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Haggai – Consider Your Ways.

12/10/2019

Haggai – Consider Your Ways

Text. Haggai 1:1-2:23, Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14

The name means Festival or Festive and everything that we know about Haggai is found in his book and references in Ezra.  With Zechariah he encouraged the Jews in rebuilding the temple.   The book is usually dated around 520 B.C. (the second year of King Darius – Hag 1:1) Throughout the book there is encouragement to complete the task – and a call to the people of God to THINK – one of the motifs repeated in the book is a call to ‘consider.’   Haggai’s message is delivered over a period of four months, and consists of 4 exhortations – Haggai 1:1; 2:1,10,20

 

1 Consider Your Priorities.  “Consider your ways!” Chapter 1

  • The work on the temple is at a standstill.  Haggai takes the Lord’s message to Israel’s leaders – Hag 1:2  The Lord takes issue with what the people have been saying – Hag 1:2-4. They have been saying the time is not right to build the temple. The Lord challenged them as to whether they should live in panelled houses while the temple lies in ruins.  v3 -4 
  • It’s time for a rethink on priorities… The Lord challenged them to consider what was happening – Hag 1:5-6  While God’s house lay in ruins, they were busy building their own,  and it was time make sure that the Lord’s work had its rightful place in their lives.  V7 -8   Jesus himself warns us to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these 9other0 things will be added unto you.
  • The people respond.  
    • Under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the people obeyed.  Haggai 1:12.  T 
    • The Lord promises to be with them –13  
    • Stirred up by the Lord, Zerubbabel and Joshua lead the remnant to resume work on the temple –  14 -15.

Around a month later God spoke through Haggai again.

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2 Consider God’s Purposes. I will fill this temple with glory Chapter 2:1-9

  • The temple building that the Babylonians destroyed was glorious!  3 ‘  Compared with the former building, this temple was puny, insignificant!  The task must have been high, and demanding, yet there are a series of promises made here:-
    • There is STRENGTH in God’s presence!  
    • As we do the Lord’s work, he is with us! V4  
    • God NEVER BREAKS his promises.   
  • God’s Purposes will always come to pass.  v6-9  The desire of all nations – a Messianic reference?  In the NKJV this is capitalised, which would seem to indicate that the translators thought so.  The reference to ‘peace’ would also back this up.

Haggai was once again to prophesy to the people, so two months later (cf. 2:1,10) comes…

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3 Consider Your Purity! carefully consider from this day forward: Chapter 2:10-14

The work of the Lord always requires self-examination, and personal holiness. How can God’s work prosper if those who are involved in it are living lives that are defiled by unrepentant sin? So Haggai asks two questions 10 – 11

  1. Can something that is CLEAN/HOLY, if it comes into contact with a filthy object, make the filthy object clean?  If I take a clean white piece of cloth and I rub it against an oily rag, what happens?  Does the cleanness of my cloth rub off on the oily rag?  NO! 12  
  2. Can something that is FILTHY AND DEFILED, if it comes into contact with a clean object, will the clean object become dirty?  If I take my oily rag and wipe the windscreen of my car with it, what happens?  I won’t see out of the windscreen!  13  

Now this is the point that Haggai is driving home to the people.   They are spoiling what is HOLY and PURE by their own sin.  14  

There is an answer to this problem.  

  • Consider the PAST.  V15f In their case, everything they had put their hand to had failed, because of their waywardness, and their sin.  God had brought them to Jerusalem for a purpose, and that purpose was being thwarted by their careless, carnal lives.  Nothing was working out for them.  15-17  
  • Consider the FUTURE.  V18f  God has plans to bless them!  18 -19  

A godless hypocritical life of pretence is always unproductive and unrewarded. But knowing that God is waiting to bless those who are truly his, and who then walk in his paths is a great encouragement to repent of our sins, and work for the Lord in a fitting manner.  

 

4 Consider God’s Power. I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts. Chapter 2:20ff

This final message, delivered consecutively with the third message, the 24th day of the third month, in the second year of Darius, reminds the people that the God they serve is powerful, and almighty.

  • Sovereign over the nations!   20 -22    It’s a message that would make Zerubbabel sit up and take notice – for he is the governor, and charged with the peaceful rule over the people.  The powerful God would protect him, and would watch over His work until it is completed.
  • Sovereign over history! 23  ” As well as the general promise to watch over and protect his work, God has a specific promise for Zerubbabel.  It includes:
    • A seal, marking out Zerubbabel as one who is part of God’s chosen people.   It is a seal that is upon us all, and we know that in the fulness of revelation in the NT, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:22  Ephesians 1:13   Ephesians 4:30.   Every true believer has this imprint upon him or her, the Holy Spirit indwelling, the mark that we are the Lord’s property, set aside for him for ever.
    • A sign.    Zerubbabel is like a living, walking visual aid, pointing us to Jesus.  He is ‘God’s servant’ – a theme Isaiah had used to speak of the ‘Servant of the Lord’ who would suffer and die for his people.  God calls Zerubbabel his ‘chosen.’  Literally his anointed one.  Messiah simply means ‘the Anointed.’

Jesus, to whom Zerubbabel was pointing us would come, as the chosen anointed servant of God, would suffer as a servant for sinners, and in his exalted state, at the end of time, will reign over all the nations.  

So, Haggai’s message is ‘let’s get this done!’   Let’s get motivated and do the Lord’s work, and play our part as he builds his kingdom!

© BobMcEvoy October 2019

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