Haggai ~ A Messenger Of The Lord Of Hosts!
A MESSENGER OF THE LORD OF HOSTS! (HAGGAI)
By Rodney W. Francis
I would like to share with you some thoughts from the Book of Haggai, a minor prophet with a major message ~ a message that is still needed in the Church of Jesus Christ today ~ a message that, if we take heed to and allow God’s Holy Spirit to move in our hearts, will really do things for us. As this message grips your heart, you will be inspired to lay hold on that which God wants you to do ~ and then to set about doing it.
There are only two short chapters in the Book of Haggai, yet from beginning to end it is full of impact and challenge. 20 times in these two chapters there is mention of the words, “says the Lord.” Of these 20 times we are told 14 times: “Thus says the Lord of HOSTS” (“hosts” means “service, warfare”). God is the Lord of service and He is the Lord of warfare. In this book we see that God wants His people to be involved with Him ~ involved in His service and involved in the warfare that is raging against the Church (His born-again, redeemed people) of God today. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, we are in a spiritual battle ~ a warfare ~ and we need to be fighting “the good fight of faith, and laying hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12).
CONSIDER YOUR WAYS
Five times in the Book of Haggai we have the word “consider.” The word means, “to distinguish; to consider, to understand, which depends on the power of discerning; to consider diligently” (Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies). God is warning the people to consider their ways ~ the same people that were called by His name, who were recognized by other nations as being the children of God. God came to this people at a time when, as a result of opposition and persecution, they had stopped building the house of God. Their focus had become more on their own homes and pleasures than the work of God. God was not pleased with this and raised up a man by the name of Haggai (name means “festive”). The Bible calls him a prophet and he came with the word of the Lord. It is people like Haggai that God is looking for today ~ people who have the word of the Lord! They do not go about sermonizing ~ instead they carry a message from heaven (God’s heart) to share with God’s people.
God spoke (through His servant Haggai) with a simple, yet profound message: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5, 7). Why were they to consider their ways? Firstly, because they had allowed the work of God to decline, and then to cease. They were channelling all their time and efforts into their own dwelling places. They were placing their occupations, their houses and their personal pleasures before the service of the Lord. They were saying:
“The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:2).
A day of considering was brought upon the children of Israel. They had to consider the way they were living.
What were their priorities?
What were they treasuring most in their lives?
Was it the work of the house of the Lord?
Or, was it rather their own houses, their own pleasures, their own aims and desires?
THIS IS SOMETHING WE MAY DO WELL TO CONSIDER TODAY. Who and What comes first in our lives?
We live in an age where material gain has become a top priority. We are not hindered so much by opposition and persecution as by the saints simply “dropping off to sleep” and forgetting that which God wants us to do. We are living in a country of ease, and “Ease is the disease of the Church!”
YOU WILL BE AMAZED AT THE WAY YOU CAN MAKE YOUR TIME AND LIFE COUNT FOR GOD WHEN YOU BEGIN REDEEMING IT AND START TO GET INVOLVED WITH LORD AND HIS PURPOSES FOR YOUR LIFE!
The word of God came to a people who had put off into the future those things which God wanted done NOW! God wants to work in and through us ~ right NOW!
Let us not put off until tomorrow what God wants to do today.
Jesus Himself stressed this point. He exhorted His own disciples:
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps’” (John 4:35-37).
Let us lift up our eyes and see what God wants of us NOW, and begin reaping a harvest of souls for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those people in Haggai’s day had forgotten God’s priorities somewhere along the way. They were going through their religious forms and ceremonies (and all the things they thought were pleasing to God, but were not), when all the time their own personal desires were being sought before the ways and will of God. As a result of their priorities being wrong, God could not allow them to be blessed in the fruit of their labours. Every time they tried to do things in their own strength, God would blow upon it. He would cause their efforts to come to nothing ~ cause them to be a frustrating experience. And He gave them the reason why: they never put first things first!
“But SEEK FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, emphasis mine).
This demands effort today. We have to give ourselves to seek the Kingdom of God first, because there are so many things in life that try to take our attention from that which we ought to be doing.
“Be very careful, then, how you live ~ not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV).
So God came with the message, “Consider your ways!” He gave them a command to go up into the mountain, fell the trees, bring down the wood and build His house. All these things were done by hand. It took time, heavy toil, much effort. But God told them to do it. Furthermore, the Lord said: “I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified” (Haggai 1:8).
When God’s people begin to carry out those things that God wants them to do, He takes pleasure in them. God takes pleasure in His people when they fulfil His word. God wants us to be doing this today ~ to be involved in the extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us has a God-given duty to perform in building up the Kingdom of God through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the living word, and by His presence with us.
THEY TOOK HEED!
The people took heed to the message that Haggai brought them. Disobedience was put away in their lives ~ a sign that they DID listen to the words of the prophet Haggai.
They obeyed the voice of the Lord through the man who brought them God’s word.
They began again to build the house of the Lord which had been forsaken for so long.
Haggai was “the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people” (Haggai 1:13, KJV). What a challenge this is! All who are saved and born-again of the Spirit of God should become the Lord’s messenger with the Lord’s message, having the right words to speak to the right person(s), in the right place, and at the right time. God’s messengers are not sermonizers, but men and women with a message from heaven burning in their hearts ~ a message that meets the needs!
Through Haggai’s message, God began to stir up the spirit of the people (Haggai 1:14). God woke them up! This is what it means to be “awakened,” to become “alive unto God.”
“Likewise you also, reckon (“consider”) yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11. NKJV).
God stirred up the spirit of the governor, Zerubbabel, a man of high position in the land of Judah. God dealt with the men who were in authority. He moved upon the men who held the power amongst the people. God stirred their hearts! God touched them and they were able to lead the people in the right way ~ God’s way. The Bible tells us that God also stirred the spirit of Joshua the high priest. He was awakened unto God. We are told that the spirit of the remnant of the people was stirred up. They were awakened unto God and His plans and purposes! God’s Holy Spirit caused them to come together! They began to work for the building of the house of the Lord their God. They began to do the works of God!
Has God stirred your spirit lately?
Has that stirring motivated you into action to do the works of God?
“I AM WITH YOU,” DECLARES THE LORD!
God encouraged His people: “I am with you, declares the Lord” (Haggai 1:13). This is an assurance that needs to sink down deep into our hearts today ~ TO KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH US! It gives us a boldness and a confidence to do the work of the Lord. There are no doubts and fears when you KNOW that God is with you ~ that God is for you. Romans 8:31 asks the question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And we are further encouraged in 1 John 4:4 that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” We are indeed “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We are victors, triumphant in Jesus Christ! “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6).
In Haggai 2:4-5, God emphasized this fact when He said: “Be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’”
There are times when we go through experiences and battles that cause us to think, “Well, God has forsaken me; God has left me.” The Bible DOES NOT tell us this. Those people in Haggai’s day, although they were serving their own ends and not doing the work of God as they should, God still said, “I am with you . . . My Spirit remains among you.” THEY had gone to sleep (spiritually). God’s Holy Spirit was there, BUT THEY WERE ASLEEP! They were not alive unto the mind and plans of the Holy Spirit and, as a result, they were not able to do those things which God wanted them to do.
God gave His people a promise, that if they began to work and build His house, He would take pleasure in it and He would be glorified. God promised them that “The glory of this latter temple (“house”) shall be greater than the former,” says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9). God promised them so many things if they would be obedient to the word of the Lord and do that which was right in His sight. God Himself stirred their spirit and they began to work.
According to the Book of Ezra they “prospered through the prophesying of Haggai” as they worked (Ezra 6:14). The word “prospered” means “to accomplish successfully; to reach the goal” (Wilson’s). Haggai brought to them the word of the Lord and inspired them to go on building the house of God. When they received the word they began to build and were victorious over all their enemies. God took pleasure in them and moved amongst His people in such a way that they were blessed and inspired. He told them: “From this day on I will bless you” (Haggai 2:9, NIV).
PUT GOD FIRST!
How wonderful it is to be blessed of God and to know that His blessings dwell in your life. God wants us to be “filled with all the blessings of the Gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:29). He wants us to know those things that are freely given to us in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:32). He wants us to be involved in that which is nearest His heart. In this hour God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, that we should live clean lives in His sight.
We should be doing the Master’s will!
We should be seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!
Just how much are we involved in the work of the Lord?
Are we placing our own houses, our own occupations, our own pleasures, our own plans, before God?
Are we holding back from God by saying, “I am going to do this,” or “I am going to do that,” rather than putting Jesus Christ first in our lives?
“If Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all!”
LET US PUT HIM FIRST TODAY! LET US NOT MAKE EXCUSES! Let us not say, “Well, it is not God’s time for me,” or “I am too old,” or “I am too young.” GOD has stepped into your life and He has a definite reason and purpose for it! If we will just follow His commands and walk in His ways, God will make a difference in us, and cause us to be more effective and fruitful than ever before! He will make us powerful witnesses unto the Lord Jesus Christ by our manner of speech and by the way we live ~ through the power of His Holy Spirit!
Let us get involved!
Let us get with God today and walk with Him!
Let us see what He can do with us, in us and through us!
Then we shall see the Kingdom of God extended through our lives as never before!
Let us put God first. Let Him use us, even as He used Haggai of old: “The Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message . . .” God will do great things when we begin to be that person. May we, by His Holy Spirit, be inspired to be that person. May we, by His Holy Spirit, be inspired to lay hold on those things that God has for us:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-12, NKJV).
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might (“dunamis”)through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height ~ to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power (“dunamis”) that works in us” (Ephesians 3:19-20, NKJV).
That “might” and “power” is the “dunamis” power ~ “dunamis” is a Greek word and means: “act of power” (Young’s); “miraculous power, ability” (Strong’s); “natural capability, inherent power; capability of anything, ability to perform any-thing; then, absolutely, not merely power capable of action, but, power in action” (Bullinger’s). “Dunamis” is used 121 times in the New Testament and translated into the following English words: ability (1), abundance (1), meaning (1), might (4), mighty deed (1), mighty work (11), miracle (8), power (77), strength (7), violence (1), virtue (3), wonderful work (1), worker of miracles (1), and mighty (4).
Let that power be working for God! Let it motivate our lives! Then we shall be filled with all the fullness of God! (Can we comprehend that?) Then we shall going forth in His Name! Then we will be doing exploits for His Kingdom!
Wherever you are, YOU can be a blessing to people, for: “I AM WITH YOU, DECLARES THE LORD OF HOSTS!”
In conclusion I repeat the Apostle Paul’s prayer:
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ~ that you may filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:16-21, NIV).
God bless YOU!