Lessons from Haggai
I. Writer – Haggai. ‘Festal’ – he may have been born on an important feast day.
II. Date. The date of this book is accurately fixed in the 520 B.C.
The four messages were presented during a four month period in this year.
III. Recipients. The Jews that returned from the captivity according to the decree of Cyrus. They followed Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem –
Ezra 1:1-3 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
IV. Purpose. The Jews began the reconstruction soon after their arrival in Jerusalem, building the altar and restoring the sacrifices and offerings.
Not long afterward, the Samaritans began to oppose the work –
Ezra 4:1-5 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellers against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
– and the zeal for the work declined. The people turned to building their own houses. Construction on the Temple stopped for 16 years. Consider this – a partially built Temple was a worse testimony than no temple at all. While the Israelites were captive in Babylon, everyone understood that they could not rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. Upon their return to Jerusalem, especially with the intention and finances to rebuild the Temple, their failure to complete the work was a bad testimony to the authority and power of God. They brought shame unto the name of God. Finally, the messages of Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people to remember their purpose and continue in the work.
Haggai lived among the people and may have been disappointed in himself and the people for their failure to accomplish their purpose – to rebuild the House of God. The Lord often uses those who have a burden to do the will of God and are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
We begin with –
I. Message One 1:1-12 First day of the sixth month
A. Reproof. 1:1-11
Refer to the ministry as recorded by Ezra –
Ezra 5:1-2 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.
Ezra 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
1. Accountability 1:1,2 The Leadership is held responsible, but the people are not excused. We answer for ourselves! –
2. Accusation 1:3,4 The people had time to build nice houses and settle in.
3. Assess their lives. 5-11 They were to examine their situation and should remember the words of Solomon –
2 Chronicles 7:12-14 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
B. Repentance and resumption of the work. 1:12-15
1. Repented at His Word 1:12
2. Received encouragement of the Lord. 1:13
3. Resumed working . 1:14,15
II. Message Two 2:1-9 Twenty first day of the seventh month
God does not judge His work based on man’s expectations. They were not to be disappointed in their service unto the Lord because the Temple did not seem that it would be as magnificent as that built by Solomon. The house itself becomes secondary when our eyes are focused upon the Occupant –
Haggai 2:7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
Their present disappointment would be swallowed up by the future glory of God in His Temple.
III. Message Three 2:10-19 Twenty fourth of the ninth month
God desires a holy people as well as a holy temple. Haggai preached to the people. He –
A. Reminded them of the results of their disobedience. 2:10-17
B. Revealed to them His future blessing. 2:18,19
Even thought their circumstances remained the same as in the previous years when they had very little harvest, God would bless them with an abundance. They would have to trust Him as they could not see the evidence.
Haggai would have to have great confidence in the Lord and His Word to preach this message which would be able to be verified in the coming months. The preaching was in faith and the proof was coming!
IV. Message Four 2:20-23 Twenty fourth day of the ninth month
Haggai provoked Zerubbabel to finish the work the Lord had for him (Zerubbabel, my servant). God is in control, revealing both His will for the present and the future (the second coming and the establishment of His Kingdom)
Haggai proved to be the man for the time. He was faithful to God and presented the message in faith, trusting that God would be faithful unto Himself, as He always is.
We should learn from Haggai that we should never fear to present the Word of God. The world will mock the truth. Believers may doubt the truth. Preach it anyway. We should listen to the command given to Pastor Timothy –
2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
As we consider lessons that we can learn from Haggai, we ask the following questions –
Do we seek holiness?
Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness?
Are we broken hearted over the condition of our testimony for the Lord (ourselves and others)?
Have we died to self, not being concerned about what the self-righteous will say?
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.