Archive for the ‘Haggai’ Category

We are bringing our series on Haggai to a close today. I hope that you have been looking at the book yourself, reading through it and thinking about it over these last few weeks. I certainly welcome your comments and questions. As I said at the beginning, it’s short, but it has a lot in it.

What we are doing today is looking back at the book as a whole to learn some things about serving God. Some of it will be review, some of it new. I thought it would be good to pull together the teaching on this theme and look at it all at once. The first lesson is that –

1. God requires our service

This comes out clearly in chapter one in the contrast between God’s house and the people’s houses and what God has to say about this. The Lord asks, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house (the temple) lies in ruins?” – Haggai 1:4. This is one of the most pointed questions in all of scripture, especially given the wealth that we have in this country.

And then God says, “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” – Haggai 1:8.

They were putting themselves first, busying themselves with their affairs and not God’s. And God calls them on it and requires them to put him first.

God also challenges us because we so often put ourselves first. Our work and our houses are fine, but God’s work and God’s house gets little attention in our busy lives. What we learn from Haggai is that we need to fulfill the call to serve God.

2. God calls us to serve even when it’s hard

In Haggai they were experiencing bad economic times. And so to obey meant taking a risk; giving of their time and resources to do God’s work when they already felt that they didn’t have enough to take care of their needs.

It was also hard to obey because people were critical of their work on the temple. It lacked the glory proper to a temple of God. And so people were thinking and saying things that discouraged the workers.

It won’t always be easy for us either. Whether it is has to do with lack of resources, or criticism, or other factors. God speaks to us through the book of Haggai to say to us as well that we need to serve God even when it is hard. If you only serve God when things are easy, you won’t be serving God for long.

3. Disobedience brings God’s judgment

They were under God’s corrective discipline for not working on the temple. This comes out in several places. The Lord says, “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 . . .” – Haggai 1:9-10.

If they had obeyed, God would have blessed them according the covenant he had with them. But they disobeyed and the blessing was withheld.

Too often we think that we can walk in willful sin and still have God’s blessing. But we clearly learn from Haggai that blessings only come with obedience.

4. The only solution to disobedience is repentance

We saw how they tried to cover over their disobedience with sacrifices. But their sacrifices were unclean. They weren’t acceptable because of their disobedience.

What God wanted was that they “turn” to him (Haggai 2:17); that they set aside their disobedience and serve him.

We also have all kinds of ways of trying to gain God’s favor even while we willfully choose to rebel against God. We try to do other good things to cover over or balance out our sin. But none of these things work.

What we learn from Haggai is that we need to repent of our sin and get to work serving God.

5. God helps us to serve him

This is the sequence of events in chapter one:

  • God challenged their disobedience
  • They resolved to work
  • God stirred them up, and
  • Then they worked

What comes before the work, is God doing a work in them.

Haggai 1:14 says, “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 . . ..” God acted to move them along and enabled their obedience.

It’s the same with us. God doesn’t just call us to serve, he empowers our service. That’s because none of us can serve God in our own strength. And so, we learn from Haggai that we need to receive God’s help as we serve him; we need to have God stir our spirits. We need God to stir us up!

6. God encourages us as we serve him

This is a big theme in Haggai. God is revealed as an encourager. For instance, in chapter one, as soon as the people decided to obey, the Lord encouraged them. Haggai 1:13 – “I am with you,’ declares the Lord.” God was concerned to give them hope, to know that they could do what he asked of them.

In chapter two when they were discouraged at the prospects of their work on the temple, the Lord spoke to them. Haggai 2:4-5 – “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.” Here we have lots of words of encouragement, so that they wouldn’t give in to discouragement and stop working.

When they began to obey the Lord, he told them in Haggai 2:19 – “from this day on I will bless you.” God wanted to assure them that his hand of judgment was lifted and they would have a good harvest to provide for their needs in the coming year.

Finally, the Lord encouraged Zerubbabel with a word to him and a promise concerning the house of David. Haggai 2:23 – “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.” Zerubbabel is not rejected, but will be used by God, along with his line.

It’s easy to be discouraged as we try to serve God. We have our own personal weaknesses, other people that discourage us and hard circumstances.

But we learn from Haggai that we need to receive God’s encouragement into our hearts, so that we can be strong and continue on. Whether it’s through other people, through the scriptures or straight from God, however it comes, we need to receive it.

7. God gives value to our work

This comes out clearly in the second message, when they fretted about their lack of ability to make the temple glorious with silver and gold. Their work wasn’t amounting to much. As God said, the temple is “as nothing” – Haggai 2:3.

  • But God promised to bring in silver and gold for the temple – Haggai 2:7-8.
  • And God promised great glory for what they were working on. It would be more glorious than the previous temple – Haggai 2:9.

God took what they had, which wasn’t much, and gave a value to it that it didn’t have in itself.

And in the same way, we need to trust that God will take our work and give it lasting value. Even if we can’t see it with our own eyes, or if it is off in the future.


So, the book of Haggai is a call to do God’s work. And I hope that by looking at this book you will be challenged and encouraged to do what God is calling you to do.

And I also hope that you will take to heart the lessons that we learn from Haggai about serving the Lord.

William Higgins

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