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The Prophet Haggai

by Robert Garrett

Kentucky/Indiana Fellowship Talk

July 20-23, 2021

Background and Context of Haggai

The 12 tribes of Israel were One Nation from its founding until the death of Solomon. After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam became king and, as a result of his foolishness, the northern ten tribes revolted and formed their own kingdom under Jeroboam—2Chron 10—about 930 BC. Referred to as Israel, or the Northern Kingdom.    Then follows:

Assyrian Captivity: Under their kings, Israel sunk more and more into idolatry and corruption and lasted 208 years until God removed them by the Assyrian Captivity722 BC-2Kings 17

Babylonian Captivity and Exile:

(a) Judah continued another 116 years until 606 BC when Daniel and others were taken captive and Judah became a vassal state to Babylon. Dan 1:1-7; 2Kings 24:1-6;  2Chron 36:5-23.

(b) Destruction of Temple and City later in 589 BC—2Kings  25:8-9 ff. 

(c) Jeremiah had prophesied the desolations to last 70 years — 2Chron 36:21Jer 25:1-12; 29:1-14;  Dan 9:2.     QUESTION: Is the 70 years to be counted from (a) or (b)?

RETURN: In 536 BC, 70 years after (a) above—Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return and that the Temple be rebuilt—Ezra 1:1-11.  All this is recorded for us in the book of Ezra when some fifty thousand of the “Remnant” returned to the land under the leadership of Zerubbabel and began rebuilding the Temple.

  1. Ezra 3:7-13 They Begin Rebuilding The Temple  .
  1. Ezra 4:1-24 Opposition and work suspended   When the Assyrians emptied the land of Israel by exiling its inhabitants, they repopulated the land with various other peoples. God sent lions among them. The advisors of the Assyrian king told him that the reason was that the people did not know the God of that land. He then sent back priests to teach these Gentiles the God of Israel. According to various sources there was considerable intermarriage with Jews, but as a people they were not accepted by the Jews even though they claimed to worship Israel’s God. (They claimed to be descendants of Jacob, see John 4:12). When Zerubbabel began rebuilding the Temple, these people offered to help.  When their offer was rejected they began to oppose this rebuilding and managed to hold it up for some 16 years.

HAGGAI : Now,  16 years later,  520 BC, the prophet Haggai  is sent by God to remedy the situation.  God gives him four messages to deliver to the leaders of the people and the people themselves

1st Message 1:1-15.

Haggai 1:2-4  This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’. . . “

That most excellent commentator, J.  Sidlow Baxter, suggests that the people were assuming on unfulfilled prophecy. Jeremiah had prophesied 70 years of desolation. But (according to Baxter) only 48 years has elapsed – see (b) above – until Cyrus’ edict in Ezra 1:4.  Baxter, does not date the 70 years of the “desolations” from Nebuchadnezzar’s’ first conquest of Jerusalem, (2Kings 24:1; 2Chron 36:5-07,  but rather from the later siege of Jerusalem when the Temple and the City were destroyed as recorded in 2Kings 25:1-21 and emphasized in Ezekiel 24:1,2.

    2Kings 25:1,  “So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around.”

Which date is given word for word in Ezekiel 24:1-2 In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.’

Baxter then points out that 70 years of 360 days each brings us exactly to the date given in Hag 2:10On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai:” (skip to verse 15) . . .‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on  (skip to verse 18) . . . ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth  month“,  (skip to end of verse 19) . . .”‘FROM THIS DAY ON  I WILL BLESS YOU.'”

Therefore, Baxter, suggests that the people understood this timing -see (b) on page 1- and were presuming on prophecy and saying “‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.'” and using it for an excuse to not do the Lord’s work.  Just because we might not see a revival prophesied in the Scriptures in our day does not mean there cannot  be one,  God never presumes on His foreknowledge and there are some things which God ONLY does in answer to prayer. Our Lord Jesus promised  “Ask and it will be given to you”—Matt 7:7.

Amos 8:11,12 prophesied a famine of hearing the words of God. But we cannot say therefore it is useless to preach, that we should save our breath.  Jesus prophesied that the love of many would become cold—Matt 24:12—and we fulfill that at our peril.

Indeed, their love for the Lord had grown cold, but not their love for themselves and their luxurious houses. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.'”

The weather is too bad to attend church, but not too bad for a hunting trip or a shopping spree. People will sit through 2 or 3 hours on uncomfortable stadium seats at a baseball or football  game yet resent it if a church service runs five minutes overtime.

1:3 “Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”  The word “paneled,” other translations = “ceiled,” or “luxurious”. They could not build God’s house but they could spend extra money to make their own houses luxurious! This showed not only lack of faith but self-serving disobedience!

What was the result?  1:5-11 “Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

Some people just naturally do not know how to handle their money and are always in trouble just from mismanagement.  Others know how to manage, but unexpected things crop up and eat away at everything, because they are not putting God first and as a result they miss out on God’s blessings.

What did our Lord Jesus say?  “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:31-34.   And the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul – –

1Tim 6:9-12  “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

They expected much but it turned out to be little because they did not put God first.— read Haggai  1:7-11.

Repentance and Obedience,  Hag 1:12-15  “Then Zerubbabel  . . .  and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God . . . and They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, “   (also in Ezra 5:2-5;    Ezra 6:14,15,  temple completed.)

Second Message 

Former Glory Hag 2:1-5  On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 4 But 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, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.

Verse 3 is reference to Ezra’s record of what happened at the laying of the foundations some 16 years earlier, Ezra 3:11-13all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away .

Lessons For Us Today

This new temple contrasted greatly with Solomon’s temple.  Physically, it was not as nearly beautiful or ornate or expensive. It would be like comparing a simple one-bedroom house with a multi-million dollar mansion.

Secondly:  there was no Ark of the Covenant, and more importantly: the Glory of God, the Shekinah, was no longer present. The visible Glory of the Lord had descended on and into the Temple Solomon had built.  But because of the apostasy of Israel, the Glory of God departed. Ezekiel chapters 8—11 records that reluctant departure. The Babylonians destroyed an empty building!

Nevertheless:  God still recognizes it as His house. When Jesus cleansed the Temple, He said,  “It is written, . . . “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” (Matt 21:13),.  And in Haggai 2:9, God promises that this present house will be given a future glory greater that it’s past glory!

Hag 2:6-9  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 

9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,‘ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Surely we can make application to ourselves, to the church of today. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ began with that marvelous outpouring of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the 2nd chapter of Acts. In the church of today we do not see those spectacular demonstrations of the Holy Spirit.  Nevertheless, EVEN NOW,  individually, and collectively, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. and the Holy Spirit still gives us sufficient gifts to enable us to serve Him.

1Cor 6:19-20  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. “ We cannot honor God when we indulge the flesh.  See also Eph 2:19-22  and  1 Peter 2:4-5.

Eph 4:30  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Israel often grieved God and desecrated the Temple. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” — Matt 21:13 

Solomon’s Temple was of lifeless inanimate materials. Beautiful to look at but unable to do anything.  But we are not lifeless, inanimate stones you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” –  1Peter 2:5-6   

We can contribute to God’s glory by our behavior.  We must “show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” — 1Pet 2:9 ASV .

We  are  “LIVING STONES”  Indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “Therefore honor God with your body.”

Our Future Glory, as the Temple of God, will be ours at his second coming. This will be far greater than our former glory. This will be ours during the Thousand Year reign promised in Rev 20.

But there is to be an even greater glory than that. What do these words mean in Rev 21:22,23 ?  “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

Rev 22:5   “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. “

Third Message

Hag 2:10-12   “On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai: 11 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?'”

13  Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”

14 Then Haggai said, “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled. “

Cleanliness and good health cannot be transferred, they are not catching. But filth and sickness are catching and can infect others.  God cannot accept our service if we continue in unrepentant sin. That is why their crops had failed. But now that they had repented and were doing God’s work He would bless

15 “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on—consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the Lord. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.

“‘From this day on I will bless you.'”

Fourth Message

Hag 2:20-23  “The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.”

That future shaking of the heavens and the earth is prophesied many times in the Bible. It is part of what shall take place at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Brother Paul Kitzmiller gave us a powerful and stirring exposition of this from Ezekiel 14 in his message Tuesday evening.

We are promised wonderful things when that shall take place.  Let us not become careless or complacent — we are warned in

Hebrews 12: 25-29: “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?

26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29  for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Who will be in charge when God shakes the heavens and the earth ?

23 “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Zerubbabel’s name is listed in Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27. He was an ancestor of Jesus Christ and is an OT illustration or type of Christ.

A signet was made of metal or other hard substance and was used to stamp a sign or “signature” upon objects or official documents to denote ownership or authority.

Here Christ is seen as God’s chosen signet. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He will be in charge of that great shaking of heaven and earth.

 

    Robert Garrett is missionary to Zimbabwe (grew up there) and now resides in Louisville, KY.




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4