Please turn with me in your bible to the book of Haggai in the Old
Among the minor prophets – the third book back from the end of
the Old Testament.
I. The Context
A. The southern kingdom
of Judah had just undergone judgment having spent 70 years captive in
B. As predicted by
Isaiah, when Medo-Persia overthrew Babylon (as recorded in Daniel 5),
King Cyrus permitted the Jews to return and rebuild the Temple, but
only a relatively small group had returned.
C. Encountered opposition to their plans to
rebuild. Concluded that it must not be time to rebuild and progress
D. As the delay lengthened, the people busied
themselves with their own pursuits and priorities.
II. Haggai 1:1-11
A. In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth
month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by
Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of
Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
"Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The
time has not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built."'"
Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "[Is
it] time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and
this temple [to lie] in ruins?" Now therefore, thus says
the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! You have sown much, and
bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you
are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages, Earns wages [to put] into a bag with
holes." Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!
Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I
may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the LORD. [You]
looked for much, but indeed [it came to] little; and when you
brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts.
"Because of My house that [is in] ruins, while every one
of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you
withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for
a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new
wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and
livestock, and on all the labor of [your] hands." (Haggai
III. Symptoms of God’s Judgment
A. Working hard without results.
B. A series of couplets:
1. “You have sown much, and
bring in little;
2. You eat, but do not have enough;
3. You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
4. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
5. And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put
into a bag with holes.” (Hag 1:6)
C. Out of step with God
1. Violating or ignoring God’s principles
for how to live
a) “You looked for much, but indeed it came
to little” (Hag. 1:9)
2. God actively interferes with their
productivity (a curse)
a) ". . . and when you brought it home, I
blew it away. . . .” (Hag. 1:9)
b) “For I
called for a drought on the land and
the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever
the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor
hands.” (Hag. 1:11)
c) “I struck you with a blight and
mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn
to Me,” says the LORD (Hag. 2:17).
D. Misplaced priorities - focus on self rather
1. "[Is it] time for you yourselves to
dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple [to lie] in
ruins?" (Haggai 1:4)
looked for much, but indeed [it came to]
little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says
the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that [is
in] ruins, while every one of you runs
to his own house.” (Haggai 1:9)
3. Calvin “. . . they were guilty of
ingratitude towards God; for private benefit was by every one
almost exclusively regarded and there was hardly any concern for
the worship of God. Hence the Prophet now reproves this indifference,
allied as it was with ungodliness . . .” [Calvin]
4. Hearts set on their own gain
5. Idolatry: placing self ahead of God
a) The same problem which led to the captivity in
the first place!
b) "Then they shall know that I [am]
the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all
their abominations which they have committed. As for you, son of man,
the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls
and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another,
everyone saying to his brother, 'Please come and hear what the word
is that comes from the LORD.' So they come to you as people do, they
sit before you [as] My people, and they hear your words, but
they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, [but]
their hearts pursue their [own] gain.” (Ezekiel
c) How many boom/bust cycles will it take before
Israel would learn? Before we will learn?!
IV. The Cause
A. Out of touch with reality: forgetting God as
the Source of all blessings!
B. Extensive passage in Deuteronomy 28
1. Primarily applies to God’s promises to
Israel if she remains in obedience as His chosen nation.
2. Yet some of the principles, I believe, apply to
any nation or individual which truly seeks after God.
3. Listen to the “blessed” repeated
over and over!
it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lordyour
God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you
today, that the Lordyour
God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these
blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the
voice of the Lordyour
God: Blessedshall you
be in the
city, and blessed shall
you be in
the country. Blessed shall be
the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase
of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your
flocks. Blessed shall be
your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall
when you come in, and blessed shall
when you go out. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against
you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you
one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the
blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your
hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is
giving you. The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself,
just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord
your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall
see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be
afraid of you. And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the
fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the
produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your
fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the
heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless
all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you
shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the
tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the
commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are
careful to observe them. (Dt
C. God is the source of all good things. When He
blesses: the water flows, the buds blossom, the cow gives its milk,
the bees produce honey, the womb yields its fruit, the rain waters
the ground, financial gears are lubricated, and true prosperity
1. But we increasingly operate in an environment
where God is being shoved out of our plans and ignored as the source
of our prosperity—which we now pursue on our own terms as if
His world is somehow disconnected from Who He is and what He has
2. Historically, God has always responded to this
error the same way: by removing His blessing and sending a curse to
bring us up short, to force us to see the impossibility of being
blessed apart from recognizing Him as the source of all blessing.
V. The Cure - “Consider your ways!”
A. Literally, “set your hearts upon your
= feelings, thoughts and emotions
2. Think about what
you are doing!
3. God isn’t
fooled by what we say—even though we ourselves may be. Our
actions tell where we really are!
4. We “do”
that which we “believe.”
- God wants us to “walk our talk.”
1. Talk is cheap –
isn’t that what Isaiah and Jesus taught?
speaking to hypocrites of His own time: "Hypocrites! Well did
Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with
their mouth, And honor Me with [their]
lips, But their heart is far from Me. . . .'" (Matthew 15:7-9)
VI. Consider Your
A. Fasten your
seat-belts: this is not going to be pretty.
B. Let’s consider some of our ways as
a) Unbridled materialism
(1) Mindshare on shopping, bargains, willing to
drive anywhere if the price is right.
(2) Materialism plunging us into unbiblical levels
(1) For some, the pursuit of money and success has
eclipsed their pursuit of God.
(2) Others find different places to spend their
time: hours watching television or movies, surfing the internet, or
texting and talking on the phone.
(3) Regularly attend a Bible study? Read through
the Bible in a year! You must be joking!!
b) Church is optional.
(1) Growing number of Christians completely out of
(a) From external appearances, these can sometimes
appear to be most zealous for the Lord.
(b) They say they love God, but their works deny
Him: they are disobedient and deceived. Obedience is better than
sacrifice (1S. 15:22).
(2) Irregular and inconsistent participation in
the local church.
(a) Inability to build a consistent foundation of
understanding, both for adults and especially for their children.
(b) This peace-meal “catch it as you can”
approach to learning about God virtually guarantees a stunted
(c) Church is “just another optional
activity” if we aren’t busy or don’t happen to feel
like sleeping in.
(d) Much of what constitutes church grown today is
found among congregations which have retooled their priorities to
minister to the selfish felt-needs of the society. How can we draw
people by focusing on what they want?
theology-lite, hook them and attempt to hold them through
entertainment, lots of fast-moving activities, visuals and media.
(e) Lacking the fruit of the Spirit associated
with consistency and staying power: longsuffering (or patience),
faithfulness, self control. Where is faithfulness? Where is
self-control to be found among Christians of today?
(3) The result: church-goers who call themselves
“Christian” but embrace a world-view which is
increasingly out-of-step with the teaching of their professed Lord,
3. Nevertheless, bless me God!
a) "Son of man, speak to the elders of
Israel, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Have you come
to inquire of Me? [As] I live," says the Lord GOD, "I
will not be inquired of by you."' (Ezekiel 20:3)
C. Let’s consider our ways as anation.
a) Educator John Dewey, a signer of the Humanist
Manifesto, got his way: the religion of atheism (secular humanism)
now reigns supreme over the educational institutions of the land.
b) Teachers and coaches cannot even implicitly
acknowledge the supreme creator without thread of disciplinary action
or even law suit.
c) Students are indoctrinated in evolutionary
dogma – where there is ultimately, no purpose in life. Then
they are told to “go forth and do great things!” This is
d) Evidence of intelligence and design in nature
is deemed to be “non-science” and therefore inadmissible
in the classroom—never mind the fact that such evidence is
associated with all technical engineering endeavors.
e) Teachers and administrators increasingly
saddled with pushing paperwork and offering diverse programs while
performance on foundational subjects declines.
f) Students are taught moral relativism: it is
quite acceptable to have the wrong answer so long as one can explain
how the incorrect answer was arrived at.
(1) The result: students who’s confidence is
out-of-step from their inability.
(2) They feel great about themselves, but are
increasingly unable to function in a credible way in society.
g) A generation brought up with an entitlement
mentality which is on a collision course with the reality of the
h) We are not doing our young people any favors!
a) FCC: the complete loss of moral restraint in
relation to violence, sex, and language.
b) The unprecedented exposure of minors to
violence, premature sexualization, and even sexual predation.
c) Where conservatism can be found, it is all to
often an ailing conservatism.
(1) A shallow moral conservatism intensely
promoting a religious patriotic zeal which is increasingly
disconnected from the essentials of repentance, grace, and redemption
and the true knowledge of God.
(2) Schizophrenia of supposed conservative sources
of information promoting lewd and licentious programs and columnists.
d) Technology is enabling ever higher-definition,
ever more realistic images and sounds. But instead of blessing us by
its godly potential, it is increasingly used to underwrite and
distribute morally offensive material to inappropriate target
audiences in ways that are difficult to monitor or control.
a) Health crisis looming due to an increasingly
(1) An increase in food-related disorders, often
manifesting psychological unease which is aided and abetted by the
view promoted by secular science and education that we essentially
live a purposeless existence.
b) Abortion and euthanasia: taking God’s
prerogative over life into our own hands.
(1) Are we soon to be following in Sweden’s
path where, as of 2009, sex-selection abortions are now legal?1
(2) When our developing health crisis fully
flowers and resources become scarce, what role might euthanasia play
in channeling care away from the elderly toward other
c) Pushing aside all limits in regard to
artificial birth technologies.
(1) Reproduction outside the context of marriage
between a man and a women.
(2) Sacrificing the unborn on behalf of scientific
experimentation, possibly leading to organ harvesting of the
a) Rejection of National Day of Prayer leader over
truthful comments concerning Islam.
(1) Franklin Graham, this year’s honorary
chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and son of the well
known evangelist Billy Graham, had been scheduled to speak at the
Pentagon for an official National Day of Prayer event. But, just two
weeks prior, he was disinvited by Pentagon officials after complaints
were made about his statements concerning Islam.
(2) An estimated 80 percent of those enlisted in
the U.S. armed forces identify as Christians2
yet the military pussy-foots around the obvious association between
Islam and the motivation of our most recent attackers.
(3) Meanwhile, our military is mired in armed
conflict within two Muslim nations exporting terrorism fueled by
b) Christian chaplain’s rights to pray in
the name of Jesus is under fire.
c) Mixing of women and men (and homosexuals) in
compromising situations of warfare, away from families, in close
quarters, often lacking in hygiene, for extended periods.
d) How long can a fiscally irresponsible nation
fund a world-class military?
a) Courts of the land are rapidly purging the very
Judeo-Christian principles upon which the country was established and
guided to it’s position as a world power.
(1) Undermining the Biblical definition of
marriage and enshrining homosexuality as a civil right.
(2) The criminalization of Biblical truth
concerning the nature of sin. (Recently, a British street preacher
was arrested for simply including homosexuality among a list of
activities which the Bible declares to be sin.3)
(3) Meanwhile, the institution of the family has
fallen upon hard times—its demise both outside and within the
church—hastened by the selfishness which characterizes our
b) Ongoing bestowal of most-favored nation status
on a communist nation with repressive political and religious
(1) Intolerance of all political dissent, lack of
freedom of religious practice.
(2) China’s one-child policy has been
implicated in an increase in forced abortions and female infanticide.
(a) In some Chinese provinces, there are more than
130 baby boys for every 100 baby girls. The culture places a premium
value on sons, and girls are considered an economic drain.5
(3) Troubling reports concerning the practice of
harvesting organs from prisoners and political dissidents and selling
them on the black market.
(4) MFN: motivated by pragmatism (money, big
business, what works) over principles (what do we as a nation believe
(5) As we continue in our moral compromise,
day-by-day, China becomes the head and we become the tail.
c) Fiscal suicide - irresponsible violation of
basic principles of money management.
(1) Printing money from thin air: devaluing the
existing money already in circulation.
(2) Bailing out institutions and, in some cases,
captains of industry at the cost of those who have handled money
(3) Undertaking enormous debt for the next
generation spelling the end of prosperity for years to come.
(4) Devaluing the hard-earned savings of those who
planned one day to retire.
(a) “He who earns wages, earns wages to put
into a bag with holes” (Hag. 1:6).
(b) What is the bag with holes called? “Social
security,” “medicare,” “IRA,”, “401K.”
(5) The facts on the ground would seem to indicate
that the United States is even now a debtor/slave nation although it
hasn’t fully dawned on us yet—we still seem to be
swaggering on the global stage under the pretense of being a world
D. Nevertheless, bless our nation God!
1. If we continue on this path, what is God’s
response likely to be?
a) Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: "To what
purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?"
Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And
the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of
lambs or goats. "When you come to appear before Me, Who has
required this from your hand, To trample My courts? Bring no more
futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons,
the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity
and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My
soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing [them].
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even
though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of
blood. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the
evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, (Isaiah
E. Unless we, as individuals and as a nation, wake
up, consider our ways, and repent, I’m convinced we will face a
repeat of Israel’s experience when Phineas’ wife, at the
capture of the Ark of God by the Philistines and at her departure
upon the birth of her son, declared: “Ichabod . . . the glory
of the Lord has departed . . .”