Summary: This sermon looks at the neglect of God’s house while the people lived in luxury and applies it to today

Haggai part 1

Haggai 1:1-15

Introduction: The book of Haggai is the second shortest book of the Old Testament and the first of the writings where the people had come back to Israel from their captivity in Babylon. In other words, the last three books of our Old Testament were written AFTER the captivity of the Jews was passed and the people had begun returning from Babylon to Jerusalem. Haggai is a sister book to the book of Ezra. In Ezra the scribe told how, under the protection of king Cyrus, in 538 BC Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem with 50 000 Jews to live in the city again and to rebuild the temple.

Now although the project began well, in time its progress was hindered when their enemies petitioned a new king, Artaxerxes to prevent the work on the premise that Jerusalem and the Jews had always been a source of insurrection and trouble in the world, and for a time the work stopped. It was during this pause that God raised the prophet Haggai, along with Zechariah to encourage the people to finish building the temple. You see it is easy to start anything. It is the finishing of it that is difficult, but nothing of worth was ever done for God that did not cost somebody something, and did not meet with obstacles and problems along the way. So Haggai was raised by God to spur the people on, to keep them focused and to help them set their priorities straight. Haggai’s theme was “Consider your ways.” Haggai wanted these people to take a long hard look at themselves, and to ask themselves how it was and why it was that the work God gave them to do was uncompleted. He wanted them to consider the Lord, to remember His promises and His purposes, and he wanted them to finish what they started.

In relaying this message, Haggai was direct and to the point. His prophecy consists of four messages, which were delivered in a matter of months.

I. Consider Why Their Progress Had Been Delayed

II. Consider Why Their Plans Had Been ridiculed

III. Consider how their traditions had been corrupted

I. Consider Why Their Progress Had Been Delayed

There is nothing so fatal to character as half finished tasks.

David Lloyd George

1863-1945, British Statesman, Prime Minister

Haggai 1:3-7

Ezra tells how that when the people first arrived at Jerusalem there was an excitement and enthusiasm for the work.

It wasn’t long until they had cleared the ground and laid the foundation for the temple.

But then their enemies also got to work and from the moment they returned to Jerusalem and set the themselves to completing this task the Samaritans made numerous representations to the kings of Persia, both Cyrus and Artaxerxes calling for the work to cease.

And cease it did, with almost fatalistic resignation the Jews downed tools and for fourteen years or so nothing happened.

In time the foundation became muddied over and weeds began to grow.

B. Now, the Jewish people could explain this.

1. You see, they said it wasn’t the right time to build the temple, and their reasoning went something like this,

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, ’The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ v2

“Well, the prophecies, predicted 70 years of captivity, and although we are in Jerusalem, we are still under occupation, and many of our people are still in Persia, so obviously this is not the time to build the temple. The time will come when the captivity is fully ended and we are free.”

It is interesting how nothing really changes… you see we hear a lot of that same reasoning today. I will practice some hospitality next week, i will mentor the young people next week, i will talk to the older people next week, i will read my bible next week, i will pray next week, i will share my faith with others next week.

And the consequence of that kind of thinking is that we are demotivated to serve the Lord as we should, which a pity, because faith in Jesus is supposed to inspire us to always be improving.

The bible should be a stimulant, not a sedative, and we need to busy ourselves about God’s business.

Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay. Simone De Beauvoir (French 20th century philosopher)

B. Now notice how God rebuked these people.

1. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. v9

2. Isn’t is funny how we always have reasons why we cannot serve God, but we always find the time and the money to serve ourselves?

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