This morning we are going to study the Old Testament prophet... Haggai. I don’t think I have ever preached Haggai before; certainly, not a whole sermon on it. It is unlikely I will ever preach Haggai again; maybe, but I doubt it. I suspect you may never hear another sermon on Haggai; perhaps, but unlikely. So, if this is a once in a life-time sermon...
We need to remember it. To help us in remembering the message of Haggai... I have created a mnemonic device. “What? Is that an air-pressure tool?” No, this is spelled with an “m”. Mnemonic is something to help you remember.
I am going to take the name “Haggai” and mnemonically connect it to the story. Each letter in “Haggai” will help us remember the message.
Here is your once in a lifetime sermon on Haggai complete with a mnemonic device.
Haggai is for House
Haggai 1:1-5 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, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest: "Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD." 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, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.”
If you have read The Story assignment for this week, you know what is going on.
--The Jews, who have been in captivity for 70 years. Then Cyrus the King of the Persians released them in 537 BC to return to Jerusalem.
--When the first wave of returnees got back to Jerusalem, they built an altar and worshipped God. That was good.
--Then, they built the foundation of a new House of God... the temple. That was good.
--But, then they got distracted and for 20 years they did not turn another lick on the Temple.
--So, it was Haggai’s job, as prophet, to get them to finish the House.
For twenty years the returnees had built their own houses, planted their own crops, took care of themselves, but had not taken care of their God’s house. This was not good. Good wanted a visible reminder of his love; a visible reminder of his desire to live with his people. Wow, God wanted them everyday to see his House, so they would know his love!
The message of Haggai is finish the House.
H is for...House. Let’s check out the “A”.
HAggai is for All.
Haggai 1:7-11 "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."
YHWH of hosts told them to consider what they were doing. They were working hard for themselves, but not making much. All their labors weren’t working very well. God is the source of all blessings. Those blessings were being withheld because they had neglected their God’s house.
God wants to bless His people. God is an optimist, He wants to bless all their labors. But YHWH wants them to remember that all blessings are from him. Wow, God wants to bless... but he wants them to know where the blessings come from!
H is House – finish the house
A is All God wants to bless all their labors... so finish the house.
HaGgai is for Governor
Haggai 1:12-15 Then Zerubbabel and Joshua, 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 feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD's message, "I am with you, declares the LORD." And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, 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...
YWHW stirred up the spirit within the Governor... and the High priest... and then the people and they obeyed the voice of the LORD! This is amazing.
--Haggai speaks the word.
--The Governors are inspired.
--The remnant of the people get the spirit.
--The work gets done!
--God’s house is finished
--“I am with you!”
Once the leaders of the community became inspired to build the LORD’s house... the job got done!
H is finish the House.
A is all their labors were pointless until they built the house
G is the governor got with it and fired up the people to rebuild the house
God is anxious to dwell with them!
Next, the second G
HagGai is for Glory
Haggai 2:1-9 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Speak now to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 'Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, 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: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And 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, and 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.'"
--Moses build a Tabernacle, so God could dwell with his people.
--Solomon built a spectacular Temple, so God could dwell with his people.
--Now, the returnees, built a not-so-spectacular temple, so God could dwell with them.
--But, compared to Solomon’s, this second temple was discouraging... it was lame.
--So, God gave them a prediction, a prophecy, a promise... One day the glory of my house is going to be greater than even Solomon’s!
So, the message of Haggai, is be strong... finish the house!
This is working well... Build my House; Then All you do is going to be blessed when your Governor gets everyone because one day the Glory will be Great.
Next, the second “A”.
HaggAi is for Ask
Haggai 2:10-14 On the twenty-fourth 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." Then Haggai asked, "If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?" The priests answered and said, "It does become unclean..." Then Haggai answered and said, "So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands.
Here is another reason to finish the house. The things they touched were affected by their relationship with God. If God is with them, then the things they touch will be blessed. If their connection to God is broken, then the things they touch will be unclean. Finish the house so all the things you touch will be with my blessing! Ask to be a blessing. A is ask, so you all you touch will be blessed.
One more message... the I
HaggaI is for I
Haggai 2:20-23 The word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth 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. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the 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, declares the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts."
This one is interesting. “I am going to make you, Zerubbabel, a signet ring.” Ancient kings used signet rings to designate authority. A signet contained an emblem unique to the king. Official documents were sealed with a dab of soft wax impressed with the king’s signet. Such a seal certified the document as genuine, much like a notary public’s stamp today. A signet ring is a sign of YHHWH’s authority as king.
Jeremiah 22:24-25 "As I live, declares the LORD, though Coniah (or Jehoiachin) the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”
God removed the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin, just like taking off a signet ring and giving it to Nebuchadnezzar. Now, YHWH is making Zerubbabel, a grandson of Jehoiachin, into a new signet ring. What? Zerubbabel has the authority to finish the house. Zerubbabel is a descendant of King David and King Solomon... who built the first temple...You are the signet ring that can finish the house!
There you have it; the message of Haggai.
H is... House... You need to finish the house.
A is All... you do will be blessed when you finish the house.
G is Governor... the governors inspired the people to finish the house.
G is Glory... One day the house will be filled Glory, so finish the house!
A is Ask... to be a blessing when you finish the house
I... is I... will make you a signet ring to give you the authority to finish the house.
That is the message of Haggai...
Now, let’s move the message to us. That is what it meant to them... let’s move the message to us...
Look again at Haggai 2:9
Haggai 2:9 “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.”
The glory of the house is greater now, than it was then. Because now, the house is no longer stone... it is people!
1 Peter 2:4-5 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The house is now build out of living stones upon the foundation Jesus Christ. God’s house is important. Not the building. But the community of people who make up this House of God make it important. We need to finish the house... building it up with precious stones! God wants to dwell here in his people...still! So, let’s finish the house!
The house is certainly important enough for us to give our all... God blesses our all as we keep on finishing the house... our all is blessed in the house!
Now, the Spirit dwells/works in this house as the governors and people work to be a blessing! We work together with our governors to finish the house!
It is all about the glory! We are the glory in the house! We give the glory in the house... We give glory as we finish the house!
We ask to be a blessing. As our work is finishing the house... everything we touch is blessed. God is living in us. God is living in us to bless us. God is living in us to bless all we touch. We are called to be a blessing to everyone we touch. That is how we think. My life is lived in the glory of being a blessing to everyone I touch! In touching others, I finish the house! Ask to be the blessing in finishing the house!
This is the coolest... I will make you a signet ring. The house of David built. the temples. Solomon and Zerubbabel were the rings who built the houses. There was one other descendant of David who built our house... Jesus Christ... King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus, the I Am, the signet ring, who builds our house.
“Can you wrap all this up for me?”
Our house is important. This community of believers is important. Your life in this house is vital to being blessed by God. We are called to give our all to be the blessing of this house. We are called to touch others with the blessing of God. Our all is called to bring glory to the I AM. We are called, by Haggai, to finish the house.
June 3, 2018
Los Alamos Church of Christ