Haggai Chapter 1
Haggai 1
Putting the LORD’s priorities before your own, always!
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Published February 28th, 2021; Updated February 28th, 2021
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Moving out from the stale Christian life
Main point summary
Haggai, Chapter 1 verses 1 to 15
Moving out from the stale Christian life
Isn’t this one type of often-seen Christian experience? We discover Christ for the very first time, we learn about his great and amazing love towards us, and we are so surprised, overjoyed, amazed. This is how it should be! We start for the first time in our lives to have a hunger to read the Bible, and just can’t get enough of it. It’s amazing, and we truly are like newborns just trying to soak up everything we can get our hands on. However, after some time, whether after a year, or two years or some period of time, something happens: the initial joy starts to wear off. We begin to say we have “heard” that truth in some sermon before. We say to ourselves hat we don’t see so many new things in the Bible. Serving in the church is no longer “exciting” and so.. we might start seeking after things in the world, again. What has happened? If we go back to the time of the book of Haggai, circa 520 or so BC, the people of Israel had come back with great joy from exile. After the destruction of the temple in 587 BC, all hope for God’s people seemed gone as they went into exile into Babylon. Where was God now, they thought? Could he be found now in idolatrous Babylon?? Psalm 37 recounts such feelings well. And yet, God in his grace brings his people back. Through a foreign king, King Cyrus of Persia, a proclamation of good news (Isaiah 40, 2 Chronicles 36) allows the people to return, and even start rebuilding the temple! Yeah!Hallelujah, is it not? The joy that the people of God had on their return truly does parallel the initial joy of salvation in Christ, doesn’t it? But, just like the Christian described above who has entered into doldrums, the people of Israel after some years start turning back to their own lives only, back to the worldly lifestyle. Into this situation, God comes in and ruffles the contented feathers of his people. And here is where the message of Haggai, Chapter 1, enters into our situation so powerfully God asks to such a people, “are things really going as good as you think they are?Examine your current situation very carefully!” (1:4 The people in Haggai’s time had slowly drifted back into the world. They had been blessed (God did it) after returning to Jerusalem, but they had begun to forget it. They had begun to live again only for themselves. Scripture, when people are in such a condition, then comes at us like a doctor would, with non-sugar coated, direct diagnosis, saying, “Check yourselves, to see if things are really going well.” Here, the Israelites are asked to look and really see if they were doing so great. They find that were not (1:5-6). But for us, much more than our physical circumstances , God asks us to do a spiritual temperature check (temperature checks being something very familiar for us in the COVID-19 area). In Revelation 3:15-20, God asks the Laodicean church to look at themselves carefully. They should be able to see that they are not doing so hot! (rather, they are lukewarm). In light of this self-examination, the answer to the problem of our current lethargic situation is clear, “Get up and start working for the LORD again!”(1:8) When we as Christians are in a bad situation spiritually, we tend to be overly concerned with our own personal situations, which predominate in our minds over God, like our bank account. God says, “stop doing that!” Jesus in Matthew 6:24-33 lays out with stunning clarity the problem we can face in the everyday world, people with a desire to spread the gospel, yet tempted to only worry about our current situation. The solution is clear: “stop worrying about your bank account, and start working for me again (says Jesus).” It was the same in Haggai’s time, it was the same for the disciples, and so, also, for us at this very moment! Will we get up, “go to hills, get wood, and build the Lord’s house again”(verse 8), as we did at the beginning? God’s promises for us when we do so are very great! Humble obedience in the building of His kingdom is what the LORD expects of us. It’s not optional. But, He will be with us as we obey. (1:12-13) And so, though we can do nothing in the Christian life by ourselves, God expects action, as Zerubbabel did. Paul gives a somewhat similar summary of what was going on here in Philippians 2 when he says, “ Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God works to will and to work according to his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). We ourselves need to act, we are not babies anymore! But at the same time, as we stand up and work again for Him, and God will work desire and strength within our hearts to do the work. To work for God is no drudgery, no burden, but a joyous thing, even if it is also work at the same time! And so, we can look at the short parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, to see what kind of Christian we should be, one who builds constantly on a rock, step-by-step, faithfully.
notes
Main point summary
Because the newly-returned Israelites had not been focusing on God at this time, God through Haggai encourages them to continue working on the temple, which the people do.
Haggai, Chapter 1 verses 1 to 15
editing
OT
Haggai 1:1-15
esv
mine
a In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month,
In the second year of King Darius, who was a ruler of Persia at this time, and who had dominion over Israel,
the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to b Zerubbabel the son of c Shealtiel, governor of Judah,
God send his prophet Haggai to speak his word to the returned to Jerusalem from exile Israelites, addressing his word to the leader Zerubbabel of Judah,
and to d Joshua the son of e Jehozadak, the high priest:
as well as to Joshua, who was high priest at the time
series
ideaexplanation
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
This is what the Sovereign Lord of all the earth spoke:
These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord .”
“You Israelites say that right now is not a good time to keep working on the temple of the Lord, that there are other, more pressing matters at hand.”
Then the word of the Lord came
But then God continued to speak,
f by the hand of Haggai the prophet,
through his servant Haggai,
actionmanner
g “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses,
“Though you say that, think carefully on this fact : though you all are busting yourselves with making your own homes as comfortable as possible
while h this house lies in ruins?
can you really keep doing that while my house, the temple is still not built? Can your conscience bear that?
concessive
Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts:
Here is what must really happen, says the Lord in heaven, the one with the multitude of angels.
i Consider your ways.
Think over your lives of these past few years:
j You have sown much,
Although you have planted many fields,
and harvested little.
the yield has been very little.
k You eat,
Moreover, you have food,
but you never have enough;
but nowhere near an amount that satisfies.
you drink,
Regarding drink too, though there is some,
but you never have your fill.
you are always left wanting much more.
You clothe yourselves,
Though you have clothing,
but no one is warm.
it is of the kind that doesn’t help you in the cold seasons.
And he who l earns wages does so
And lastly, whatever wages you get from your work,
to put them into a bag with holes.
you just end up being in need again! Is this how you all truly want to keep on living?
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Therefore, says the Lord:
i Consider your ways.
you need to change the way you love completely.
Go up to the hills
Instead of your current laziness towards me, go up into the hills,
and bring wood
then cut down the trees,
and build the house,
and start building my temple again, as you did just a few years past.
progression
that m I may take pleasure in it
This is all what I deeply want you to do,
and that n I may be glorified,
which is to my glory.
actionpurpose
says the Lord .
says, the Lord of hosts.
inference
j You looked for much,
Let me explain once more why you are in this present situation. To recap what you are like now: though you have worked hard for your own welfare:
and behold, it came to little.
you have gotten so little.
And when you brought it home,
In other words, though you brought back your fruit,
o I blew it away.
I myself brought it to nothing.
Why?
Why did this happen to you?
declares the Lord of hosts.
says the Lord of hosts.
Because of my house h that lies in ruins,
Here is the crux of the matter, the real reason for finding yourselves as you are: you have done nothing for my temple, which lies incomplete and unusable for worship,
while each of you busies himself with his own house.
although you are busy, but busy for yourselves, and not living for my glory.
questionanswer
Therefore p the heavens above you have withheld the dew,
That is the reason then why I have not blessed you as I want,
and the earth has withheld its produce.
why, you don’t even have food on the table as you need.
And q I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on r the grain, the new wine, the oil,
In other words, because of your actions, or lack of actions, I have called for a stop in production from heaven,
on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast,
on all the productivity of the earth, whether of plant or msn or animal
and s on all their labors.”
and on everything you do.
bilateral
ground
t Then u Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and u Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all v the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God,
After hearing these piercing yet true words from the Lord and his prophet, Zerubbabel the leader of the Israelites, and all the people listened to and obeyed the words of their God,
and the words of Haggai the prophet,
spoken through the prophet Haggai,
as the Lord their God had sent him.
the prophet sent because the Lord had sent him for this reason.
And the people feared the Lord .
The people were reverent to their covenant maker, the Lord their God.
Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord , spoke to the people with the Lord ’s message,
And after this, or because of this obedience, God have another word for them through his prophet, saying,
w “I am with you, declares the Lord .”
“I am with you and will bless you” says the Lord.
And x the Lord stirred up the spirit of u Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah,
And because of these words, the Lord gave strength in the heart of Zerubbabel their leader,
and the spirit of y Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest,
and into the heart of Joshua the high priest,
and the spirit of all z the remnant of the people.
and into the heart of all the people,
actionresult
And they came and a worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,
so that they all united together to work on the house of the Lord their God,
b on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
in the second year of Darius the king.
temporal
discourse
Comments
Brent Karding
And so, we can look at the short parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, to see what kind of Christian we should be, one who builds constantly on a rock, step-by-step, faithfully.
I assume that, in a full sermon, you'd then turn to the Sermon on the Mount and talk about it?

I'm not sure that's a good idea; it would take attention away from the text of Haggai, which is where the emphasis should be. I recommend expanding on what "building the temple" looks like today, since that's the specific exhortation.

That would fit well at the end of point #2. (It would be important to note what the "temple" is in the New Covenant: Jesus is God's temple, and we are living stones in him. So building the temple would be both spiritual growth in ourselves, but primarily building up others in his church.)
Daniel Morris
One thing I would just mention as I am reviewing the outline again now: it may be better to emphasize the first two points only, and not the third. I think the third point is important, and is from this text, but also that in a real teaching situation with others, it might be just too much. Perhaps you are implying this when you say not to go into so much detail regarding those last verses in Matthew 7, and rather put the focus on the 2nd point much more?
Brent Karding
That's a good idea - it might be better to do that. I hadn't thought of that, but in that case I would include verses 12-13 in point 2, so they aren't missed.
Brent Karding
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God works to will and to work according to his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13).
Excellent use of Phil 2:12-13 - important to tell people this, about our responsibility that is based on God's promise to work in us.
Brent Karding
God asks to such a people, “are things really going as good as you think they are?Examine your current situation very carefully!” (1:4
I'd include verses 4-6 and 9-11 here, since it is there that the Lord calls the people to consider their ways.
Daniel Morris
Yes, definitely. I see that. Verse 4 is part of a larger section, for sure.
Brent Karding
Your work in this passage is excellent, in each of the pieces of text (1-4, 5-8, 9-11, etc.). Two of your largest connections, though, don't work as well, in my view (the large Q-A and Ground).

1) Although verse 4 contains a question, 5-11 aren't the answer. This is a rhetorical question - a statement worded as a question to make people think, but without a stated answer (since the answer should be obvious to the hearers: "No!").

2) If 9-11 is the Ground of 5-8, the text is saying (using the main points of each part), "Build the house so that I may be pleased, because I rejected your work and caused your poverty." That does make sense, but the same thing is said, in 5-6. Perhaps 5-6 and 9-11 are grounding 7-8?

Your Ac-Res as the largest relationship does work well!
Daniel Morris
For 1) instead of a Question and Answer, perhaps an Inference is what 5-11 are doing, as connected to the rhetorical question of verse 4?

For 2) yes, I thought 5-6 and 9-11 are basically saying the same thing, but  just using slightly different language. Perhaps I could make a “Double Ground (2 grounds)” that support an Inference of verse 7-8? What do you think?
Brent Karding
1) Yes, I like Inference for 5-11.

2) I've made a custom Double Ground relationship in my own account, since I've seen it multiple places. It would work here, yes.
Brent Karding
And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,
I wouldn't make all of 13a-14c the Action of 14d-15, but only 14a-c. In other words, the last Action here should be inside the Result of 14a-c.
Brent Karding
And when you brought it home,
You have many good uses of Concessive in this passage, showing the underlying logic of "when," instead of using Temporal.

There are two places, though, where Temporal would be more accurate: 9c and 9h. There, the logic isn't, "Even though you brought it home," or "even though you are busy with your own house."
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.