January 29, 2023

Haggai: Misplaced Priorities

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: Haggai 1:1– 2:23

Download the Haggai Bible Journal Outline

Open your Bibles, if you would, to the book of Haggai. It’s on page 791, if you're using one of the Bibles under the seats there. Hopefully, you got one of these Bible journals. We're almost through the entire Old Testament, and I've been going through preaching one book in one sermon. It's been wonderful. I’m looking forward to it. There are just a couple more books left in the Old Testament. And the more I study these, the more I think we need to do an additional series on these minor prophets. This has just been a joy to study this week. And I pray it's a blessing to you all this morning as well.

WA Criswell tells of an ambitious young man who wanted to give to the Lord. So, he promised that he was going to give a tithe of all that he had made to the Lord; he was telling this to this pastor. And so, the pastor prayed and asked that God would bless the man and enable him to give. At that time, the young man was making $40 per week, not per hour, per week. And so, he was tithing four dollars. God did bless his career, Mr. Criswell said, and in just a few short years, he was tithing $500 per week. Well, that caused some questions in the young man's mind. So, he called the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, because it was too costly now. The pastor replied, “I don't see how we can release you from your promise, but we can pray that God takes you back to $40 a week.” The young man revealed his heart, didn't he? You see, this young man had misplaced priorities. And Haggai was a prophet to a people of misplaced priorities, and this people had seen incredible works of God.

Haggai is one of three prophets who prophesied after the Babylonian captivity. Okay, so this is after the Babylonian captivity; they had begun to work on the temple around 538 BC. Remember, about 50 years before that, they had come back, and they started working on the temple. And they were given all of these things to do the work. And then, situations and circumstances changed. But picture yourself in captivity, an entire nation has taken over; they have taken you and your children, if you're still alive, to a faraway place. And you've been there in captivity for 50 years, making your lives there, your livelihood, you're just, you know, God even told them to pray for the blessing of those people and to live there as if they would never return. And then you hear this wonderful news. This wonderful news and, and I'm going to help us see the context of Haggai. Much of it is recorded in the book of Ezra. So, I'm going to read to you something that happened in the book of Ezra, because if you miss the context of this book, and Haggai is preaching, you're going to miss the significance.

So, Ezra chapter 1, the people are still in captivity, and they hear this: 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 heart of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing, quote, “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: the LORD [that is Yahweh], the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which was in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” And listen to this, “and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel--he is the God who is in Jerusalem.” The most powerful ruler in all the land, who has conquered every nation that has ever come up against him, says God has charged me to allow you to go back and rebuild the house of the Lord. So, the people did. And they traveled 600 plus miles across the desert, with a gigantic hoard of gold and silver and all kinds of things, vessels for use in the temple. And it was just like this Christmas that never ended, if they could just get there. And so, they get there, and they start to work. And they start to do the work of the Lord. In fact, for 16 years, they started to rebuild the temple. Now, this is just like me saying, all of us are going to go and build a four-story steel and glass building, and we're starting tomorrow. Okay. So, those of you who are skilled in that kind of thing, God bless you, the rest of us, right. That's what the Israelites were doing. They weren't skilled in all these things, but that's what they had set their heart and mind to, because God commanded them to do that.

Then opposition arises. Ezra chapter four, verses four and five: Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build, and they bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. Remember that; all the way until the reign of Darius, king of Persia. The new neighbors did not like these Israelites back in their homeland, rebuilding the walls, rebuilding the temple, right, Nehemiah had rebuilt the walls. This wave of people is coming. And they are starting to lay the foundations of the temple, which means they are going to start to grow and thrive as a people. And the nasty neighbors didn't like it. In fact, they wrote letters to the king after king Cyrus. We pick up that in Ezra chapter four, verse 23: Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Okay, so you've traveled all this way, you finally get to come back to the land, and you're rebuilding the temple, which means you get to reinstate worship the way God has described all the way since the time of Moses and the Levitical laws were given. And now, now, a king is telling you to stop. And if you disobey this king, he will send an army to wipe you out completely. This is discouraging to them. They were not soldiers. When they got conquered, the soldiers died. What they would do is they would kill all the warriors of the land, and they would leave the feeble, and the poor and the old. And that would be the people that they would take. And they would take some of their young guys with them as well and deport you. And so, you have no force, no strength to restart. So now they come back to this land in Jerusalem, and they've restarted, and they have all the things that they need. And now another king is telling them no, you have to stop, and we're going to force you to stop. You can read in detail about how all that transpired in the first six chapters of Ezra. So, we can see that they had good reason to stop the work. And it was mind boggling. mind boggling to them. But yet they stopped for 16 years. There was no work going on for 16 years. That's where we pick up in the book of Haggai.

Haggai gets a word from God. Look in Haggai chapter one, verse one. Let me read to you the first 11 verses. See if their misplaced priorities resonate. And the year, in the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: verse two, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” That's quite an amazing statement given the context, is it not? In verse three, Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai, the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways. You have sown much and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough, you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Verse seven, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

Whoa. Did you not see the command from the guy with the big army? Right? Did you not see that? You see, their priorities were out of place. They were listening to the wrong king. Did they have reason to fear? Absolutely. Did they have reason to stop? Yes, definitely. Should they have stopped? Absolutely not. Why? God said build. When studying God's Word, you want to look for key phrases. You want to look for certain loaded phrases that are common in the scripture to help you understand how to study the Bible. Haggai is loaded with these phrases. It is absolutely loaded, and I want to point out some of these to you, so that you can understand the force that is coming with this, this first of four messages from Haggai.

One such phrase like that is “Thus says the Lord “, that is Yahweh, capital LORD, “Thus says Yahweh.” Do you see that in verse two, chapter one? It says thus says the Lord of what? Of hosts. God's got an army too, right? That verse or that song, God's got angel armies, right, comes from these types of passages. God's got an army of angels. Do you remember what one death angel did to the army of Sennacherib? Wiped them out. God’s got a whole army of these things, right, of these these creatures, these these beings, these beautiful beings, these powerful beings. “Thus says the Lord of hosts”. That's like saying, Pay your taxes, according to the guy with the most powerful military in all the world. You are afraid of an army of men? I speak to you as Lord of the hosts. That phrase is repeated in verses five and seven. He did not want them to forget that. The people needed to know who was speaking; it wasn't just Haggai. It was God speaking through this prophet to them, and they needed to know who he was, because that determines if we're going to act, right? Whoever has the most authority is the one that we obey the most. At least that's what parents think.

Another phrase to look for is this, “the word of the LORD”, the word of the LORD. And in Haggai, the word of the LORD is used to show us where the four messages start. Okay? There are four messages in the book of Haggai. And if you look for “the word of the Lord”, you will see where these start. It's in 1:3, 2:1, 2:10 and 2:20. The word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, and then he tells us what that word was. Those are four separate messages. God wanted the people to know that Haggai spoke for God Almighty. But what is he saying? That's, that's where it gets a little convicting. Verse four, chapter one, verse four, “Is it a time for you to dwell in Your paneled houses, while my house lies in ruins? Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways”. Ouch. Again, did you not hear what the guy with the big army and all the swords said? That's why we stopped, and they came by force and made us stop. Have you ever in your life been told to stop worshipping? Have we forgotten? COVID? You have been forced to not only stop, but also to change how you worship. You see, this is not a new theme here. And the command from God is, build. Build. And he says, Consider your ways. You live in wealthy houses, but no one's working on my house. It's okay to make your house look nicer, friends. It's okay, the paints peeling off; fix it, right? Take care of what God has given you. Be a good steward. Cut that grass. Don't turn your, you know, your yard into a farm and start making hay bales, right? Cut that grass; trim those weeds. Pull those weeds, right? Plant the flowers. I just this week, I noticed some of the tulips planted by our driveway are starting to poke up already. They think it's spring, like “No, no, not yet”. Right? We take care of what God has given us.

That's not the point. The point is they were only taking care of themselves. What did they come across the desert with? Like wagon fulls of gold, tons of gold. Where'd all that gold go? Where'd all the treasuries that came with us? Where'd they go? Verse five, Consider your ways. Verse seven, Consider your ways. That's an imperative. It's a command. It's not a suggestion. What were they to do? Verse eight, Go up to the hills, and bring wood and build that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified. When you all live in really nice houses, you are glorified. But notice, he doesn't call it the temple of the Lord. He does in chapter two twice, but most of the time, 10 times in these short two chapters, the temple is called God's house. Why is that? To show the comparison. We live in houses, and God dwells in their midst in this temple, in this house, in God's house.

They are to build. Shouldn't we, shouldn't we wait for permission from the king of Babylon? That would be a good idea. He's the guy that said, you know, Stop. Build. Shouldn't we consider that we don't yet have an army to protect us? Build. Who we value in life determines who we listen to, friends. We saw that as a nation. We continue to see that as a nation. Who we value in life determines who we listen to. The drought that came on them, came because of their misplaced priorities. They were prioritizing their own lifestyles above God. Verse nine, you looked for much and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, what, what does it say? What does the text say? I blew it away. Did you ever think God might come against you in that way, that when your business is frustrated, God might be the one doing that. That when you place such a high priority on something that isn't where God wants you to place that priority, that God is the one who brings the trouble in your life, that God is the one who calls for the drought, that God is the one who refrains from blessing in those ways. It is within his character, it is within his nature, to do so. We love when scripture talks about God sending the rain on the just and the unjust and, and he is. We love that God is so loving and kind that He sent Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world, that all who turned and believed would be saved. We love that. And we love that part of salvation. But do we also know that God is so jealous over his glory, that if we give his glory to ourselves, that we're actually going to be found fighting against God?

Some Christians today do not listen to the LORD of hosts. They do not listen to the word of the LORD. They do not consider their ways. They do not give to God what is costly, but the leftovers. They are not generous givers; they're joyful penny pinchers. Notice the people had all the opportunity in the world to live well. But it was God himself who was frustrating their budget.

Friends, it is so much better to give to God than to spend it on ourselves. We go out to eat. We have nice vacations and nice cars and do elaborate things for ourselves. But the word here, the principle that we need to consider, and this was written specifically to him, but the principle for us is, Consider your ways. So, after 15 years, 16 years of not considering their ways, how did they respond to Haggai? Did they look for a cliff to chuck them off the cliff? Did they think he should have been swallowed like Jonah in the ocean? Look in verse 12, these people had tender hearts. They had tender hearts for God. 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 fear the LORD. Notice they had feared earthly kings now they fear the King of kings. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD's message. “I am with you declares the Lord”. I am with you. And 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, on the 24th day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king. They did it! Their hearts were turning back to God. They listened to the Word of God, and they obeyed.

This is just what God wants when he brings us a message that hits us right where we're at. That he's not saying, Hey, look, I'm changing all the circumstances, obey. He's saying, Look at me. I am enough. Obey me. And in their hearts, they feared the Lord now. You can see that in verse 12. And verse 13, you can see the compassion of God on them. I am with you. Don't you want to know that God is with you? Then God Himself stirred up their hearts. He stirred up their governor. That's possible. Right? He stirred up their governor. He stirred up their high priests. Both were not doing what they had been supposed to be doing. He stirred up the government for them; he stirred up the religious leaders, in those days it was combined. And he stirred up the hearts of all the people. Sometimes we think God can't do that. Sometimes we think he can change anybody, but not that person. I've known them a long time. That person is dead in their sins. They are not turning to God no matter what. Right? Sometimes when we wake up in the morning, we see that person in the mirror. And it just seems difficult. Right? And it's, it's kind of funny, it's kind of scary. But we know that's us. Like, I'm just, I don't know how to get my heart going in the right place. God says, Look at me. Am I enough? Am I enough for you? Is my love enough for you? Is my plan enough for you? And then God is the one who stirred their hearts, but that was before they feared the LORD, or after? After they feared the LORD. See, they had a recognition of the truth; they were absorbing the truth. They heard the truth, absorbed it, it changed them. And then God did an additional work in their lives. How long did it take them after they changed? And they said, Okay, God, we're all in. We're going to start working. How long did it take them to actually get to work? Well, all those little dates in this chapter, starting from verse one, you compare verse one with verse 15. You'll see it took about 23 days for them to start the work. 15 years of stagnation, heart change. 23 days later, the entire nation is mobilized to serve God. That is a work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of his people. That is an amazing work of God. They overhauled their lives.

You can't just keep your schedule the way it always has been. They overhauled their schedules. They overhauled their priorities. They had to set aside these crops that weren't enough for them. And these moneybags with holes, they had to set aside the idea that we need to work more to make more money, because now they're working more on God's temple. So, he continues to encourage them. At this time, their nasty neighbors did not like them starting on the work. And you can see that in Ezra chapter six, I'll just summarize it for you: But they again sent letters. This time Darius is the man, and so they sent letters to Darius the king. And they say, Hey, these wicked people, they're starting again. They're going to rebel. Just look and see and please tell them to stop, right? It worked the last time. So, they're doing it again, and they think they're gonna be getting a letter that says, Yeah, everybody stop, but that's not what happened. In Ezra chapter six, Darius writes, keep away from them. Let the Jews rebuild this house of God. In addition, he says, whatever is needed, you give it to them. If you look in Ezra chapter six, it says the province Beyond the River is the one that supplied all of the needs, and the wealth and the supplies, the things for sacrifices, bowls, rams, sheep, everything they needed.

Guess who had to give it to them? Their enemies. That's who had to give it to them. And whatever you need out of the royal revenue, he says, I will give. And then he says this at the end in verse 12, Ezra 6:12, he says this, oh, and if anybody changes this edict, in other words, if you don't do this, I will take a beam out of your house and impale you on it, and make your house a dunghill. Merry Christmas, right? Wow! Same course of events. But now we've got a whole nation with a changed heart. Before the circumstances change. They were ready. They feared God, they were ready to do God's work before the letter comes back from King Darius. Before that time, right, you've got to step in the water to see it part. You can't just go oh, I think I'll stay way back here, and make it happen, Lord, not happening. Somebody else try, still not happening, right, no. Get in the water. Show people you have faith. Show people that you love me, that you will serve me, that you will obey me, even though the circumstances don't change, then I will bless you. And they didn't know that this letter was on the way. I mean, that's such a blessing from God. Because the next time trouble comes, you know, well, we trusted him last time, before anything changed, and look what happened. He took care of us. But if God blesses you, if God takes away all of your circumstances, before you're willing to be joyful in the Lord, that's just like everybody else. God flew open the floodgates and changed all their circumstances too. And they shouldn't have been surprised.

Grace Bible Church, let me speak to you directly for a moment. I have no idea what the future holds, obviously, except what's written in God's word. But the last time we considered a passage like this, do you know where we were meeting for church? We were meeting in a little community center a 40 x 40 noisy box, that if anybody made a single noise, it was like, you know, resounding echo. It was tough to worship in there. It was, right? Right, Robin? Yeah, it was tough to worship in there. It was. But we knew we were under a bushel. We were like, kind of hidden away. I remember one of my kids even asked one of their friends if they were going to come over and visit our church. And they were like, oh, where's your church? And she said, Well, it's right across the street from your house. They didn't even know it was across the street. We could not stay like that. No matter what the circumstances were, we could not stay hidden under a bushel. And when we decided to move forward, when we decided and considered, I’d preached Nehemiah earlier that year, right, rebuild the walls. When we had considered what God was asking us to do, it looked overwhelming. We had way less people, way less resources. And the only space available was the one you were sitting in, that that you're sitting in now, that was anywhere close to what we could afford, but it would take well over $100,000 just to get it into any kind of shape that we could use. If we use that money to build out the place, how are we going to pay for rent which was quadruple what we were paying over there? God: don't put my word where no one can hear it. Don't take my word and shove it under the couch. So, we rented this place. You guys painted the walls; you tore the ceiling down. There used to be a really nice old office ceiling about right here. You tore all that out; we had people come in and put carpet in and build the stage and all kinds of stuff. And look what God has done. Why? Because we want to worship Him. We want people to know Him. Nine weeks after we got in here, COVID hit. And every single church in a government facility was kicked out that week, but not us. Praise God for his work. And then we were out for nine weeks doing the live stream thing. And we came back and we're never leaving. Unless there's a real plague.

Listen, we have four and a half years remaining on this building lease. Could we not consider our ways? I love that we have a building; we have a wonderful tenant next door, a daycare that is just so kind to us. We have a massive parking lot. And all of this here in the back where, what, nobody can see us. But God provides; you all found it, right? You're here, nice work. But we want everyone to know that we're here. And it takes work in Loudoun County to make this happen. I read a book called Church Planning Is for Wimps. You can look it up. Part of the history of Grace Bible Church is in that book, okay? And it basically says, don't even think about buying land and building a church in Loudoun County as a church plant. Why? Because land on the cheap is about $100,000 an acre and $300,000 an acre if you buy commercial land. Yeah, that's a lot of gold bars, right? Yeah, I don't have any gold bars. Well, this might do a little but, I don't have any gold bars that we could use. I'm guessing you don't either. But what should we do now? Should we consider our way, should we consider is this where God wants us to stay? Maybe he wants us to stay here for the next 30 years, fine. But maybe he's going to provide a place for us where we can buy land, where we can build, I don't know. But I'm certainly not going to count it out. That's not how God works.

I want to see our church and let me just go on for another minute. I want to see our church continue to put a stake in the ground, to make this a lighthouse for the whole county to know God. For the whole county to hear the Word of God proclaimed and preach, not glossed over. Not just a ton of jokes, and then all kinds of things to get you, wow, that was really fun; I have no idea what God's word said, but that was really fun. That's what's happening in a lot of churches. We want the gospel-preaching churches to rise up. We're not the only one, but we are one. We want to train godly men to lead this church. Men, if you want to be trained, I've got more training than you can handle in the next five years. Bring it. We want growth and nourishment for women. We want the women to be the best teachers of other women and anywhere that we can find. We want them to nourish one another, to challenge one another to bring God's word to bear on their lives. We want the children to hear the gospel clearly every single week; we want to have the best children's teachers anywhere. Why? Because their hearts and lives are that important. God's word means that much to us. May we not consider our ways? That was the first of four messages of Haggai. Doing the work is not enough. They just started the race.

They were just now starting what God had called them to do in Haggai as chapter two unfolds, and this is the second message that he brings to them. Let me read to you the first nine verses. This is three weeks later, just three weeks later after they started to build. In the seventh month on the 21st day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house and its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now, verse four, yet 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. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: once, yet once more, in a little while, now listen to this, I'm going to shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place, I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.’”

They were discouraged because the temple they were building wasn't anything compared to the last one. Just three weeks in, it was a hot start, right? They had, they ran out of the gate way too fast, right? They're sprinting on lap one, and they got three more laps to go, right? It's just, Lord, look at this place. And then Ezra, it says that the men wept, some for joy and some because it wasn't all that glorious. I mean, Solomon built the floors out of gold and then covered it with stuff. You couldn't even see the gold under the floors. That the cherubims wings were like 16 feet, one to the other, touching in the middle. It was just like the wealth was overflowing. The temple was amazing. And now you've got people who have no idea how to build. Those are the ones building. Right? It wasn't amounting to what they thought should be very impressive. So, what does God do? I want to just tell you a couple of the things that he does, then you're going to have to look at some of this later on your own. But basically, he says, be strong, I am with you. Once you start the work, that's not the time to look away from Christ. That's the time to focus on Jesus. Here he says, focus on God, focus on me, declares the LORD. I am the LORD of hosts.

And then he gives this incredible picture that is quoted in Hebrews 12. He gives this incredible picture where the earth is going to be shaken. The land is going to be shaken, the seas are going to be shaken and the heavens. Now we've seen earthquakes. We've seen tsunamis. We've seen these things. We have not seen the heavens shaken. The sky, what is above the celestial realm. We haven't seen these things. I think what he's doing is he's saying, in the future, there is going to be a time where I am going to put all things on the whole globe, I am going to set them all in order. I know you're just working on this one little plot of ground, but I'm going to take care of everything in the future. Be strong, and it takes a strong God to do that. It takes an amazing God to do that. In chapter two, verse nine, he says, in this place, I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts. They should be grateful that a day is coming. When God is going to set everything in order, and there will be peace that will rain on the whole earth. That has not happened yet. That has not happened yet. All they have done and they finish the temple; they haven't seen God do all these things yet. So that is future, the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land have not been shaken and restored, that is in the future. All nations have not given to this temple of God, the gold and the silver and the wealth have not poured in. That is yet future. But what is for sure, which is the point of Hebrews 12, is that we should be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

We have received something so valuable, so wonderful and so amazing that it should cause us to worship God, even as we sweat, even as we pour in, even as we do all that we can do. And we sometimes think, oh, I wish that was better. That's how I feel about every Sunday, right about noon, after I'm done preaching. I think, oh, I should have said that different and done that. You have conversations during the week, like, oh, I wish I wouldn't have said that. I told that person I’d call him; I wish I wouldn't have done that. And we keep pouring ourselves in, and we see our feeble efforts. And He's saying, look, you've received a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Rejoice. I will fill this house with glory. And it will be greater than before. Be strong, O Zerubbabel. Be strong, O, Joshua. Be strong, O people, and work, for I am with you, declares the LORD. Dear Christian, I do not know what lies in your way, but God can see past it. There is nothing, nothing that stands in His way. Be strong. That was message number two.

Message number three. I love that we get to preach like four little mini messages. Three months later, where do you think you're going to find them three months later? I'm going to read this to you because it's kind of cool that we get to read an entire book of the Bible during a sermon. But Haggai chapter two verse 10, this is the third message. On the 24th day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Ask the priests about the law. ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine, or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered and said, “No.” Verse 13, then Haggai said, “if someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” And the priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So it is with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.” Okay, now look up here for just a second. You’re working, He's saying, be strong, be encouraged. And guess what? You're unclean, and you're doing it wrong. Right? Praise God. So, when you start the race, God's not done with you. Just because you put your shoes on doesn't mean you're running well. Right? He's adjusting things here. He continues to get us in order. John 17:17, sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth. That's the last prayer Jesus ever gave before the cross. He wants to continue to work on you. Christian, listen, God is going to continue to work on you. You are not finished. It doesn't matter how many sermons you've heard. It doesn't matter how much you've read. There's a long distance between us and God, and He's going to keep moving us forward.

Verse 15, Haggai chapter two, now then, and listen, this is such a shepherding moment from God. Consider from this day onward. Right? So, he brought up the things they needed to change. “Consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the LORD, how did you fare? When one came to a heap of 20 measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw 50 measures, there were but 20. I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, and yet you did not turn to me, declares the LORD.” Does this sound like a pep talk yet; it's coming. Verse 18, “consider from this day onward”, same thing he said in verse 15. Look ahead, in other words; remember the past, but focus on what's coming. “From the 24th day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the LORD's temple was laid, consider,” third time, “is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.” The trees are barren. But I will bless you. I'm the one who made the trees barren. And I'm the one who made the situation the way it was. And I'm the one who can restore it, so that it will all become a blessing to you. God can take whatever is going on in your life, because he is indeed sovereign and in control of all things, and work it into a blessing. That's his job. Our job is to follow Him the way he's asked us to gather, to worship, to praise, to pray to Him, to pray for others, to pray that God would help our hearts to be moved, to pray that we would not be complacent, to pray that we would not stop the work or to think that God is done with us yet. If you're alive and breathing, God is not done with you yet. God has much work to do in your life. And he wants to bring glory to himself through you. And God is capable of doing that. So, He gently course corrects them in message number three, and says, I'm going to bless you. Build, be strong, I'm going to bless you.

And now this fourth message. It's a nice precedent for preaching twice in one day. This is later in the same day. Haggai 2:20. This is just to Zerubbabel, the leader. This is the last message. The word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the 24th day of the month, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms.” Remember, that's pointing to something that's coming. “I'm about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders.” Indeed, God did protect them for the next 400 years, actually, for the next 516 years, until Jesus arrives, “their horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. On that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts.” And this was just to Zerubbabel. Don't walk out here and say, I'm the chosen one. Okay? Don't do that. You're not the chosen one. I'm not the chosen one. Zerubbabel is the chosen one. So, let's keep those biblical principles intact. Do you know what Zerubbabel became? An ancestor of Jesus Christ. Like, what greater gift is there than that? You can read about him in Matthew chapter one, verse 13. He's listed there in the ancestry of Christ.

But as people with an unfinished story, we want to know, did they ever finish the temple? Ezra chapter six, verses 14-16 answers that question for us. Four years later, four years. Just saying we got four and a half years left on our lease, four years later. And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.

I don't know what God is asking you to do today specifically, but he wants you to be strong. He wants you to look to Him. And He wants us to have the right priorities, to not be complacent, to build when He says build and, no, this isn't a go build the church Sunday, to build when He says build, to work when He says work, to learn when He says learn, to study to study hard to see what God will do.

What is God asking us to do collectively? We shall see. We know, though, that God is for us, and who can be against us? And we know that He who did not spare His Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32) For I'm sure, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Let's pray. Lord God, you are worthy of our praise. We are a feeble people at times. We pray that you would fill us with courage. We pray that you would make us strong. We pray that for those who do not know you, that they would turn from their sin to the living God. That they would receive this gift of salvation by faith, that they would cry out to God and be saved. We pray Lord, for those who know you, that you would bind up their wounds, that you would take care of them. That you would help them, Lord God, to focus on you above all things, that we would not wait for circumstances to get in order to serve you, but that we would be all-in today. Now. Dear friends, let us pray for a moment and ask God for the courage to follow him today. What a joy it is to serve You, oh Lord. We praise you for your love and your plan and your care. Amen.