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A Bird's-Eye View of Haggai
The book of Haggi opens with the building of the Lord's house. In this the Lord's people had lagged behind. The second chapter is a great prophetic vision of another house which the Lord Himself shall build. All of this will be brought out as we proceed with our study.
We wish, first of all, by way of introduction to bring before you some succinct statements in the first chapter.
1. The voice of the people. Some may allege that the voice of the people is the voice of God. That is not true, and it is especially not true in this chapter. The people said: "The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built."
Will you permit us to enlarge upon this statement and give it some present day implications.
(1) One man says, "The time is not come to preach the Lord's Second Coming." He urges that the people are not prepared for it. He says that the Second Coming is too deep, or that it is too divisive a doctrine. He imagines the time is not come, because the Lord delays His coming, and the message is not NOW vital.
We wonder why Peter felt differently? Even at Pentecost, as recorded in the first chapter of Acts, Peter spoke with most definite words upon Christ's return and His throne. He even used the Psalmist David as an exemplar of faith in the Lord's return. If the time is not ripe to preach this message, why then did Paul, in the Spirit, say? "These things teach and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine."
When could the time be riper than now? The midnight cry has gone forth, "Behold, the Lord cometh," let us help to tell it out. If not NOW when should the blessed hope be preached?
(2) Another says, it is not time to preach salvation themes. He says, "The Holy Spirit has left the sinner to the sway of last day apostasy." "There can be no more great revivals." Who said so? God says, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him, and the Redeemer shall come to Zion." There never was a time when salvation messages needed to be preached more than now. The Lord is coming soon to rapture the saints, so, let us make one more great shout, to get the sinner saved and ready.
(3) A third, this time a lost soul, says, "It is not time to accept Christ." Alas! Thinkest thou that it is time to leave thy soul outside the ark of safety? Wouldest thou wait until Satan has thee more tightly bound with his chains of unbelief and sin? Surely "now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation."
2. The reproof of God. The people said, "The time is not come that the Lord's house should be built." God says, "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste"?
Suppose that each of us look around and see if we are as sinful as were the people of that day? We ask, Is it time for saints to live in cieled houses while much of the world lies wholly unevangelized? Shall our Foreign missionary societies be left penniless while church people luxuriate in comforts. Shall we over feed ourselves, while the heathen are famishing for the bread of life?
Again we suggest the inconsistency of driving our costly cars, robing ourselves with the finest of raiment, and spending money on any self-centered unnecessaries, while the church at home lacks funds to press forward its God given mission, both at home and abroad.
Behold, think it not strange that God should thus address the people of old. Think you that He has changed since then? Is His word to those of that hour, different than His word to us? Does God still say, "Is it right for you to live in cieled houses, while my work lies in need of funds?" Perhaps He is also saying, Is it right for you to live in cieled houses while in your own assembly, or village, there are scores of honest toiling people in want?
Really, if we see our brother in need, and we shut up our bowels of compassion against him, dare we imagine that the love of God dwells in us?
I. A BAG WITH HOLES (Haggai 1:6 )
God, in our verse, gives us His method of dealing with self-centered and self-affectioned lives. Let us observe several things:
1. "Ye have sown much and bring in little." Is it true that God does give, to him that giveth; and that He withholds, from him that giveth not? Such is the statement of 2 Corinthians 9:6 . "He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully." God is not speaking of sowing seed for one's self, but of sowing for Him. Let us see: "There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." That is what the Lord is emphasizing. Why then did they sow MUCH, and bring in LITTLE? It was because they had not sown unto God, but unto themselves.
Is the divine law not revealed? "Give and it shall be given unto you."
2. "Ye eat, but ye have not enough." Not that alone, but this also: "Ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink." "Ye clothe you, but there is none warm."
We almost feel ourselves reading Isaiah 55:2 . "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?" Or, we find ourselves thinking of a verse in Ecclesiastes: "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase."
Think you that Solomon was satisfied with all his riches?
He wrote, "I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation to my spirit." Then he adds: "Therefore I hated life." Many a man who lives for self has come to that same conclusion. Many have even suicided.
3. "He that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes." Some one says, perhaps, "I do not put my money into a bag with holes, I put it into a bank. I save my money. I store my grain into barns." After all that is only another bag with holes. The man or woman who spends their money on evil pastimes, surely puts his money into a bag with holes. So also does a man who puts it into a bank for himself. The rich farmer may say, "I have much goods laid up for many days." "I will not waste it, I will store it up, and say to my soul, eat drink and be merry." To such an one God says, "Thou fool." And so also is everyone that is rich unto himself.
The only bag without holes is in heaven above. Lay up your treasures there, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
II. I DID BLOW UPON IT (Haggai 1:8-9 )
In Haggai 1:6 there was a bag with holes, and the money poured in, was wasted. In verse nine the money is like unto chaff. God merely blew upon it, and it flew away. Let us try to get the deeper meaning of this.
1. A call to build God's house. Haggai 1:8 says, "Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord."
This is what God wants men to do with their energy and their income. He wants them to use it for Him. He wants them to glorify His Name, to build His house.
Let us consider our ways. What have we that we have not received from Him? Shall we then take our funds and use them upon ourselves while His house lieth waste? God forbid!
2. A call to remember. The Lord tells His people, who had withholden their goods from Him, "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little."
We may think that our success along all business lines depends entirely upon our own genius. We may think our harvests depend upon our skill in sowing and tending our crops. This is far from the truth. The Lord alone is able to give the increase. We may plant, and we may sow, but what about the rains and the heat. We may go to work for wages, or enter into business, but what about health and strength and mental acumen. Is it not God who giveth men power to make money?
The book of Malachi is very definite when it says: "Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me." What was the curse which God had sent. He had sent the devourer to destroy the fruit of their ground. He had caused the vine to cast off her fruit before it was ripe. He had sent famine, or pestilence. The canker worm and the locust were His great army to devastate their crops.
3. God's statement, "I did blow upon it." And why did He blow upon what they had brought home for themselves? Because His own house was left waste, as they had run every man to the house that was his own.
III. A CALL TO STRENGTH (Haggai 2:4 )
1. A call to strength in view of past blessings. The Lord said unto His people, "Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory?" He seemed to be saying; the people were willing in the days of old, they brought their gifts, they gave their labour, and I was with them to give them strength.
God seemed to be saying, the same Lord that was with the people in the days of Solomon, will be with you. He seemed to say, the God that was, is the God that is; the God who wrought, is the God who will work. It was the appeal to Zerrubabel and to the people to arise and to build.
2. A call to strength in view of present need. The Lord asked His people to compare the present condition of His house with its past glory. He said: "How do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it, as nothing?"
How about comparing the ministry of your church, or of your own life, with the ministry of the church at Pentecost, and the preaching of Peter. Is the Holy Ghost less powerful, or less willing to work today, than He was to work then? Is the need less? Are the obstacles smaller?
The day of miracles are not past unless the days of faith and faithfulness are past.
In Isaiah, Israel cries to God. saying: "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days." Then Israel reminded the Lord of how He had cut down Rahab, and wounded the dragon; of how He had dried up the sea, and made in the depths a way for the ransomed to pass over. Israel seems to be saying to God: "Awake and do for us, what Thou didst do for them." Jehovah is quick to reply, and He says to Israel: "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem." Then the Lord asks Israel to shake herself from the dust. This is still the voice of God.
3. An assurance I am with you. There is a little verse in Thessalonians where it says, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." The Lord is our strength. The only question is: will He stretch forth His arm in our behalf? He certainly will, when we are ready to shake ourselves from the dust; when we are ready to put on our beautiful garments. So long as Israel was away from God, the Lord's house lay waste; but now God calls upon Israel to return unto the Lord and He said, "I will be with you."
IV. THE STRENGTH OF GOD IN MANIFESTATION (Haggai 2:6-7 )
1. A future scene. The Spirit of God lifts the vision of Haggai away from the temple and its need of rebuilding in the days of Zerubbabel, and gives him a far-flung view of His Second Advent. We are not guessing, when we say this, inasmuch, as verse six is quoted in the book of Hebrews almost word for word; and it is quoted not in fulfillment of the work of Ezra and Zerubbabel in the rebuilding of the house of God, but in relation to the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Let us quote to you from Hebrews chapter twelve, verse twenty-six: "Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying. Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heavens." This verse is used in connection with the statement "Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved." In the tenth chapter of Hebrews, also, we read: "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry."
Thus we have the "little while," and the "shaking of the heavens and the earth" set forth in both Haggai and Hebrews.
2. There were many obstacles in the way of the rebuilding of God's house in the olden days. However, He called on them to be strong for He was with them. There will be many obstacles in the rebuilding of the final house but God will be the strength of His people. He will shake not the heavens alone but the earth and the sea and the dry land and all nations. When God raises up His hand no one can draw it back.
3. God will yet fill His house with glory. The name of the Lord may be blasphemed the world around. Satan's wiles may lead the people away from the truth, and away from their fidelity to the Lord. However, God hath spoken, and He will yet cause His name to be glorified, and His house He will fill with glory. It is not now, as it shall be. For a little while His cause may suffer, His Name may be maligned, His people may lose their first love; but yet, another little while, and the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
4. This glory of the Lord will be preceded by cataclysmic judgments. The Lord will shake the nations. He will shake the heavens, shake the earth, shake the sea. The earth will reel to and fro like a drunkard. When, however, His judgments fall the world will learn righteousness.
V. GOD'S FUTURE BLESSINGS OUTLINED (Haggai 2:8-9 )
1. God's blessings are based upon His world ownership. Haggai 2:8 says, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts." Another Scripture says that the cattle on a thousand hills are His. Still another Scripture says: "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein."
When the devil showed Christ the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he offered to give to Christ only that which was truly His. All things were made by Him and for Him. When, therefore, the Lord comes back to inherit His possessions He will retrieve them from the lap of the wicked one.
Stop for a moment and weigh, if you can, the riches of the great cities of the earth, their silver and their gold. Christ says, "They are Mine." Count in all of the possibilities of the harvests, not of some lone acreage but of the whole earth, and of the earth renewed and blessed. All is His.
2. God's blessings include the glory of His latter house. Solomon who builded the first house was given riches and honor above all the peoples of the earth. Into the house of God, he placed much of those riches. Even the Queen of Sheba, as she marvelled at Solomon's achievements, said: "The half hath not been told."
Solomon was rich. Christ is infinitely richer. Solomon could build a house of glory, but the glory of the house that Christ, the Branch, will build will be the joy of the whole earth. Not the Queen of Sheba alone will come to view the glory of the latter house, but the kings of the earth will come from afar, and with amazement they will worship the Lord as they behold His glory.
3. God's blessings include the perfection of peace. "And in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." Let us remember that Jerusalem has been for many centuries the battleground of the world. It has been sacked and re-sacked, taken and re-taken by the armies of men. Its streets have been soiled with the blood of the slain more than the streets of any other city the world over.
At this writing Jerusalem is once more a city of strife and conflict. There awaits, however, to Jerusalem, her greatest sorrow and her darkest hour. During the tribulation period the battle of Armageddon will be fought near Jerusalem. The city will fall into the hands of the antichrist. However, God has spoken and God has said, "In this place will I give peace."
VI. EARTH'S CRUMBLING THRONES (Haggai 2:22 )
1. God's supremacy over the nations is established. Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, was encouraged by Haggai to proceed with the building of the Lord's house in spite of the fact that the peoples around him were against him.
In the midst of His difficulties, God through Haggai revealed unto Zerubbabel another day in which He would shake the heavens and the earth, overthrowing thrones and kingdoms. We, therefore, leaving for the while the task given to the people of that day, will study, with the prophet before us, the things that await this earth, perhaps in our day. Let us observe God's sure word of prophecy as set forth in our verse twenty two.
2. God's overthrow of the nations is set forth.
(1) "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms." Isaiah the prophet in the days of his youth saw the crumbling throne of Uzziah. He saw it, saw its wreckage, and in it we have no doubt that he saw Israel's future troubles and the overthrow of world kingdoms. At the same time, however, Isaiah saw the throne of the Lord high and lifted up.
At this writing thrones have already fallen, and all nations seem about to enter into the great struggle to overthrow and to break down the thrones of earth. It is in the midst of this carnage and maddened fury that Jesus Christ Himself will come and the thrones of the earth will fall.
(2) "I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen." The strength of the kingdoms lies in their armor, in their vast armies, and in their accumulated war materials. These things are the boast of the nations of today. Each nation is trying to outdo the other in making itself strong, and impregnable against attack. All of this strength of kingdoms, the Lord will destroy.
(3) "I will overthrow chariots * * horses, and their riders." The man power will also fall. Every one will fall by the sword of his brother. How graphic is this description, which the Spirit gave to Haggai. Every man trying to overthrow his brother man. Every nation seeking to destroy every other nation that opposes it.
Thus the work of destruction is even now going on. Soon, the carnage may begin. Soon the actual battle, with but one objective the survival of the fittest, will be taking place. The pulpit is no longer preaching world peace. The whole world is living in dread anticipation of the Day of destruction.
VII. THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST (Haggai 2:23 )
We must face this scripture squarely. This is the way it reads: "In that day saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee saith the Lord of hosts.
1. What is the day of Zerubbabel's honor? There are no doubt some who would like to use verse twenty-three as a supposed proof that verse twenty-two, and also verses six to nine of the second chapter of Haggai, are historical and refer only to the past. They say this is a promise to a certain man who was governor of Judah, and it is impossible to think of him in any connection whatsoever with the Lord's coming kingdom. This is where such an one is wrong. It is not only possible, but it is certain, that saints will reign with Christ. What saints? those saints who have suffered with Him. Did not God give promise to David that he would reign in conjunction with Him as a prince? Did Christ not tell the twelve that they who had left all and followed Him should sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel when He came to sit upon His throne? Does not the Bible prophesy the coming of Elijah who shall once more give testimony upon the earth?
Certainly Job made his confession of faith to include his standing together with his Lord on the earth in the latter days when he should see Him for himself. The fact that his body was to be destroyed by worms deterred not his expectancy.
2. What is the cause of Zerubbabel's honor? Why does the Lord promise to make him a signet? Why did the Lord choose him for that very thing? It was because of Zerubbabel's faithfulness in the day of his building the house unto the Lord.
It was no small task that this governor of Judah undertook, and the opposition was strong. Knowest thou not that when the Lord Jesus comes in His glory He will bring His rewards with Him? Knowest thou not that the Old Testament saints as well as those of the New Testament and of our own day shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in their body?
"There's a beautiful crown in heaven to wear,
For those who here their cross will bear,
So bear it, my brother, and when you get there
That beautiful crown you'll wear."
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Haggai 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17