A lot can happen in a month of Sunday’s. Some studies say that if you want to make a change in your life, it takes about 30 days. So they say if you want add a new routine, or quit an old one, you should do something for 30 days, and then it will begin to develop into a habit. It is not quite January 30th, but did anyone make any New Years resolutions? Have you kept at them, if so you are on day 25 good for you! Keep going stay strong-Keep on Keeping on.Here is a word of caution from human nature, and personal experience, and observations, when you start something new there are these critical points that you need to get over right?
First, you have get started, you need that initial wake-up call or motivating factor to get you on the path to change. A revelation or epiphany if you will. Like sitting in bed eating a double sausage pepperoni pizza binge watching Netflix at 2:30 in the morning, that little message pops up, are you still watching? And you grab the pizza sauce covered remote and say to yourself, I’ve got to do something different.
That feeling and motivation will last a little while. It is enough to get you started, but often the results do not come soon enough. Discouragement may set in, or the pain of change becomes too great and you reach a low point. Then any easy setback can make you want to quit. At this point we need a little encouragement to keep going.
It is like this. Let’s say I was in Church 4 Sunday’s ago, at the first Sunday of the month, and I heard the message on putting the Lord first in my life and my Church, and I felt maybe the Holy Spirit was leading me into a deeper relationship with Jesus. I’m like yeah things need to change, so, on the way out of Church I grab a “Read through the Bible in a Year” sheet and decided I am going to do it this year.
Maybe I did give careful thought to my priorities in life, and realized I needed to place God first and I thought yeah God, I have been doing not so well by you, I need to fear you more and pursue you more, so this is it I’m going to spend more time with you in prayer, and in your word, and off I go. The first week goes fairly well.
The second week isn’t even half bad, but it is getting tougher. Then something happens. Like it happened with me this past week. I had a normal everyday setback, that we all face, I got sick and was in bed for a week.Now, my plans of finishing this thing on time seem to be slipping. I am behind in my everyday chores, I am not seeing much progress so I start to slide off.
It is at this point a message of encouragement, would be really well recieved. That is kinda the way things were going for our friends in Jerusalem in 520 BC.
If you recall where we are, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed, it was gone, and this current generation was back in Jerusalem to rebuild God’s house. They started strong, but had opposition so they went hime and spent there time and money on their personal lives. It seemed like God’s timing was not right. Innocent mistake.
So, on August 29th 520 BC God speaks to them to set them straight. God says, Give careful thought to this-where are your priorities? Where should they be? They think about it, for about month of Sundays and something happens to the people. They fear the Lord. Which means they repent, and turn toward God, doing what he wants rather than what they want and they start back up on the building project.
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,
Then on Sept 21st of 520 BC they were back to work on the temple of the Lord.
It is Critical we note the Order of Events.
The people Hear God’s Word. (V. 3) Knowledge
God calls people to change. (v.5) Conviction
They Obey and fear the Lord (V.12) Repentence
The Lord is With Them (V13) Indwelling
The Lord Provides the means (v14) God Provides
This is the order we see, actually over and over again in scripture, and this is how you have or will encounter the Lord Jesus. It starts first with God’s word. at some point, you must hear God’s word. You must have knowledge of Jesus Christ, who He is, you have to hear the Gospel. Ro 10:12-15, right. Even people who have been converted by dreams or something at some point they hear God’s actual word. This is either by reading the Bible or hearing a preacher in Church. For our friends in Haggai it is in Verse 3, When the word of God comes to them, you can fill in verse 3 on your handout.
Then God’s word is applied, or there is a call on your life-specifically-to change. Sometimes we call that the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We hear God’s word, and we realize we have not followed. In the secular example from the beginning, it is that realization that something has to change. In Haggai- verses 5, and 6
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.”
God’s word gives you knowledge and the Holy Spirit applies it to your heart, as it applies to you. Let me explain, how that practically plays out, and this is hypothetical. You come to church and you hear the word of God. The preacher is preaching about reaching out to the marginalized in your community, and he is speaking on the passage from Matthew and you hear
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Now the Holy Spirit works in your heart, and the word of God is applied to you. In my heart, in Greg’s heart as I sit in the pew, you have this conviction. God is saying Greg, do not store up for your self treasure. The word of God is not a helpful proverb for other people, it is for me. Now what happens is next is critical. Some people can get up and leave service and choose to say, it is not for me, I think I’m ok, and life goes on. But a few believe that this is actually God’s word to me, and I do something about it.
If we follow that conviction that is called repentence. That is when we obey and fear the Lord. We stop what we are doing and do something new.
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.
Now look what happens, this is where things get interesting. Then the Lord is with them. The Lord is not with us when we go our own way, and do our own thing. When we are going our ways, God will leave us alone and allow us to go our own way. But after they turn to the Lord, by obeying and fearing him, then He is with them. See and this is huge. Then -He is with them.
That is is verse 13
13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord.
Think about this for a second- what if God was with us. I mean what if God was really with us. What if you knew God was on your side. What would your life look like if God was with you. I mean what if God was actually with you.
Would you be afraid of going in a scary dark cave? dripping water, darkness, rats and bats, if you were walking into that cave with God Almighty with you would you be scared?That is silly but what about a job interview, or a doctor appointment, I mean imagine, if God was with you? Imagine if God was with the Church what could we do?
That is called the indwelling of the Holy Spirit-Everyone who by faith trusts in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone, and has repented of their sins, has the Holy Spirit living inside of them. God is With you Imagine Think about that.
Then with that in place God provides the means to accomplishes His will. verse 14
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,
The Lord stirred up the spirit....small s spirit. That is the will of the people. the inner desires or motivations of the people were CHANGED by the Lord. After repentence Lord was with them, and then he stirred up their spirit so that Then they came and worked on the house of God.
Left on their own, they are sitting in their paneled basements watching the Chariot races, and the Grammys on the Big screens. But, after careful thought, and fearing and obeying the Lord-Then, The Lord stirs up their spirits and they come and work.
See its like you can’t expect those that don’t fear and obey the Lord to come and work on the House of God. They wont do it. They need to first fear and obey the Lord, then with the Lord with them, In the power of the Spirit they come and work on the House of God. Often Churches think WE need to be the factor that convinces people to work harder, and we avoid this critical step of repentence and fearing and obeying the Lord.
Now let’s keep going into chapter 2 and see what happens.
1 on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai:
God’s word comes again to the people-on another very specific date, roughly another month after they strated work on the temple, it is Oct 17th, 520 BC.
It is also a specific feast day in the Jewish calendar. Maybe it doesn’t mean a lot to you and me, but to the jews this is a big deal. See this is the 7th day of the feast of tabernacles.
Ancient Israel was a very agricultural society. There were several times throughout the year where they we were harvesting. By this time of the year everything had been harvested this is the last of the harvest. They have all the provision the Lord God has provided for the year they are enjoying the fruits on the land. They are done with work, a great time to relax and enjoy themselves, a great time to enjoy the harvest they are looking forward to a new agricultural year, and God instituted this feat the feat of tabernacles, to remind them them that they are to depend on Him on God alone.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, you build a temporary shelter, and leave the paneling and the big screen aside and you They are to live in temporary shelters for seven days to remind you of the time your ancestors spent wandering in the wilderness. Then, you take part in a 7 day- joyous celebrations of food and thanksgiving and songs and music to the Lord. It is a good time. A festival.
So picture this. A month before this, during the harvest-God comes to them and says take care of My house not your own, and they say yeah God you are right, and they go to work on God’s house, at the busiest time of the year, during the harvest. Imagine you are working all day in the fields, and then coming home and working on the church at night, and on weekends. That is real repentence, that is not just something you can muster up,
I do not know how it worked. Maybe some people harvested and others worked on the temple-I don’t know it doesn’t say, but somehow they did both.So now a month of doing both went by and they are celebrating the feast of tabernacles.
Can you imagine the talk. Wow what a month I did not think we would get it all done. Glad the harvest is done we can really concentrate on Church right? It must have made the party even sweeter. They party for 6 days, then it is on the 7th day of the feast God sends them another message.
On the last day of the feast that the priests are supposed to march around the altar 7 times, then they take a big bowl of water and they pour it out at the base of the altar to make an appeal to the Creator God to provide the water they would need to survive for the upcoming year.
The temple was not even close to being finished finished there was not even an altar to march around just this little foundation of the new temple they were building. So no doubt they remembered what it was like, to march around that big altar in that beautiful temple, so perhaps they were a bit discouraged. Those were the good old days! Sigh- It will never be like that again. Why even roll on right?
So that is why God gives them this message.
2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?
God comes to them, and even asks them to remember those good old days. Man that was something, wasn’t it. This seems like Nothing to you now doesn’t it says the Lord, barely a foundation. seems impossible doesn’t it?
Then.....The next verses are really strong--AND I CANNOT OVER EMPHASIZE THIS. THE LORD commands them. To do something- This is not a buck up little camper speech. This is not a pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. God is not saying buckle down now no more pouting. He is going to make it clear-CRYSTAL CLEAR- Watch this this awesome.
So they there are sad, right, and God comes to them, the name he uses at first is Yahweh His personal name, it is almost as if, like if you have a little kid with tears and panic, and discouragement in voice, It is as if God comes up and puts his hands on the kids face and and says wait listen to me, I’m Yahweh, did you forget? now settle down. and here it is
4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
BE STRONG three times! Be strong and work FOR I AM WITH YOU! I said I was with you back in chapter 1. If you fear me and obey me, I am with you- Now Be strong and put one foot in front the other, I am with you. I am THE LORD ALMIGHTY AND I AM WITH YOU-What do you have to fear?
You can walk through what you need to walk through. You can walk through the scary cave or job interview or doctor appointment. I am with you. It doesn’t matter I am with you-The Lord Almighty.
The verse finishes with DECLARES THE LORD ALMIGHTY- In case you forgot-He commands the armies. He is the Lord of the heavenly armies.
5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
This is what I agreed to way back when I covenanted with you SO many years ago-WHEN I first saved you. It is no different now. I saved you then, I will be with you know, I don’t leave you. So be strong. I will do this- MY Spirit remains among you-Do not fear!
This is right out of Joshua Chapter 1, Where the Lord Almighty says, Be strong and courageous for I am with you..
That is incredible news! Over and over again in Scripture from the OT to the New Testament God promises the same thing. I am with you My Spirit Remains among you DO NOT FEAR. What is there possibly to fear when the Lord of Armies is with you. You will accomplish my purposes, I am with you I will not leave you
It is entirely possible you are not feeling that way today and I get it. Maybe you are running on fear and discouragement. Maybe things aren’t turning out how you want, things are not working. Maybe you started out great and got sidetracked and lost. You thought you know it is not going to be as great as I thought.To those people listen to me-God is not done. Be strong! God is with you Do not fear He will not leave you he will not forsake you. Be Strong in your families, Be strong in your churches, God is with you. What is there to fear if God is with You.
Sometimes people whoever go there own way, and plough ahead and expect the Lord to bless their plans. God may not be with you then, you are your own. Gove careful thought to whose way you are following turn to Jesus.
Hear God’s word, He is calling you to change to follow Him tom today. Repent or turn from the way you are going, and go a new way-toward Jesus seeking after His will in your life doing what He wants first and foremost. Sincerely pray in your heart asking Jesus to forgive you and ask Him to lead you. He will fill you with the Holy Spirit, and He will be with you.
Now, Be strong, and work for the Lord.