The Book of Haggai is a remarkable text and one that is applicable to us today. Haggai was a prophet and his writings consists of two simple, comprehensive chapters.
His name means "festive" or "festival." Many believe the name was given because Haggai was born on or near a festival day. Some suggest that his name is related to the celebration of the prophetic hope concerning the temple and the glory of God.
While the first suggestion is more probable, it is interesting to note that Haggai's ministry began on a new moon festival day and the book records the festivities, which will be enjoyed when Yahweh rules in the Day of the Lord.
Haggai is also the most precisely dated book of the Bible, with the dates of each sermon given to the exact day. The accuracy with which he records these dates suggests that he might have kept a journal.
HAGGAI'S PANELED HOUSE
One particular verse stood out for me today when reading Haggai.
"Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" Haggai 1:4
There is a crisis of grand proportions in the spiritual house of God today. The moral fiber of our world has eroded. Greed, idolatry, and pleasure are the gods of our day, and it is no different in the Body of Christ.
The prophet Haggai wrote about a people who had lost concern for the need to build God's house because they were so focused on their own worldly needs. It is a dangerous place to get with God. When our world begins to focus around increasing our pleasure, building bigger and better homes, and failing to make what is important to God important in our own lives, this should be a warning to us.
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," He said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers'" (Matthew 21:12-13).
I'm sorry, but this is what I think of when I see the mega-churches (the "style over substance" form of "Churchianity" that exists today) that have sprung up across our country. These mini-cities often include coffee shops and bookstores amongst other things on the premises. Why? Do we really need those things to draw people to church each Sunday? And if they're only there to make things more convenient for regular church-goers I have to ask, when did going to hear God's Word each week become "inconvenient" to Christians?
I often wonder if the millions of dollars spent on constructing such a complex and the businesses within could have been better spent on the local and surrounding communities, which I'm sure has many needy families who could put that money to better use on things like food, clothing, and shelter.
Jesus came into Jerusalem and found the businesspeople buying and selling in the temple. As far as they knew, this was an acceptable practice in their day. Their fathers did it, and now they were doing it. It was business as usual.
Jesus got angry, turned over the tables, and said that His house was a house of prayer. He found the businesspeople of the day seeing His house as a place for profit, not prayer. They had stepped into a place of complacency that was not acceptable to the Lord. When we begin to blend in with the moral condition of an ungodly world, we begin losing God's perspective on life.
It is easy to begin blending in with our culture and to accept what is being modeled by the ungodly. God called us to be salt in a world that needs much salt. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men" (Matthew 5:13).
Each of us must ask ourselves if we have lost our salt. Are we having an impact on our world? Or is our world having an impact on us? Ask God to give you a vision for how you can be salt to your world, your sphere of influence, today.
A GREATER PURPOSE FOR THE BOOK OF HAGGAI
While the above analysis is an important one for us to consider, I believe there is so much more we can glean from a study of this very short, but very important book.
The overriding message seems to be this: We can do it the easy way or the hard way, but either way, God will get His way. That's why it is important for me to have my priorities right and put obedience to God first.
How do you know if you have your priorities straight? And if you don't, What do you do about it? I think Haggai can give us some help in determining the answers to these questions.
If I was going to create a Mission Statement for the Book of Haggai I would probably write something like this: "Misplaced priorities in our lives can be diagnosed and treated."
Haggai preached 4 sermons to the people which we could outline as follows...
In a sense, you could say that Haggai is our spiritual doctor and that he gives us an understanding of our spiritual temperature or our spiritual state as it exists today. He does this by identifying our "symptoms" and then goes about "prescribing" the antidote.
WILL WE TAKE OUR MEDICINE LIKE BIG BOYS AND GIRLS?
In Haggai 1:5 he says, "Consider your ways!" What is Haggai trying to convict them of? Misplaced priorities! That was the problem. They were not putting God first. They were only concerned with their own comforts much like the world is today.
What was the result of the misplaced priorities? What were the symptoms?
Well, the first symptom was dissatisfaction (verse 6). They were experiencing very unsatisfying lives. Consider what he wrote...
You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but don't become drunk - Maybe this refers to people who try to deal with life's problems by eating too much. It doesn't work. All you do is gain too much weight. I think this is an illustration of seeking life and happiness through pleasure.
You put on clothing, but no one is warm enough - Perhaps we could change this for our culture to say, “You buy new clothes, but the styles change.” Perhaps this is indicative of seeking life through praise.
You earn money and put it in a purse with holes - I think most of us can identify with this. Do you run out of money before you run out of month? To compensate for this do you work so much that you don't have time for God or family? Seeking life through possessions.
Haggai condemned them for living in their paneled houses. We can see that they had become consumed with earthly things. The question we need to ask is - have we?
Even though this book was written 2,500 years ago, it is very applicable for today. Haggai says, "Consider your ways." We need to consider our ways. We need to evaluate our lives and see if we are guilty of these things. We need to ask ourselves, Am I dissatisfied with my life? Do I buy lotto tickets thinking that winning the lotto would solve all my problems? Do I wish for a better paying job? Do I wish I lived in a bigger and nicer house? Do I wish I had a new car? Something like a new car or house appeals to all three categories we mentioned earlier - possessions, pleasure and praise (or more specifically - prestige). It is amazing how much effort we put into these areas thinking that they will satisfy us, but they never do.
The second symptom was discipline (1:9-11). Haggai 1:9 says, "You bring it home and God blows it away." This is God’s active role in blocking our attempts to find life without Him. How might God do this to us? Cause us to have car problems or medical bills that take away our money? Why is He doing this to them? Because His temple is lying desolate. The old rules about blessing and cursing are still in effect, and since they had their priorities all wrong, God was beginning to bring down curses on them. They were trying to find happiness in things and God was not going to let them. You might compare Hosea 2:5-7.
I can identify with this. The Lord has provided for me and my family in more ways than I ever could have imagined, and He still does to this day! However, there was a time not so long ago when I had my most successful year in the Recruiting Industry. I made sure that we were very responsible with that money He gave us (tithed regularly, paid off a lot of debt, etc.), but soon I became a little complacent, lost focus, and drifted into a mode of thinking as if I was the one creating all my success and fortune - I took my eyes and reliance off of God.
He's kept me in Recruiting (which is a form of Sales) related jobs where the income is very uncertain because He wants me to learn to depend on Him. I'm sure of that. He has met all our needs and I have learned to trust Him more and more. I'm sure I'm not totally cured, but I can say that I have much more peace about finances than I did even one or two years ago.
Haggai 1:11 tells us who is the source of the national disaster. God is. Some people have a difficult time believing that God causes earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and such. This doesn't say He merely lets it happen. It says He called for it!
I think this raises an important question for us. Sometimes people are in disaster and someone may say, "This is terrible, lets bail them out." Mortgage Companies and Auto Industry anyone? Another might be a "Job's friend" type of Christian and say, "Let them suffer, they must deserve it." First we need to be aware that all disaster is not discipline from God, but sometimes it might be.
I think we need to be aware that this might be true, but we must be careful not to let that become an excuse for not helping people. We also need to ask the question of whether or not a nation's poverty and starvation is the result of being caught up in some pagan idolatry. Take Somalia for example. What is our role supposed to be? Is our role to just feed them so they can continue in their perversion? The answer is to minister to their physical needs and try to lead them back to God. This is one reason we shouldn't just contribute to organizations that just send food to starving people. Send your money to organizations which use food as a means to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need it. No, it's not a situation where you tell them they must convert or they won't eat. It's just to say that as food is being given they will also receive the Gospel message.
Again, we need to examine our lives and see if we might be experiencing God's discipline. It is sometimes difficult to tell, because not all sickness or calamity is the result of sin in our lives. It may just be the result of living in a fallen world and making poor choices, but it sometimes it is directed at us.
So far we have seen two symptoms or results of misplaced priorities: Dissatisfaction and Discipline. The things of this world do not satisfy. If we try to find happiness in them and not in God , we won't. And not only will we be dissatisfied, we will also get the discipline of God.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
We saw that Haggai rebuked them for having misplaced priorities and he pointed out the results which were dissatisfaction with the things of this world and discipline from God.
Their response was to obey God's message and resume the work on the temple. Their obedience (repentance/confession) cleared their conscience (we might say) so that they could worship God and brought the Spirit's enablement on them so they could do the work of God.
Their courage and motivation was to come from the promise of God's presence and His peace. This is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that God is in control.
Haggai also dealt with the issues of living clean and godly lives so they would not defile their work and sacrifices. He also urged them to depend on God for life.
And finally, Haggai gave them hope for the future by revealing that God was going to destroy their enemies and establish His kingdom with them, His chosen people.
Thus, the lessons we can take from Haggai and apply to our own lives today includes...
1. The work of the Lord should never be procrastinated (1:3)
2. Misplaced priorities hinder the work of God (1:4,9)
3. The goal of God’s work is His glory and pleasure. (1:8)
4. God sometimes uses natural disasters for spiritual discipline (1:6,10,11)
5. Obedience and reverence are prerequisites for spiritual blessing (1:12-14)
6. It is never too late to start obeying God (1:12-15)
7. Courage comes from knowing that God is present (2:1-4)
8. The remedy for a discouraged heart is to see the divine perspective (2:6-7)
9. Everything belongs to and is under the control of the Lord (2:7-8)
10. Holiness is not transferable (2:11-12)
11. Sin contaminates everything one does (2:13-14)
12. Disobedience brings discipline, while obedience guarantees blessing (2:15-19)
13. God is sovereign over the nations and kingdoms of this world. (2:20-22)
14. The covenants of the Lord are guaranteed to be fulfilled (2:23)
We would be wise to prayerfully consider what God is trying to say to us through the Book of Haggai because it's about our own attention to our spiritual well-being.
Don't ignore what matters most - your relationship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A Comprehensive Study On Haggai
Haggai: Minor Prophet With A Major Message
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