With the Babylonian exile in the past, God's people had returned to their homeland with full intentions of rebuilding the temple. However, after laying only the foundation, the work came to a squelching halt. Due to discouragement, despondency, and carnality, some sixteen years passed and the project was not finished.
Not pleased with the situation, God raised up the prophet Haggai and sent him to the people with a series of messages (sermonettes), designed to stir up the nation to complete the temple. In a word, God chose the right man! We don't have any background on this fine spokesman, but the following is clearly seen or implied in the book that bears his name. Think of Haggai as the man who:
Had the Spark!
Yes, he had the faith, the initiative, and the driving force to provoke his respective audience to repent of their ways and do the work God enjoined upon them. In fact, Haggai's central focus and purpose was to build the temple. Build the temple. Build the temple! He asked "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" (NKJV). His challenge did not fall on deaf ears (cf. 1:4,12,14,15).
Had the Right Attitude
While the people to whom he spoke exerted an attitude of complacency, such was not true of Haggai. Quite evidently, he had the attitude we all need when it comes to doing the Lord's work. The people were saying "The time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built" (1:2b). Haggai's response was in so many words, it's always time to do God's work! His business must always have priority. With that in mind, he told them, "To carefully consider their thoughts." Even to this date, brethren, we must not allow material things to rob us of spiritual insight and faithful service to our Creator (see 1:2-7)!
Had Guts and Courage
The prophet Haggai like ourselves, was given a message to preach. Having received his message, he would boldly proclaim it and let the chips fall where they may. The question is, do we have such boldness to take the message God has given us and deliver it with the same force as a Haggai? We desperately need such boldness (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 8: 4; 2 Tim. 2:2; 4:1-5).
Had God's Blessings and Backing
It is conveyed throughout the book of Haggai that the hand of the Almighty God was with him and was behind his every message. In fact, the Lord desired to extend his blessings to all his people, and would do so readily, if they would resume their work and finish the temple (1:13). It might be of interest to you to note that the phrase "Thus says the Lord" or its equivalent is given some 26 times in this short book of only 38 verses.
We can see too, that in Haggai's preaching there was expectation and anticipation. He and the Lord expected things to happen and that a change for the better prevail. And guess what? Things did change! Thank God for such a change. It's always refreshing and joyous to see the good results from having proclaimed God's powerful word (2:1-6).
Had Interest and Will
Last but certainly not least, we can learn from Haggai that when God's will becomes our will much good will result. On the other hand, to ignore God's will severely limits our blessings, potential, success, and our full joy!
Truly, Haggai had all the right stuff. Because of him (and God), the temple was rebuilt as ordered. Consequently, God's glory was re-established among his people (cf. 2:1-9). Hopefully, this lesson will put some fire under the likes of you and me, my beloved brethren, and we'll begin with more urgency to do what the Lord commands and demands of us. Let it be so!
By Clinton Douglas III -- Via Guardian of Truth XLI: 20 p. 13, October 16, 1997
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