Our Guy Haggai
Let’s start with a little historical background on what was going on at the time as Haggai began his ministry:
In the year 536bc Cyrus, the King of Persia signed a decree allowing the Jews to return to the Holy Land (they had been in captivity for 70 years); commissioning Ezra to rebuild the Temple. So about 50,000 of the Jews returned with Ezra, and King Cyrus gave to them some of the gold and silver vessels that had been taken years earlier by Nebuchadnezzar. He gave them these gold vessels and the express purpose was to go back and to rebuild the Temple and to reestablish themselves in the land. It wasn’t an easy task, as they started to rebuild the Temple there arose immediate opposition from the people in the area. First of all the Samaritans came down. They were the people who had been brought into the land by the Assyrians after the Nation of Israel had been driven out and they were not full Jews. They had adapted the Jewish religion along with their own religions. They worshipped God but they also served their own idols. So they were not really fully committed to the Lord. So when the Jews came back to rebuild the Temple the Samaritans offered to help, and their offer was rejected. And it caused the Samaritans to turn as enemies to Ezra, Zuerubbabel and those that were rebuilding the Temple. So the Samaritans began to threaten them and they sent letters back to the Persian government saying these people have been rebellious people, look at the history books and you’ll discover that as soon as they have a temple again these people will rebel against the government of Persia so they received a cease and desist order from the Persian government about 534bc. So the Israelites had to cease the rebuilding the Temple after about only two years. They had just barely cleared the rubble and had laid the foundation stones when this cease and desist order came from Persia. Now Haggai begins his prophesy in the second year of Darius the King. This is not the Darius of Daniel but the Darius that came some sixteen years after the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple so the year now is 520bc. For fourteen years the Temple has just been desolate, they did rebuild the altar and they were offering sacrifices on the altar, but the Temple work had stopped and nothing further had been done on it.
So that is the background for the beginning of Haggai’s prophesies and we are going to look at three of them and see how the messages of God through Haggai have some important things we should consider now, here at Reunion in 2018. And these messages of Haggai have much to say in relation to our theme this year of, “The 5 2 1 Reunion Multiplied 2018.” So let’s get to it:
“In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month (our September), on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built." ‘“3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" 5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!” (Hag. 1:1-5.)
So these people had stopped trying to rebuild the Temple and just thought that it must not be the time that it should be built and they then worked on their own homes and fixed them up really nice and the Lord says to them to consider their ways. He challenges them with the idea that they felt like it was OK for them to have nice finished homes while His House was left in ruins. Then the Lord says,
“[Look,] you have sown a lot of seed, but you've harvested very little; you don't have enough; you drink, but you're not filled; you are busy making your clothes, but you are not warm; and he that earns wages, earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.” (Hag. 1:6.)
Very descriptive, isn't it? Remind you of anything you've experienced? You work but seem to gain or have very little. You drink but you are still thirsty. You have clothes to wear but it seems like you always are wanting more. And finally you put your wages in a purse that has holes. Where does the money go? Can anyone relate?
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” (Hag 1:7.)
The second challenge to consider, "Consider this, times are bad, your crops are failing, you don't have enough, there's not enough to go around." Now he said,
“Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. For you looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that is waste, and ye have run every man to his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground brings forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon the labor of their hands” (Hag 1:8-11).
The Lord said, "I've brought the drought because you have forsaken My House; you've allowed My House to lie in waste because you are putting yourselves first." This sounds a little like the trouble that Jonah was getting into because he was being disobedient to what God had called him to do. Jonah had to suffer some things because of his disobedience and it looks like the same thing is happening here too.
Now Jesus said that the heathen world, the Gentile world is seeking after what it's going to eat, what it's going to drink, and what it's going to wear. These are basically the things that the Lord is talking to these people about. So many of us today are working two jobs. They're both, husbands and wives working because they're so concerned with what they're going to eat, what they're going to drink, and what they're going wear. Times are tough. There's not enough money to go around. There seems to be a drought. But the Lord said, "The reason why is because you have forsaken My house. You've allowed it to be desolate." So the Lord, he said, called for the drought.
Now in the New Testament where Jesus said, "These things do the Gentiles seek," He also said, "but you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be taken care of" (Matthew 6:33). You see, the people had messed up their priorities. They were seeking themselves first. They were seeking their own luxuries first, and as a result, they didn't have enough. They were seeking to provide for their physical needs: their clothing, their food, their drink, and they never had enough. The Lord said, "Look, you seek first My Kingdom and My Righteousness, and all these other things will be added."
And this is the first take away for us here at Reunion: If we are striving to be Five Talent Men and Women for God, we have to put His Kingdom First in our lives. Put the Lord first in your life. Seek the Lord first in your life, and God will take care of your needs. I know that this is hard for us and we struggle with this. We begin to think, "But I don't know how God’s going to do it. I don’t know how God is going to provide. I just can’t step out in faith and just trust that He’s going to do it." But it’s not always for us to know how; we are just supposed to trust and to obey in faith. If you obey in faith and put God first and seek God first, you can be sure that His Word is true, and all these other things will be added to you. God will take care of you. God will provide for you if you put Him first. But you know one of the first things to get whacked out of a budget is the Lord's place. Often one of the first things to go is our commitments to Him. "Oh, I've got to work on Sunday, I’m going to have to miss church, but I’ll listen. I'll catch up on the Sunday message; Todd will have it up on the website." And then once we begin to get lax on a commitment here and a commitment there the next thing you know we are only coming to church on Christmas and Easter. We haven’t given anything to God over the course of the year. We haven’t spoken to anyone about God’s sacrifice for their sins and how they can have their sins forgiven, how they can hope and peace in this crazy world. We just got caught up in trying to be sure that our needs were going to be met and now we haven’t done anything for the Lord. God is getting short-changed. But hey, that's a one-way street. The more I short-change God, the shorter my change becomes. God said, "Look, I've called for the drought."
“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.” (Hag 1:12).
So they responded to this exhortation of Haggai. They considered, and they responded. So Haggai came with more of the message.
“Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD” (Hag 1:13).
Now that was a very short message, but oh, what a comforting message. They obeyed and the Lord spoke again and said, "I am with you, says the Lord."
“So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of their God on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king” (Hag 1:14-15.)
This is another thing that we can take away for these messages from Haggai; the great thing about responding to God’s call and command on your life: first is that He is always with you and second, that His Spirit will give you the strength to do His work. Remember one of the verses that we have covered in our Wednesday evening class, 1 John 2:20, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” When we begin to step out and endeavor to use the talents that God has given to us, we get the unction to function! The Holy Sprit working within us doing God’s work through us!
Now we move to Chapter 2 and the second message from Haggai to God’s people.
“Now in the seventh month, in the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, to Joshua, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how does it look to you now? is it not in your eyes in comparison as of nothing?” (Hag 2:1-3)
The temple of Solomon, of course, was an extremely glorious building, but it was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's troops seventy years earlier.
Now in the book of Ezra we're told that as they began to lay the foundation for the new temple at this time, the young people, those who had been born in Babylonian captivity, those who had never seen the glory of Jerusalem during the days prior to the captivity, those that had never seen the glorious temple that Solomon had built. Those young people were all rejoicing. They were dancing. They were happy. "We're laying the foundations of the Lord's temple!" But the older people who remembered the glory of Solomon's temple, when they saw how paltry this new thing was that they're building, they just, "stood there and wept." the Bible says.
So upon this occasion the older people who could still remember the glory Solomon's temple, on the occasion of their weeping, the word of the Lord came through Haggai saying, "And who of you is left among those that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it just really as nothing compared to the first?" It’s like, wow God, thanks for reminding us how bad this is by comparison. But Haggai continues:
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, and be strong, ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag 2:4.)
So for those who were prone to be discouraged because it seemed to be nothing in comparison with the past, the Lord encourages them to be strong to continue, and again the promise, "For I am with you." How many times have you been discouraged when you tried to do the right thing? How many times have you been involved in something and it just didn’t seem like it was measuring up to what you had thought it should be in your mind? God is saying don’t worry about that. Don’t get caught up in your own expectations, just have faith, be obedient and remember I Am with you. He is with us, we don’t have to be concerned with the results, we just need to be obedient to what He has asked for us to do. The results are up to Him not us. We don’t have to worry about that. Again Haggai continues:
“And according to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remains among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag 2:5-7).
Now this, no doubt, is now a prophecy about the Great Tribulation period when God is going to shake the world once again. Actually, in the book of Hebrews, the twelfth chapter, we read, "For the Lord said, 'And once again I am going to shake the world like it has never been shaken before. So that everything that can be shaken will be brought down, and only that which cannot be shaken shall remain.'" Once again God said, "I'm going to shake the world until everything that can be shaken will be destroyed."
What a mistake it is for us to put all of our energies and efforts and all into the material things, because they can all be shaken and they will be shaken.
We need to be putting our time, our energies, our efforts into spiritual things, for they can't be shaken. When everything else is shaken and destroyed, that will last. You have only one life; it will soon be passed and only what you do for Jesus is going to last. That’s at the heart of the message of the 5 2 1; God has placed beautiful and wonderful talents inside of you to be used for His glory (Ephesians 2:10, Romans 11:29, Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Cor. 12:12-27) and when you do use those talents for Him, those results are going to last forever. Everything else that you've built for yourself, your whole estate, is wood, hay and stubble; it's all going to burn. Only what you have laid up in the spiritual storehouse is going to be lasting. That ought to speak to every one of us today, to again consider. God is saying, "Consider, consider, consider your priorities." What is first in your life? What is taking the prime place in your mind and in your life?
After the shaking of the world, after the destruction of this present material world as it is, then the Desire of nations will come, the glorious coming again of Jesus Christ, and then the glory of God once again filling the temple.
“The silver is mine, the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag 2:8-9).
This is interesting to me here because God had just mentioned the disappointment of the older people at the comparison of this newer, no fills Temple to Solomon’s Temple because Solomon’s Temple was filled with gold and silver, about 192 billion dollars worth at today’s prices and that’s just the gold and silver. But God says here that the glory of the latter house will be greater than the first. How can this be? There was to be very little gold or silver, this new temple was to be made mostly from the wood that was around Jerusalem, not the beautiful imported Cedar like Solomon’s Temple. It’s was not going to be greater because God’s presence will be there either because God’s presence was in Solomon’s Temple too. It’s greater because God’s presence is there and now because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross we can all enter into the Holy of Holies and into the very presence of God himself. It’s greater now because we all can come at any time we need to ask of God, it’s no longer just the one Jewish High Priest just once a year but now all of us can come at any time. There is no division based on being a Jew or Gentile, being male or female. Race and nationality doesn’t matter, social status doesn’t matter, all of those things that cause us to separate and divide are gone! Jesus has made us all equal at the Cross and we all have a place in His house! And according to 1 Corinthians 12 we all have something to do in His house. We all have a ministry and gift to be used in His house! This is the 5 2 1, we are all together working in God’s house and doing it for His glory!
And now we come to Haggai’s Third Message:
“Now in the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, [so now we are two months after the first prophecy] in the second year of Darius, [same second year of Darius] came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one is bearing holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt he does touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.” (Hag 2:10-12.)
Now, there were all kinds of laws that God gave in Leviticus concerning holy and unholy things. So there were many ways by which you could defile yourself. Then anything you touched would become defiled. If you would touch a dead body, then you would be considered unholy. And, if you touched anything else, then that would also be considered unholy. So he's asking, "The priest is bearing this holy flesh, and with his skirt he touches something that is common, is the holy flesh then still considered holy?" The answer then is no.
It is interesting how that the priest and the scribes and Pharisees in the days of Jesus, when they would go down the street, would wrap their coats tightly around them because they didn't want their coats flaring out and touching some unclean person. So they were very careful not to let their robes flare around. They might accidentally hit one of you unclean people and they would be defiled. This is that kind of holiness that Jesus, of course, spoke so much against, this hypocritical kind of a thing. "I'm holier than thou. Don't touch me because I'm too holy to be touched, or be in touch with people." They, of course, found fault with Jesus because He ate with the common people. He ate with the sinners and the publicans. He would partake of the same soup with them, or the same bread. They found fault with Him for that.
Now comes the second question:
“If one that is unclean by a dead body, [that is, if he has touched a dead body, and is thus ceremonially unclean] and if he touches any of these things, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, Yes, it would be unclean, if he would touch anything being in an unclean state. Then answered Haggai, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Hag 2:13-14.)
So this law of that which is unclean by touching unclean things, there was this mixture. Trying to mix the spiritual with the material, and the Lord said, "Hey, it's all unclean." Stay with me here, this is going somewhere.
“And now I pray you, consider [and again, the calling for the consideration] from this day onward, from before the stone was laid upon the stone in the temple of the LORD: Since those days were, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, and there were but ten: one came to the press-vat to draw fifty vessels out of the press, but there were only twenty”
In other words, "From these days that you had your shortages, these days when there wasn't enough to go around, the days before you started this building again of the temple. Now mark this, and consider this."
“When I smote you with the blasting and the mildew and the hail of all of the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to me, saith the LORD. But consider now from this day onward, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider now this. Is the seed yet in the barn? yes, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day [the Lord said] I will bless you” (Hag 2:17-19)
So He's saying now, "Look, you've been going through some rough times financially. You haven't had enough to go around. You've been going through hard times, but it's because your priorities were wrong. You were putting your needs and yourself first. Put Me first and I'll take care of your needs." This reminds me of James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
Now as they began to build the temple again, and began to give themselves in the labor in the temple, the prophet came and said, "Now look, mark this day. Things are going to change. From here on out you're going to have plenty. And this reminds me of Malachi 3:10, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.” Now you've got your priorities straight. Now you've put God in the place where He should be, first in your life. Having put God first, God will now take care of you, and God will now provide for you."
Such is a universal truth and a universal law that knows no time, that knows no dispensation. Put God first in your life, and God will take care of the rest of the things of your life. Put the things of your life first and you're always going to be running short. You'll never have enough. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:39, "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Do you want to really find your life? Then begin to discover what it is the He wants you to do and then begin to do that thing for Him. This is what we have been talking about on Wednesday nights in our 5 2 1 Reunion Multiplied 2018 classes. Discover what God has put inside of you. Use that for His glory. We all have a place in His Church, we all have something to do for Him and the greatest joy and sense of contentment comes when we begin to do that for Him. God here in Haggai is saying that He will bless your life and be with you when you start to build His house. The time to start is now and when you do start, mark it on you calendar and see what God does through you for His Kingdom and also see what God then does for you.