If you were here last week, we are in the book of Haggai, chapter 1. The people of God who were in exile in Babylon have returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They were off to a good start, and laid the foundation, but pressures from unbelievers led to the project being put on hold. Then on August 29th of 520 BC a message comes from God through the prophet Haggai to the people. God says, Give careful thought to this. Why is your house in great shape while the house of God remains a ruin?
The book of Haggai has this repeating phrase- Give careful thought. I challenged all of us to Give Careful Thought to our priorities in 2020. Where are we placing our emphasis. Maybe you took a handout and filled in your past priorities from 2019 and where you would like your priorities to be in 2020.
Today we will continue with the Book of Haggai, chapter 1.
1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest: 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” 12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. In the second year of King Darius,
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
God uses His powerful name-Lord Almighty-when he give the message to the people, in the form of a rhetorical question, which is significant in itself. Should you busy at home or should you be worrying about God’s house?
There is something a little easier about a rhetorical question, as opposed to a direct accusation. God asks the people a rhetorical question.
We do that with children sometimes don’t we? At first as kids are learning the rules, it is a simple do this and don’t do that, right? Don’t stand on the couch, right? But eventually there is not a rule pertaining to every thing you should or should not do. You have to learn the spirit of the rule. The rule don’t stand on the couch for instance, also applies to the chair, and the table as well. Although the parent did not explicitly say don’t stand on the table, the expectation is that this behavior is not ok. When the parent enters the room and the child is standing on the table, we may ask, “Should you be standing on the table?” It causes the child to stop and think through the scenario, and use their God-given conscience and power of reasoning to understand what should and shouldn’t be done
Now, the people may not have been violating a specific command, by building their houses. In fact they can be quite moral by the world’s standards. There is no indication that they are doing anything outright violating God’s law. However, a characteristic of being one of God’s chosen people, or a mark of being a child of God, is that you want what God wants. You should desire the same things He desires and takes pleasure in. You and God are walking together, with one purpose.
This rhetorical question, should you be building your house instead of mine, is God being gentle and calling the people back to Him. He is asking them to reflect to allow the Holy Spirit to work on their hearts. It should be obvious-if you know the the Lord then when God’s house in ruins-I should work on God’s house. It is not rocket science. It does not require a bunch of justification. Try and step back and see through the fog. The rumor was started that the Messiah needed to come before the temple should be rebuilt, well that is interesting, but not true. They just sort of made of that up.
God is saying come on, take a step back isn’t this obvious? Give careful thought- your spending time on your houses while the House of God is a wreck.
Then God presents some evidence to help them consider. God is understanding here, he understands that they may not get it, right? Obviously they haven’t gotten it up to this point, so he gives some evidence fro them to further consider.
6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
God knows these people well. He knows they have a general dissatisfaction in their life. So God points this out to them. Remember, these people lived in nice paneled houses, kind of like Americans, yet no matter what they are not satisfied. They have planted much they had money for seed, plenty of seed, but they are barely getting by at harvest time. Their food doesn’t satisfy them, the water is not quenching.
It is like everyone we encounter everyday. All people talk about is the next vacation or the next toy they will by, or the what they would do if they won the lottery. It is interesting studies have shown that most people who win large sums of money quickly blow it, and return to where they were, still unsatisfied. It is like these giant vending machines we see these days. They have water and Pepsi and diet Pepsi, and three buttons dedicated for Mountain Dew, and diet dew, and powerade and gatorade. The drinks are endless, yet were are still not satisfied.
How much Money does it take to man happy? Just one more dollar.
You have clothes, but they are doing it for you either, and it seems like you keep working yet out the door it goes. It really sounds like God is speaking to Americans in 2020, doesn’t it? I’m sure you heard this before right, John D Rockefellar once said, How much money does it take to make a man happy?-Just one moer dollar.
Today, evangelists have coined the term the God shaped hole. We all have a need we are trying to fill in our life, and we are all struggling to try and satisfy it. For some it may be money, and they relentlessly pursue wealth yet they find themselves still not satisfied. For others it can be food, or alcohol. There are people that can feel lonely in a room full of people. For others sports, or sex, you name it people try to fill that void. It is the American dream. Even churches look for the next big thing to bring satisfaction to the crowds.
If you try and find your satisfaction in things, you will never be satisfied.
We are all wired that way. It started back in the garden. Remember in Genesis 1 and 2, Adam and Eve were in this wonderful garden that God created. God saw that it was good, even very good. There was an intimacy with God, and food, things were good. But this intimacy was lost, and we were cast out, the human race was then separated from God. We are without good, in a broken and cursed world. Sin caused that. Sin in us choosing OUR pleasures above and beyond God’s pleasures and the things of God. SO we attempt to fill what is missing in this cursed with everything but God.
Not only is there a general dissatisfaction, but failure to walk with God-like in the garden, and like these people in Haggai day, means that people are subject to the curse.
9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
In addition to the general dissatisfaction these people feel from trying to find meaning in their lives, their is a curse that God has given them to call them back. Because they have not obeyed God, the heavens have withheld the dew, the crops are poor, there is a drought and the economy is failing.
When you try and find and find satisfaction in the things of the world, and the economy fails, or when your satisfaction is in the crops, and the weather turns, and the things you have trusted in go away, you learn that you can’t find satisfaction in them. People may say God is mean, he cursed the weather and the crops God doesn’t do that, He is loving right?
Yes God is loving and that is precisely why he does that. If your child was spending too much time on the IPAD what do you do? You take it away right? Not because you are mean but because you LOVE them. That is what God is doing.
If your placed your satisfaction in your career, what do you when you are laid off. If you find your pleasure in your retirement funds, what do you do when the the market is down? Or your health? Or your relationships? God is calling them to something better. Treasures beyond their wildest dreams, satisfaction, no hunger, no thirst. He is calling them to a relationship with the most wonderful thing in the Universe-Himself!
Be careful the human heart does not want to give up easily and the enemy will try to confuse the message. When we read this passage, and other similar passages in the Old Testament we can miss the whole message of the Bible. we can say God is cursing them, by the poor economic conditions, the drought, the bad harvest. If they want a good harvest and the drought to end then obey God, and they will be healthy wealthy and wise. Right? That sounds good doesn’t it? You will hear preachers preach that all the time.
That is the prosperity Gospel. Do good, God blesses you, do bad God curses you. So if you want to be rich-give to God. Churches fall for this all time-That is a definition of a religion---not a relationship. A religion is an attempt to manipulate God through your actions so that he will do what you want him to do. See beyond this simple casue and effect, religion and see into a relationship with God.
God uses this general curse to show us that our satisfaction and pleasures are not in the things of the world. That those things will never bring us pleasure. That the best thing we can do is want to follow God and do the same things He wants-EVEN if we do not have all those other things.
It is almost as if Jesus stepped right out of the pages of Haggai, as he was bringing this point to the people.
In our first reading in John Jesus said this from John 6,
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
You are looking for me because I gave you bread and you ate the loves of bread and had your fill. Jesus is saying that they are looking for Him not because of who He is, God- incarnate-that is what the signs demonstrated. People don’t care about that. Jesus’ deity does not mean much to some people, because they do not fear God-Instead they want God for what He can do fro them- they are more concerned with what can Jesus do for me. How can you fulfill my hunger Jesus? If I do what you say will you make my problems go away?
Jesus goes on
27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
No-our satisfaction Has to be found in Jesus. In Christ alone. In the Peace that he brings, In the fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and the love of God as demonstrated in the saving work of Christ.
So how do we do that?
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Believe IN the one-to believe in Christ means to enter into this relationship with Him, which means finding your satisfaction in Him, Finding your satisfaction IN JESUS NOT IN BREAD OR WATER OR MoNEY OR CLOTHES.
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Jesus said, that when we enter into a relationship with Christ, we find our satisfaction in Him.He does not mean literally you will never starve, or be poor, but even if you are- Your soul will be filled because you are with Christ, and He will be with you in it.
That is what it means to be in relationship. You want to please God, you want to do what brings Him glory and pleasure because He is your everything. That is a big difference.
In our personal lives we need to find that. We need to find all our worth, all our pleasure all our satisfaction in Christ. We need to relentlessly pursue Christ to bring him pleasure to glorify Him to further his kingdom. No matter what occurs in our personal lives, be it economic hardship-Christ remains a treasure above all else. Wether we lose loved ones, the holy Spirit is with us always, famine, or thirst Christ fills our souls with living water and bread that never spoils.
As churches we have be diligent we do not try and find our satisfaction, in what we do. As Churches we have to be diligent we do not try to glorify our name.Rather seeking to do what brings God pleasure, and what brings God Glory
Right now there appears to be a climate of religious drought in our land, our Churches need to find our satisfaction, and sustenance in Christ Jesus alone. We need to seek to glorify Him in all we do, worrying not about our concerns but on what brings Jesus pleasure . We need to give careful thought as to weather our own houses are being built while the House of the Lord remains a ruin.
As God spoke through the prophet Haggai, to the exiles back in the land to rebuild the temple, they gace careful thought and consideration to what God was saying to them. There then was a remarkable result.
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
People feared the Lord. We do not hear a lot about fearing God anymore. People are uncomfortable with that. I understand. But the truth is the Bible is full of people fearing God. God is really big, he spoke the universe into existence. He is the creator God. When the prophet Isaiah encountered God, he said woe is me I am a man of unclean lips.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.
The first step in encountering the Lord is to know who He is. You have to know who are meeting. It is God Almighty. As Haggai explains to them that the drought and economic conditions are from the Lord, they see that they cannot control God. They how big God his, They realize that he knows their thoughts, their disingenuous motives and heart, pursing thier own interests before the the interests of God, and they fear the Lord.
If we do not fear God we have no restraint we go our own way. We tend to our own interests rather than pursuing the things of God. We are under the power of sin from Romans 3.
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
But know seeing that God is who He is, They realize that God deserves glory and honor and praise, and they have not been giving it to him. Whenever people begin to fear the Lord, it represents a change of heart. At one time you didn’t fear the Lord, that is why you went your own way. Either consciously or unconsiously you were saying to yourself, there is nothing to fear I can go forward with my plans. But, when you see God for who He is that He is holy and you are not, and you fear Him-That is the start. Now God can do something with that heart.
After people fear the Lord, Gid always comes to them and says-Do not fear. Did you ever notice that? In Isaiah, God appears to isaiah, He says woe is me, God cleans Him, People see something remarkable like Luke 2, the shepherds and glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were terrified, or in the King James, they were sore afraid, and what does the angles say-Fear Not. Right First you enouncter who God is, and see who you are and then Fear not.
13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord.
I AM WITH YOU. No need to fear, anymore, you have given ccareful thought, You knowwho I am and respect me-now go forward,
14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. In the second year of King Darius,
By the 24th day of that same month or Sept 21st of 520 BC, the people got back to business.
I do not where you are with your relationship with Jesus, but that must be taken care of first. Is there something that you are putting first in your life before Jesus? Is there a sin you are bateling a struggle you facing, are you searching for satisfaction in the things of the world? Are you busy mainting your house while the house of the Lord remains a ruin. God at anytime blow away all that you have worked for. God can change your life in an instance.
Give careful thought to the word of Lord. Fear the Lord, then come to Jesus. Jesus promises to be with you. If you seek a relationship with Him you do not have to worry becasue He will fulfill all your needs. EVen if the the things of the world collapse He will be your satisfaction, even isf there is no bread in your house, Jesus will satisfy your hunger your thirst for something more out of life will quenched to overflowing as streams of living water flow out of Him, satisfying and filing you.
As leaders in God’s house we must seek to lead the Church in a manner that brings God glory, and gives Him pleasure anong all other things.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.