Text: Haggai 1-2; Heb 12
Summary: Repent, ask for forgiveness and build up the temple of your heart where the Spirit can dwell so that when Jesus returns you will not be shaken.
Father, we come as your children. We bow down before King Jesus. Holy Spirit, we ask that you open up our hearts and our eyes and our ears. We pray that you convict us of our sin. We pray that you can teach us how to repent today. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
4 Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
And today I want to talk first about the literal, surface-level problem that Haggai is bringing up. And then I want to point us to the deeper, spiritual meaning. And so we’re going to cover first, the problem. On the surface, the temple of God is in ruins. And compounding that problem, you’ve got the people of God, they are too busy with their own houses. And we might think this is a call to build up the Church of God. That’s how some people might read this if they take it literally. But there is so much more that we have to dig a little deeper.
9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.
And so the problem that the Lord is locating here is that we are so busy with the wrong building. The building project that we’re investing in is not the one that He’s looking for. And that we’re so busy building our own houses, our own careers, our own lives here on this earth, and at the same time, God’s house lies in ruins. And again, this is not a call to build up the church. This is not a call for ministry. There’s a different kind of building project that the Lord wants for His people.
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him.
And this is not the main message but I just want to cover how God solves the problem. Because the problem is God’s house lies in ruins. So how is God going to solve that problem? And this is just a surface-level meaning, just reading comprehension. God speaks to a prophet. And that Prophet speaks to a political leader and a spiritual leader, and then to the remnant.
And I think this is how often God speaks because we all have difficulty hearing God speaking, right? But there are some in the body of Christ that He has specially appointed for the task of being the prophet of God to the people of God. And in this case, it’s Haggai. And Haggai, I’m not sure what his occupation is. Maybe he’s just sitting in his room all day on his knees, and therefore, he has cultivated ears that can hear the voice of God. I have to believe that he is, whatever clutter that other people have to kind of wade through, this prophet has been able to tune out all the noise, and he can hear the voice of God.
And there are some in the body of Christ that God has handpicked for such a purpose, to be the prophet of God. And they hear God speak clearly. And this is nothing negative about Zerubbabel, Joshua, or the remnant. But it appears that God speaks to Haggai and through Haggai, God communicates to a political leader, Zerubbabel, and to Joshua, a spiritual leader, and then the remnant of God. And so God accomplishes work by speaking through prophets, then to a political leader, then to a spiritual leader, and then to the remnant of God’s people.
And what a blessing if you know a prophet. It is such a blessing if you know somebody who hears the voice of God, and we all want to get there. And I do believe we can get better at hearing the voice of God. But there are some that their entire vocation is hearing the voice of God. That is what God has assigned to them. That is their lot. I don’t think they have hectic family lives. I don’t think they’re busy at their job. They’ve been given the task of hearing the voice of God. And what a blessing if you have such a person in your life.
And we should just humbly admit, if we’re having difficulty hearing the voice of God, God is so gracious to us that He will send prophets to us. If our heart is we want to hear His voice. If we want to obey the voice of God, then God seeing that kind of a heart, He will in His perfect timing send a prophet to you. That’s the encouragement that I have received from God’s word here. That if you are like Zerubbabel, or you’re like Joshua, or you’re like the remnant of God, and you want to obey God, you just don’t know what to do, then God will send a Haggai to you.
And once you hear the voice of God through Haggai, you’ll recognize it as not a mere man’s word. You will recognize it as the voice of God. And you will hear and receive that word as if God were speaking directly to you. The same way that God spoke directly to Haggai, you will receive Haggai’s words, as if God were in the room and you’re praying directly to Him and you heard Him speaking to you. That is how Zerubbabel is receiving the words from God. That is how Joshua is receiving the words from God. That is how the remnant of God is receiving the words from Haggai. And that is often how God gives assignments and solves problems.
Because the problem is the temple of God lies in ruins. How is God going to solve it? He speaks to a prophet, a prophet speaks to a political leader, and that prophet speaks to a spiritual leader. And you see that if God is going to accomplish something of this magnitude, it cannot just happen in God’s church. He can’t just speak to the pastors, He has to speak also to the political leaders. So if God is going to accomplish something in America, God is going to have to speak to the pastors, to the priests, to the Joshuas of the land, but also God is going to have to speak to the president, to the governors, to the political leaders. That is how God solves problems in society.
And I do believe God is doing a work in our day that mirrors what’s happening in Haggai’s day. I do believe God is speaking to political leaders, I do believe God is speaking to a handful of spiritual leaders, and I do believe God is speaking not to the church at large, but He’s speaking to the remnant. We’re all hearing the same things. We have to discern, who is the true prophet, who do I have to listen to, and who are telling me false things and I should discard their words. We have to hear the prophet of God. And God is also speaking to a handful of pastors, priests and spiritual leaders, God is also speaking to political leaders. And when that whole thing is mobilized and God accomplishes a work, we can see it with our eyes.
13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.”
You see here, it’s no longer Haggai speaking just to Zerubbabel or just Joshua. Now he’s speaking to the remnant. And God’s one word is, I am with you. And the people of God, the true remnant, we are not shaking in our boots. Because no matter what happens, we know that the Lord is with us. So we’re not afraid. We’re not afraid of COVID, we’re not afraid of lockdown. We’re not afraid of potential financial collapse. We’re not afraid of the next president, what he might do. We have a deep confidence, and we receive these words that Haggai spoke to the remnant, I am with you.
14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
And this is how you know that you receive a word from the Lord. Not only do you hear directly, or you’ve heard it from a prophet and you can you discern this prophet is speaking the very words of God. But also there’s a stirring in your spirit. Because we have many ideas that just pop up, and we think, oh, this must be the word of the Lord. This must be the word of the Lord. This plan must be from the Lord. And we go out and do it, but it fizzles out. There’s no staying power in it. There’s no perseverance, nor endurance, but when the Lord is in it. You hear from the Lord, you hear from the prophet of the Lord, whatever means that the Lord has at His disposal, He communicates a word to you and you start it because the stirring of the Spirit. And the Spirit will allow you to endure whatever opposition.
Now we’re getting to the meat of it. Now that’s just the surface level, reading comprehension understanding from the Word of God, and now we have to dig a little deeper.
1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet.
And I just want to stop there because it says in a previous verse, the 24th day of the month in the sixth month in the second year of Darius the King, and then in Haggai 2:1, it says in the seventh month on the 21st day of the month, the word of the Lord comes again to Haggai. As we see from from this, about a month passes from the previous word from God to the next word. So God can choose to speak whenever He wants. He can choose to speak however often He wants, as often as He wants. But there can be a passage of time. In this case, about a month. In some cases a year, in some cases longer. And so we should hold on to the previous word.
If it’s been a while since you’ve heard the Word of God, we should hold on to the previous word until the Lord gives us an updated word. Because if one month passes, does that mean that Zerubabbel and Joshua, and the remnant of God, should suddenly stop? Because they assume that He spoke once and then tomorrow He’s going to speak again, two days from now He’s going to speak again? No, a month may pass. And so if it’s been a while since the Lord has spoken to you, go back to the last word that you know for sure that He spoke to you and obey that until your Commanding Officer releases you from that word and gives you a new one.
Because our Heavenly Father is like our Commanding Officer, and He tells you to stand at the post. And if you’re a good soldier, you will stay faithful to that task, until the Lord releases you. And as soldiers of Christ, we are standing by the orders of our Commander in Chief, and whatever He said to us, the last word, is the word that we obey until He revises the word, releases us from that word, or gives us an updated word. Everything we do and everything we obey is based on the Word of God. His spoken word that we have to heard either for ourselves or through prophets.
2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts.
And so now they are about a month into the building project, because remember, they heard the word of the Lord through Haggai. Haggai heard it directly, then Haggai spoke it to the governor, Haggai spoke it to the priest, and now Haggai is directly addressing the remnant of God. The entire audience is now being addressed because they began this building project of rebuilding the temple of God with a stirring of the Spirit, and already about a month in, they’re growing weak. They’re growing tired, they’re growing discouraged, and that’s when the word of the Lord comes again.
That’s how you know it’s from the Lord. Because if it’s from us, we have an initial desire and then it just fizzles out. And God doesn’t tell us anything, to pick it up again. But if it’s from the Lord, the moment that He sees our hands drooping, and our knees starting to wobble, that is when the Word of the Lord comes in. And now He’s telling to Zerubbabel, be strong. He’s telling Joshua, be strong. He’s telling the remnant, be strong. That’s how you know it’s from the Lord. It’s not just a stirring of the Spirit that will carry you maybe for a month. It’s now the direct Word of the Lord, who tells you, keep obeying. I am in this work, for I am with you.
5 According to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
Actually, this is getting to the meat of it. It says that this is the rebuilding of the temple of God. Now we have to ask what relevance does this have to do with us as new covenant believers? Because we’re not going to the temple in Jerusalem anymore. We’re not offering sacrifices of animals at a temple anymore. And so what relevance does this have with us? We don’t have to rebuild any temple that’s in ruins.
So many pastors may take this out of context, and say, okay this is a call to rebuild the Church of God. We need to minister. We need to fill the house of God with people, and so let’s evangelize and go out there to the streets and witness to people. Is that the application of this chapter? We see here the Spirit is in the midst of God’s people. And we know that the picture of this is talked about in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 6:19, that our body is now the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells. So the Holy Spirit is no longer in our midst. He’s no longer beside us or around us or behind us, but now the Holy Spirit resides in us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
And so what rebuilding work should we do? It is a rebuilding of our hearts, so that our hearts are a place where the Holy Spirit can dwell. So that when Jesus returns, we will not be shaken but we will stand firm. That is the message of Haggai 1 and 2. And how do we rebuild the temple? We repent and we ask for forgiveness. That is how you and I rebuild the temple of our hearts. We repent and we ask for forgiveness. So that our hearts can be a place and our body can be a place where the Holy Spirit can dwell. So that when Jesus returns, while the nations are being shaken, we are part of the kingdom of God and we are not shaking. That is the message of Haggai 1 and 2. We see it in Haggai 2:6. We’re beginning to flesh it out a little more.
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.
So this is not talking about the glory of the second temple. This is not talking about the glory of the third temple, the fourth temple, however many times you rebuild the temple, it is not going to reach the level of glory that God is talking about here. He’s talking about the glory of the temple that is part of the new heaven and the new earth. Let’s turn to Hebrews 12, it flushes this out even more. And so this is the interpretive key to understand Haggai 1 and 2.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
And so the deeper meaning here is not talking about a literal rebuilding, because you can rebuild it a second time, and it will not achieve the glory that is talked about here. You can rebuild it a third time or fourth time, and a number of times, it will not achieve the level of glory that is talked about here. This glory, only God can do. Only God can build a temple that can fit the description that is talked about in Haggai 2 and is fleshed out even more in Hebrews 12.
It is in the midst of when Jesus returns, all the nations, all the kingdoms on this earth are shaking. But there’s one thing that does not shake. It is the kingdom of God, because it is not created by man. Everything in creation, all the kingdoms, all the secular nonbelievers, these are created things, and all of these things will be shaken. But we as part of a kingdom of God that He has inaugurated, this kingdom of God is not created. Therefore, it is not shaken. And Hebrews 12, if you read it, it will sound very much like the second half of Haggai 2. It’s all about repentance. You can read it for yourself and see, Hebrews 12 is all about repentance. And I want to show you now the connection between Hebrews 12 and Haggai 2, the second half.
10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, 11 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: 12 ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered and said, “No.” 13 Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” 14 Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. 15 Now then, consider from this day onward.[a] Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the Lord
And it’s just an interesting parallel that we can see with the book of Hebrews. That if you take a holy piece of meat or some holy article that has come from the temple of God and has been consecrated, and you touch it, you touch it to the fold of your garment, or you touch it with your hands, does the holiness of that object get transferred to you? Clearly, Haggai says it does not. Conversely, if you are unclean because you touched a dead corpse and you become ceremonially unclean, then you touch a holy item that is in the sanctuary, what happens to that holy item? It becomes unclean.
And so, holiness is not transferred. But unholiness is transferred. And there’s a doctrine that says, we are righteous because Jesus is righteous and so His righteousness is transferred. And while that is partially true, there are many steps that are missing. How can we receive the righteousness of Christ? It’s by repenting and being forgiven. It’s not automatic. Just because Jesus is holy and we touch Him, does His holiness transfer automatically?
Whatever we touch and all the works of our hands, although they are holy works, although these are pleasing in God’s sight, if we are unclean and unholy, the works that we want to do with our hands, whatever we do, whatever we touch, the output of our life will be unclean. So does the Lord receive it? No, He doesn’t.
So Haggai 1 and 2 and Hebrews 12 is all about repentance, and it’s God’s encouragement to us is that we need to struggle with sin to the point of shedding blood. We need to receive the discipline of the Lord, who is the Heavenly Father who sees things about us that are not right, that are unclean, unholy. And what is the primary rebuilding project? It is not external, it is internal. We are the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells. Our heart is a place where God Himself wants to dwell. But if it’s unclean, will He remain? No, He will depart.
And so how can we get our hearts and our bodies clean? It is through repentance and asking for forgiveness. And if you do this, the promise of Haggai 1 and 2 and Hebrews 12, is that when Jesus returns and all the nations are shaken, we will not be shaken. Because we are part of His kingdom, a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
And I want to leave you with one encouraging word to end. Haggai 2:20
20 The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”
And so, before God was speaking to Haggai, and the audience was always Haggai plus Zerubbabel, plus Joshua, plus the remnant. And now He revisits the same vision of not Israel being shaken in Old Testament times or in New Testament times, but the shaking of the entire earth when Jesus returns. He brings Zerubbabel specifically, individually, personally to that vision. And what does He say there? He says, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you.
So if you are part of the remnant of God, you might think repentance is such a negative thing. It’s not negative, because God’s promise to you is that if you repent and receive forgiveness, you are made clean and the Holy Spirit dwells in you. And basically, you’re saying, I want to be close to the Lord, I want to be close to Jesus, I want to be close to my Heavenly Father, that’s what you’re saying every time you repent and you receive forgiveness.
You’re saying, whatever is causing a gap, whatever is causing a barrier, whatever is causing difficulty for me drawing near to the Lord or hearing from the Lord, whatever the obstacle is, which always is my sin, Lord, I want you to show it to me. I want you to forgive me, I’m asking you to forgive me for it. And if that is your heart and the temple of your heart is rebuilt, and you are part of the kingdom of God, a kingdom that cannot be shaken, what an incredible word that He gives to Zerubbabel. That He’s going to make all of us, the way he made Zerubbabel, like a signet ring.
And I was stuck on this for a good part of this week and I was looking at all the references to signet ring. And it’s specifically not the signet ring, which is a jeweler inscribing on some type of a ring, which kings owned and other people owned and they sealed official documents with wax that came from this signet ring and it was like a signature in Old Testament times. It was something that was conferred on to other people, and it was saying, you have the authority of the king because I’ve given you the ring from the king and now you have the authority of the king.
And I was looking at all the references. But specifically, I was focusing on the references where He inscribes like the signet ring. And the shocking thing that I saw was in Exodus 39. It is that the high priest, Aaron, had a garment. And this garment had a breast piece which covered his chest area. And on this chest area were 12 stones. And on these 12 stones, like a signet ring, had an inscription on it, which was referred to the owner. In this case, it had inscribed on these stones, the 12 names of the 12 tribes of Israel. And it was right over the breast piece. And we know that it’s not Aaron that is being pictured in Exodus 39. It is Jesus Christ our high priest, and over His heart, is your name and my name.
What an incredible word that if your heart is, I want to repent. I don’t want any barrier between me and Jesus, I don’t want anything to come between me and my Heavenly Father, I want the Holy Spirit to dwell within me. And if He’s close to me, He will convict me of my sin because He will show me how I can stay close to God the Father, and Jesus the Son. If the Holy Spirit is residing in us, He will convict us whenever we ask. And we will have a clean heart, and the ruins of our heart will be rebuilt.
That is all of what is being foreshadowed. Haggai is talking about repentance and forgiveness. And if you do this, if your desires are that you want to be close to the Lord, and you repent and ask for forgiveness, Jesus says, the same way that I’m coming to Zerubbabel, I’m going to encourage him, I’m going to lift him up to the nations. I’m going to vindicate him to the nations. He thought he was in the minority and everyone was against him and nobody understood. He thought he was all alone, but Jesus is going to lift up Zerubbabel before all the nations like the signet ring, and He’s going to reveal the stone with Zerubbabel’s name on it.
And also in Revelation 2, it describes that we will be given a white stone with a new name. It’s not just Ray. It’s God’s name for Ray. And I don’t even know what that is. It’s Ray the trash talker but I love him. I don’t know what kind of name, but it’s a name that if you read it, you will know, Oh God knows me. God knows me. It’s going to be Ray plus something else. On that stone, it’s going to be just for you, nobody else will understand but when you read it, you’ll know. I’ve been on Jesus’s heart my whole life. He’s inscribed that word, my name on His heart. He’s kept me close.
And if that’s true, wouldn’t we also want to reciprocate? Wouldn’t we also want to be close to the Lord? And how can you and I draw near to the Lord and be close to the Lord? When we repent and we ask for forgiveness. And we rebuild the temple of our heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells. He will convict us of sin that we didn’t even know or were aware of or we had forgotten about. And we will always be in His presence. We will always be close. And our hearts and His heart will beat together. That is the promise of us being lifted up like a signet ring before the nations. When they are shaken, we are vindicated as God’s beloved. Let’s pray.
Father, last week you told us not to bow down to anything in creation, but to bow down only to our Creator, to humble ourselves, to kneel in your presence, to surrender before you. Now you’re teaching us about repentance. When we get low, the first thing we should do is, Father, forgive me. I receive the blood of Jesus, forgive me for that sin. I don’t want to do it again. The first thing we do when we’re humble is to repent.
Forgive us, we go through so many days, so many weeks, so many months, even years, and we don’t even repent once. Maybe we repent of obvious things that come in rare moments, but we don’t repent of the secret things, and the hidden things, and the motives, and the tone, and the things that are not so obvious. There are so many sins that pile up, even in a week, because we were not humble, because we never asked, because we never got in a posture. We never really repented beyond just the surface level things.
Lord, I pray that you give us a new pattern and we can rebuild the temple of our hearts through repentance and asking for forgiveness. Lord, if we do this, we understand that at the end, you’re encouragement through Haggai 2, is that you will vindicate us before the nations. Right now we’re in the minority. Right now we feel like we’re alone. Right now we feel like we’re being mocked and we’re going against the current of this world. But Lord, we understand at the end you will vindicate us like a signet ring. You will exalt us before the nations.
Father, we look forward to that day, when we see that stone with our names written on it. Not just our names but the new name that captures how you viewed us and we will see it and we will understand, Father, you love us. We will understand, Jesus, you’ve kept us close to your heart, all of our days. You see everything about us, even the secret things and things that nobody else knows, you see it all. And you will inscribe such a tailor-made, such a tender, loving word, on that day. And we so look forward to receiving that whitestone.
Lord, until that day, we resolve we’re going to repent in your presence. We don’t take it as automatic that because Jesus, you’re righteous, we’re automatically righteous. No, we go through the labor of struggling with our sins to the point of shedding blood. We submit under the discipline of our Heavenly Father. We repent, whenever we are aware of it, even when we’re unaware, we ask for the Holy Spirit to convict us.
Beginning this day for the rest of our lives, we pray that we would be a house where the Holy Spirit can see fit to dwell. So that at the end, while the nations are shaking, we are solid, rock-solid, not shaken at all, because we’re part of your kingdom. And we’ve never doubted it because we’ve been in your presence. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen