Haggai 4

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Haggai 4.

Rhoda takes Hannah and a few of the neighbourhood children to a kids’ club on Thursday evenings. At the end of the year they had a barbeque around the place of one of the people who take it – and I was dragged along. There we were in a situation with a group of fellow Christians, but who we didn’t know. Rhoda is a lot better than me at the social interaction thing – while I fooled around with the kids she did the small talk thing. The conversation went something like this: “Hi! I am ….” “Hi, I am Rhoda.” “You are Hannah’s mum, right?” So far, so good. Then it goes something like this: “And where do you fellowship?” Here it comes …. , next question and how many do you get along?” Ever encountered that? The measure of a fellowship is how many people you have coming along. And here we are at little Tedder ave! Here are these fellowships with hundreds or thousands in the congregation! It’s all a bit discouraging. We labour away and what results do we see? Are we getting anywhere? Here I have been preaching for 15 years – what is the response? What has been accomplished? Wouldn’t you like to see the place packed with people? Don’t you long to see people getting saved? Do you recall times when it was different? We used to help at Christian camps or holiday programs every summer holidays. Kids would flock in and it wasn’t unusual to end the camp with every kid saved. Our lounge was full of kids every Wednesday afternoon for a Good News club – dozens came to the LORD. The Sunday School was packed with kids from the neighbourhood. I remember back at the Elim church such wonderful times of fellowship in prayer – we would pray away in tongues for an hour and then God would speak – it was wonderful, exciting, we were hearing from God. What came though in the prayer meeting was exactly what message was in the meeting. Thrilling stuff! Miracles taking place, lives being transformed. You can look back at the glory times and then look at the present – and well, you can get discouraged. That is pretty much the situation in Haggai’s day. [P] יְהוָה had told them to build the temple, and they obeyed. They wanted to be doing God’s will – as do we. But then they looked at their efforts. The temple that had been destroyed had been glorious building – built by Solomon in the golden age of Israel. He had abundant wealth and he lavished it upon יְהוָה’s house. But they had returned from exile to a decimated land. They had to struggle to get their own places established. They were not a powerful trading nation. They did not have the wealth of Solomon. What they did just couldn’t compare, they were, well, ….. discouraged. But יְהוָה had a message for them. This is the third message that He spoke to them through Haggai. Those that had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon had neglected the building of the temple and were busy pursuing their own material goals – so the first message was a message of rebuke [P] – telling them to stop living for themselves but build His temple. The people heeded that message – they heard, feared, revered and obeyed; and, in response, יְהוָה gave a message of commendation [P]. Now this is the third message to them – they had been at work just under a month (26 days; cf. Hag 1:15) when יְהוָה spoke to them again, through the prophet Haggai, to encourage them in the work. When they were going their own way much discouragement came from יְהוָה, now they were doing His will He encouraged them – Haggai gave assurance of the Divine presence and success of the venture. They were discouraged but יְהוָה had a cheering message of ENCOURAGEMENT [P]. They had been on the job about a month. They were getting on with building the temple but they weren’t very pleased with how it was turning out. Let us read: [Haggai 2:1-9 On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of יְהוָה came by Haggai the prophet saying, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people saying, ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? ‘But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ declares יְהוָה, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,’ declares יְהוָה, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares יְהוָה of armies. ‘As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!’ “For thus says יְהוָה of armies, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. ‘I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says יְהוָה of armies. ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares יְהוָה of armies. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says יְהוָה of armies, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ declares יְהוָה of armies.”] יְהוָה gave Haggai orders to deliver His message – He commanded him to speak. This is how it is with a prophet – he doesn’t speak of his own initiative – he is a servant who speaks when he is told to and speaks the words that he is given to say. You notice that the message was specifically for those who responded to יְהוָה’s previous message (cf. 1:12, 14) – the remnant. יְהוָה told Haggai to speak, He told him who to speak to, and now He tells him what to speak – it is all יְהוָה. The essential quality of the prophet is that he doesn’t get in the way, adulterate the message, so that the pure words of יְהוָה are transmitted and unaltered. [P] (Hag 2:3) – Some of the returned exiles remembered the temple before it was destroyed by the Babylonians, they would be pretty old now; the captivity was for 70 years. The first temple was built by Solomon at a time when the kingdom was united and extremely wealthy. David, his predecessor, had also amassed material for the temple. It was lavish, it was glorious! But the returned exiles, who were not even an independent kingdom, did not have the resources to build such an edifice. Recalling how it used to be must have made their efforts seem futile – they could not rebuild it how it was. What they were making was nothing in comparison. It is easy to be discouraged in our work for the LORD. We hear of revivals, recall days when many got saved and were "on fire" for the LORD – it can make it seem as if what we are doing now is nothing, is futile, we cannot make it like it was before. This discouragement is what causes the work to stop (cf. Hag ch.1). One of the biggest hindrances to the work of the LORD is discouragement. The LORD encourages us in our task (Hag 2:4-9) – He encourages by speaking sending His word. And what was His message? (Hag 2:4): “Take courage[P] – He says it not once, but three times – take courage – יְהוָה’s message is to be courageous (חַזַק), be strong,  be firm, hold fast, harden, prevail, be steadfast. Don’t let yourself become discouraged, give way, give up – stand fast in your determination to complete the task that יְהוָה has given you to do. Three times יְהוָה Himself declares "BE STRONG!" (cf. Josh 1:6-9) Be strong and workdo. It is the weak who cease working, who give into discouragement (cf. Matt 25:14-30). Don’t stop working for יְהוָה. Be encouraged! [P] Don’t be discouraged but take courage. – don’t give up in the work – it may seem like nothing but יְהוָה will make it GLORIOUS! – more glorious than what it was formerly! (cf. Zechariah 4:10 “For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of יְהוָה which range to and fro throughout the earth.”; 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. Galatians 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Hebrews 10:35-39 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. but My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.). Three times it says "declares יְהוָה" – this was יְהוָה’s declaration! – the situation may be disheartening, discouraging but יְהוָה declares: "BE STRONG!" – don’t let the disheartening results of your labour defeat you. "BE STRONG! TAKE COURAGE!" Because they are strong? Is this “be positive” motivational speaking? – No, because "I AM WITH YOU" [P] (cf. Hag 1:13) – the same encouraging words that we looked at last time: “I AM with you” Hallelujah! יְהוָה reinforces it by saying: “My Spirit is abiding in your midst” (Hag 2:5) – how is God with us? – by His Spirit abiding with us [1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.] That is all we need to keep on in our task – the knowledge that יְהוָה is with us – that what we are doing is His will – nothing else matters. (Hag 2:5) – יְהוָה says: "The promise I made” – literally “the word I cut" i.e. יְהוָה cut a covenant – the covenant that יְהוָה made with them when they came out of Egypt – that they would be His people and that He would be their God – they are bound in relationship by a covenant. No longer a God afar off to be feared but יְהוָה dwelling in their midst, His Spirit standing among them – they are no longer to be afraid for יְהוָה is with them (cf. Hag 1:13; Hag 2:4). Everyone else has good reason to be terrified but not God’s people (fear of the LORD, reverence but not terror) (cf. Hag 2:6; Heb 12:25-29). They came out from Egypt – separated themselves from the world – this is the mark of the people that belong to God. They have come out of the world and are filled with the Holy Spirit. When we have His Spirit, are joined to Him in a covenant relationship of love, fear vanishes (cf. 2 Tim 1:7; 1 John 4:17,18; Isaiah 41:10). יְהוָה’s command is "DO NOT FEAR! BE STRONG!" We will need to take courage for fearful times are coming – only those bound to God in close relationship need not fear, for He will shake all things!

So יְהוָה told them to do things: to “be strong” (or “take courage”) and to work – keep on building His temple – He was with them in His Spirit. Now He goes on to tell them what He will do [P] – and He will do four things. יְהוָה Himself is going to intervene. Things are going to take place, but they do not just happen, it is not just circumstance – יְהוָה is in control and He makes them happen. It is יְהוָה’s doing. And when you see what He is going to do perhaps you might have to revise your concept of what God is like. He doesn’t exist to make life smooth for us and solve all our problems. Fearful things are going to take place and it is not satan, it is not natural events, it is יְהוָה’s doing and He takes full responsibility for it.

Firstly יְהוָה says “I will shake the heavens and the earth!” [P] Why did יְהוָה tell them not to be afraid? (Hag 2:5) Why would there be cause for them to fear so that He had to reassure them? – Because He will shake the heavens, the earth, the sea and the dry land – the whole creation, the entire universe will be shaken! And we know that shaking can be scary! We have experienced a mild shaking of the earth – a rather unsettling experience; but what when everything is shaken? When the heavens are shaken too? What will you do when you see the cosmic order unravelling? Furthermore, it is going to happen soon! "In a little while", “once more" – one final great judgement. The LORD of heavenly armies, יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת , has spoken! Why will He do this? – to remove, to destroy, annihilate all that is not of God! We see that this is His purpose from when this verse is quoted in: [cf. Hebrews 12:26-29 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.] Only those things that cannot be shaken will remain – i.e. those things born of God – His people in covenant relationship with Him – they alone have no cause to fear. There is no cause for us to fear when things get shaken [Psalm 46:2-3 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.] This shaking is assured – יְהוָה says it again to confirm its certainty (cf. Haggai 2:21 “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.). It is יְהוָה Himself who will do this shaking. It is not a calamity, things out of control, it is the hand of יְהוָה at work, fulfilling His purpose. Zechariah also predicts a great earthquake at this time [Zechariah 14:4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.]. This "shaking" will be quite literal – here the prophecy moves beyond their present to a great earthquake that will happen when Jesus returns [cf. Revelation 16:18-20 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.]; It is also referred to in [Joel 2:10 Before them the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon grow dark and the stars lose their brightness.].

Secondly יְהוָה will shake, not only heaven and earth, but all nations [P] God’s people are poor, weak, struggling, few in number – how will they be able to build a glorious house? It will come about by יְהוָה so shaking the nations that they will come trembling before Him, bow the knee before יְהוָה, the Messiah, the King over all, and bring Him tribute. Again, this moves beyond the situation in Haggai’s day. Not that they were empty words – there was a fulfilment. All the nations were shaken, a 30 year old from Macedonia conquered the whole world from Egypt to India in less than three years; he overthrew the Medo-Persian empire – it was not long before Greek was the common language throughout the world. He died three years after becoming king and his empire was divided between four of his generals. In the competition between the Seleucids in Syria and the Ptolemy’s in Egypt; Israel in the middle gained a degree of independence. A king, called Herod, lavishly rebuild the temple – it was glorious due to the shaking of the nations that took place. But the fulfilment goes way beyond this.  Indeed the nations will be shaken – as will the earth in the judgments of יְהוָה. His Gospel had been given to the nations but those that rejected it will be judged – judged for how they have maltreated Israel. Such fearful judgement, shaking, that they will be in abject terror of יְהוָה! We read of those judgements and shaking throughout the book of Revelation. [Revelation 6:12-17 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (a time of great shaking not only on earth but in heaven) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”] The nations are shaken in the judgement of an angry Jesus!

The Desire of all nations will come. You see, there is coming an unsettling time – all will be shaken, the heavens, the earth, all the nations – but the shaking is for a purpose: it is a prelude, a prelude to the coming of the Messiah. This passage has been taken as referring to the coming of the Messiah. Handel’s Messiah uses this passage as referring to the coming of Jesus [P]. After the shaking of the nations, the “Desire of all nations” will come. Indeed the Messiah is returning and this shaking is a prelude to that but you will notice that the translation I used didn’t talk about the “desire of all nations” – these nations are opposed to יְהוָה, they don’t desire the Messiah. The desire of all nations refers not to Jesus but to their wealth. The word means pleasant, precious, desirable. What do the nations desire? Not Jesus, but wealth! Furthermore the word is feminine – and Jesus is not a woman! Because of the shaking the have received the nations will bring their wealth as tribute to the Messiah. There is coming a time when Jesus will return and the nations will be shaken – they will conspire against His people and He will utterly vanquish them. He will be King over all, ruling from Zion. The nations will then willingly give their wealth to Him (it is His anyway – they have taken what is His).

Thirdly: יְהוָה will fill My temple with glory: [P] The remnant were poor, they couldn’t afford a lavish temple and so they were discouraged. But the wealth of the nations would be brought and so the temple would be glorious – even more glorious than the one Solomon had built. Just as Israel plundered Egypt, which had been shaken by the judgments of יְהוָה, when they left in the Exodus (cf. Ex 12:33-36 ), so the vast accumulated wealth of the shaken nations will be given to Jesus and the most glorious temple ever will be constructed [Isaiah 60:1-13 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of יְהוָה has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but יְהוָה will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. …… your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you. They will bring gold and frankincense, all the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; they will go up with acceptance on My altar, and I shall glorify My glorious house. …. To bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of יְהוָה your God, and for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you. Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, and in My favour I have had compassion on you. Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined. The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the juniper, the box tree and the cypress together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I shall make the place of My feet glorious.]. The LORD of Hosts has spoken! יְהוָה of armies, יְהוָה צְבָאוִת ! He has declared! "The silver is Mine! The gold is Mine!" It does not belong to the nations who have usurped and stolen it, taken it for themselves. They must give back what is not theirs, what they have taken unjustly, stolen from יְהוָה! It is all His! [1 Chronicles 29:16 O יְהוָה our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.] (cf. Psalm 50:10,11). But although the nations bring their wealth, it is neither they nor the people of God building house that makes it glorious - "I will fill this house with glory!" – it is יְהוָה who makes it glorious! Hallelujah! It is filled with glory when He comes to it, fills it, dwells in it among His people. It is the LORD’s doing! He shakes the nations, He stirs the spirit of His people (1:14), He who fills the temple with glory! How is the temple of God filled with glory – by our striving, by our efforts, our gifts, our work? No! I will fill it with glory. It is יְהוָה who does it. Jesus says, “I will build my church!” All glory, honour and praise be to the LORD alone! Just as the tabernacle was filled with the Shekinah glory, and just as Solomon’s temple was filled with smoke, so too the temple of God will be filled with His glory – because He will take up His dwelling among His people. [Revelation 21:3 Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,] What makes יְהוָה’s temple His glorious is His presence there! What makes Tedder ave glorious? Full seats, accomplished band, exciting program, hundreds being saved? No, it is only one thing – the presence of יְהוָה among us!

Fourthly יְהוָה will give peace: That is what makes us complete. יְהוָה says: “I will give peace.” [P] שָׁלוֹם – completeness. Indeed that is His Name in (Judges 6:24): יְהוָה שָׁלוֹם. We tend to think of peace as the absence of conflict – but the meaning is bigger: it means fullness, completeness, wholeness. Not just the absence of fighting but something positive, total wellbeing. יְהוָה Himself will give peace in this place (i.e. Jerusalem) – how? The Prince of Peace will reign there [Isaiah 9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of יְהוָה of armies will accomplish this.] [Isaiah 66:12 For thus says יְהוָה, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream. (that is all their wealth)] (Isaiah 9:6,7; 66:12,13; Zech 2:5) יְהוָה has declared! Thus it will be! Pray earnestly for it! (cf. Psalm 122:6,7) יְהוָה of armies has spoken! The LORD of hosts has declared! יְהוָה צְבָאוִת three times in two verses. The full authority and power of יְהוָה of armies is behind this! It will be! It is absolutely certain, His Name is behind it. The temple will be filled with glory – glory as it has never been before. The people thought that its glory was less than what it had been but it would be greater than what it had been before! The former glory had been material, accumulated and constructed by man. But the later glory would be real, eternal, Divine! יְהוָה Himself will come and dwell among men – He Himself will be its glory – no longer a man-made copy, shadow and type, but the real thing! God dwelling among His people in all His glory!! Hallelujah! [Isaiah 40:5 Then the glory of יְהוָה will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of יְהוָה has spoken.” Habakkuk 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of יְהוָה, as the waters cover the sea.] The glory will be great! There will be glory and peace. What about little Tedder ave? Do not despise the day of small beginnings, Jesus is building His church. But it is not Tedder ave that we are building, but יְהוָה’s temple, the church of Jesus the Messiah. The tendency is to regard the fellowship we attend as “the church” – this leads to pride and focus on the earthly. But יְהוָה is shaking things, we’ve experienced a bit of that. Have you noticed how church buildings have been particularly targeted in the destruction by shaking? But the Church is unshaken! Hallelujah! יְהוָה will come and dwell among those that are His, those living stones that make up His temple and fill that dwelling place with His glory. Jesus is coming back in glory – this is what keeps us from being discouraged. Lift up your heads, your redemption draws nigh. There will be glory and peace – wholeness, completion. His temple will be filled with His glory, glory as has never been seen before! Hallelujah! The glory will be greater than that which was before! It will by יְהוָה’s doing! Our labour in the LORD’s temple is not in vain. Be strong and be encouraged, He will crown our work for Him with success and glory.

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