple will be dedicated.”
He had two main points that bear repeating because they were so powerful.
• Holiness is not contagious. It must be deliberately sought out and cultivated in an intimate personal relationship with God
• Sin is contagious. It’s like spaghetti sauce – it stains everything it touches.
I want to mention something at this point but will only use initials so that parents can explain more should they think their children are old enough to hear about it. I thought that would get your attention. After hearing about the STD outbreak at PTHS, I’ve been saddened and reminded how important it is for parents, in partnership with our student ministry, to promote purity among our teens. This statement is certainly true: “Sin will take you farther than you were planning to go, cost you more than you wanted to pay and keep you longer than you were planning to stay.”
Let’s briefly recall the back-story of the Book of Haggai. After returning from exile in Babylon, God’s people have been tasked with rebuilding God’s Temple. They eagerly laid the foundation but because of opposition and their own selfish priorities, they stopped working for 16 years. Haggai was called on the scene to mobilize the people to get back on the job. After putting God back at the center of their lives, they went to work doing what they were called to do. That’s how chapter one ends.
Two weeks ago we learned that God works His way and His will for His glory and He takes us through times of shaking so that we will be saved which results in shalom. But now it’s been three months since they started the rebuilding project and frankly the people are wondering where God’s blessing is. Have you ever asked questions like these: Is it really worth it to follow God? Why am I still struggling so much when I’m trying to do what’s right?
Today’s text is really part two of the sermon Haggai began in verses 10-14. By the way, because you’ve hung in there during this series on Haggai you’ll be one of the few who will be able to come up to Haggai in heaven and say, “Hey, I read your book and listened to some sermons from it.”
Let’s pick up his preaching beginning in verse 15: “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on -- consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple. When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the Lord. ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid. Give careful thought: Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. From this day on I will bless you.’”