New Teaching Series: Haggai - God First

Poor Haggai.

For a tiny book that packs such a massive punch, it gets little attention.

When’s the last time you heard a sermon from Haggai at church or did a personal read through it? Haggai may be overlooked, but the book's relevance can't be overstated.

You Need Some Haggai in Your Life

If you’ve ever struggled with proper priorities in life, Haggai is for you. If you’ve ever felt – or are currently feeling – spiritually fatigued, Haggai is for you.

As a church pursuing the work of growing as disciples of Jesus and making disciples of Jesus together, Haggai is timely for us.

Haggai shows that God’s people in ancient Israel were much like us, often hypnotized by busyness and self-interest to the point that God and His work becomes a second-tier priority in our lives.

The History Lesson We Need to Understand Haggai

In the 6th century BC, Babylon ransacks Jerusalem, taking many of God’s people into captivity and exile. This culminates with the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel’s temple in 586 BC. Religious and cultural life in Israel crumbles with destruction the temple. Without the temple, God's people cannot worship and be with God as He prescribed. All that God orchestrated since the Exodus – His people, in His land, worshiping in His temple – goes up in flames.

But 50 years after the temple’s destruction, Cyrus the Persia king overthrows Babylon. And Cyrus has a new way of ruling his captives – he kindly allows the Jews to return home and rebuild their city, and most importantly, the temple. This glorious return happens in 538 BC. Full of hope, God’s people return to Jerusalem and begin to reconstruct life as it once was, but there’s one thing they neglect to rebuild: God’s temple. It remains in ruins. Not for a few days, but for over a decade. They neglect God for years.

Then God sends Haggai to call His people to a properly ordered life by calling them to rebuild the temple so they can worship, enjoy, and be with Him.

The Priority that Leads to Flourishing

While the Israel's misplaced priorities led to neglecting the work of God’s temple, our misplaced priorities can lead to the neglect of a greater reality – the building of church through the gospel taking root in our lives and the lives of others. Though counterintuitive in many ways, Haggai teaches that giving ourselves in community to God’s gospel work is what leads to blessing and flourishing.

In many ways, Haggai is the foreshadowing prophet whose main message is summed up in Jesus’ essential teaching:

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. [1]

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 6:31–33). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.