HAGGAI INTRO- Haggai is one of three post exilic prophets; he returned to Jerusalem around 520 B.C. and prophesied at around the same time as Zechariah. The other post exilic prophet is Malachi. Haggai spoke at a time when the Jews, who returned to their land after being held in captivity, were discouraged about rebuilding Gods temple and they needed to be reminded about their priorities. The Jews returned to their land with excitement and dreams of rebuilding what was destroyed by their enemies, yet after their return they faced opposition and accusations by their enemies. These accusations eventually stalled the work of rebuilding the temple and Haggai prophesied for them to get back to the work. He spoke to the governor, the high priest and the population at large. An oft repeated word from the prophet is ‘consider your ways’ he tells them they need to get their priorities in order if they want to see the land renewed. They were under an economic drought and their land was not producing fruit- the prophet says they need to get back to seeking first God’s kingdom and then he will take care of the rest. Much of Haggai’s message is timely for our day  many feel if we just do the right economic move then we will overcome the recession, yet at the same time the country has made bad moral decisions [extending abortion funding] and we seem to think that these things are not related to each other. Haggai told the people that their economic problems were a direct result of not seeking God. As we do this short study over the next few days, go read the book- It’s only 2 chapters long. See if you can spot the 4 individual prophetic messages that make up the bulk of the book.
 HAGGAI 1- The prophet rebukes the people because they were saying ‘it’s not time for the Lords house to be built’ yet at the same time they were busy ‘dwelling in their nice roofed homes’. Haggai tells them that’s why they were experiencing economic judgment; because they were seeking first their own wealth and neglecting the house of God. Whenever I deal with these types of verses I always try and remind the reader that these verses are not talking about fixing up the church building! But the New Testament comparison would be neglecting the actual health and growth of the Body of Christ, the community [house] of God. Read Acts 6 and 1st Corinthians. The prophet rebukes the leaders and he tells them to consider their ways; think about what you are doing and make the proper course corrections. The people listen to the word of the Lord and they begin renewing their lives back to the purpose of God. It’s important to remember that at this stage the people had already come a long way; they were brought back from captivity and they had begun the work of restoration. But the books of Nehemiah and Ezra show us how after a season the people became discouraged, they could not see how much progress they had already made. The writer of Hebrews encourages the believers to not lose heart ‘God is faithful; he will not forget the love that you have already shown to the saints’. Sometimes during seasons of discouragement it’s easy to think ‘what’s it all worth, I have labored in vain’ [Isaiah]. It’s at those times we need to hear the prophetic word ‘God is still with you, you have not chosen me- I have chosen you’! Haggai’s message was simple; look at where you are at, examine whether the things you are doing are consistent with your purpose in life- and redirect as God leads. It’s the life story of Israel all thru out the Old Testament, the apostle tells us that these things were written so we too might not make the same mistakes as them [Corinthians]. Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart.
 HAGGAI 2- The prophet asks the people ‘does this second temple and its rebuilding pale in comparison to the first one’? Yet even though what they ‘saw’ in the natural seemed less, yet God said his glory would actually be greater in this second house. We read in the other prophetic books [Ezra?] that when the Jews that returned to the land looked at the foundation of the second temple while it was being laid, that they mourned and cried, they felt let down because to them the former days would never be the same again; yet God was going to do a greater work [in depth] than what was done earlier. The book of Hebrews tells us that God takes away the first so he can establish the 2nd. This was speaking of the passing away of the Old Covenant and the bringing in of the New. Jesus also said that those who were ‘drinking of the old wine’ [partaking of the law] would not quickly be swayed to drink the new [accept Jesus and his New Covenant Blood]. So the prophet exhorts the people to be encouraged; even though this restored temple doesn’t look grand, it will contain more valuable glory. The prophet tells them ‘get back to work, don’t give up on the vision yet’- basically the people were at a point of discouragement and passivity, they really didn’t need a new game plan, they simply needed to work the plan they already were given! Sometimes we use the excuse ‘God is calling me to a new work’ while it is true that changes occur in the Christian walk, yet sometimes we abort the mission because the obstacles seem too great. Be encouraged today to do whatever it is the Lord has given you to do- the prophet said ‘is the seed still in the barn’? Then for heaven’s sake go and do some planting! You say ‘but what if some of the seeds don’t make it’? Hey, Jesus said 3 out of 4 wouldn’t! But if you don’t start planting you will never get the return on the few that do make it. Haggai was a prophet who spoke to the nation at a crucial time in their journey, he exhorted them to ‘consider their ways’ he told them they were brought back to the land for a purpose- yet they seemed to lose sight of that purpose and they fell into a survival mentality, they began living just to survive. I want to challenge you today, what are you living for? Is your life’s goal simply to make it? To exist long enough to collect social security and retire? God has a purpose and plan for your life, and it doesn’t revolve around you! Find your place in this ‘second temple’ [the Body of Christ] and get to work, do what you can do- if some of the seed doesn’t make it, that’s fine, the ones that do make it will be worth it all in the end. And for heaven’s sake, get up and get to work! Jesus said ‘don’t say the harvest is month’s away, look on the fields- they are ripe and ready to harvest, but the workers are few. Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the harvest’. Isaiah said ‘here am I, send me’- how bout you?