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Haggai: Consider Your Ways

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Introduction
The book of Haggai is a series of prophecies that Haggai gave over a 4 month period to the exiles who had returned from captivity. They returned by the decree of Cyrus, the king of Persia, in 538BC.
Zerubbabel led a group of fifty-thousand Jews back to Jerusalem to begin the efforts of rebuilding the nation, especially the temple. Upon their return to their homeland, the people of God found things in disorder. The land had been left barren. The homes and communities of the past had been leveled. Foreigners had inhabited their land.
The
tells us of the beginning of their important work in rebuilding the altar of the LORD and the temple that had been destroyed. The work on the temple began during the second year after the return. But what joy the people experienced would be short lived. Adversaries came in and discouraged the people of Judah and frightened them from building.
Upon their return to their homeland, the people of God found things in disorder. The land had been left barren
The book of Haggai is a series of prophecies that Haggai gave over a 4 month period to the exiles who had returned from captivity.
homes and communities of the past had been leveled. Foreigners inhabited their land.
But what joy the people experienced would be short lived. Adversaries came in and discouraged the people of Judah and frightened them from building
says, “Then the work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” This work stoppage lasted about sixteen years.
After this time passed, God sent prophets to His people - Haggai & Zechariah. They are introduced in . They come to rebuke the people for neglecting God’s house and to encourage them in the work of building the temple. This is the main purpose of their prophecies to to God’s people that are recorded in the books that bear their names.
HAGGAI 1
Haggai opens with a call to action in verses 1-11. This first oracle is directed to Zerubbabel and Joshua. Zerubbabel had been appointed as the governor of Judea. He was the grandson of deported King Jehoiachin. Joshua was the high priest of the Jews. His grandfather was slain by Nebuchadnezzar () and his father was carried away into Babylon. These two men played a key role in leading the Jews in their homeland.
The Lord speaks through Haggai and asked if it was right for them to dwell in comfortable homes while the house of the Lord remained desolate. During the sixteen year layoff, the people had concentrated on making things comfortable for themselves and allowed the opposition to rebuilding the temple to “put off” the project. So Haggai tells them in verse 5, “Consider your ways.” He repeats this statement again in verse 7.
The Lord speaks through Haggai and asked if it was fair for them to dwell in comfortable homes while the house of the Lord remained desolate
During the sixteen year layoff, the people had concentrated on making things comfortable for themselves and allowed the opposition to rebuilding the temple to “put off” the project. Then he makes a statement in verse 5 that he repeats in verse 7, “Consider your ways.”
They needed to examine themselves and reconsider why their priorities were lined up as they were. They needed to consider why they allowed the enemies of the LORD to cause them to worry and fear. They needed to consider why they were living for themselves instead of for the LORD.
Because of their messed up priorities, the LORD had withheld blessing from them. The LORD has made their yield from their fields diminish greatly. Much of their work was unsuccessful. The LORD did this to try to wake them up and to get them to see that they should not have been busying themselves as they should with their own homes while His house lied in ruins still. If they wanted to be blessed by the LORD, they needed to put pleasing Him and His receiving of glory first, not last.
APPLICATION TO US
We need to consider the words of Haggai in chapter one and “consider our own ways” also. May it often be the case in our own lives that we are like the Jews who returned from exile? We live in our great big “paneled homes,” but we don’t use them to build up the kingdom of God. We don’t use them as tools to encourage others. We have multiple cars but we don’t use them to go and encourage someone who answered an invitation and told us how they were struggling with sin. We have jobs, yet we never try to find an opportunity to talk about the LORD with coworkers. We assume that all of these will be done by someone else. Someone else will visit the sick. Someone else will encourage and teach a struggling Christian. Someone else will help him overcome his sin he is enslaved to.
We may think that if we just go to church a couple times per week and try to do more good than bad in our lives that everything will be ok. The Lord will be pleased and that He will see that He is #1 in our lives.
We need to consider our ways. Can you and I truly say that the LORD is #1 in our lives? Can we say that He is the focus of all of our life and that we are living our lives in a way that shows that we are concerned about the state of God’s people and for lost souls in this world? Can we say that Jesus comes before ourselves, our families, our work… that He is over everything? Or would we say that we are to busy with building our own lives, busy with our own things and that we fitting the LORD in when we have time to do so?
Turn your Bibles to .
Beginning in verse 25, Jesus talks about a lot of the things that unbelievers put all of their energy into seeking in the world — The things that they worry about. He says,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (, ESV)
Jesus here is trying to get kingdom citizens to think bigger. To think about higher and more important things. He shows them in this section, that God takes care of his people and there is no reason for us to get so wrapped up in these things like we do. Look at verses 31-33:
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (, ESV)
Jesus talks about where our priorities need to be. It shouldn’t be said of God’s people that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. It should not just be those who are appointed to do service for God’s people that do most of the serving. We all have equal responsibilities in serving. We all are to “seek first” God’s rule and reign in our lives. We all have the responsibility to see what His will is for us in His word and to get to the work that He wants us to do.
ILLUSTRATION
I read a story of a picky customer comes to a small food shop and sees a new delivery of fresh fruit. "Give me two pounds of oranges and wrap every orange up in a separate piece of paper, please," he says to the saleswoman.
She does.
"And a pound of cherries, please, and wrap up every one in a
separate piece of paper, too."
She does, although frustrated with the demand.
"And what is that there?," he asks pointing out a bushel in the corner.
“Raisins," says the saleswoman, "but they are not for sale!"
There's nothing wrong with a customer in a grocery store who wants to individually wrap each piece of fruit. It may be strange, but there is nothing wrong with it. But don’t we sometimes we tend to do the same thing with our lives. We wrap up a piece of our lives and give it to our family. We wrap up another piece of our lives and give it to our employer. We wrap up another piece of our lives and leave it laying on the couch in front of the television set. Oh.....and we certainly don't want to forget God! So we wrap up a few hours of our lives and give it to Him on Sunday morning and one also on Wednesday.
individually wrap each piece of fruit.
But sometimes we tend to do the same thing with our lives. We wrap up a piece of our lives and give it to our family. We wrap up another piece of our lives and give it to our employer. We wrap up another piece of our lives and leave it laying on the couch in front of the television set. Oh.....and we certainly don't want to forget God! So we wrap up a couple hours of our lives and give it to Him on Sunday morning and one also on wednesday.
There's only one problem with that approach to life (but a very big problem it is!). God doesn't just want the couple of hours of our lives that we have wrapped up and presented to Him (no matter how beautiful the wrapping paper may be). He wants all the pieces! He wants the part of our lives that we designate for family, and the part we designate for work, and even the part we designate for recreation. Every piece of our lives is to be lived with the purpose of bringing God the glory.
"Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." ()
Brothers and sisters, have we compartmentalized our lives to the point where we are only giving God a little bit of our hearts? We need to remember that the idea of living a “balanced life” is not something that is taught about Christians in the Bible. We don’t give one part of our lives to the LORD, one part to the work, one part to our family, one part to recreation, and so forth. The LORD wants it all. He wants you to seek His will and apply it to every single area of your life. This is what authentic, zealous disciples do.
Brothers and sisters, have we compartmentalized our lives to the point where we are only giving God a little bit of our hearts? We need to remember that the idea of living a “balanced life” is not something that is taught about Christians in the Bible. We don’t give one part of our lives to the LORD, one part to the work, one part to our family, one part to recreation, and so forth. The LORD wants it all. He wants you to seek His will and apply it to every single area of your life. This is what authentic, zealous disciples do.
“I want you to have all of my life!” If you have any need, why don’t you make it known as we together stand and sing?
The idea of living a “balanced life” is not something that is taught about Christians in the Bible. We don’t give one part of our lives to the LORD, one part to the work, one part to our family, one part to recreation, and so forth. The LORD wants it all. He wants you to seek His will and apply it to every single area of your life. This is what authentic, zealous disciples do.
Are we like those Haggai is writing to? Are building our own “houses” and living it up while the LORD’S house lies in ruins?
THE RESPONSE TO HAGGAI
Let’s go back to would like us to see the response of the people to the preaching of Haggai. Let’s read verses 12-15 of ch1:
12 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 Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And 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, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.(, ESV)
What a response. This is something that prophets and preachers are not used to often seeing - mass repentance! Led by Zerubbabel and Joshua, the people get back to work on the temple. And the LORD gives them all that they need to be successful. He tells them that He is with them.
This is a message that He repeats in chapter 2 of the book as Haggai gives His second prophesy to the people to further strengthen them in their work.
1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’ ”(, ESV)
As they started the work on the temple, understandably, there was discouragement. Nothing that they could do could make this temple compare to the magnificent temple that Solomon built to glorify the LORD. This temple they were building was nothing in comparison.
But the LORD reminds them of what is important. What is more important is not ‘how grand the building is,’ but what the building signified. What was important was the message that the temple sent to the remnant who returned to exile. God is with them. He will bless them. He will take care of them.
Then in verse 6 of chapter 2, He tells them something else that He is gong to do that will be amazing! The picture that He gives here is like a bully turning a little scrawny kid upside down so that he could shake him and steal his lunch money. But obviously there are some major differences: the LORD is going to do it this all of the creation and all of the nations… He is going to shake out the treasures of the creation and bring them into His holy temple, and His house will be grander than any house built prior…
The New American Commentary: Haggai, Malachi 1. Contemporary Relevance of Haggai

“But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt 6:33). With these words Jesus summarized the acceptable priorities of life for those who would follow him. Such a view on life appears to have been for Jesus’ disciples an entirely new and unexpected concept, one both liberating in its potential but no less intimidating in its demands. His disciples shared a natural inclination to worry about the basic necessities of life. A significant portion of their waking hours was spent providing for such basic family essentials as food, clothing, and shelter. But these concerns, if not balanced by a sense of urgency with regard to the service of God, can easily undermine a proper sense of what is actually most important in life, namely the advancement of the kingdom of God. In fact, preoccupation with such concerns can lead to a type of personal decision making that focuses first on meeting temporal human needs and offers God only what is left over after essential matters of personal security and comfort have first been decided.

This is not, however, the path of authentic discipleship. Jesus instead urged his followers to seek first the eternal priorities of the kingdom of God. In so doing, they could rest assured that their Heavenly Father was not only aware of their temporal needs, but that he would bountifully supply those needs for his people. In order to illustrate this truth, Jesus called attention to the natural order of creation. If God provides in abundance for defenseless birds and for vulnerable flowers (Matt 6:28–30), how can we expect that he will do less for mankind, who is the very pinnacle of his creation? And if God’s common grace is such that provisions for life’s necessities are generally available for all, does not logic suggest that these provisions will be no less available for those who seek to follow the will of God? Equipped with this confidence in divine provision, those who would serve God are free to focus their efforts and attention on what they can contribute to God’s work in their midst. Their Heavenly Father is neither unconcerned over their condition in life nor careless about providing for their day-to-day needs.

It seems that every generation of believers, from ancient times to modern, must learn this lesson anew. It is a truth that was ignored, if in fact it was grasped at all, by the people of God to whom the prophet Haggai ministered in the sixth century B.C. Although they verbally might have articulated a belief to the contrary, their actions clearly disclosed their inverted priorities. In reality they sought first the kingdom of self and its comforts; they would get around to the work of God after those priorities had first been settled. But there was for them an unexpected irony. Due to the withdrawal of God’s blessings upon their efforts, they painfully discovered that none of life’s necessities was added to them to the degree that they would like—in spite of their determined efforts to the contrary. Their hard work was reduced to nothing. Their crops failed because of disease and disaster; their harvests yielded only meager results. Whatever financial profits they gained quickly disappeared, passing as it were through a shabby bag riddled with holes and unable to retain what was deposited in it (Hag 1:6). In spite of their determined efforts, the prosperity that they craved eluded them. Their experience calls to mind a paradox: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it” (Mark 8:35; Matt 16:25; Luke 9:24).

It fell to the prophet Haggai to show why the attitude of the postexilic Israelite community did not honor the God they professed to serve. Haggai’s ministry was one of calling his generation to a renewed commitment to the task of the immediate restoration of Jerusalem’s temple and normalization of the religious life of Israel. In large measure this task that lay before them was a test of whether they would put God first in their lives. It was a test whose momentous significance the prophet drove home in a relentless and uncompromising fashion. The people would have to decide whose interests mattered most to them—their own or the Lord’s.

Haggai’s message to the postexilic community of Israel is one that the church of the twenty-first century needs to reflect on. To “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” is for us—as it was for them—a calling that runs the risk of being eclipsed by self-serving interests. Far too often the affluence of God’s people, rather than encouraging a self-imposed measure of personal sacrifice in order to advance the cause of God’s work in this world, leads instead to a hoarding of resources and to an ugly self-indulgence. The Book of Haggai vividly points out this inconsistency and calls for the people of God to move beyond such worldly ways of thinking. Haggai’s sermons, though first given two-and-a-half millennia ago, have a fresh and vital message for the present generation of believers. In many ways the modern church mirrors the spiritual lethargy and unresponsiveness of Haggai’s original audience. But the fact that his postexilic community eventually responded to the prophetic word and committed themselves to a great task for God’s glory holds out hope that we too may lay aside every quest for personal advantage that detracts from the greater cause of the kingdom of God in our midst.

MESSIANIC IMPLICATIONS
It is difficult not to see the Messianic implications of this passage in a couple ways. First, int he temple that they were currently building, unlike the first temple, we are not told that when it was finished that the LORD’s glory entered it. As far as we know, the LORD did not enter the temple until Jesus set foot in it. Some look at Jesus entering the temple as part of the fulfillment of this passage, but not just this. The shaking of the nations and His treasures coming to Him, some commentators see as talking about a remnant of the nations — the gentiles — coming to God’s house. This is a picture that we have seen in other prophets. The nations coming to God’s house to worship Him, to learn from Him, and to serve Him. God’s people are the treasures that are brought to His house that make His house glorious.
The shaking of the nations and His treasures coming to Him, some commentators see as talking about a remnant coming from the gentiles to God’s house. This is a picture that we have seen in other prophets. The nations coming to God’s house to worship Him, to learn from Him, and to serve Him. God’s people are the treasures that are brought to His house that make His house glorious.
And this idea of the creation being shaken is repeated at the end of the book in reference to the kingdom of God. God promises to shake the heavens and the earth again - to overthrow the kingdoms of the earth. And He gives a promise to Zerubbabel, a descendant of David: 23 On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”(, ESV)
You see in this prophesy authority being given to the house of David again. God is showing His people that the promise of David still stands. There is still a Messianic hope to look forward to for God’s people, a hope of which we are a part of as God’s Holy Temple and those who are possessors of the Kingdom, a kingdom that cannot be destroyed or shaken.
He will build
“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.(, ESV)
These words of comfort given by Haggai, which will be reinforced by Zechariah in His visions, encouraged the builders and gave them the encouragement needed to finish the work that God wanted them to do. May we, as those who are recipients of the kingdom, put our hand to the plough and do the work that the LORD wants us to do for the Kingdom. May we respond by removing our distractions, putting our priorities in order, so we can be God’s treasured people.
The same language is used here that is used in Haggai
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