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Building the House of God (Sermon)

Building the House of God (Sermon)

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Published by tsupasat
An expository sermon based on Haggai 1:1-15, calling Church members to come together to build the church. The first part in a two-part series.
An expository sermon based on Haggai 1:1-15, calling Church members to come together to build the church. The first part in a two-part series.

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Published by: tsupasat on Sep 18, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Building the House of God
Haggai 1:1-15Today, we’re going to look at the Book of Haggai. It’s the third-to-the-last book of the Old Testament, just in front of Zechariah. Haggai was a prophet—someone who told people what God wanted—and the Book of Haggai records his prophesies. The last partof the Old Testament contains all these books of prophesy. Before that, there are books of  poetry and wise sayings, and then before that there are histories.The reason we read these prophesies is because they show us how the relationship between God and His people works.It’s important to know the story behind Haggai’s prophesies. Basically, the Biblerecords how God had a relationship with Abraham because he was a man of faith. God promised Abraham that He would bless His descendents, and that the whole world would be blessed through them—God already had a plan to send Jesus, whose ancestor wasAbraham.So the Old Testament records God’s relationship with the descendents of Abraham, the Israelites, the Jewish people. They are His people and live in a covenantrelationship with Him. He led them out of Egypt, where they were slaves, into the land of Canaan. He helped them fight their enemies. Eventually, they became two kingdoms,Israel and Judah. The people became more and more wicked, worshipping idols andkilling the prophets that God sent to warn them. Finally, God sent the Babylonians todestroy their cities and bring them far away to Babylon.There was a prophesy that after 70 years, the Israelites would return to Jerusalem.God made this happen, and moved the heart of Cyrus, the king of Persia, to allow theJews to return and rebuild their temple. While many Jews stayed in Babylon, the familiesthat believed in God’s promise returned to Jerusalem. They began rebuilding the templeunder the direction of Zerubabbel the governor and Joshua the high priest. However, theJews who had remained in the land during the 70 years had mixed with other people thatthe king of Babylon had brought there. Because the Jews did not want to mix with themand would not allow them to join in building the temple, these people—who are calledSamaritans in the New Testament—plotted against the rebuilding of the temple. Acombination of threats, force, and political pressure finally made the Jews stop rebuildingthe temple. Now, skip forward 15 years. The people who relocated to Jerusalem were settleddown and getting on with life. They said to each other, “Now is not the time to build thetemple.”
v. 1-4
1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month,the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel  son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, thehigh priest:2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time hasnot yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' " 
3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 "Is it atime for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while thishouse remains a ruin?" 
The Israelites had an uncanny ability to deceive themselves. It’s human nature— it’s easy to trick yourself into being self-centered and proud, but difficult to trick yourself into loving others and being thankful to God—those things take some consideration andwillful decision-making.God spoke through Haggai using the facts: The Israelites who had taken such pride in rebuilding the temple 15 years earlier were now eager to build and adorn their own houses, but were perfectly happy about letting God’s house lay in ruins.
v. 5-6
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes,but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holesin it." 
God reminded the Israelites of His covenant—a solemn agreement—with them.Way back when He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He made an agreement with themthat if they respected Him and lived according to His laws, that He would bless them.The problem was that the Israelites had let other things distract them from their covenant with God. They allowed fear and discouragement to seep in. The Bible says thatwhen they laid the foundation of the temple, some of the older people who had seen thefirst temple that King Solomon built wept because the new one was so small incomparison. Add to that the pressure they had from their enemies. In the end, they choosethe easy route and had become quite happy with that.But God knows that the path of least resistance is not the best for us. AlthoughGod created us good, we have to deal with sin and the results of our bad choices. Godwants us to use our free will to choose Him above other things.That’s why God asked the Israelites to carefully consider their situation: Theywere in a covenant with God, but they weren’t being blessed. In fact, they were beingcursed because they had chosen to give into fear, doubt, and discouragement—and hadeventually settled into complacency.
v. 7-8
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 thehouse, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD.
Here God gives the Israelites a clear way forward. Instead of mindlessly slippingfurther away from God’s will, He wants them to wake up and make a calculated decisionto obey God. They need to make a determination to serve Him, purposefully planninghow to please God.
v. 9-11
9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my
house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his ownhouse. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dewand the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and themountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground  produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands." 
Just to make sure they get the message, God repeats Himself. The key sentencehere comes after “Why?” “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of youis busy with his own house.” In the KJV, it reads, “Because of mine house that is waste,and ye run every man unto his own house.”
v. 12-15
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORDtheir God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORDtheir God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.13 Then Haggai, the LORD's messenger, gave this message of the LORDto the people: "I am with you," declares the LORD. 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah,and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on thehouse of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.
The Israelites wisely decide to obey God. There are a couple things here will helpus understand about obedience.First, the Israelites obeyed God because they feared Him. That means that they believed He was who He said He was, and believed in His promises and warnings. Theytook Him seriously enough to look past their own fears, doubts, and discouragement.They took Him seriously enough to overcome the inertia of human nature—moving outof a rut is very difficult! That first step was theirs to take.The second thing was that God stirred their spirits once they decided to obey.Things may not have changed on the outside, but they were beginning to change on theinside once the Israelites decided to obey God.
So, I’ve tried to reserve application of these verses until now. Actually, theseIsraelites are a lot like us in that they are the people of a promise—so are we. They have acovenant with God—so do we. When they returned from exile in Babylon to rebuildJerusalem, they made a step of faith—so did we, when we decided to become a Christianand follow Jesus.Unfortunately, our natural inclinations also bring us further away from God. Justlike with the Israelites, everything seems to conspire to draw us away from God’s will—it becomes very, very difficult to do what God wants. We feel pressure from the outside because of our jobs, what people say, our family situations. We also feel pressure fromthe inside because of the burden of our responsibilities, discouragement, and tiredness.It’s just so easy to give excuses for doing our own thing instead of Gods—and we believe it, too.

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