– Questions of meaning have a way of provoking us to pause and probing our hearts for evaluating life purpose. This sort of mindset existed in Haggai’s day. People drifted spiritually being too casual, careless, and complacent.
o Trouble locating Haggai in Bible. Benefit of technology is the search engine or scrolling…
o Trouble identifying with Haggai and Israel? Imagine our nation’s worst nightmare if North Korea sent nuclear bombs to 5 major cities: D.C. (White House flattened), N.Y., Chicago, Dallas, and L.A. USA was land locked with is citizens now belonging to North Korea. Then after 70 years of slavery to North Korea, China conquers and allows USA citizens to re-enter and rebuild cities. Instead of people rebuilding the White House and other similar infrastructure, people build their own houses. And for 16+ years people leave the White House in ruins with only its foundation. Welcome to the book of Haggai…
EXAMINE Haggai 2:10-23 Purity (SOHLS)
– Israel was spiritually complacent and negligent (Haggai 1:4-6). Over a three month season, God sent the prophet Haggai to awake Israel from their apathy and to away from selfishness to service.
– Haggai preaches a third final message to God’s people for obedience to rebuild the temple and renew their faith in God. This latest message is around December 18, 520BC. . For Bible setting, this timing is also set parallel to the start of Zechariah’s prophetic ministry (Zechariah 1:1). The setting is also planting season with hopeful expectation for the crops to produce in coming Spring months, exactly what God was planning to do for Israel (Haggai 2:19).
– Yet, Israel’s spiritual apathy was still prevalent with Haggai’s repeat (5x) command for Israel to consider their ways (Haggai 2:15, 18, 18; cf. 1:5, 7). Again, the idea is to reflect or evaluate – to assess in order to take action.
Consider your ways…
Haggai’s messages were over a three month period where the people continuously heard the message but failed to heed the message with actual practices. In our humanity we can be prone to hear and not heed. The reasons for our apathy can be varied:
– Obedience needs clarity. Obeying God can be a process to learn, grow, and understand His commands. Accountability is difficult until we become aware of items God addresses for our life. When God reveals His ways to us we then come to a point of decision and crisis of faith.
– Obedience will cost. Obeying God requires faith, abandoned discipleship to fully follow Him. We must count the cost to our priorities, our investment of time, and resources. Is Jesus our Lord? Have you come to an “all in” moment?
o One way missionaries packed their coffin (Mark Batterson, All In, p.13-14).
o Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes in 1519 burned the ships upon arrival in the Americas, so retreat wasn’t an option (All In, 51)
– Obedience is contemptible. If we are honest, sometimes we just do not want to obey God. Our desires, priorities, and pleasures are in direct contrast to God’s will and we may choose to be unchanging. Yet, we must remember that when two unchanging forces collide only one will survive.
As a result of messages from Haggai
– How has your view of God changed? Do you see God as “Lord of Hosts”? Are you viewing problems and pains as greater than the person of God? Are you worrying instead of worshiping God?
– How has your vulnerability changed? Are you open to correction from the Spirit of God – through reading the word, listening to the teaching and preaching of Scripture, and perhaps through other believers or life circumstances?
– How has your vows of commitment to serve God changed? Do you continue making excuses to postpone obedience and service to God? Is your attitude toward God reflecting mere duty rather than delight? Do you sense yourself drifting rather than being driven to pursue God in prayer and through His word with other believers?
Additional areas to consider…
Consider that godliness does not happen by proximity (Haggai 2:10-13)
2:11 “Ask the priests about the law”
Haggai’s prophetic message addressed the priests. Important to note is that each of Haggai’s messages involved Israel’s leadership: priests, governors. The Lord instructs Haggai to ask the priests questions concerning “the law” [torah]. The questions concern holy meat touching another item – a garment or piece of food – does it then become holy? Another concerned unholy items touching another item, does it then become unclean (Haggai 2:12-13)? The priests answered that holiness could not be passed on through proximity to other items, however unholy items do infect that which it comes into contact (cf. Lev. 11:28; 22:4–7).
Ex: Just because Reeses PB cups are touching brussel sprouts, doesn’t mean the sprouts will taste good. In fact, the sprouts will likely make the PB cups taste bad. Or more seriously, imagine individuals who profess faith in Christ but their lifestyle is in contrast to Christian teachings: couples living together without marriage, church leaders who are unfaithful to their family, church members who cheat on their taxes and make business profit at the expense of poor or naïve individuals, pastors and priests who are secret child molesters… each example illustrates the complexity and contrasting mindset for the people who claimed to follow God.
Likewise, we must remember that holiness is not contagious but sin spreads and stains everything in its sight. “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands.” In other words, Israel was not honoring to God with all their deeds.
God cannot and will not bless a nation that unashamedly parades its sin.
– Human-Trafficking – Pornography – Homosexuality
– Racism – Euthanasia – Murder
– Global Hunger – Ignore the impoverished (Matt 25:31-46)
God cannot and will not bless a church that arrogantly displays apathy toward the priorities of God.
o Our ministries exist because we have members who contribute resources of time, talent, and treasure for the church and designated areas of ministry. When membership is not meaningful then our body will lack impacts our community.
So, as God’s people seek His blessing, we must remember sin separates us from God.
– Confessing sin is being real with God and growing to see the more God has for your life.
– Committing to faith and obedience to Christ are the spiritual tools to aid our life journey.
Consider that good work does not replace godly living (Haggai 2:14-18)
Haggai spoke God’s message further, pointing out that Israel’s good work to rebuild the temple was not a substitute for godly living. God was saying, “More than a house, I want your heart.”
Israel focused on the HGTV makeover to the temple but neglected the renovation of their hearts. The ruined temple became a religious duty to rebuild rather than a means to encounter God. They failed to “turn to the Lord” (Haggai 2:17). Therefore, God judged their nation by missing out on the full blessing.
– Seeking 20 measures but only received 10
– Seeking 50 measures of wine, but only received 20.
– Struck work with blight, mildew, hail
è Work for God should never exclude relationship with God. Ministry to others must come from the overflow of relationship with God. If not, then what is being poured out unto others will be shallow and short-lived (cf. Php 2:17; 2Tim 4:6). Spending time with God through reading the Bible, praying, and being spiritually accountable is the starting point before ministering to others or leading a ministry.
è God does reprove individuals through undesirable circumstances. Missed blessings and suffering circumstances are the result of a fallen world but may also be reflective of a means God is using to chasten/discipline us to learn, grow, or even repent (Job 5:17-18; 2Corinthians 12:7; Hebrews 12:5-29; James 5:13-20).
o à Have you trusted God with your death but not your lifestyle? Christians can have an incomplete view of faith, saying they trust God for heaven but not with the way they live. Faith and obedience to God cannot be dissected. A Christian’s beliefs cannot be separated from their behaviors.
o à Are you busy working for God without a genuine relationship with God?
- Read the Bible for you and not for sharing/teaching others
- Pray to God in repentance and relationship and not for blessing an experience of your life.
- Worship at church without critically evaluating personal preferences.
Consider that God’s harvest is not immediate but is assured.
God’s last prophetic message from Haggai is directed toward Israel’s civil leader, Zerubbabel. Z was the governor of Judah, and had led the people from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Undoubtedly there were moments of discouragement and depression as he sought to lead the people to national renewal and spiritual revival.
Haggai told Z of God’s future plans to “shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms… of the nations” (Haggai 2:21-22). Perhaps Z wanted to know his role or Israel’s role for the future kingdom. Z had a grandfather named Jehoiakim who previously was one of the last kings of Judah before the exile. Jehoikim was an evil king who was selfish and did not serve God.
Jeremiah 22:11-19, 24-30
11 For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and who went away from this place: “He shall return here no more, 12 but in the place where they have carried him captive, there shall he die, and he shall never see this land again.” 13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages, 14 who says, ‘I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,’ who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion. 15 Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. 16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the LORD. 17 But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.” 18 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, my brother!’ or ‘Ah, sister!’ They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, lord!’ or ‘Ah, his majesty!’ 19 With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” 24 “As I live, declares the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.” 28 Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land that they do not know? 29 O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! 30 Thus says the LORD: “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.”
Jehoiakim was exiled to Babylon and died there, with a prophecy that the kingdom would be taken away from his family. Yet, here in Haggai 2:23, we see God’s grace to reverse the curse with a promise to Zerubbabel to become like God’s signet ring. A signet ring refers to a seal or stamp embed in a ring; such rings would be symbols of identification with the king and to be related to his approval and authority. In other words, Z would not become Israel’s king but a future descendant would in the king of all kings, Jesus Christ (cf Mat 1:12; Lk 3:27).
è Leaders can get lonely, discouraged, and need God’s encouraging word of promise.
o Overcoming discouragement through
- Listening to God’s Word. Z heard the word through the prophet Haggai. Those who are discouraged need to watch their information intake and be sure God’s Word is a foundation they continue to cultivate and rely on each day.
- Looking at God’s perspective. Z heard God would overthrow evil nations and overcome injustice. Those who are discouraged need to be reminded of God’s power and perspective to bring about His wise and good purposes. Prayer and reflection are vital tools to helping us see God’s perspective.
- Learning about God’s power. Z heard God would destroy the strength of kingdoms, the chariots, horses, and their riders and everyone by the sword of his brother. Nothing or no one could thwart God’s plan. Those discouraged need the continued perspective that every hardship and pain has an expiration date. God’s power will not be matched and He is in the process of making all things new (Revelation 21:1-7).
- Living in God’s grace to forgive the past and provide a future hope. Z was chosen by God and became a signet ring in spite of previous prophecy (Jeremiah 22). Those who are discouraged must stay humble to remember the grace that has been provided to them and long for the future hope that God is bringing about in their life.
è We reap what we sow, and in a different season than we sow. Israel’s exile to Babylon and later their condemning circumstances (Haggai 1:6, 10-11; 2:16-19) were the results of reaping their actions toward the Lord. Yet, their slow process of repenting and re-committing to the Lord would point them toward different results. God’s grace covered their sin and many would grow in their faith with the Lord. The blessings would not be received immediately but would come in the future – and ultimately far into the future through Jesus Christ. Likewise, our rewards for faithfulness to God will likely not be fully seen until we enter heaven (Matthew 6:19-33). Christians must not give up, but persevere toward the upward call of Jesus Christ (Php 2:14; Col 3:1-4; 1Tim 6:19; 2Tim 4:8; James 1:12).
v Buildings are built one brick/item at a time. There is preparation and process to the building. As you build your life, you can only take one step at a time. What is your first response step in light of this message?
v Old-style child banks only had one way to remove the change – lots of shaking. If one wanted a lot of valuable change, then there had to be a lot of shaking. What is God shaking in your life to produce value?
v God can change our destiny, like He did with Zerubbabel. What in your past do you need to lay down? What in your future do you need to entrust to God? Are you only relying on God with your death and not your lifestyle?
 Baldwin, J. G. (1972). Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 28, pp. 54–55). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. Haggai 2:10.