“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” –Haggai 2:6-9
The prophet Haggai was an older man looking back on the glories of his nation, a prophet imbued with a passionate desire to see his people rise up from the ashes of exile and reclaim their rightful place as God’s light to the nations. Haggai recorded four messages to the Jewish people of Jerusalem after their return from exile in Babylon (538 BC). —Haggai 2:3
Why is Haggai so important today?
In the midst of the shaking we are presently experiencing, the Church is in desperate need of a restoration. Reformation is needed within the evangelical church. In many ways the Church has given into the moral and values of the world around her.
Haggai had an important message for the Jews who had recently returned from exile. They had forgotten their God, choosing instead to focus on their own interests, so it was time for them to “consider [their] ways” —Haggai 1:5, 7
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. –Haggai 1:7-8
Haggai’s message to rebuild the temple was passionate, simple, and straightforward —Haggai 1:8. No one could mistake whether or not his direction had been followed—the results would be evident for all the people to see. Through the physical act of rebuilding the temple, the people began to indicate a shift in their spiritual lives: from devotion to self toward devotion to God.
Nothing was more important for the Jews than to show that the Lord was at the center of their thoughts and actions, so Haggai directed them to finish rebuilding God’s temple. However, rather than leaving them alone with the task of rebuilding, Haggai continued to preach to the Jews, encouraging them with the hope of future glory in the temple and a victory to come over the enemies of God’s people vv. 2:7–9, 21–22. According to Haggai’s message, if the people would place God at the center of their lives, they would realize the future blessings that God had in store for His people.
The Jews who emigrated from Babylon to their original homeland of Judah faced intense opposition, both external and internal. Ezra 4:1–5 records the external resistance to the project of rebuilding the temple. The enemies of Judah first attempted to infiltrate the ranks of the builders, and when that didn’t work, they resorted to scare tactics. Haggai, on the other hand, focused on the internal opposition they faced, namely from their own sin. The Jews had thoughtlessly placed their own interests before the Lord’s interests, looking after their own safety and security without giving consideration to the status of the Lord’s house.
Haggai’s encouragement to rebuild the temple in the face of the Jews’ neglect brings to mind the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Christians to build our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10–17). Are you building a life that reflects your status as a temple of the Holy Spirit, leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time? Find encouragement for that construction project in the four passionate sermons from this Old Testament prophet.
I believe this is a prophetic call to the church and America to return to its spiritual roots. In Haggai’s day God rebukes the returning remnant for their misplaced priorities. Gone was the glory of the former kingdom and temple.
Haggai was God’s spokesman sent to awaken and arouse the post-captivity Jews from their lethargy, with determined focus, pursued one major goal: to complete the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He was a “get-it-done” leader, a highly motivated man who attacked indifference as the enemy it was. Haggai (and later Zechariah) was used by the Lord to afflict the comfortable, convincing them there was no excuse for delay. As all of us realize, Haggai’s message is greatly needed in our me-first day of selfishness and indolence. Often the Church can be so focused on building projects an church growth that it neglects Paul’s exhortation to teach and disciple believers to build their lives upon the Rock of Christ.
I encourage you during this time of uncertainty when local churches are unable to hold traditional services to make sure you are building your life on a solid foundation of spiritual truth. When the wind and the storms rage, you will be grounded in the Truth!