INTRO: The days of the great prophets were coming near to their end. With the ministry of Haggai we enter the postexilic period (as it is often called). Only three written prophets belong to this period. The Isaiahs, the Jeremiahs, the Ezekiels, the Daniels belong to another time (although Ezekeil and Daniel do bridge the pre and post exile periods). The exiles have now returned to Jerusalem and environs. They have come in great hope and joy. But they have found a nation in ruins. The task before them was daunting to say the least. Economic foundations were in ruins. Religious institutions were destroyed. How are they to proceed. Two very important leaders had returned with the exiles: Jeshua, the priest and Zerubbabel, the civil leader. But early efforts did not seem to be going all that well.
I. SO, THE NEED FOR ENCOURAGERS
A. Hag 2:4 - ...be strong...
1. there is no question that the two leaders were good men, good leaders
2. the need for encouragement does not reflect on their leadership
3. the need for encouragement is not in any way criticism of them
4. there are simply times when a combination of circumstances becomes somewhat overwhelming ... when we are so close to the situation we are unable to see as we should
B. Notice: ...for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts
1. fact: things are not always as bad as they may first look!
2. the overlooked factor: the Lord is with us
3. the problem: we put too much emphasis on our own strengths, abilities ... and become discouraged when our resources are proven limited and fragile
4. so, to have an encourager who is respected and objective can be one of lifes greatest blessings! (Deut 1:38 - ...encourage him... - even Joshua would need encouragement!)
II. THE PROBLEM OF EMPHASIS, BALANCE
A. When the exiles returned...
1. they got busy taking care of their houses
2. they planted their crops
3. but there did not seem to be much economic progress (Hag 1:6)
B. What had they not done?
1. they had not done anything about rebuilding the temple!
2. Hag 1:4 - should all of the efforts being made be toward their own immediate interests?
3. they are challenged to consider your ways(Hag 1:5 & 1:7)
C. It was not a matter of rejecting the need for building the temple
1. Hag 1:2 - they just did not think it was time to do it
2. they saw other mundane needs as having priority - they would get around to it one of these days
3. but that was unacceptable as a righteous lifestyle - Hag 1:9-11 - if we do not put God first in our lives, if we do not take care of matters spiritual, we have no reason or right to believe we will be blessed Him
III. THE PROBLEM OF PERSPECTIVE
A. Hag 2:1,2 - The new temple was only a shadow of the former temple!
1. there were some old people who remembered Solomons temple
2. by comparison the present efforts and results looked very feeble
3. and, apparently, some of those people were verbalizing their feelings of disappointment, etc. they were being discouragers
4. the leaders were having to deal with the power of negative thinking - such thinking is a great hindrance to progress and success
B. The size of the house has nothing to do with the glory it can manifest!
1. note carefully Hag 2:7-9
2. a building is a building - thats a fact ... but its what is done in and with that building that has everything to do with its glory
3. this fact, of course, had been overlooked by the returning exiles
4. they were thinking materially ... not spiritually
C. And working on the temple would not produce holiness in a worker
1. Hab 2:11-14 - Haggai had a concern for the thinking of the people
2. the question and answer session had a point ... that point is that holiness does not rub off on unholy people!
3. Haggai was concerned for both ritual and moral integrity
4. with both ritual and moral integrity came a great promise from God - Hag 2:19 - ...from this day will I bless you
CLOSE: The challenge of the book of Haggai may well be in the word consider. The prophet calls for Gods people to look at themselves ... to consider ... and to learn from what they see. But Haggai gives to us a wonderful example of success through encouragement.
Cecil A. Hutson
29 June 2003
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)