Haggai: Chapter 1
Haggai Chapter 1
The Time to Rebuild
Haggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
In 538. B.C. Cyrus issued a decree allowing the remnant of Israelites to return from the Babylonian captivity and begin rebuilding the temple (Ezra 1:1-3). Shortly after returning the foundation was laid and the altar rebuilt. However, after a year or two of progress all building was halted due to opposition (Ezra 4:24). This period of inactivity lasted between 14-16 years at which point in 520 B.C. Haggai began to prophesy and instruct them to get back to work. Finally, about 4 years later in 516 B.C. It was completed.
Haggai 1:2“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.”’
The first message from Haggai is a scathing rebuke of the nation. Imagine hearing God refer to you collectively as, “this people” and not “my people”. The remnant was claiming it was not, “God’s timing” to rebuild his temple, they were effectively making an excuse cloaked in false spirituality. As we examine ourselves, we need to be sure we are not doing the same thing. Is it possible we mask our laziness or indifference toward the plans of God by saying it wasn’t his timing? Or perhaps the Spirit just “led” us in a different direction when in reality we were just being lazy?
Haggai 1:3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Haggai 1:4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”
A Godly man will care more about Lord’s house then his own. King David’s attitude was completely different than that of the remnant. He desired to build a house for the Lord specifically because the Lord had given him a house of cedar (2 Sam 7:2). Solomon completed the temple in 7 years and his own home 6 years later (1 Kings 7:1). May we all learn to set our minds on the things above, not those of the earth (Col 3:2). For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we await our savior the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 3:20).
Haggai 1:5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!
Haggai 1:6 “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”
Several of the curses quoted here by Haggai are exact quotes from the law as consequences for disobedience. The message required them to look at the path they were currently on and see if they wanted to continue. This meant examining how God had delt with them providentially. Their own law told them they must revere the temple, (Lev 19:30) but they were only concerned with their own houses. Therefore, the curses of the law including the nation’s severe poverty were coming to pass (Deut 28:38).
Haggai 1:7 Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!
It is possible they believed Satan was behind their economic hardship when in reality it was the judgement of God. Likewise, Christians must not despise the discipline of the Lord whether it be thru afflictions or temptations. Nor should we blame Satan when we feel something negative has happened in our life. Nor should we faint as if the Lord would forsake us or assume we have exhausted the patience of the Almighty every time we sin (Heb 12:5-6). Rather let us examine ourselves daily and judge ourselves that we not be disciplined by the Lord (1 Cor 11:30-31). Let us be thankful the Lord takes time to discipline us, for If we are without discipline, we are not true sons (Heb 12:8).
Haggai 1:8 “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD. The Lord commands the people to begin working immediately on the temple. He gives simple instructions concerning the location, supplies, and ministry to be accomplished. They were to go to the mountain, bring wood, and rebuild the temple. Often what the Lord wants us to do is not particularly complex, but due to sin we just refuse to do it. The book of Haggai is practical, we all need to be exhorted that the Lord redeemed us to be a people who are zealous for good deeds, which have been prepared beforehand, and that we should not lack in diligence or fervency when attempting to accomplish anything for the Lord (Titus 2:14; Eph 2:10; Rom 12:11.) Finally, the motivation for serving the Lord must be correct. The whole purpose of building the temple is that the Lord may be glorified; as this temple points toward Jesus and will one day even be walked in by him. The temple is built on Mt. Moriah where Isaac served as a clear foreshadowing of Christ in almost being sacrificed (Gen 22).
Haggai 1:9 “You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the LORD of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.
As Solomon said nothing changes, in all dispensations God’s people often have their priorities wrong. We constantly worry about the mundane necessities of life and forget we are children of the Most High. God is separating his children from the nations; teaching them to cling to him that they might be a people for renown, praise and glory (Jer 13:11). Jesus reminds his disciples that the pagan nations may focus on mere necessities of life, but it is not befitting for a child of God (Matt 6:32). When we focus on God’s priorities instead of our own, not only are we happier and more fruitful. We also have a promise from the God who cannot lie that he will provide for our needs.
Haggai 1:10-11 Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.”
The Lord reiterates his original rebuke that the nation is experiencing hardship due to their neglect of building the temple. Haggai almost paraphrases the curses of the law as a severe warning to the nation (Deut 28:23). The people under the faithful preaching of the word of God thru Haggai the prophet, are about to undergo a genuine revival.
Haggai 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people showed reverence for the Lord.
Haggai 1:13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke by the commission of the Lord to the people saying, “ ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.”
Haggai 1:14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,
Haggai 1:15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
The Lord brought this revival to pass quickly through the gracious operation of his Spirit. From the command to rebuild until the work began on the temple was a mere 23 days. Notice the elements that spark Haggai’s revival, the word of God, the fear of the Lord, and spirit empowered obedience or repentance. We live in a time where many Christian organizations claim to be having revivals. What I would like to do now is to review several revivals recorded for us in scripture. The point of this article is not to judge a particular revival, but rather to show the common trends of the revivals in the Bible so that we might grow in discernment.
The book of Proverbs says the fear of the Lord and the teaching of the wise are both a fountain of life, that one might turn away from sin (Prov 14:27; Prov 13:14). Clearly wise men instruct people in the fear of the Lord. During the Exodus from Egypt, Moses preached the word of God to the Egyptians claiming the Lord would destroy them with hail. Those who feared the word of the Lord hid inside and were saved (Exodus 9:20). Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh claiming if they didn’t repent within 40 days God would destroy their city. The people feared the Lord, believed the word, and were saved from the wrath to come (Jonah 3:4-5). There was a great revival under righteous king Josiah (2 Kings 22-23) that began during a period of gross idolatry by simply finding the scriptures that had been forgotten in the temple (2 Kings 22:8). When the king heard the word of God he was cut to the heart and immediately repented (2 Kings 22:11). From there he realized the wrath of God had been unleashed against Israel because they had not listened to the words of God and instituted reforms (2 Kings 22:13). He began by slaughtering the false priests, ending cult worship, and tearing down the idolatrous altars (2 Kings 23:4-20). Scripture acknowledges that the revival under the righteous king Josiah was led by the spirit, in that no other king turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul like him (2 Kings 23:25). Ezra led a revival because he set his heart to study the law of the Lord, practice it, and teach it in Israel (Ezra 7:10). This led the nation to turn away from sexual immorality and intermarriage, which was forbidden. A hallmark of biblical revivals is a genuine mourning for sin, hatred of sin and a zealous pursuit of holiness and reform (Ezra 9:4; 10:1).
King Hezekiah led a revival after the previously wicked king named Ahaz, had set up idolatrous altars throughout Jerusalem. He led the people to acknowledge their sin, fear the Lord, and receive the word of God thru his prophets (2 Chron 29:25). He commanded the nation to stop doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and immediately cleanse the temple of any trace of idolatry (2 Chron 29:5). This led to genuine spirit empowered repentance and a complete restoration of temple worship (2 Chron 29:20-35). The nation acknowledged and rejoiced that God had provided this so quickly for them, which is indicative of a genuine move of the Holy spirit (2 Chron 29:36).
The final point I will focus on regarding revivals is they all led to the reinstitution of the sacrificial systems which point to Jesus Christ. Regarding the revivals under Josiah, Hezekiah, and Haggai they all culminated in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb (2 Kings 23:21; 2 Chron 30:15; Ezra 6:20). What could be a stronger gospel presentation? During the Exodus the angel of death came upon the land to kill many of the firstborn sons and would only pass over your home if you had the blood of the Lamb sprinkled upon your doorpost (Ex 12:13). Let’s review one final revival before we conclude. No discussion of revivals would be complete if it did not include a New Testament revival and what better than the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41). On this day the same ingredients of the Old Testament revivals are present. The spirit came like a mighty rushing wind, the word of God was preached, fear came upon every soul, men were cut to the heart and desired to turn back to God and 3000 souls believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God that Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us (1 Cor 5:7).
Let us now review the chapter’s interpretation and conclude with some application for the church. The remnant of Israelites brought back from captivity were struggling with indifference towards the plans of the Lord. They did not want to work on the Lord’s temple and were more interested in their own homes. The prophet Haggai warned them several times that their poor economic conditions were due to the neglect of the temple. He then commanded them to get supplies and immediately begin working. After 23 days they began reconstruction of the temple. This was due to the word of God preached, the fear of the Lord and most importantly the gracious operation of God’s spirit generating a genuine revival. The temple was then completed 4 years later.
I will conclude with a word of application for the church, which is being built into a spiritual temple of the Lord (Eph 2:21). We too have been called by the grace of God to partake in the Lord’s work of building this temple. So long as we lay no other foundation than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11).
The Lord Jesus Christ gave us simple instructions just as he did to Haggai regarding the temple. We are given a location, not to go up on a mountain but rather to go into the entire world. We are given supplies not wood, but rather the word of God, which is able to fully equip us, all prayer, and most importantly the Holy Spirit. We are told the work we must do, not to build a physical temple. Rather to preach, teach, and make disciples of all nations that they might grow into a Holy Temple in The Lord.
Finally, we must have the proper motivation that God may be glorified. We do that by abiding in Christ, for apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Trusting in his all-sufficient work on the cross and never laboring one moment for our salvation. Rather, based on what Christ has done for us we serve based on the strength he provides us that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11).
When done properly we should be like the moon that faithful witness in the sky that has no light of her own, but merely reflects the glory of the sun (Ps 89:37).