Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Haggai 1 - Thoughts

I want you to imagine you are a young person who is 17 or 18 years old.  For some of you this will be easy and for others, not so much; but you can do it.  You live at home with your Father, Mother, a 6-year-old brother and a 4-year-old sister.  Your Father is away on a business trip and on Friday evening something comes up and your Mother will have to be gone all day on Saturday.  This means you are going to have to baby sit. 
Now, I want you to imagine on Friday evening before you go to bed, your Mother tells you she will be leaving around 7 a.m. the next morning and will return sometime late in the evening.  She reminds you to set your alarm for around 8 a.m.; so, you can get up early and take care of your brother and sister who will be up by 8:30.  She also reminds you not let them eat a bunch of sugar and to make sure they don’t fight, get into trouble or get hurt.  She shares her concern about the dangerous intersection you live near and to watch and not let the children go out of the back fenced area into the front yard.  Further, your father will be returning on Sunday and you need to make sure the house is cleaned and in order. There is also a test you will be taking at school on Monday and since you will not be able to study on Sunday, you will need to look over the study guide when you put your siblings down for their nap.  As she walks out of the room, she tells you not to stay up too late.
The next morning you awaken to the sound of your brother and sister fighting in the kitchen.   You look at you clock and it is 9 a.m.  Because you stayed up too late, you don’t want to get up.  You pull the pillow over your head and go back to sleep.  Several hours later you wander into the kitchen.  It is a mess!  Your brother and sister got into the cola and drank it all.  There are cookie crumbs everywhere left over from their breakfast raid.  The kitchen door is open and you can hear them at a distance.  You grab a Pop-Tart and decide you need to try and wake up before dealing with the day.  Then, you stumble into the living room and fall on the couch and turn on the TV.  It’s marathon Saturday and your favorite show is playing back to back episodes all day.  You get really caught up in the marathon and although your siblings run in and out throughout the day with various problems, you are so focused on the TV, you barely deal with them.  Occasionally, you will holler out, “Stop getting so dirty or stop fighting!” But, that’s about the extent of your baby sitting.  At some point in the early afternoon, you go to grab a sandwich and think, “As soon as this next episode is over, I’ll get those kids and this house cleaned up.”  In addition, later when you take a bathroom break, it crosses your mind that you haven’t heard the kids in some time; but you hear the show come back on after the commercial and you quickly forget as you run back to your marathon.   Before you know it you hear a car drive up in the driveway.  You look at the clock and it is evening.  Your mother walks in the door. 
She didn’t ask you take care of your siblings, to get ready for your Father’s return, or to study for your test because she was being mean.  She loves you, your brother and sister, and your Father.  She only wanted what was best for everyone.  You are old enough to begin to take responsibility and to develop a good work ethic.  This will play out in your life.  If you can’t take responsibility and do what you are supposed to do; you will never find true happiness and relationship with you family.  You will always be in a correction mode and not a relationship mode.
We are going to look at the first chapter of Haggai.  He was a minor prophet and the first to begin to preach to the people after the Babylonian captivity.  He was employed by God to awaken the conscience or minds of the people and get them excited about rebuilding God’s temple.  Many of the people were settled in their ways and didn’t want to put God first or do the work it would take to rebuild.  Their focus was on themselves and not on God or his children.  They lived relatively comfortable lives and did not want to uproot or change.  When problems came their way, they just blew it off as bad times.  But, Haggai knew this attitude was not good for God’s children and he knew God was not pleased with the way they were acting.  He knew it was dangerous and their attitude would keep them from experiencing a relationship with their Heavenly Father and even put them and others in serious danger.
As I read through this first chapter in Haggai, I was convicted about how God’s children have not changed much.  You and I need to hear the same message.  We need to repent.  We need to get our eyes off of the things of this world and the things we think are most important and look to the Bible asking God what he wants us to do first.  We need to study to show ourselves approved and take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  They need help staying clean and we need to be a good example of how to do this.  
If you are a Christian in these end times, it is time for you to wake up and consider what your Heavenly Father is saying through the Bible.  How much time do you spend reading it and doing what you are asked to do?  Maybe you’re not as unconcerned as the young person who didn’t take care of his siblings or listen to his parents; but you can ask yourself, “Am I so focused on the world that I put the house of God and his children on hold or in second place?”  “Am I making choices about what I think is best without even consulting my Father?” As I read through the first chapter of Haggai, I was convicted about the seriousness of the times. I ask myself these questions often and as long as we live in these fleshly bodies; we should ask ourselves each day, “Am I so focused on the world that I put the house of God and his children on hold or in second place?”  “Am I making choices about what I think is best without even consulting my Father?”
I also felt like God’s children needed a hard word as from a mother.  So, I want you to pretend for a moment that I am your mother and I am the one who has just arrived at home.  Only this time, God is the father who will be arriving soon. You have been left in charge of his house and his children!
 I want you to know your father and I love you.  We are not being mean.  We only want you to begin to take responsibility and to develop a good work ethic.  This will play out in your life and the lives of your brothers and sisters.  If you can’t take responsibility and do what you are supposed to do; you will never find true happiness and a relationship with your father.  You will always be in a correction mode and not a relationship mode. You put yourself and your brothers and sisters in danger.
I am a tough Momma and what I am about to say is going to say is not going to easy on you or me; but I want you to listen carefully and let this be the point where you realize that nothing is more important in your life than the love of your Heavenly Father.  I hope you have a “Light Bulb” experience and this is the point when you grow up, stand up and take responsibly for your actions. 
When you hear what Haggai says to the people who have not been working on rebuilding the temple, I hope you respond as many of them did when they heard God’s word.  They obeyed.  I am going to say that last line again like a Mother would say it.   When you hear what Haggai says to the people who have not been working on rebuilding the temple, I want you respond as many of them did.  I want you to obey the voice of the Lord your God!

Haggai 1:      
1  In the second year of Darius the king, in 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 (she-L-T), governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedeck (Joes-a-deck), the high priest, saying,
2  Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.
           
There are many ways to look at scriptures.  You can read them in the original manuscript.  This is not hard as with the click of a button on your computer you can go straight to the Hebrew or Greek word and look at it’s meaning.  You can and should also consider who wrote it, the history of the times, the grammar and more.  The more you study, the greater insight you get and this is wonderful; but because the Bible is God’s anointed word and he speaks to his children, you can simply read and be changed, led, .and feel God’s love.   But, there has to be a reason why God tells us to study to show ourselves approved.  He knows we need his help to grow and walk through this life. He also knows that by study we will discover his hidden truths.
When it comes to scriptures like the one above, which seem to be just names and numbers, we often just skip over them.  But this verse takes on a whole new meaning if you study the meanings of the names and numbers. Let me just give you a little hint.  In the second year (2 means union) of Darius (which means Lord) the king, in the sixth month (which symbolizes man’s weakness and sin), came the word of the Lord by Haggai (to the one who was called to awaken the people and stimulate rebuilding of the temple) unto Zerubbabel (sown in confusion).  Therefore, what looks like just a verse you may pass over if you didn’t study, begins by telling us through numbers and name meaning, that the Lord of Unity called on a prophet to awaken the people and stimulate the rebuilding of the temple.  He was speaking to those who were in confusion.  If you continue to study the rest of the verse you find, God is righteous and blesses and because of Jesus.
Today, more than ever, these scriptures are for God’s people.  Our righteous Heavenly Father still calls out to us to wake up and rebuild his temple in our lives.  He does this because of Jesus and because we are in confusion.  He knows if we will place him first; then all things will work together for our good.  God’s people, we, need to hear (really hear) not just shake their heads and say, “Oh yeah, I agree.”  When God says that now is the time to build his house and we just half-heartily respond with our eyes and thoughts focused on the ways of ourselves and on the world, are we not acting like the young person who just lay on the couch all day?  When we complain about others, is it not similar to that young person just hollering out, “Y’all stop getting dirty and fighting.”?  What good does it do for ourselves or our brothers and sisters if we just lay around with our eyes on the world?  By our actions are we really saying what the people of Haggai’s time said, "The time is not come that the Lord's house should be built."

3 Then (and now) came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet saying,
4  Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your paneled houses, and this house lie waste?
5  Now therefore thus saith the LORD of host; Consider your ways. (The original phrase here means, "set your heart, inner man, mind, will, soul, and understanding, on your ways.")

            The original Hebrew word for paneled is caphan (s au-fan) and it refers to very expensive wood that covers in inner walls of a house.  Haggai was upset with the people for living in their fancy houses while the house of God’s temple lay in waste for 16 years.  A fancy house doesn’t necessarily mean a brick and mortar house, although it could.  It means the lives we have built for ourselves.  The place where we are comfortable that doesn’t include God, built by what we think and held together by our excuses.  God is saying to us, “It is time for you, who live in the fancy lives you have built for yourselves, while my house lies in waste, to consider your ways and to set your heart toward me.” He wants us to get up and take care of his business and make our real lives and the lives of others a better place.  

6  Ye 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 earns wages to put it in a bag with holes.

He that earns wages, puts it in a bag with holes.  I don’t have to explain that to anyone.  But, maybe we should ask, how did the holes get in the bags?  Or better we might ask, “Why are the holes in the bags?”   Child of God, you need to understand that nothing happens in your life by accident or out of luck.  The word “luck” should never cross your mind or lips. 
My grandmother used to sing a song to me, “Sin is to blame for all sorrow. Sin is to blame. Sin is to blame.  Have we no hope for tomorrow?  Sin is to blame for it all. Father’s a drunkard and Mother is dead. Sin is to blame.  Many poor children are crying for bread, sin is to blame for it all.”  Isn’t it strange how we can see the sin in others; but we don’t see it in ourselves. Even if we do see it; we are not convicted enough to do anything about it.  We just blow it off or think there are others who are acting worse than I am.  We look at people in prison and think, “If we could figure out a way to rehabilitate all these criminals, our world would be a better place.  But, let me tell you, “There is none righteous. No not one.”  We are not better than them.  We have just not been caught yet.  We are all sinners.  The bible says the wages of sin is death and it also says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  When we do wrong, the sin itself begins a death process in our lives.  The sin itself is the judgment.  It eats holes in our bags.  Sin places us in a position of being under the law of sin and not under the grace of God.  The law is harsh; but God offers through Jesus a better way and when we obey him we come into relationship; then, because of his love for us and his grace toward us; a new life begins to manifest itself in our lives. Grace fills our cup: whereas, sin eats holes in our bags.

7  Thus saith the LORD of host; Consider your ways.

God is telling us to do more than just think about, but to set our heart on changing our ways from putting the world and and the desires of our flesh to putting the desires of our Heavenly Father and the needs of his children before ourselves.  It does not say, consider someone else’s ways and it doesn’t say consider the churches ways.  It says consider your ways. Take an inventory of your life.  Compare your thoughts and actions to the Word of God. 

8  Go 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.

God is not asking for you to build a marble castle.  He is only asking for you to take what you have and offer it to him.  He will be pleased, take pleasure, and be glorified if you do this.

9  Ye 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 host,  "Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house."

Maybe you have never considered that your sin is bringing on your problems.  We live in a society of those that believe if God loves me, he will let me do what I want.  We don’t consider he is a Father who does love and will correct his children.  But really, I don’t think we are thinking at all.  I think our eyes are so caught up in our marathon, we aren’t even thinking about the return of Jesus or what type of trouble our brothers or sisters are in or anything else.  Our lack of concern, for the desires of our Father will play out in our lives.  Remember, the sin itself is the judgment.

10  Therefore, the heaven over you is stayed from dew and the earth is stayed from her fruit.
11  And 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.

If you are feeling hopeless, that’s because you are living by the law and not by grace.  The law demands we obey and the punishment is harsh.  God does not want us to live like this.  He wants and has always wanted his children to live by grace.  But, we do not really understand grace.  It our nature to demand justice.  We are legal minded.  We think that if we live for God, we have to give up something.  We don’t realize if we do have to lay something down, it needed to go anyway.  We think living for God will limit our joy and don’t even understand that what we call joy, isn’t joy at all.
Now watch what happens when the people listen and turn their hearts toward God.

13  Then spoke Haggai the LORD's messenger in the LORD's message unto the people saying, "I am with with you said the LORD."

God did more than just say something here.  He made a declaration and a revelation or a revealing of a spiritual truth.  Something occurred when the people listened.  The relationship between God and his children changed from correction mode to relationship mode and they were able to receive from God.

14  And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel...

God woke up the spirit of Zerubbabel.  Zerubbabel was born during the time of the Babylonian captivity. He was born into slavery and his name means confusion.  Like him, we are born slaves to sin and we are in captivity.  And like him God is crying out to us to wake up.  Zerubbabel was the son of one who ask of God and was governor of praise.
Why would God do this?  Why would he call to wake us up?  He tells us in the next phrase that it is because Zerubabel was...

14  …the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest....

Zerubabel was the son of the one who ask of God, governor of praise, Shealtiea, and the spirit of Jesus our righteousness, Joshua and Josedech was the reason. 
If we call ourselves children of God, we need to wake up.  Just as in the day of Haggai, today there is a remnant of the people who are being called to work in the house of the LORD of host, their God.
The 15th verse of Haggai one says reinterates this call and describes our union with our Lord.

15  In the 24th day of the 6th month, in the 2nd year of Darius the king.

The number 24 stands for the worship of God in his temple 6 is man's sin, and 2 is a union with the king.  We can worship God in his temple.  There can be a union with our sin and the king because our king is Jesus and he paid the price for sin on calvary.
Are you feeling the call of Jesus in your heart to wake up, to get up and to do what is necessary to rebuild your life in a way that would please God?  Is your flesh telling you to just lay around and  don't worry about anything?  Is your flesh saying that this is too much trouble or you would have to give up something?  Well, in this case, your flesh is right.  It would be easier to just lay around and not worry about your spiritual condition or the condition of the church.  But, the long term effects of this are not going to benefit you or anyone else.  
I started this asking you to pretend I was your mother.  Well, as your mother, I would say, "Stop, watching the world and turn off that marathon.  It is time for you to consider what your Heavenly Father is saying.  It is past time for you to rebuild your lives and to take care of your brothers and sisters.  Let's ask forgiveness and help from God.  But, let's do more and get into action.  Get up and get to work!  Write a list of things you can do and start working on the list.