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Biblical Illustrator. Haggai. 1

Biblical Illustrator. Haggai. 1

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 14, 2011
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BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR. HAGGAI. 1CHAPTER IVbbs. 1, 2. Came the Word of the Lord by Haggal — Duty revealed: — Thegrand subject of the whole chapter is duty. Duty revealed, duty postponed,duty vindicated. These two verses direct us to the revelation of duty.Here we have — ( 1 ) The time of its revelation. Every duty has its time, everytrue work has its hovur. (2) The organ of its revelation. " Came the Word of theLord by Haggai." (3) The order of its revelation. Haggai had to deliver themessage to men nearest to him, with whom he was most identified, and the mentoo who had the most power in influencing others. I. Duty is the bukdhn of DivxB BEVELATiO. The great purpose of Haggai's mission was, in the name of God, to urge his countrymen to the fulfilment of a work which was morally incum-bent on them, namely, the rebuilding of the temple. What was the burden of Haggai's mission is in truth the burden of the whole Divine revelation — duty.It contains, it is true, histories of facts, effusions of poetry, discussions of doctrine ;but the grand all-pervading substance of the whole is duty ; its grand voice isnot merely to believe and feel, but to do ; it regards faith and feeling as worthlessunless taken up and embodied in the right act. It presents the rule of duty, itsupplies the helps to duty, it urges the motives to duty. This fact shows twothings — 1. That the Bible studies the real well-being of man. ot an assemblageof beliefs and emotions, but an assemblage of acts and habits. The fact shows — 2. That impractised religion is spurious. II. Duty is increased by socialELEVATIO. This is implied in the circumstance that Haggai went directly withthe message from God to the most influential men in the state, to " Zerubbabelthe son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, thehigh priest." This fact serves two purposes. 1. To supply a warning to men ingreat places. 2. A lesson to ministers. Let the ambassadors of heaven carrytheir messages first, if possible, to men in authority. {Homilist. )Ver. 2. This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's houseshould be built. — Church extension : — The people said this, because theythought the undertaking too great, too arduous, too expensive for anation circumstanced as they were. These returned captives were but asmall remnant of the population of the land. They had not yet fullyestablished themselves in their own habitations. They had formidableenemies around them, bent upon impeding their work. They were labouringat present under extraordinary distress, from the failure of their vintage and theircrops ; and therefore, though they admitted that the work was one needful tobe done, they said, " ot yet ; not in these days." How many good works areput by by being put off ! How much of the business we are sent into the world
to do is not done, imder pretence that it is too soon to set about it. But theprophet shows this people that their present poverty and distress were sent byGod as a chastisement for their past negligence, and a warning as to their futiurecourse. The poverty which they thought to prevent by not building the temple,God brought upon them for not builcSng it. Having thus opened to them thenature of God's dealings with them, he calls upon them to reflect upon them.X2 THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR. [chap. i." Consider your ways." Then he urges upon them the immediate duty of amend-ing their ways — " Go up to the mountain and bring wood, and build the house " ;and adds also the promise of encouragement — " And I will take pleasure in it,and I will be gloriiied, saith the Lord." The message and exhortation of theprophet were not in vain. The message was given on the first day of the sixthmonth, and on the four-and-twentieth day of the month the people were at work.When the Jews were led, on account of feebleness and poverty, to neglect theirduty in the restoration of the temple, God visited and chastised them with theincrease of that very distress which was the excuse for their sloth ; and thoughthey misunderstood the lesson, He withdrew not BQs hand till, under the teachingof the prophet, they had learnt its meaning. Has no similar working of Almightywisdom developed itself in our case ? When we have been led to forgetfuLaesaof our duty to God, not by distress, but by the full-fed arrogance of worldlyErosperity, has not He drawn for us lessons of chastisement out of that whichas been the very cause of our sin ? Our great manufactm-ing and commercialtowns are the offspring, the development, the very characteristic embodimentof the sort of prosperity which God has permitted a careless nation to work outfor itself. And if such prosperity be a blessing, may we not well question whetherthe Almighty have not brought upon us the last and worst denunciation of propheticword, and " cursed our blessings because we have departed from His ways " ?ow at length the conviction seems to be slowly forcing itself upon tis, that ourdisabiUties are so great because in building up our social fabric we have omittedthe temple of God. These are the providential chastisements with which Grodcorrects a nation, which has allowed a population to grow up estranged from Him — untaught in His Divine law. And as yet we seem to be in the state of the Jewswhen God first visited them with dearth and poverty for their forgetf ulness of Him
and His temple. We are making the consequences of our sinful neglect reasonfor its continuance. We need all of us to have our spirits stirred within us to dothe work of God , yea, even those who may think that they are already awakenedto a sense of their duties. When the foundation of the second temple was laidamid general joy and congratulation, the elders, who had seen the first house," wept with a loud voice." They were afflicted at the thought of the humbledstate of the Church of God. But if man in his niggardliness now builds meanly,God can give to His temple a splendour of its own. The glory of the latter housemay be greater than the glory of the former. Into the second temple came theglory of the incarnate Son of God. And into our temple now may come thatspiritual presence which will give it even greater glory. Then be strong in thatwhich your duty calls you to do, and strong in that self-denying devotion by whichalone it can be done. And doubt not that God will prosper and. bless the work sotaken in hand. {Bishop E. Denison, D.D.) Objections to rcligioiis work: — For about four months Haggai was employed in delivering prophetic sermons toencourage the people to rebuild the second temple. The people were disheartened.They prepared their own houses, they were ceiled, and painted, and decorated,but the Lord's house was permitted to Ue waste. This neglect arose from aprinciple prevalent in the human heart, which leads men to fancy that an exclusiveattention to their own selfish concerns is the only way to promote their interests ;it does not enter into their narrow calculation that the first interest of man is toglorify God. Indifference to the cause of God has brought many a multiphedBorrow to the person, or comm\mity, who have manifested such a spirit ; nor hasit ever been known that zeal for God and love to His cause have passed unnoticedor unregarded by Him. . . . Every effort, of whatever kind it be, for the welfareof the souls of men, will be Uable to objection. If we wait until all such objectionsaxe satisfied, we shall act like the fool, who stood by the side of the stream, waitingtill all the water was gone by, that he might pass over. Objections arise fromthree classes of persons. The profane man is disgusted at the enthusiasm andmadness of such attempts. Interested persons, whose narrow souls are incapableof a large grasp, have some certain hne of action, but are alarmed at every new,magnificent, and extensive imdertaking. Good and intelligent men sometimesBuffer their minds to be prejudiced against particular forms of work. Illustrationmay be taken from objections to the " Society for the Propagation of the Gospelamong the Jews." 1. The first objection made to the attempts of this Societyis this, — That, considering the present state of the Jews, the work of theirconversionappears so very arduous, that success can scarcely be hoped for. We admit thedifficulty, because our aim is not merely to produce a change of sentiment

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