Building God's House
Title: God’s Call For Commitment.
Text: Haggai 1:1-15.
CIT: God accepts no excuses for a lack of commitment from His people.
Theme: God wants our total commitment to His work as a priority in our lives.
Have you noticed that pressures, demands, expectations, and tasks push in from all sides and assault our schedules. Do this! Be there! Finish that! Call them!
Not only that, it seems as though everyone wants something from us ~ our family, our friends, our employer, our school, church, clubs etc. Soon there is little left to give, as we run out of energy and time. We find ourselves rushing through life, attending to the necessary, the immediate, and the urgent. The important is all too often left in the dust. Our problem is not the volume of demands or lack of scheduling skills, but values – what is truly important to us. Our values and priorities are reflected in how we use our resources – how we use our time, how we use our money, how we use our strength and our talent. Often our actions betray our words. We say God is number one, but then we relegate Him to a lesser number on our “to do” list.
Twenty-five centuries ago, a voice was heard, calling men and women to obedience and to right priorities. Haggai knew what was important and what had to be done. Then, he challenged God’s people to respond.
Today in the ‘Church’ we face the same dilemma and there needs to be that someone who will wake-up and challenge the church to sleep no more, follow in Godly footsteps and do the will of our Lord.
Let us learn from the story in the book of Haggai and stop repeating the same mistakes Israel made but learn a lesson to follow God’s instructions very closely and keep Him always as number one in our lives. The first thing we find as we study this Scripture is:
I. The Prophet’s Announcement (Haggai 1:1).
In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, 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,
In his introduction, Haggai gives us three facts we can use as we read and interpret God’s Word. First,
a. He Identified the Date of His Work.
His prophesy was given on the second year of Darius’ reign on the sixth month and the first day of that month. Since Darius began his reign in 522 B.C., you might say, it was written on June 1, 520 B.C. Not so quick! The sixth month during the time of Haggai was the month of Elul and it spanned portions of our August and September. The first day was always the first day of the new moon. In 520 A.D. was it August 29th. The New Moon Festival was held on the first day of the month and probably a large crowd had assembled for the festivities. Haggai took advantage of this opportunity to address his countrymen. Second, we find,
b. He Identifies the Message’s Source.
Haggai writes, “The word of Yahweh as from Haggai the prophet.” The Word of the Lord occurs over a hundred times in the Old Testament including several times in Haggai. The phrase is a strong affirmation of divine inspiration of God’s Word. Yahweh is the message’s sole source. Haggai spoke not for himself but for God. Third, we find:
c. He Identifies the Message’s Recipients.
The message was initially directed to two major figures of Israel. First, it was written:
1. To The Political Leader.
His name was Zerubbabel. His name means “seed of Babylon.” He was the “seed of Babylon” only in the sense that he was born there. Zerubbabel was a Hebrew of Hebrews in whom his people placed great hope. He was the son of Shealtiel and grandson of Jehoiachin, the Judean king taken prison in 597 B.C. Second, it was it was spoken to:
2. The Ecclesiastical Leader.
The leader of the temple was Joshua, the high priest. He was also born in Babylon and was among the early folks who returned to the Promised Land.
Addressing these men by name emphasized their responsibility to lead the people to take the right action. Next, we need to learn:
II. The People’s Indifference (vv 2-11).
“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.”’”
Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!
“You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
The issue in these verses is Israel’s spiritual indifference. This spiritual indifference is the root cause of disasters which were occurring in their lives. Before we look at these verses it would be best to put this whole section into historical perspective.
In 538 B.C., as a result of the proclamation of Cyrus, Israel was allowed to return from Babylon to her homeland under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the High-Priest. About 50,000 Jews returned. In 536 B.C., they began to rebuild the temple but opposition from neighbors and indifference by the Jews caused the work to be abandoned. It is sixteen years later, Haggai has commissioned by the Lord to proclaim God’s message to Israel. That catches us up. As we look at these verses we see three things. First,
a. The Rub of Faulty Priorities.
Haggai begins by immediately addressing the problem: “This people say, ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.’” For sixteen years they have rationalized their inactivity by saying, “It just not the right time.” Maybe the times were hard. Maybe something else had to be addressed first. Maybe because of the unrest in the country caused them to take a low profile. Regardless of the excuses, the basic issue of priorities and obedience. The time would never be right for those who really didn’t care about the things of God. Can I say, people always haven time for what is important to them.
Second, any time we get preoccupied with personal comfort we are cruising for bruising with God. They had plenty of time to build their homes while God’s house lies in ruins. What a striking contrast.
It was quite evident where the Israelites’ hearts were. Their failure to take care of God’s house identified their genuine priorities. The rub of faulty priorities. Then, we can see:
b. The Results of Faulty Priorities.
Israel’s spiritual inaction in building God’s house produced results in their daily lives. The fact that they could not see or understand what was going on illustrates quite well sins capacity to blind people to spiritual reality.
Look with me what Israel reaped. Though they invested all their energy and effort into planting a crop, their crops produced little. The essential supplies of food, water, and clothing didn’t meet their needs. What is the old proverb? “I always find that I have month left at the end of my money.” That is where Israel is at. The situation seems contemporary and familiar doesn’t it?
Israel wasn’t being blessed because of their selfishness, their poor priorities and lack of commitment to God. I know that God’s blessings includes much more than the material. Amen! In fact, God’s fellowship, God’s inward peace, and joy are far more important than material blessings. Haggai does say though that God blesses obedience and faithfulness.
How about you, how is your obedience to God. What is number one on your list for this week. Next see:
c. The Reappraisal of Faulty Priorities.
In verse 7 God calls on the people to think about what they were doing. He has told them what not to do, now He is going to tell them what to do. Haggai begged his countrymen to concentrate on God’s work rather than themselves. He gives them three imperatives:
They were to “go up” and bring back wood for God’s house. We have also been told to “go!” How often have went out this year specifically to do something for God? Visit a hospital, visit a sick friend, invite someone to church. Win someone to Jesus. Second they were to:
They had to go out into the mountains and cut the trees, then, they had to “bring them down” the mountain to use on God’s house.
We are to “bring”, bring them in. What is the old revival song, “Bring them in, bring them in, bring them in from the fields of sin.” How many have you brought in this year? If God’s house depended upon you to bring them in, what could you build?
Let me change the subject a little. Lets say that we are simply talking about taking care of God’s house. Keeping it up with paint, carpet, fixtures. Are we going out and bringing in monies or materials or labor to take care of God’s house. We do have a building fund and a project that has been in the mill for over a year. I want to challenge you to join with me and bring it in so that we can build God’s house. Last, they were to:
When they had the material, they were to build God’s house. The last section I want us to see is:
III. The People’s Obedience (vv 12-15).
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the Lord.” So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.
Haggai’s words rang true. What he said convicted everyone that their problems were a result of misdirected priorities. All Israel needed was the word of God proclaimed by the man of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit of God, to stir them up. I don’t know if there ever was a prophet or preacher to enjoy such a warm and wholehearted response from the people. Listen to what happened: “Then Zerubbabel ... and Joshua ... with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God.”
In less than four years the house of God was rebuilt. Why? How? It was a God thing. He blessed it.
I have heard all sorts of things for waiting to launch into our redoing of God’s House. The economy is bad. The money is tight. Its going to cost to much. Can I say that if this is a God thing, He will bless it and it can be done before you know it. We have the plans. Lets begin to bring in the money, bring in the materials, bring in the workers, and build God’s house.
What are the priorities of your life? Your priorities will tell volumes about what is important to you. How it your tithe life? How is your giving life? How about your ministering life? How about your soul winning life? Who is number one in your life?
In a moment we are going to sing a song of invitation. We invite you to come as we sing.
FBC, Hughes, AR 07/26/09