Today is another transformation Sunday as we revisit the theme for our church in 2016.My mother-in-law was not a very demonstrative person.She kept things to herself most of the time.But one thing that she and her husband would do during her cancer years was that they would turn on the radio in the kitchen to the song Celebrationand would sing and dance… Celebrate the times, come on!Well, We are not going to get up and sing right now, at least not aloud, but I would like to encourage you to not only celebrate the times, but to transformate the times, come on!
The life of a Christian is a life of transformation.Each day we become more like our Lord Jesus Christ in the way we believe, think, and behave.The prophet Haggai will help us in our transformation journey as we take heed to his exhortation to consider our ways.
I.The History of Israel Leading to Haggai's Prophecy
A.God brought Israel out of Egypt to be a people for himself.
Dt. 4:37-40 – And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day.Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.
1.He provided for them.
2.He instituted a system thought which they would have access to him.
3.He gave them a place to live with houses they didn't build and vineyards they didn't plant.
B.As soon as they took possession of most of the Promised Land, Israel forgot the God who had delivered them.
Jg. 2:10-12 – When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.
1.God send them through several cycles of sin àcrying out à repentance à deliverance à sin in the book of Judges.
2.Yet the refrain of the book remained, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
C.God's repeated deliverance of Israel was met with rejection and a demand to be led by a king just like the kings of the nations.
1.This demand eventually led to the division of the kingdom.
2.The ten northern tribes established their own kingdom under Jeroboam and the two southern tribes continued on under the Davidic kings.
D.The Northern Kingdom was deeply steeped in idolatry (the golden calves) and just 220 years after being established, it was completely destroyed.
1.In 722 B.C., the Assyrians brutally took them captive.
Hos. 11:3-7 – I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.I stooped andfed them.He shall not return to the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent.And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels.My people are bent on backsliding from Me.Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.
2.The Northern Kingdom was never to be established again.
E.God remained patiently dealing with Judah because of the promises he had made to David till the best thing for them was for God to give them over to the enemy for a season.
Jer. 25:1-11 – The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which wasthe first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: "From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the Lord has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened.And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them,but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear.They said, 'Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.'Yet you have not listened to Me," says the Lord, "that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the Lord, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years."
1.When Babylon took the Southern Kingdom away, they did two things: flattened the protective walls of Jerusalem and destroyed Solomon's temple.
2.Even then, this was not a final rejection of his people; rather, a period of purification for them.
Jer. 29:10-11 – For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
3.Eventually Daniel reminds God of this promise and Judah is returned to the Promised Land.
Dan. 9:1-3 – In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
F.That brings us to the beginning of Haggai, 1:1 – 520 B.C.500 years after the reign of David and about 1,000 years since the Exodus.
"After the return of the people, they were favoured, we know, especially with three prophets, who roused their fainting hearts, and finished the predictions, until at length the Redeemer came is his appointed time."John Calvin in The Preface to Haggai
A.Haggai was an old man by now – nearly 90 years old, 2:3.
B.Haggai was a single-issue prophet.
1.Unlike most other OT prophets, idolatry, adultery, etc. are not part of his message.
2.His single issue is the disobedient heart demonstrated in the slow progress in building the temple.
a.The people of Judah had been back in the land for about 20 years.
b.They had built the foundation of the temple right way.
c.But then they stopped to build their own houses.
1)They built their houses.
2)They remodeled their houses.
3)They improved their houses.
4)But left the construction of the temple unattended.
C.Another peculiarity of this prophecy is that the people actually listens to him and do what he calls them to do.
1.He speaks to both the civil leaders and the ecclesiastical leaders, 1:1.
2.He calls them to build the temple on the first day of the sixth month, 1:7.
3.Three weeks later the people were busy building the temple, 1:12-15.
D.The real issue wasn't just that they weren't building the temple, but the reason why they weren't building the temple, 1:2-11.
1.As we read chpt. 1, we don't get the feeling of out and out rebellion.
a.It seems more like a slow descent into complacency and disobedience.
b.Life just got in the way of obeying the Lord and they had a perfectly reasonable explanation for it: it just wasn't yet time for them to do what God commanded them to do, 1:2.
1)They had families to raise, fields to plow, and businesses to tend to.
2)They would eventually get to building the temple as soon as life afforded a convenient moment.
2.The problem is that the unplanned life will never afford a convenient moment to obey God.
a.They were lacking intentionality in their lives.
b.They seemed to think that transformation, growth, and obedience would just happen.
c.They also seemed to think that obedience was secondary to living life.
3.Yet, life was biting them – they really didn't have much to show for their unplanned life, 1:6.
4.Why? Because a life lived under the sun, that is, without consideration of God's claims on us is empty and meaningless.
5.Therefore, the prophet exhorts them to consider their ways, 1:5, 7.
"They were to fix their attention on their conduct, not merely to take a glance, but seriously and steadily to reflect on their ways."John Calvin in Commentary on Haggai
a.Why do you think life is not returning to you what you think it should return, 1:6.
b.The answer is because you were looking for a return on delayed obedience, 1:9-11.
1)The life merely lived under the sun is not a satisfying life because we were made to transcend the sun.
2)The life lived under the Son of God satisfies because we were made for that.
E.Why the big deal about the temple?
1.Is God just jealous that he doesn't have a house like the rest of them? Of course not since not even the heaven of heavens can contain him.
2.The temple was the place where his people would experience his presence with them.
3.But more than that the temple was going to point to the ultimate one in whom God and man meet, 2:6-7.
4.God wanted the temple so that the people could be ever reminded of the coming one, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jn. 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
III.Consider Your Ways: Obedience or Excuses?
A.Key to transformation is considering our ways – are they way of obedience or excuses?
B.Is your Christian life more about believing, thinking, and doing what God commands or making excuses why you don't have to, or can't, or will do at some point later in life?
C.Consider every area of your life: are they about obedience or about excuses? Using vv. 6, 9 as a help.
1.Is the way you work about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
2.Is the way you plan your life about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
3.Is the way you deal, budget, prioritize your use of money and resources about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
4.Is the way you are involved or not in the lives of other people about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
5.Is your involvement in the Body of Christ, the Church, about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
6.Is the way you love your spouse about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
7.Is the way that you are raising your children about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
8.Is the way that you honor and obey your parents about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
9.Is the way that you use your computer, tablet, and phone about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
10.Is the way you relate to alcohol, legal and illegal drugs about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
11.Is the way that you carry out friendships about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?
12.Is the way you eat about obedience to the Son of God or about excuses?