In the book of Haggai, God bids us do three things:
- consider our ways
- do the work He’s put before us
- and be strong—do not fear
In fact, the phrase “consider your ways”, or simply “consider” is written five times in this short two chapter book making it an important keyword we need to rightly consider (sorry, I couldn’t help it).
When a word or phrase is repeated in a passage of the Bible, it’s like a yellow highlighter marker or flashing arrow on the text giving us a clue to pay attention. Do we consider our ways? Do we align our words and actions with God’s word? Do we apply our hearts to wisdom?
The beauty found in Haggai is the promise that God will be with us (He says so more than once. Hint: flashing arrow). He doesn’t expect us to do what He asks us to do by our own strength and power. He promises—no matter what—when we step out in faith and obey Him, He will be with us.
Welcome to Hearts Unto Wisdom
A Bible Study of the Minor Prophets
I thank you for joining me as I share biblical insight into the twelve books commonly referred to as the ‘Minor Prophets’. These Old Testament books, starting with Hosea and ending with Malachi, are minor only in regards to their length, and not because they lack significance.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
[Underlines, brackets, and words in bold are added for emphasis to scripture verses throughout this study.]
In the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people of Israel are allowed to return from their captivity in Babylon and begin rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem by the order of the new king of Babylon, Cyrus. The prophet Haggai, mentioned in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14, was one of many Israelites who made the journey back to their homeland.
But in the opening of Haggai, years have passed (another Babylonian king, Darius, is on the throne), and the temple is still not finished. Trials, distractions, and their own complacence have gotten in the way of completing the work. They keep making excuses that the time isn’t right (Haggai 1:2) yet they had time to build their own homes.
Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Haggai 1:3-4
The returning Israelites had plenty of time for their own business but their service to God was lacking. They worked hard trying to gain physical substance but it was like putting money in a bag full of holes (Haggai 1:6)! God tells them why that is in Haggai 1:9.
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Haggai 1:6
Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Haggai 1:9
They looked for much and got little in return because God took it away to wake them up! He tells them to consider their ways (Haggai 1:5,7). Where is your heart in the matter? Why do you think you can prosper without Me?
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
We all have work to do. God has specific assignments for each of us while we’re here. We are wives, mothers, friends, teachers, artists, caregivers, business owners, and organizers extraordinaire. But we run around frantically trying to do ‘all the things’ and forget to put God first. We set out to do great things without consulting Him, without asking that His will be done.
God wants our hearts fixed on Him (Psalm 57:7). Our minds set on things above (Colossians 3:2). And He wants whatever work we do to be done for His glory (1 Corinthians. 10:31). When we do that, we can’t help but prosper.
But God was not central to the Israelite’s pursuits. What they did, they did for themselves; their works were unclean.
Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. Haggai 2:14
Therefore God stopped the rain and the harvest, He brought drought upon man and beast, and sent Haggai to implore Zerubbabel, the appointed governor, and Joshua, the high priest, and all the people to consider their ways and get back to His work.
And guess what? They listened! They feared the Lord and began the work with renewed purpose trusting God for the provisions. God stirred up their spirits (gave them confidence in the task) and gave them this heart-warming message: I am with you.
We can be strong (Haggai 2:4) and fearless (Haggai 2:5) as we do our work (Haggai 1:14) because God says repeatedly I am with you (Haggai 1:13, 2:4).
But forging ahead and doing the work God gives us isn’t easy. Fears and doubts pop up when we submit to our husbands, teach our children, serve our communities, give away our time and money, or begin a project that’s neither comfortable nor secure. We might try to do these things on our own strength, but eventually, we will fail.
Because obedience to God, honoring His name through our actions, and ignoring the world and all that goes with it, is only possible when God’s strength supersedes our own.
And here’s the thing: when we trust and obey God in the midst of our fear, God steadily replaces our fear with His peace! The phrase “fear not” is found 74 times in the King James Bible and the phrase “do not be afraid” 29 times. Wow! What a huge yellow highlighter across our life. God doesn’t want us to ever forget that when we trust Him, He is there.
The silver is mine, the gold is mine, says God (Haggai 2:8). If everything belongs to God (which it does), then why do we fear we won’t have enough? He is our Father and we are his children, and He freely gives of His provisions without hoarding or favoritism. He provides the raw materials—faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 15-8)—to get the work done. All we need to do is ask (and maybe change our perspective on what think we really need).
The Lord of Hosts
God is referred to as the Lord of hosts, or God of hosts, 235 times in the Bible. And “Lord of hosts” is mentioned fourteen times in the book of Haggai.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. Psalms 24:9-10
The word “hosts” means “mass of persons; army, or company” and refers to God’s innumerable body of angels. They are His flaming ministers of fire sent to assist His children and execute judgment at His will.
Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth. Haggai 2:21
God’s will is to shake the nations (Haggai 2:6) and overthrow their kingdoms (Haggai 2:22). These nations and kingdoms and people around the world who want nothing to do with God and His righteousness will soon meet His wrath. Their desire is to be autonomous, unaccountable, and their own god; and they will one day fight against Christ at His return to their own destruction.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Daniel 2:44
There is nothing wrong with loving the country God gave us, but our allegiance is to Christ first. Christ will overthrow all kingdoms. This nation, and every other nation, will cease to exist at His return.
Consider this day
God’s message to the Israelites in Haggai was for them to pay attention to what they were doing and remember the way things were before. He says “remember when you hoped for more and you got less? Now, because of your obedience, prepare yourselves for blessings.”
Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you. Haggai 2:19
We, too, need to consider where we came from before our devotion to Christ and where we are now. We need to consider the answered prayers of our past, the provisions that God blessed us with when everything seemed impossible. God wants thankful children ready and willing to receive His blessings even if those blessings are different than what we’d choose for ourselves.
Every day is a day to consider. To listen, to love, to soften our hearts toward God. Every day is a day to uplift the lonely and desperate brothers and sisters in Christ and urge them to continue the good fight of faith.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. Hebrews 3:13-15
Every day is a day to consider. To listen, to love, to soften our hearts toward God. Every day is a day to uplift our lonely and desperate brethren in Christ and urge them to continue the good fight of faith.
When we listen to God, as Zerubbabel and Joshua and all the inhabitants did, God promises us peace!
I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Psalms 85:8
A signet was an emblem, seal, or signature ring unique to the king. It was used as an authority marker, like a signature on an official document or check. Anyone who saw it accepted what was sealed by it as a genuine document of the king.
In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:23
Zerubbabel was born in Babylon, far from his ancestor’s heritage in Israel, but he was not forgotten. Zerubbabel was a descendant of David and was included in the lineage of Christ! He is mentioned in Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 as “Zorobabel”.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1
Zerubbabel glorified God with obedience and honor. Christ glorified God the Father with obedience and honor. Under Zerubbabel’s rule, there would be peace and prosperity for Jerusalem. There will be final and lasting peace and prosperity under the rule of Christ for the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).
Zerubbabel oversaw the temple construction made by hands, but we are the temple of God made without hands.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
God chose Zerubbabel. He became a signet in the hand of Almighty God for his obedience and faithful service. We are chosen by our Father, too.
Happy and blessed are we.
For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Ephesians 1:4
God tells His prophet, Haggai, to ask the older residents of Jerusalem if they remembered what the first temple looked like and then He gives this declaration:
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:9
The physical temple was indeed beautiful, but the spiritual house will be even more so.
We ARE this latter house, my friends.
We are part of God’s household. And because of His love towards those who obey Him, we will be filled to overflowing with glory, like a fine basin cascading with splendor, spilling joy playfully at our feet.
When your life is weighed down by the relentless downpour of trials, a suffering that seeps through the ceiling of your mind—take heart!
For as much as you’ve lost, had taken, or given up with tears for Christ’s name and the Father’s will, you will receive a hundredfold in godly riches.
It is our faith in a God who cannot lie that patiently waits for the peace He will lade on us.
As His cherished daughters, He desires to give us health for our sickness, safety for our fear, and prosperity for our utter destitution, making us whole and complete.
He will repay our debts, restore our losses (so many losses, I know), and all will be well with our souls.
Because this latter house is filled with the King of glory, we can take comfort in the lavish love of a Father who desires to lift the boulders of sorrows we carry and exchange our cumbersome load with His abundant glory instead.
Abiding in the Vine,
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