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Waiting on God

Waiting on God


We saw in last week’s lesson how approximately 50
exiles responded to the decree of Cyrus, returned to
Jerusalem, and laid the foundation of the Temple
with great rejoicing.

Unfortunately, their rejoicing was short-lived. The
opposition they dreaded came up on them. The
mixed population of Samaria opposed them with
extreme bitterness and persistence. As a result, the
people became discouraged and ceased rebuilding.

Sixteen years passed. It looked as though the people
had forgotten their purpose: to rebuild the Temple.
The foundation was still there. The joy was gone.
Laziness and slothfulness now characterized the
people.

But God had a man. The Spirit moved the prophet
Haggai. Through the preaching Haggai, the Holy
Spirit brought the people out of their lethargy and
fear. Soon, with faith inspired, they moved out
again, and began to rebuild.

Every believer needs the same kind of inspiration.
We must, by the Spirit and the Word, become aware
of our responsibility: to serve in God’s house and
help build His Kingdom.
Opposition and difficulty may be excuses for not
doing God’s work, but never reasons. God always
tests our faith.

It was now nearly sixty-seven years since
Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Solomon’s Temple.

Haggai 1:1-12
1In the second year of Darius the king the
sixth month, in the first day of the month,
came the word of the LORD by Haggai the
prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of
Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua
the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
2Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts saying,
This people say, The time is not come, the
time that the LORD’S house should be built.
3Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai
the prophet, saying, 4It is time for you, O ye,
to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this
house lie waste? 5Now therefore thus saith
the LORD of hosts, Consider your ways. 6Ye
have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat,
but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are
not filled with drink: ye clothe you, but
there is none warm; and he that earneth
wages earneth wages to put it into a bag
with holes. 7Thus saith the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways. 8Go up to the mountain
and bring wood and build the house; and I
will take pleasure in it and I will be glorified,
saith the LORD. 9Ye looked for much, and,
lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it
home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the
LORD of hosts. Because of Mine house that
is waste; and ye run every man unto his own
house. 10Therefore the heaven over you is
stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed
from her fruit. 11And I called for a drought
upon the land, and upon the mountains and
upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and
upon the oil and upon that which the
ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and
upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the
hands. 12Then Zerubbabel the son of
Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech,
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 did fear before the LORD.

Haggai 2:4-8
4It is time for you, O ye,
to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this
house lie waste? 5Now therefore thus saith
the LORD of hosts, Consider your ways. 6Ye
have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat,
but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are
not filled with drink: ye clothe you, but
there is none warm; and he that earneth
wages earneth wages to put it into a bag
with holes. 7Thus saith the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways. 8Go up to the mountain
and bring wood and build the house; and I
will take pleasure in it and I will be glorified,
saith the LORD.

Haggai 2:9-12
9Ye looked for much, and,lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it
home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the
LORD of hosts. Because of Mine house that
is waste; and ye run every man unto his own
house. 10Therefore the heaven over you is
stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed
from her fruit. 11And I called for a drought
upon the land, and upon the mountains and
upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and
upon the oil and upon that which the
ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and
upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the
hands. 12Then Zerubbabel the son of
Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech,
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 did fear before the LORD.

Sixteen years had passed since the return from
captivity. The captivity of the Jews in Babylon had
cured them of worshiping idol gods. However, after
they returned to their native land, they were not
diligent about giving the LORD first place in their
lives.

To begin with, the first thought and concern of the
people was the rebuilding of the altar and the
Temple; however, difficulties developed, and
eventually political problems stopped the work, and
the zeal and enthusiasm of the people died away in
the face of difficulties.

Although the storm passed, the workers failed to
return to the task. Then came a period of distress:
the harvest failed; there was drought, trouble and
sorrow. Haggai was sent to explain the calamity and
urge them to get rid of their sinful laziness and
despondency.

Very little is known of the prophet Haggai’s personal
history. He began to prophesy two months before
Zechariah, but while Zechariah prophesied for three
years, Haggai prophesied only three months and
twenty-four days. Haggai, along with Zechariah and
Malachi, was one of the three Old Testament
prophets to minister to the Jews following the
captivity.

Some people seem to be gifted of God or seeing
what needs to be done and then motivating others
to help get it done. Haggai was such a person. The
two chapters of this little book are about one
project: the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

As a consequence of the sins of Israel, God allowed
the Babylonians to invade and destroy the land of
Judah, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple. Many
of the people of Judah were taken as captives to
Babylon, but after seventy years, the Persian King
Cyrus allowed significant numbers of Jews to return
to Judah and Jerusalem.

Life was difficult for the Jews who returned to their
native land, but God enabled Haggai to see that
since the Jews had built houses for themselves, they
should also rebuild the house of the Lord, the
Temple in Jerusalem.

God sent Haggai to the people to stir up their former
zeal to rebuild the Temple that Nebuchadnezzar had
destroyed.

When the work was first halted it could be
attributed to the opposition of enemies, but now the
people’s lethargy was the real hindrance. The
enemies were gone. A year and a half into Darius’
reign the Jews had made no more progress toward
rebuilding the Temple.

They had settled comfortably in their homeland
again and had more interest in their personal well-
being than the LORD’s work. In verse two there
seems to be a rebuke in God’s reference to the Jews
as “this people’ rather than “my people”. It
indicated they were out of touch with His purpose
and desires.

While no one was saying they would never rebuild
the temple, they kept repeating that it wasn’t the
right time yet (See Haggai 1: 2, above).

He reminded the Jews that even though they
thought the time had not come to resume work on
the Temple, they had found plenty of time to build
their own houses. Their houses were paneled and
luxuriously fitted. The people had no problem
finding money to provide themselves with every
possible comfort, while making no effort to gather
the finances needed for work on the Temple.

Haggai 1:4-5
4Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your
ceiled houses and this house lie waste?
5Now therefore thus saith the LORD of host,
Consider your ways.

It was a sad commentary on the people’s spiritual
condition to have the empty foundations of the
Temple surrounded by attractive homes.

The LORD was not implying that it as wrong for the
people to live in comfortable houses. What
displeased Him was the kind of priorities they had
adopted. They were devoting all their efforts to
personal comfort while neglecting God’s work.

As Christians, we have to be careful to maintain the
proper balance between our duty to God and our
own interest. Seeking first the kingdom of God is a
permanent obligation.

We do well to continually consider our ways,
whether we are pleasing to God. Like the Jews after
their captivity, we might never consider bowing to
the image of a false god, but does this mean that
God has first place in our lives? Materialism and
self-indulgence are very subtle forms of idolatry, but
idolatry, none the less, for they push God out of first
place in our lives and hinder us from really serving
Him.

The Jews were supposed to be witnesses of the true
God to the Gentile nations. But their failure to
rebuild the Temple of the LORD, while they pursued
their own interest, did not reflect well on their God,
in the eyes of their pagan neighbors. Through His
prophet, the LORD instructed the Jews to go to the
hill country surrounding Jerusalem and cut trees for
the wood to rebuild the Temple. Only wood is
mentioned because the stone foundation of the
Temple had been laid some fifteen years before.

The LORD did not ask for money. Instead, He asked
the men of Judah to invest their time and labor to
give of themselves.

Haggai 1:7-8
7Thus saith the LORD of hosts; consider your ways.
8Go up to the mountain and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified.

There are countless ways to glorify God, and one of
the most obvious is by building houses of worship.
Of course, God does not dwell in buildings made
with the hands of men, for we, His redeemed
creatures, are His temple, but houses of worship are
visible symbols of the fact that many people do
believe in the true God.

Haggai 1:9-11
9Ye looked for much and, lo, it came to little;
and when ye brought it home, I did blow
upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts.
Because of mine house that is waste, and ye
run every man unto his own house.
10Therefore the heaven over you is stayed
from dew, and the earth is stayed from her
fruit. 11And I called for a drought upon the
land, and upon the mountains, and upon
the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon
the oil, and upon that which the ground
bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon
cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

Haggai had already mentioned the weather-related
disasters which had come upon Judah as a sign of
God’s displeasure at His house not being rebuilt.
This passage is a review in greater detail of these
weather-related calamities but God had called for a
drought over the whole land of Judah for this
neglect. Even in the mountains where ordinarily the
up-sloping winds from the Mediterranean Sea could
be depended upon to produce rain, there had been
no rain.

During the summer months when there was no rain,
heavy dew normally supplied the necessary moisture
for crops, but God had caused the dew to stop. This
drought that prevailed everywhere was part of His
discipline.

On numerous occasions in Israel’s history the people
resisted a prophetic message, but that was not the
response to Haggai’s ministry. The Governor and
High Priest took immediate action that inspired the
people to rededicate themselves to God.
The people recognized that the LORD had sent
Haggai and the fear of the LORD was manifested
among them again.

When the people responded, God also responded.
His first words were, “I am with you.” They would
need such encouragement as they began their work.

Haggai 1:12-13
12Then Zerubbabel the son of Sheatiel, and
Joshua the son of Josedech, 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 did
fear before the LORD. 13Then spake Haggai
the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S
message unto the people, saying, I am with
you, saith the LORD.

After 23 days after Haggai’s first message, they
began their work. Debris had to be cleared away
and workmen had to organize the cutting of the
timber and the gathering of other materials. When
God’s people respond in obedience to Him, He
responds in blessings to them.

In Haggai Chapter 2 there is a beautiful ending.
Older Jews in Haggai’s day remembered Solomon’s
Temple and its lavish furnishings of gold, silver and
other precious materials. God saw their
discouragement as they realized their limited
resources could not build a temple to compare in
grandeur with the first one. The LORD assured the
people He was with them as He was with the people
of Solomon’s day. He was bound to them by His
covenant as He was when He led their ancestors out
of Egypt.

Haggai 2:4-5
4Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the
LORD and be strong, O Joshua, son of
Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all
ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and
work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of
hosts: 5According to the word that I
covenanted with you when ye came out of
Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you:
fear ye not.

God’s presence—not silver and gold–was what
made the Temple His house. It was the people, God
dwelling in them.

Haggai 2:7-9 looks past the Temple about to be built,
to the Millennial Temple whose glory will exceed
anything ever seen before.

Haggai 2:7-9
7And I will shake all nations, and the desire
of all nations shall come: and I will fill this
house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
8The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine saith
the LORD of hosts. 97The glory of this latter
house shall be greater than of the former,
saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place
will I give peace, saith the LORD of Host.

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