Next to Obadiah, the book of Haggai is the shortest book in the Old Testament. With a total of 38 verses, it is the only book which contains a total of 2 chapters.
God always provides a way-regardless of the national political circumstances-for His will and purposes to be accomplished. Haggai was the first of the prophets to minister to Israel following the Jews’ return from captivity by the Babylonians. The Persians had defeated the Babylonians, who had destroyed Solomon’s Temple (under Nebuchadnezzar), in 586 B.C. The Persian king, Darius, was kind to the Jews, allowing them to return to their homeland, and then, allowing them to rebuild the temple.
Here is the situation the Jews were in: Because of their lifestyle, they did much … but had little. Haggai said it this way: “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” (1:6). Nothing they did worked out. Why? “Consider your ways” (1:7).
When we understand God’s Word, and His will for our lives, it will always bring action. It will always motivate us to do something. We often read that the first word in “Gospel” is “go.” As we see from Haggai 1:8, when we “go,” when we do God’s work, when our motivation is right, when we are obedient to God’s Word, “I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified.”
In 1:9, we see why God wasn’t pleased: Because the Jews were more concerned with their own will, their own wants, than with what God wanted. Their focus was their own will, not God’s will. The same battle which rages today, which Jesus overcame in the Garden, was the same battle and struggle in Haggai’s time: Their will, not His. If God is not the head of your house/home, then your home is not a sanctuary. This explains why so many people are miserable “at home.” Haven’t we all experienced that co-worker who always arrives at work miserable … and whose intent seems to be to make everyone else miserable around them? Here is the way I always explain it: “They were miserable when they got here.” If God is not head of your home, it won’t be the calming sanctuary it was meant to be … and which your workplace was never meant to be. Haggai explains that “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it (blew it away). Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that is waste (in ruins), and ye run every man unto his own house” (1:9).
The result? “Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from (withholds) dew, and the earth is stayed from (withholds) her fruit” (verse 9). When we don’t seek and do God’s will for our lives, the result is drought and famine.
It is remarkable to me how the people responded to this message from Haggai. They listened to God’s Word, spoken through His prophet, and obeyed God’s message! Verse 12 says that “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 the people did fear before the LORD.” We all know what happened when they did their own will instead of God’s … but, what happened when they listened, then responded to God’s Word, and began to do the work which God called them to do?
“I am with you, saith the LORD” (1:13). What a great encouragement to us today! When we obey the Word of God, and do His will-and not our own-“I am with you.”
As we read the book of Haggai, we see that it was not only the citizens who responded to God’s message … it was also the government and religious leaders! Wow! We see this throughout the book, and in the verses (1:1, 12,14) we’ve already studied. Want real change? Need we say more?
To close, here is more encouragement for us: When we submit to God’s will … He will “stir us up” and allow us to do great things. Understanding and obeying God’s will for our lives will always bring action. Verse 1:14 says that “the LORD stirred up … the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.”