Wk 1 - First Things First
MANTRA: It’s not about how bad you are, but how good He is.
Obedience to God’s Call
In Haggai 1, the prophet is sent to deliver a message from God to the Jews, informing them that they were out of order.
Haggai 1:1–4 NLT - On August 29 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the Lord gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.’ ” Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?
The Jews returned from Babylonian exile in 538 BC and began to rebuild the temple in 536.
Ezra 4:4–5 NLT - Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne.
Then, with no mission/no vision, their focus turned to themselves.
Ezra 4:24 NLT - So the work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem had stopped, and it remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
They had become preoccupied with their own lives and had put aside the rebuilding of the temple.
Haggai 1:5–6 NLT - This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
The Lord showed them that by focusing in on their paneled houses (redecorated homes with amenities), there were consequences they did not realize were connected.
Haggai 1:7–11 NLT - “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.”
Verses 9 and 11 offer a striking admission — God takes responsibility for the financial strain the people are facing. He says when they brought money home, He blew it away (v. 9), and He states that He called for a drought on the land (v. 11).
If you truly love something, the best thing you can do is to give it to God.
Genesis 22:2 NLT - “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.
Genesis 22:9–12 NLT - When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:15–18 NLT - Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
What we give to God, He blesses. What we put over Him, He takes away.
Malachi 3:6–7a NLT - “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’
What decree is God referring to?
Leviticus 26:3–5 NLT - “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.
Is this not the exact opposite of the state of the nation described in Haggai?
Malachi 3:8–12 NLT - “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
This promise can’t be removed from the context of covenant.
The abundance, the lack of want, the provision, was already promised. The nation simply needed to obey.
As we return to Haggai, we find a nation who plants, but harvest little. Who eats, but isn’t satisfied. Who drinks, but remains thirsty. Who dresses in layers, but cannot keep warm. Who earns a wage, but has nothing to show for it.
Why would God cause or allow these circumstances?
In verse 8, He tells the people to build the temple that He “may take pleasure in it and be honored.”
This is about God’s honor.
God’s message to the nation was: “Return to me. Put me first again. Remain faithful to me. And I will return to you.”
The Blessing of Obedience
Haggai 1:12–14 NLT - Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!” So the Lord sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the enthusiasm of Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the enthusiasm of the whole remnant of God’s people. They began to work on the house of their God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
Even when we are off track, God is still with us and always helping us to get in alignment with His will.
Haggai 2:18–19 NLT - “Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”
Your obedience unlocks God’s faithfulness and blessing in your life.
When we choose to put other things in front of God’s agenda, we can end up having unexpected results, such as unfulfilled lives and lack where we should have plenty. God wants us to put His agenda first and experience the blessing that comes with being within His will.