You can listen to the podcast for this message here.
Last week we began our journey into Haggai. It’s very clear where and when Haggai spoke and what his purpose was. The remnant of Judah spent significant time making sure their own houses were nice and comfortable while God’s house was in disrepair. No matter how hard they worked, they didn’t have what was necessary for daily life. They were hungry, tired, and thirsty all because they neglected God’s house. Haggai’s words are very clear: there are consequences for sin. It has been 7 weeks since Haggai’s first message and he begins his second sermon.
Take a gander at Haggai 2:1-9.
We often need to get passed the past. The Word goes forth through Haggai. He once again brings the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel and Joshua. Anytime you want a group of people to accomplish something, you need to get the leaders of that group onboard. It doesn’t matter if it’s the family, the people at work, a civic group, the government, or the church, if you don’t have the leader(s) of the organization on board, it will be very difficult to accomplish anything. The leaders are crucial for the participation of the group. So that’s why the Word of the Lord is directed to the leaders. But it’s not only directed at the leaders, it’s also directed at the people of Judah. Remember Haggai concluded his first sermon in 1:15. The people had the vision, they had that “aha” moment where they got it. But their excitement quickly faded at the enormity of the task in front of them. They had been working for about 7 weeks. Maybe the work wasn’t going as fast as they thought it should.
The timing of this message is important because it comes on the last day of the Feast of Sukkot when everyone takes a break to celebrate the harvest. It’s a time when everyone is in the same place; a great time to deliver a message. Haggai asks them a question in v. 3. The house they are working on is the same temple that was destroyed in 586 B. C., about 66 years earlier, and the question is, “Who is left among you?” It’s interesting that Haggai does not include himself in the question so he never saw the temple in its former glory and there are likely few people who remember it. The people that are able to remember are likely getting on in years and perhaps their memory isn’t quite as clear as they think. Us grownups always had is rougher than our kids. We use phrases like, “When I was your age . . .” We had no phone, no lights, no motor cars, it was as primitive as can be. Oh wait, that was Gilligan. Anyway, Haggai asks the rhetorical question, “This place is nothing like the old place is it?” In other words, the building and nothing are about the same thing. What started out with great excitement and zeal has turned to disappointment at the nothingness.
There was a similar feeling when the foundation was laid about 17 years earlier. Ezra 3:12-13 says, “Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.” There was no comparison. Sometimes it’s hard to get passed the past.
There is no doubt that people are discouraged and when people are discouraged, the leaders need to take action to avert potential disaster. Look at vs. 4-5. There’s that great contrast word – but. God tells Zerubbabel and Joshua to take courage. He tells the people too. They can take courage because of the all important, all encompassing, all obvious statement that God makes, “I am with you.” What else matters? That’s a reminder for us. No matter the discouragement, no matter the disappointment, no matter the circumstances, no matter what, God is with us. This is a promise of God we can never forget. 1 Chron. 28:20 says, “Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” Just like it was back in the day of the first temple, God will enable the people to finish this temple. They need to keep going. They need to keep their focus.
So what’s the future hold? Remember the economic situation of the people in v. 1:6? The people likely have this overwhelming sense of we don’t have what we need to keep this building project up. You can almost hear the people whining, “We’re hungry, we’re thirsty, we’re cold, and our purses have holes in them.” In classic God timing, He tells us what’s going to happen in vs. 6-8. God provides some tidbits we need to fully comprehend for today. God has the power to shake the nations to provide what we need to keep going, to realize who the real provider is. God says the silver is His, the gold is His, and He’ll get the nations to supply the needs of the project. Ultimately, He is the One that will provide for the need.
Haggai concludes this sermon in v. 9. The glory of this later house is going to be a lot better than the first. Maybe it’s change the people were afraid of. When we moved to our current house, I was not really in favor of it. We have everything we need here I thought. We’re comfortable here, I thought. It’ll take too much effort to move, I thought. But I had to trust Kari. That’s a weak analogy, but I’m glad we did it. The effort was worth it.
Sometimes it’s hard to get passed discouragement and we lose sight of the goal. As we embark on a new phase in the life of C4, we need to keep the goal in front of us and that is to impact the Kingdom of Christ. That’s the main goal and just like He said in Haggai’s day, He will provide. How will He do it? That’s the exciting part.