Haggai

Haggai 2:20-23 – God’s elected builders

GOD’S ELECTED BUILDERS

 

TEXT: Haggai 2v20-23.

 

  1. INTRODUCTION.

 

Do you ever, in moments of quiet contemplation, become overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness and fear because of what is going on around you. We can look at the international scene and see what is happening in Bosnia, Sudan, South Africa – the madness of an Israeli gunman killing and wounding numerous people in Hebron as happened this week – and so many other places.

When we look locally and see what is happening in our own country – the lowering of the age of consent for homosexuals [never mind if it is an abomonation to God], the rise in homelessness and single-parenthood – the death of three little children in a house fire.   When we look at all these things in our world it is understandable that people feel very insecure and vulnerable. Is anything certain? Is anywhere safe?

 

The people in Jerusalem in the days of Haggai were feeling very insecure and uncertain – what’s changed?? They were an insignificant group, small in number, living in a city with out walls situated on the fringe of the Babylonia Empire. The international political scene was unsettled, there were tremendous political upheavels in Babylon.

When Super Powers are in conflict with each other the welfare of small nations is not high on their agenda and they can be crushed between them. Added to that the Jews didn’t have very friendly relations with their immediate neighbours either.

 

It is not surprising therefore that the people of Jerusalem were a little concerned and that they had questioned the wisdom of rebuilding the Temple. “What’s the point in building a temple which the next king of Babylon will probably come and destroy it anyway?!”

The last thing officials in Babylon would be concerned about would be the temple in Jerusalem – they would be far more concerned about their own prestige.

 

  1. GOD’S PROMISES SO FAR.

 

Not only has God, through Haggai, given the returned exiles some stern warnings and rebukes but he has also made some promises.

– he has promised to be with them “I am with you”, declares the Lord [1v13; 2v4]

– promise of his Spirit’s presence “My Spirit remains among you” [2v5]

– promised greater glory for this New temple “The glory of this prsent house will be greater than the glory of the former house” [2v9]

– promise of peace “And in this place I will grant peace” [2v9]

– promised blessing “From this day on I will bless you”

 

It is Zeruababbel whom God has appointed as the leader of the returned Exiles. Imagine the awsome responsiblity he must feel. What a job he had! Leading a group of whingeing builders on the one hand and being under the authority of Babylon on the other.

  1. GOD’S PERSONAL PROMISE TO ZERUBABBEL.

 

This 4th message that Haggai gives is different from the previous three in that this one is directed to only one person, Zerubabbel. The previous three were to all the people.

 

Zerubabbel with his responsiblity for the people and yet feeling insignificant on the political stage of the world receives God’s promise to him through Haggai.

God’s encouragement to Zerubabbel is “Despite what you see on the international and domestic fronts there is no need to panic, I, the Almighty God, am in control”

 

“… I will shake the heavens and the earth.

I will oveturn royal thrones and

shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms.

I will overthrow chariots and their drivers;

horses and their riders will fall,

each by the sword of his brother.” [2v21b-22]

 

Political upheavels, wars and rumours of wars are nothing new. Ecomonic hardship, immorality in society, corruption in high places. None of these things are new and they do not take God by surprise. God is not impressed with military might or economic muscle.

 

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket,

they are regarded as dust on the scales,

he weighs the islands as though

they were fine dust. [Isa.40v15]

 

So when we watch our TV screen and are confronted with one disaster after another and one war after another we should not be surprised, nor should we be fearful. Jesus warned us of military conflicts and political upheavels and natural disasters.

 

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars

but see to it that you are not alarmed.

Such things must happen

but the end is still to come.

Nation will rise against nation,

and kingdom against kingdom.

There will be famines and earthquakes

in various places. [Matt.24v6-7]

 

The chariots and drivers and horses of verse 22 represented the military might of the nations of Haggai’s day. But God encourages Zerubabbel and the people in 2v4 to “TAKE COURAGE” WHY? Because God is with them and he has the power to shake the nations like a dog shakes and old rag!

Michael Bentley – “If the Lord is the strength of our lives, our security surpasses that of the most powerful nations with all their weapons”

 

The nations of the world think that they are strong and powerful and that things will simply continue as they always have done BUT their downfall is inevitable. The powerful nations strut about the world stage thinking they are so important and in control of events. But the Psalmist had the right perspective of the nations.

 

Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand

and the rulers gather together against the Lord

and against his anointed One.

“Lets us break their chains,” they say,

“and throw off their fetters.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs

the Lord scoffs at them.

Then he rebukes them in his anger and

terrifies them in his wrath. [Ps.2v1-5]

 

The political, economic and military power of the nations is minute in comparison to the Power of the Lord Almighty. Having declared his intention for the nations God now tells Zerubabbel what he will do through him.

 

  1. GOD’S RENEWED PROMISE OF SALVATION.

 

“On that day declares,” the Lord Almighty,

“I will take you, Zerubabbel son of Shealtiel,”

declares the Lord, “and I will make you

like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,”

declares the Lord Almighty. [v23]

 

In this verse God says 3 things about Zerubabbel. “MY SERVANT” – “LIKE MY SIGNET RING” – “I HAVE CHOSEN YOU”

 

Servant

All the way through the prophecy Zerubabbel has been referred to as the governor. But in 2v23 he is given another title SERVANT.

It would be natural to assume that servant was a comedown from being addressed as Governor. But God says to him “MY SERVANT” There is no higher honour or designation than GOD’S SERVANT           Great men of faith before Zerubabbel’s time were called SERVANTS OF GOD – eg. Moses, David and Daniel.

In Isaiah 52 & 53 God refers to the coming messiah as MY SERVANT and Jesus when he came said to his disciples in Luke22v27

 

“I am among you as one who serves”

He [Christ] took the the form of a servant [ Phil.2]

 

In the secular world a servant is considered a lowly, menial position BUT in God’s economy to be declared HIS SERVANT is the highest honour.

 

“If you want to be great in God’s kingdom learn to be a servant..”

 

Signet ring.

“like a signet ring” is a figurative expression that has powerful meaning.

The signet ring was the symbol or representation of it owner. It was used for sealing documents or the larger one would be used to make an impression in a bag of grain.

 

ILLUST: The owner would go to market and purchase grain and then impress his seal into the side of the sack. Later the servants would come to collect the sacks and if the impression was disturbed they would known the sack had been tampered with.

 

The seal / signet ring was so important to its owner that he would wear it on his person at all times. Either as a signet ring on his finger or if it was too large on a chain around his neck.

In the Song of Songs the Beloved says to her Lover:

Lay me as a seal [signet ring] upon your breast,

as a seal [signet ring] in your arms.

She uses this as a symbol of how close she wants to be to him because she knows that it is the most precious and valued things to him. the King and his seal were never separated.

 

So the sense of the passage before us is that on the day when God overthrows the Kingdoms of the nations, he would make Zerubabbel like his signet ring, which is inseperable from its possessor. The promise Zeruababbel received was that he would remain inseperably connected to Jehovah, he would not be cast off but God would take care of him as his valuable possession.

 

We, also, are of great value to God. God has set his seal upon his people.

He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us,

and put his Spirit in our hearts guranteeing

what is to come. [2 Co.1v22]

 

And you also were included in Christ

when you heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation.

Having believed you were marked in him with a seal

the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit

guaranteeing our inheritence until

the redemption of those you are

God’s possession [Eph.1v13-14]

 

As we look through the pages of scripture do we see Zerubabbel as a great King of Judah? NO!

He was probably at the dedication of the Temple 4 years later but then he fades into history. Did God not keep his promises to him??

Zerubabbel was one of those who we read about in the book of Hebrews:

“… They were still living by faith when they died:

they did not receive the things promised:

they only saw them and

welcomed them from a distance.” [Heb.11v13]

 

Zerubabbel was a {Persian} governor of Judah and had no doubt been selected for this post because he was a prince of Judah, the son of Shealtiel a descendent of the family of David. God had made a promise to David and Zerubabbel as a descendent of David received a renewal of that promise.

I have found David my servant;

with sacred oil I have anointed him. …

… I will also appoint him my firstborn,

the most exalted of the kings of the earth.

I will maintain my love to him forever,

and my covenant with him will never fail.

I will establish his line forever,

his throne as long as the heavens endure.

[Ps.89v20 & 27-29]

 

God chose Zerubabbel as his servant and with this words transfers the promise. The promise culminate in Jesus the Son of David and descendent of Zerubabbel [Matt.1; Lk.3]

 

The promise the angel gave to Mary concerning Jesus was:

The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David

and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;

his kingdom will never end. [Lk.1v32-33]

 

All through history God has been shaking the nations and he has elevated one person – Jesus Christ. And one day he will give the nations one final shake and they will come to an end.

God give John a preview of this in the Book of Revelation: [11v15]

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet

and tere were loud voives in heaven, which said,

“The kingdom of the world

has become the kingdom of

our Lord and of his Christ,

And he will reign for ever and ever”

 

 

Chosen by God.

Why was God doing this for Zerubabbel? Not because he deserved it – not because he was worthy “For I have choosen you,” declares the Lord Almighty.

 

  1. GOD’S PROMISE AND PURPOSE FOR HIS PEOPLE TODAY!

 

What about us?? Well, we too, are chosen!!

He chose us in him [Christ]

before the foundation of the World

to be holy and blameless in his sight

[Eph.1v4]

 

We became Christians not because one day we simply decide that it would be a good idea. NO!

You did not choose me but I chose you

and appointed you to bear fruit –

fruit that will last [John 15v16]

 

Christ chose us with a purpose in mind. To bear fruit. To serve Him. To work for him. While salvation is by grace and NOT works that does not mean that we do not work. We are to be workmen – approved and not ashamed.

 

Just as Zerubabbel was choosen for the purpose of building the temple, one of our purposes is to build up God’s people. The Church is not the building. The Church is people – living stones. The Church is not yet complete and Jesus is in the business of building his Church {Matt.16v18}. The picture of the Church in the NT is one of a growing structure.

A building up:

Christ gave .. apostles, ..prophets, ..

evangelists, ..pastors and teachers,

to perpare God’s people for works of service,

so that the Body of Christ MAY BE BUILT UP

 

… the whole body, joined and held together by

every supporting ligament, grows and BUILDS ITSELF UP

in love, as each part does its work.

 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out

of your mouths, but only what is helpful

for BUILDING OTHERS UP according to

their needs. [Eph.4v12,16,29]

 

Just as the temple in the days of Haggai was in ruin so the church of today shows signs of decay. When leading churchmen deny the fundemental truths of the gospel and others use the Church to preach their own ideas – then we need to heed Haggai’s warning and get on with the building up of God’s house.

 

God doesn’t want us to be a HOLY HUDDLE or A PIOUS CLUB. In Afrikaans we have two lovely words “OPBOU” and “UITBOU” upbuild and outbuild.

 

  1. HOW DO WE BUILD?

 

By prayer. If we fail to prayer we fail.

John Blanchard “To attempt to work for God without prayer is as futile as trying to launch a spaceprobe with a peashooter.”

 

Study. We are being bombarded by different voices [The media as we hears this morning from AD] If we do not study the word of God how will we ever be discerning. Consistent daily study. What you get on a Sunday is not enough!!

 

Working together. Team work is essential. If we are going to grow we need to love Christ and love each other and esteem others better than ourselves. Therefore we can’t always do what we prefer but must do what is best for the body.

 

Who is responsible for building? WE ARE!!!

 

Notice the last three words of Haggai’s prophecy “the Lord Almighty” Ultimately God is sovereign and he is in control. Whatever problems and pains we may face in our work for Christ, remember it is always for HIS GLORY; we are building day by day for his glory alone AND THE LORD ALMIGHTY IS WITH US!

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