Have you ever found yourself putting off doing something that really needs to be done?
In Haggai’s time, the temple needed rebuilding but the people kept saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord”
Haggai says… Oh Yeah, that’s not what God says.
He says you are rich and fat and lazy and you keep putting off doing His will. God says, “Come on people, the time has come.”
Don’t you hate just that? When you are convicted by God’s Word? We have a pretty good idea of how WE would like our lives to go, what OUR priorities are, how WE’D like to spend our time and resources. Most of us, certainly compared to others in the world, have a pretty easy life.
But, as a whole, we are often not as happy as we’d like to be. Our lives are not as satisfying and fulfilling as we’d hoped. And this is particularly true when we are not following God’s direction in our lives.
When we are not prioritizing what is important to God, over what is important to us.
We often think of not following God’s will when we are clearly and explicitly sinning against Him.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having our lives so crammed full of “the stuff we gotta do” that if we’re really honest with ourselves means we are putting aside the things God says we “are commanded to do”.
That’s the case with these people in Jerusalem when Haggai is suddenly called to prophesy to them.
Haggai Chapter 1 [From the NL – New Living Translation]
1 On August 29* of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the Lord gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua* son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.'”
3 Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6 You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 8 Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. 9 You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. 10 It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. 11 I have called for a drought on your fields and hills-a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.”
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!”
14 So the Lord sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the enthusiasm of Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the enthusiasm of the whole remnant of God’s people. They began rebuilding the house of their God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, 15 on September 21* of the second year of King Darius’s reign.
This is the Word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Haggai. The book of Haggai is not a long book, nor a complex message. The people were complacent and sinful, so God speaks through His messenger, God moves the hearts of the hearers through His Spirit, the people respond, God’s will is done, the people are rewarded.
It’s the heart of the Gospel message in a nutshell. In two short chapters: hear me, know who I am, know who you are, repent, respond, and be saved.
But lets step back a little bit and look who this Haggai is anyway? What did people listen? Why should they care what he has to say?
Haggai’s name means ‘festive’ or ‘festival’. We don’t know why that is, maybe it’s because he would be instrumental in bringing the festivals back to the temple or because God says in Chapter two “But from this day onward I will bless you.” And that would be a festive occasion.
But we don’t really know. Like Habakkuk, and like many of the minor prophets, we don’t know much about his background. We don’t know where he came from, we don’t know his lineage, his family — all we know is that he has come out with Zerubbabel, out of Babylon, out of the exile – we know he has been delivered with those people and now as he stands before them with his prophesy, he is an old man.
He has been in exile for the 70 years, it seems, that the children of Judah have been in exile in Babylon, and all the while God has been preparing this man for this very moment.
Haggai is not featured throughout the bible in many colorful and exciting stories. He doesn’t travel. He doesn’t part the Red Sea. He doesn’t have any famous exploits. He has but just thus one moment, in his old-age. He’s waited, and God is now ready to use Him.
The time has come.
God had a purpose for Haggai. His entire ministry lasts, according to the bible only three months, at the very tail end of his life. His whole life was being prepared for this particular time and now that time has come!
Haggai wrote in the second year of Darius who reigned after Cyrus in Persia.
The Prophet Daniel had likely died by this time, which was about a hundred years after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.
And although we see that Haggai’s time had come, the people were still persisting, “The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built”.
But if you remember when we talked a while back about Cyrus, the previous king of Persia, we know that Ezra had been given permission to rebuild the city and temple by him years before.
But for this reason and the next, they hadn’t done it yet. They’d get started, and then they’d stop. Do a little, and then stop.
The Jews had gotten this miraculous pronouncement by Cyrus not only to be released from bondage but also to return to their homeland and rebuild their Temple, yet they, after all there years still persist “The time is not come …”
Cyrus had published the pronouncement throughout all his kingdom by heralds; that is, a trumpet was blown, and the pronouncement was given verbally as well as in writing.
Everybody knew for years… but still no real action. “The time is not come …” they’d say.
Yes it has, says Haggai.
The real reason that you say the time had not come to rebuild Jehovah’s Temple is because you’ve wanted to build and furnish your own houses first.
From a purely practical and worldly point of view, that makes sense. The city is destroyed, you have permission to go back in and rebuild. You have to have some place to sleep at night while you’re rebuilding the temple, right?
But they spent all their time getting comfortable in their own houses, and didn’t do much of anything to take care of the Lord’s house.
Not even the altar had been constructed.
If nothing more, the alter could have been housed in a tent, like it had for hundreds of years, but there was not even an alter.
The Jews had a lot of problems, but they failed to associate the problems with the fact that they were not zealous enough in rebuilding the Temple.
Moses had predicted that the Israelites would be successful and would prosper in crops, in warfare, and in their personal lives if they obeyed God’s commandments. Disobedience and laziness would bring adverse circumstances.
So again, that’s it, Haggai told the people their problems were occurring because they were not rebuilding the Lord’s house.
“Consider your ways,” he said. “Do a self-examination,” Don’t you see what is wrong here? The time has come.
This time the people listen. It took only a little more than three weeks for them to respond.
It’s one of the RARE, and I repeat RARE instances in Scripture where the people obeyed a prophet immediately, and he was encouraged and he encouraged them. It was in only 23 days, that the people began to act. And God’s will be done.
Something to consider….
Do we put off what is to be done now?
Do we leave for later, what God is urging us to do?
Do we think we will have forever, or do we know that the time has come? The time is now.
“From this day forward-mark it down!- you will be blessed.” Haggai says.
The moment we repent and accept Christ and turn to serve God-at that very moment-God’s true blessing comes and rests upon us. In fact, God is so eager to bless us that he takes the initiative.
In kindness he sends his messengers, and the Holy Spirit moves us to hear the word, repent, and believe. God is eager to bless us today-not tomorrow, but today.
2 Corinthians says “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation”
And if we are God’s people, we can never be happy when God is not pleased with us, when God is not honored, when God’s house is not built, and when the presence of God is not dwelling in our midst.
God wants his people to be truly happy. Our God will never leave us nor forsake us. He did not forsake the tribes, even when they wandered. He did not forsake Israel when they were exiled; he brought his people back.
He was with them always, just as he is with us today. Jesus promised, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”
God says to each of us, “Go and build my house, that I may be pleased and honored.” So we must build God’s house! This is the one imperative in this prophecy. We must desire God and his presence in our midst. We must desire his direction, his protection, his provision, and his salvation.
Philippians 2 explains: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”-that is our obedience, that is our response, that is our work. “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Someone has said, “Going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian any more than going into a McDonalds makes a person a hamburger.”
The appearance of obedience isn’t good enough. Putting on a happy face doesn’t cut it.
To live a full Christian life we are to unite all things in His Son Jesus Christ, and experience His peace. If we’ve really put our minds the Lord’s work and rest in him we will experience peace. Can you feel that in your lives? Do you experience the true peace that comes from Christ?
From Hebrews – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The day is approaching, my friends. The time has come.
The time is now!
Time to consider our walk with Christ.
Pastor Chuck Smith stated the following about the book of Haggai and God’s call to consider our ways:
You know, it’s good, to every once in a while just stop and evaluate your life. Just examine your life. The Bible tells us, that “if we would examine ourselves we would not be judged of God.” And sometimes, when you’re going through some real problems, real financial difficulties perhaps, when you’re just not satisfied, when your heart is not at rest, sometimes it’s good just to take a look at yourself. And just check, “How is my relationship with God? How is my devotional life? How much time am I spending with God? How much of what I have, am I spending for God? What are the real interests in my life? Where’s the real priority?” And many times we will discover that in the intervening time, our priorities have got sort of messed up. We put a greater emphasis upon our own comforts, upon our own interests, and we have forsaken the things of the Lord. And a lot of times we say, “Oh, I’ll get around to my relationship with God;” and there’s still that belief and there’s still that place for God, but it isn’t the first place any longer.
The time is now. It is that important. We cannot live with Christ in the back seat.
When we convince ourselves that there is always time to build God’s house later. There is always time to bring forth the Kingdom later, we have convinced ourselves of a terrifying lie.
The time has come. To God be the Glory!
©2010 Timothy Henry