MAJORING IN THE MINORS: HAGGAI
August 15-17, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Haggai 1:1-8; 2:4-5, 19b
“HAGGAI: BUILD GOD’S HOUSE!”
1. Give careful thought to your ways!
2. The LORD is with you!
Build God’s House! Is there anything hard to understand about that command? Build God’s House. But at the time of the prophet Haggai God’s Old Testament people didn’t do it. Why not? Here’s the background. In 538 BC God fulfilled His promise to bring back His people exiled in Babylon to their homeland, to Jerusalem. They were that generation’s people of God. They had a privileged purpose. They were to exist to bring the Savior into the world. For that to happen God wanted His house built, the Temple. That’s where God used the Old Testament worship life to keep people focused on their need for a Savior. It was a sign for all people. Sin makes people unclean, separates them from God. Sacrifices were made for sin. It has to be paid for. An intercessor needed. Atonement provided through a substitute. The Temple was necessary. Since it had been destroyed God gave the command. “Build God’s house.” The people came back to Jerusalem in 538 BC. Temple rebuilding began in 536 BC. There was joy and happiness. The work began with a capital campaign. The people brought generous thankofferings for materials and work began. But then it stopped. Samaritans, people who had been brought in from other countries pressured them. They tried to use government interference to stop the work. But when that passed work didn’t resume. It wasn’t the Samaritans who were the problem. It was sin. God’s people’s sin. They were putting themselves ahead of God.
Through Haggai God addressed His people. Haggai 1:1-8 (NIV 1984) “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 Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' " 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 have 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 the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD.”
What were you thinking? There comes a time in every parent’s life when you ask your kids that question. When you realize the boy has been quiet way too long in his room and you walk in to see the beautiful crayon art all over the newly painted wall. When the soaked cat comes sprinting at Mach 5 through the house escaping from the well intentioned whirlpool bath in the toilet. What were you thinking?” Give careful thought to your ways,” is how God the Father put the question to His Old Testament children. What were you thinking putting me last? You notice God did not chide them for having their own houses to live in or having food and drink. It was for failing to put God first. That’s the first Commandment! You can see how it happened. They started the work on the Temple. But then there was a rain day. Might as well work at home. I’ll go back when I get this project done. OK, one more thing to do then we’ll get around to God. What were you thinking? Haven’t you seen that putting other things ahead of God leads to loss of blessings? Despite all their hard work there were fewer crops, not enough food, never enough money. Give careful thought to your ways. There are a lot of things God puts up with in His people but second place is not one of them. Build God’s house. Now!
Brothers and sisters, we are the people of God today. We have also been chosen by Him and have a privileged purpose. It’s not to build a Temple for worship. We can worship God in a church building, a house, under a tent, anywhere. Actually we are each a living and moving Temple of God. Together we are the Church and our purpose is to draw people to Jesus until He comes again. We are salt and light. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness is the New Testament equivalent of Build God’s House. Seek first. It’s necessary every once in a while to ask ourselves, “Are we fulfilling our privileged purpose? Are we being what God made us to be, salt and light? Are we seeking first?” God Himself has placed us in this physically blessed country. He doesn’t say to us, “You can’t have a nice house or car or go out to eat occasionally.” He doesn’t say, “You can’t work a job, maintain that home, relax, golf, fish, hunt, shop, watch or play sports.” He says, “Seek first.” It’s priorities. Build God’s house in your home. Is time deliberately set aside each day for word and prayer? Is worship the last piece of the puzzle to fit into your calendar or what you try to work everything else around. Give careful thought to your ways is a message we need to hear. Think. Are you always pursuing happiness but never finding it? Family constantly in turmoil? Do you think to yourself, “You know once the kids are out of school, then I’ll give to God in a way that honors him, or once I’m out of school, or once I get my retirement set up.” Give careful thought to your ways. Are you living with a purse with holes in it, making lots but never enough? Do you think Old Testament believers in heaven ask “What part of seek first don’t they understand?”
But…Now I’ve never known a child of God including myself to fudge a little on what God says without having what to our mind, my mind is a “reasonable” excuse. God I want to put you first but if I do my kids might not be as successful, or I won’t have enough to pay the bills or I won’t get enough sleep. The real reason behind so many of our reasons is fear. Fear we will miss out or have less or things won’t work out.
God’s Old Testament people faced similar fears. To enable them to build God’s House he gave this encouragement. Haggai 2:4-5 (NIV 1984) “But 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, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the LORD Almighty. 5 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'”
There is a simple Bible truth. Whatever God asks you to do, He will give you what you need to do it. To overcome their fears God gave his people his presence. He would be with them from government leader to church leader to people He would be with them. They could fulfill their privileged purpose and build God’s house first, they could honor God and He would make sure they had enough food, drink, money, protection. The same is true for us. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness goes on. “And all these things will be added to you as well.” “Go and make disciples” is followed by “Surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age.” For whatever fear is holding you back or me back from building God’s house by seeking his kingdom first God has an answer. He will bless your time management so you can read His word, pray and get your work done. He will bless your children so they can be happy even if they are not involved in every activity offered in the Milwaukee area. He will bless your budgeting and control your unexpected expenses. For those times when we feel our past failures as a Christian mom or dad, husband or wife or worker will make it impossible for us to be salt and light or lead to Christ He gives freely His forgiveness and declares you and me to be as white as snow.
Build God’s House. It’s a simple command. When Haggai first spoke to the people it wasn’t being done. But there was repentance. God’s house got built. At the moment of their repentance in mercy God told them Haggai 2:19b (NIV 1984) “From this day on I will bless you.” Centuries later Christ came as promised. God doesn’t demand that Temple anymore. He wants us, you and me, living Temples working together and apart to build the church. While our country is physically blest it is becoming more and more spiritually bankrupt. The people of America need us to be what we are believers in Jesus who draw others to Him by deliberately and obviously building God’s house, seeking first. Now maybe you have for the most part been seeking first and building God’s house. Maybe you realize you haven’t been. Listen. It’s never too late in life to start doing the right things. It’s never too soon to stop doing the wrong. God forgives. He sees repentant hearts and says, “From this day on I will bless you.” Let’s Build God’s House! Amen.