“I am with you”, says the Lord!
For the past month I have been reading, studying, meditating and praying through the book of Haggai. This book has been on my heart for the past couple of years and yesterday I had the blessing of being able to share what God has put on my heart regarding His message to the church of Jesus Christ. It is a word for the church today. It is a message of exhortation, encouragement and hope. It is a call to the Church to focus on the Lord’s work, not our own. When we work for Him and His kingdom, He promises to be with us. I have attached my sermon notes and I encourage you to listen to the sermon with the notes. The sermon can be found here.
MY SERMON NOTES
Haggai means “Festive” or “Festival”. It comes from the Hebrew word used to picture festive, joyous occasions. He was the Lord’s messenger with the Lord’s message-a message of rebuke, exhortation & encouragement.
Before Haggai was called:
-Jews had been in captivity in Babylon for over 60 years; Cyrus King of Persia had taken Babylon & Medes so now kingdom Medo-Persia (Daniel 5-6); so Cyrus reigned over Babylon
-God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus King of Persia who made a proclamation-Ezra 1:2-4 NKJV
-50,000 Jewish captives responded & returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua (first group of exiles to return to Jerusalem)
-when the exiles returned to their homeland they started rebuilding the temple, they started well, building an alter & offering sacrifices, then laying the foundation for the Lord’s house
-opposition from the neighboring Samaritans who discouraged and troubled them & hired counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose (Ezra 4:4-5 NKJV)
-the opposition led to disinterest, discouragement, dissatisfaction & they became preoccupied with other pursuits & the rebuilding of the temple stopped for 12 years (Ezra 4:24 NKJV)
-then, during the 2nd year of the reign of King Darius, Haggai with Zechariah was called to awaken the returned Jews to complete the task of reconstructing the temple
-postexilic prophet whose ministry covered a period of slightly less than 4 months
-their ministry caused the people to complete the task in 5 years
*NT perspective of the temple = the church-as followers of Jesus, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit-individually (1 Co 6:19), local church (1 Co 3:16) and the church universally (Eph 2:19-22). God wants to display His glory through His people, the church. He is asking His people to build a place for His glory to dwell. In Haggai’s day, that building was a physical one. Today the “building” is to take place in our hearts and lives both individually & corporately as the church. Eph 4:11-12; 16 (leadership gifts; equip; all do our part) & Eph 5:25-29 (love for the church-nourish; cherish; desire her to be holy). Now (Acts 7:48-“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands…) & Rev 21:3-“Behold, the tabernacle (dwelling place) of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
The Lord delivers 3 messages & addresses 3 problems through Haggai-3 messages: Consider your ways, be strong & work, I will bless you; 3 problems: disinterest, discouragement & dissatisfaction
Haggai 1:1 (Ezra 5:1-2)-the message is from the Lord through Haggai to Zerubbabel (governor of Judah) and Joshua (priest) for all the people
1:2 NKJV -thus speaks the Lord of Hosts (Lord of heaven’s armies)-Haggai’s favorite designation for God; occurs 14X; used by Haggai to emphasize God’s greatness & might
-This people says sets the scene for God’s dispute against the people of Jerusalem-they have become disinterested in rebuilding God’s house. Apathy, complaining, procrastination have set in. (first problem)
QUESTION FOR US-is this happening in the church today? Have we/you become disinterested in doing our/your part to equip the church of Jesus Christ (equip = a making fit, preparing, training, perfecting, making fully qualified for service)
1:3-11 (MSG)-proclamation of the first message (consider your ways)
-the people beautified their own homes, they were caught up with taking care of their own houses, they were preoccupied with other pursuits, they had misplaced priorities & neglected the temple (My home) & it was in ruins
-Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over. (“Consider your ways.” NKJV)
-the people were using their poverty, food shortage & inflation as excuses to not finish the temple; actually they are judgements for failing to build-pray (for yourselves, one another, the church) that our eyes will be opened so we can see what is really going on. Pray for discernment between troubles as a result of being in the world & judgements as a result of not listening to & obeying Jesus.
-nature itself reflects divine judgement when the will of God is ignored
MESSAGE FOR US- somewhat similarly, when we, God’s people, fail to invest time, gifts, finances in an effort to have enough time & enough money for ourselves, our efforts are in vain because we deny ourselves God’s blessing on our efforts. *God was not denying houses for the people; He was asking that they prioritize the building of His house & thereby trust Him for the building of theirs
1:8 (MSG)-God is saying, “Consider what you should do. Build My house.”
1:12 (MSG)-NKJV- Zerubbabel (governor of Judah) and Joshua (priest) with all the remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God & the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the Lord. (the fear of the Lord leads to obedience-Ex 20:20 NLT) Pray for the fear of the Lord to come upon the church!
1:13-14-“I am with you”, says the Lord
-the message of the prophet and the direct activity of God who stirred up in hearts a renewed desire for doing His will (deals with disinterest); Result = the builders begin working again with renewed energy, 23 days after the 1st message (1:15)
MESSAGE FOR US-pray for God to stir up in the hearts of His body a renewed desire to obey the great commission, Eph 4 & the vision & mission of the local churches
Haggai 2:1-5 NKJV-proclamation of the second message (be strong & work)-1 month after work on the temple had restarted, message is to the governor of Judah, high priest & to the remnant of the people
-discouragement (second problem)
-some of the older people among the returned exiles had seen Solomon’s temple when they were children, so that no building, however beautiful, could compare with the glory of the former temple, “is this not in your eyes as nothing”
-the discouragement of the older people had quickly influenced the younger ones until less than 1 month after the rebuilding began, work on the temple had ceased
MESSAGE FOR US:
-how many older saints have looked at the condition of the church now & compared it to the way things used to be saying it’s not like it used to be back in the day; or look at the book of Acts-do we see the church looking like this now?
-encourage older saints to be an example, persevere, don’t give up, encourage & disciple younger saints
-Ezra 3:12-13 NKJV-a different perspective-to leaders/heads of households-which are you? Weeping with a loud voice or shouting aloud for joy? Your attitude affects other people. Is God still on the throne? Is He still at work in His church? Will His ultimate plan be fulfilled? Will He have victory? Is the enemy ultimately defeated? Will His kingdom be established forever?
-Haggai brings the 2nd message to deal with discouragement (to overcome)
2:4-5-be strong & work, I am with you, My Spirit remains among you, do not fear (underline these in your bible-believing & receiving these will help you overcome discouragement)
MESSAGE FOR US-to overcome discouragement, remember the same Spirit of God who launched the church into existence as His people continues to be with us. The One who provided empowerment for the church’s past offers identical empowerment today & tomorrow
-I will fill this temple with glory-to the people in Haggai’s day the latter temple is the second temple (Solomon’s temple being the former temple); this is the temple that would be standing in the time of Jesus
-Haggai prophesies God’s indwelling of human temples through Christ Jesus (the church-individually & corporately) (Zech 2:5 NKJV)
-Haggai is prophesying the culmination of “the day of the Lord”-God’s final dealing with evil; this event will be identifiable and certain; this shaking is referred to in Heb 12:26-28 & God’s kingdom is identified as the one thing that cannot be shaken
-Haggai is prophesying Rev 21:1-3 NKJV
MESSAGE FOR US-the other key to overcoming discouragement is for the builders (us) to know that they (we) are building for the day when God will fill His house with glory; *prepared as a bride-Rev 19:7 NKJV-we need to get to work! Vs 2:8 NKJV-The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of hosts. Everything belongs to God. Invest with & in what belongs to God, says the Lord!
2:10-approx 2 months after 2nd message Haggai deals with dissatisfaction (third problem)
-now that the people are working they expect an immediate reversal of all their years of inactivity
-Haggai reminds them that holiness is not transferable, 3 months’ work even on the temple, will not undo the effects of years of neglect, the people still lack reformed lives
MESSAGE FOR US
-sanctification-holiness is the work of Holy Spirit
-we are holy & being made holy-Eph 1:4; Heb 10:10; 14
-believing & receiving the truth that, in Christ, we are holy, causes a desire to allow Holy Spirit to sanctify us-make us look like we are holy, set apart, belong to God
-then Haggai proclaims third message (I will bless you)
2:19-“But from this day I will bless you.”
2:15-19-by asking the people to look backward God reinforces the blessings of putting His purposes first
MESSAGE FOR US-make the work to which God has called you a priority in your life; every generation of God’s people faces the same challenge: to see first the things of God & then to trust Him to provide everything needed to accomplish what God has called us to do. When we seek to satisfy our own desires first, we will be in want; but when we give our first & best to God, we will “have abundance for every good work” (Mt 6:33; 2 Co 9:8)
2:20-23-the Lord speaks to Zerubbabel (governor of Judah) through the prophet Haggai
Everything God says to Zerubbabel is fulfilled in Christ who is head of His the church, His body.
2:23-Zerubbabel is chosen by God as an article of special value-signet ring = represented an article of special value to its owner (the Lord), represented the power, authority & honor of the one to whom it belongs (given to the church); Esther 3:11-when the king gave his signet ring to Haman, it was a sign of his delegating full royal authority
-Zech 4:6-10-not in your own strength but by My Spirit, obstacles will be removed, the Lord will complete what He has started (He will have a holy bride), do not despise small beginnings
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:7 NKJV)