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*Haggai 2**.*
Last time we had a look at the historical background to the book of Haggai *[P]* – it is essential to do so because the message relates very much to the situation that was going on.
You recall that because of their obdurate idolatry Judah had been exiled to Babylonia.
Then יְהוָה, fulfilling His word, caused the Persian Cyrus to conquer Babylon and decree that the Jews were to return to the land and rebuild the temple *[P]*.
It was the godly who returned and they were keen to re-establish the worship of יְהוָה.
They wasted no time in rebuilding the altar and offering up the regular sacrifices that the Law decreed.
It was not long before they started rebuilding the temple and they soon had the foundations laid.
But there was opposition and political pressure and they were forced to halt the work on building the temple.
But time had moved on – sixteen years had passed and still they had not got back to rebuilding the temple.
They had been distracted from the work they should have been doing.
Now a new emperor was on the throne, Darius; and still nothing was being done.
They were taken up with building their own homes.
They were working hard on their own estates but not getting very far – they were meeting frustration at every turn.
There was drought and the harvest had failed.
But as we saw last time, יְהוָה is in control of history – it was His doing.
He was seeking to get His people’s attention.
Haggai came with a prophecy to interpret what was taking place *[P]* – give the reason for the frustration, tell the people what יְהוָה was saying.
He delivered five messages over a period of just under 4 months – a short ministry but an effective and significant one.
His first message from יְהוָה was delivered on the first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius’ reign – it was a message of rebuke *[P]* – let’s look at that first message: [*read Haggai 1:1-11*/ In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of יְהוָה came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus says יְהוָה of armies, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of יְהוָה to be rebuilt.”
’ ” Then the word of יְהוָה came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses while this house lies desolate?”
Now therefore, thus says יְהוָה of armies, “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”
Thus says יְהוָה of armies, “Consider your ways! “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says יְהוָה.
“You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away.
Why?” declares יְהוָה of armies, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.
“Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce.
“I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labour of your hands.”/]
Here we are; יְהוָה speaks!
It doesn’t come out in translation, but this fact is emphasized.
Why? – because man had spoken *[P]*, and יְהוָה knew what they were saying.
They were saying that it wasn’t time to rebuild the house of יְהוָה, the temple.
They had come up with an excuse (and we are very good at it) – they had come up a way of calculating the years of exile so that they 70 years were not yet up – it depended upon which deportation you calculated from.
And we can come up with legal niceties to justify our actions or lack of them.
Everybody agreed now was not the time to rebuild.
We take great note of what the people say – we call it “democracy”.
I was never very good at French at school but I remember a phrase from a dialogue we had to learn: "que c’que c’est le plupart dit") – “What does the majority say?” Isn’t that how we are governed?
We deem that the majority opinion is right – but we ignore what God says.
What man says is predicated on selfishness – his own plans, looking after his own interests – building for /himself /house.
יְהוָה knows what man says – but what man says is */WRONG/*!
The "plupart", the people, the majority are wrong!
Our problem is that we heed what the people are saying, not what יְהוָה says.
Man had spoken – but יְהוָה had spoken otherwise!! *[P]* Man has his ideas, his plans, his theories – but what God says is different!
Man says "look after yourself, build your own house, it isn’t the right time to build the LORD’s house" but יְהוָה says: [*Matthew 6:33* /But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you./] – build His temple (the church) */first/*.
Man puts things back to front – his priorities are *wrong*!
He puts man first whereas יְהוָה says put the LORD first.
Whose voice am I heeding?
– that of the people (look after self first) or that of יְהוָה?: [cf.
*Luke 9:23-24* /And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it./]
We know the words of Jesus – but do we live them?!
The people had spoken, given their opinion but now יְהוָה speaks!
[Hag 1:3, 5] Enough of the ideas and plans of man! Listen to what יְהוָה says!
His prophet declares His word – a word that nullifies the futile things the people say.
cutting across their opinions, priorities, values and activity.
What does He say? “*/Consider your ways!/*” *[P]* He says is twice!
[Hag 1:5, 7].
Repeats Himself to make sure they get the message.
The people said that it was not time to build the temple, but יְהוָה said was it time to be sitting back in self-indulgent luxury?
He tells them "to consider their ways" ["/set your hearts on your ways/"] – have a close look at what you are doing, examine yourself – what does it reveal about where your heart is?
Your priorities determine your actions.
"And now, thus says יְהוָה of armies, consider your ways" – take them to heart, lay it to heart.
יְהוָה was acting through their circumstances, seeking to get their attention, turn them back to the right path.
Their attitude was reaping consequences (they were actually failing to reap – cf.
Hag 1:6).
Things were not going well, they weren’t prospering; they were working hard only to be frustrated.
They were to /lay it to heart/ – what was happening was the result of/ their ways /– they were going the wrong way!
The consequence was futility, frustration and lack – the blessing of יְהוָה was absent.
Because they had sought their own ends, not the things of יְהוָה.
It is good to take stock and consider our ways – am I going my own way, or am I walking in יְהוָה’s way?
Are my efforts being frustrated?
Is יְהוָה trying to show me that I’m going the wrong way and turn me back to the way that I should be going?
Set your heart on your ways in order to ensure that they are in line with God’s will for you.
The same message is repeated in [Hag 1:7] – יְהוָה of armies wants the message to hit home!
"*/CONSIDER YOUR WAYS!/*" – lay them to heart!
It is a tragic thing when we don’t lay it to heart – take note of the consequences of what we do, refuse to note what YHWH is saying: [cf.
*Jeremiah 12:11* /It has been made a desolation, desolate, it mourns before Me; the whole land has been made desolate, because no man lays it to heart/.
*Isaiah 57:1*/ The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart//; and devout men are taken away, while no one understands./
*Malachi 2:2* /“If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honour to My name,” says יְהוָה of armies, “then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart/.
*Isaiah 42:18-25* /Hear, you deaf!
And look, you blind, that you may see.
Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of יְהוָה?
You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; your ears are open, but none hears.
יְהוָה was pleased for His righteousness’ sake To make the law great and glorious.
But this is a people plundered and despoiled; all of them are trapped in caves, or are hidden away in prisons; they have become a prey with none to deliver them, and a spoil, with none to say, “Give them back!”
Who among you will give ear to this?
Who will give heed and listen hereafter?
Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not יְהוָה, against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they were not willing to walk, and whose law they did not obey?
So He poured out on him the heat of His anger and the fierceness of battle; and it set him aflame all around, yet he did not recognize it; and it burned him, but he paid no attention/ /– did not lay it to heart./]
We need to consider our ways.
You see, if they considered their ways, what was happening; it would be obvious that they had a problem *[P]*.
Look at [Hag 1:6, 9] – The crops had failed, nothing they did ever came to anything – there was frustration at every twist and turn – this is the mark of יְהוָה’s curse, not of His blessing (cf.
Deut 28).
They sow much and reap little, eat but are not satisfied, drink but don’t get drunk; they clothe themselves but are not warm, work for pay only for their hire to slip through their fingers – a purse with holes in it.
All they do fails.
All their plans never come to fruition – frustration, failure, dissatisfaction; much planning but little achieving.
These are the signs of יְהוָה’s disfavour.
"I can’t get no satisfaction" – it is the mark of a curse.
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