Is its financial security? A loving family or relationship? A beautiful home?
Though all of these things, financial security, loving family, beautiful home are what most of us want, we’ll see in our podcast today that these are not what creates true happiness and inner satisfaction and peace—but we won’t stop with being negative, but will talk about how we can achieve not only what we want, but what we are created for.
Our source of for this lesson is the Prophet Haggai and that’s what our podcast is about.
CLICK the following link to download a PDF of the notes: NOTES FOR HAGGAI–how to be truly Happy
The full copy follows.
What will make us truly happy and satisfied? —answered by the Prophet Haggai
Teacher: Yvon Prehn
Introduction—what will make us truly happy and satisfied?
§ What makes you truly happy and satisfied?
§ Is its financial security? A loving family or relationship? A beautiful home?
§ Though all of these things, financial security, loving family, beautiful home are what most of us want, we’ll see in our podcast today that these are not what creates true happiness and inner satisfaction and peace—but we won’t stop with being negative, but will talk about how we can achieve not only what we want, but what we are created for
§ Our source of for this lesson is the Prophet Haggai and let’s look at him now
Where we are in our journey through the Bible
§ We’re nearing the end of our study of the Old Testament—you may not have thought when you started, we’d ever get here, but here we are!
§ Only 3 more books more to go: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
§ These three, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are what are known as the “Post‐exilic” prophets, meaning they were God’s teachers to Judah after they returned from the Babylonian exile
§ How the 16 prophets of the Old Testament are divided overall:
§ 11 prophesied before the captivity, ones like Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others
§ Ezekiel and Daniel during the captivity
§ After: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
Setting of Haggai
§ Distinction of being uncontested by all critics as to date and content
§ Written in 520 B.C.
§ About 14‐16 years earlier the Jews went back to the land after their captivity
§ God promised it and it was fulfilled in 2 Chronicle 36:23:
§ “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
§ “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
§ A small remnant returned, about 50,000, mostly priests, those associated with the temple and the poor (well‐off stayed behind)
§ And they began to build the Temple, but after building the altar and the foundation, they quit
There were challenges
§ Problems with Samaritans – wanted to help, but turned away because of their mixed religion
§ So, they became bent on vengeance..
§ Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. Ezra: 4:4-5
§ It worked.
§ Thus, the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. Ezra 4:24
§ Yes, problems, but they had seen God conquer and give victory in much greater problems
§ What happened is not so much that they stopped because of fear
§ But they got distracted
§ They didn’t tell themselves that they were quitting work on the Temple—here is what they said:
§ “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” Haggai 1:2
§ But they had time for other things:
§ “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Haggai 1:4
§ “Not yet time to do the Lord’s work”
§ What a common and dangerous excuse
§ Felix when confronted by Paul—I’ll send for you when a more convenient season.” Acts 24:25
§ St. Augustine: “Lord, make me chaste; just not yet.”
§ We often don’t want to flagrantly disobey God or tell him we have no intention of not doing something we know He wants us to do
§ In an action, a habit, a ministry
§ So, we lie to ourselves and to God that “the timing just isn’t right”
God is gracious and he won’t allow that to go unchallenged
§ Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home; I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”Hag. 1:5-9
If life not going well and nothing satisfies, consider
§ This is tricky, and we all need discernment to know how to respond when life is not going well, or our inner peace is not there
§ We may need to take some time to prayerfully consider if we are not doing something the Lord wants us to do
§ We are not talking about being involved in flagrant sin (they weren’t)
§ We may be doing very good and proper things (nothing wrong with building your house and not getting into fights with neighboring people)
§ But they weren’t doing what God called them to do
§ More application in a bit—let’s look at how God worked with them
God sends Haggai to encourage and motivate
§ But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ Haggai 2:4‐5
§ Great parallel passage in Zechariah 4:6‐10: 6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. . .. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. “Who dares despise the day of small things?”
§ God deals with fear of people and fear that it was too late
We might seem too weak or too old or too tired or too overwhelmed
§ But if God calls us to do something, no matter all these things—HE can help us finish it.
§ To repeat…. “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. “Who dares despise the day of small things?”
§ What an incredible promise—and it came true
They got to work
§ Some complaining that it wasn’t as great as the old one—but Haggai told them its glory would be greater
§ It was the Temple that Jesus would come to
§ Application: our standards of “greatness” are often not the same as the Lord’s
Once the work started
§ “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on—consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple. When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord. ‘From this day on, from this twenty‐fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. “‘From this day on I will bless you.’” Haggai 2:15‐19:
So, what do we make of this? What should our application be?
§ If things aren’t going well for us financially—if we do a little work around the church will that mean that everything will get better?
§ If we work hard for God, shouldn’t we be protected from hardships?
§ That’s what the book seems to teach
§ But does it?
§ As always, we need to look at the “whole counsel of God” before we get into specific applications
§ This is where application can be very difficult because we need to know overall what the WHOLE Bible teaches in various areas
We also need to know the differences….
§ Between what were specific promises for a particular time in God dealing with His people,
§ Example: the specific commands and promises of God to the people of Israel to rebuild the Temple after they let it lapse for 14-16 years
§ And general principles that are for all times and all people:
§ Example: that God and His Commands are to be a priority in our lives—taught in Haggai and Matt. 6:33 and many other places
§ Another Example: That our lives should reflect his Lordship in how we conduct the activities of our days
Lack of discernment in what is for a certain time and what is timeless causes problems
§ Many of the problems people have today with trusting God is that they do not take time to do this—
§ They grab specific promises out of context and try to apply them to their current situation
§ They ignore the overall timeless commands when their current situation makes them difficult to follow
§ This is why I constantly encourage people to read through the WHOLE Bible and in historical order—you will learn how God deals with people IN THEIR HISTORICAL setting
§ Let’s attempt some application
Old Testament Application: evidence they were the people of God.
§ Very clearly stated in Deut 27‐29, where God clearly states that if the people will do certain things that He will bless them and if they don’t that they will suffer the consequences
§ We have seen that throughout these months of study
§ There was a direct, tangible correlation between when the people of God obeyed Him, He blessed them.
§ When they disobeyed, He disciplined them—which primarily meant a loss of material blessings.
§ We see this until the very end in Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
§ We’ll cover the specific historical setting in 2 weeks, but overall principle the same
§ If you were obedient, if you were God’s people, you were material blessed, if you disobeyed you weren’t
New Testament Application
§ God still expects to be a priority in our lives
§ Haggai often called the Matt. 6:33 of the Old Testament
§ “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt. 6:28-34
But how we are shown that we are pleasing to God in the New Testament is VERY DIFFERENT
§ No guarantee of earthly blessings if you follow God
§ In this world you will have tribulation, Jn. 16:33
§ Blessed are you if men revile, persecute, say evil against you, Matt. 5:ll
§ Paul: I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:24-28
§ Jesus, homeless preacher, died a criminal’s death
So how do we show people we follow God?
§ We’ve talked a lot in previous lessons that one way we do that is we live FOR HIM in the MIDST of challenges
§ But let’s be more specific, what characteristics does the Bible say we should exhibit?
§ Romans 12:1 “present your bodies a living sacrifice”
§ Not a ritual, not a temple, not a burnt offering you could buy, but—all of YOU
§ Rom. 12 goes on “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (through the Word)
§ Are you conformed to the world or transformed? What does your life show?
§ Social media are a highly depressing witness to life priorities.
Specific actions that show we belong to Jesus (because material blessings are not conclusive evidence of it)
§ Inner as well as outer holiness—in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says numerous times, you have heard it said….but I say to you about holiness concerning lust, anger,
§ “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
§ Love shown by serving as Jesus did by washing the disciple’s feet—servant leadership is not a nice suggestion, but a key evidence of belonging to Jesus
§ Matt. 25 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
§ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
§ Care for those in prison, the hungry, the aliens, strangers, those in need—essential characteristics of those who belong to Jesus
§ These are all expectations of how we are supposed to live, and the blessings PROMISED are promised in eternity.
But what about making “the kingdom first?”
Making God a priority?
§ Will God punish us here and now if we don’t?
§ And bless us with goodies if we do?
§ Many teach that is the case.
§ Challenge is that the NEW TESTAMENT does not categorically teach that.
§Health and wealth preachers invariably quote Old Testament passages out of context as proof
§ Blessings or not, we still commanded to put God’s Kingdom first
§ What does that mean?
§ Kingdom is where the King reigns
§ It is in the overall things we are commanded to do
§ But also, many of us have been given a specific calling to fulfill
§ Worth the time to consider what it is that God wants you to do FOR HIM in your life
God is to be #1 and served in whatever way and time HE chooses
§ Serving GOD is to be our focus, our priority,
§ Money and even legitimate concerns are not to be #1 to us
§ THE answers for each life situation are not easy and I don’t have them figured out
§ But……. point of much of it…..
§ In whatever situation we are in—what is our witness?
§ When people look at our lives, how do they describe us?
§ How do they know?
Challenges for each of us
§ What are you building?
§ In every life we are working towards something
§ Either enlarging the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of ME
§ How can you tell; how can others tell? (it’s easier than you think)
§ What do you spend your time on?
§ Money on?
§ What do you post on Facebook or share in social media?
§ What is the legacy of life you are leaving?
§ You can redirect at any time: more time in God’s Word, with His people, consciously making choices pleasing to Him
Always time, opportunities to be pleasing to God
§ Because (bear with me, important) all the things that God wants us to do are not to punish us or an endurance test
§ Walking in HIS WILL is what we were created for, it is where we will experience our greatest joy and fulfillment—THIS is honestly what WILL make us happy!
One example in my life—
§ Years ago, when single and very, very lonely temptation to totally withdraw
§ But instead I threw myself into volunteering at the Young Life’s Dale House. It was a group home for troubled (very troubled) kids.
§ What I mostly did was cook for them. (some had never had homemade cookies….) Lots of time in the kitchen.
§ On Holidays because especially then when I would feel so terribly alone and self-pitying, I threw myself into creating yummy, wonderful times for them— got donations for parties, made decorations, did special meals.
§ Instead of spending self-pitying times thinking about myself, by spending the time for others, I had a family, friends, and the satisfaction of knowing the work was pleasing to the Lord.
§ That is how it often is—truest joys in focus on others, on service.
§ But how can we know if we need to be doing something else or if we just need to live through a hard time?
Heb. 12 can be helpful—from the Message translation
§ In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So, don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
§ My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
§ God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:4-11, MSG
§ If challenged in the circumstances of life—spend time in prayer, journaling, perhaps seeking counsel
God does not play games or hide his Will
§ “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-9 (NIV)
§ “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So, don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better? Matthew 7:7-11 The Message
§ God will let you know what He wants you to do.
§ May not send a prophet (but He might) but in your heart, you’ll know.
§ For the people who had returned to the land, the Prophet Haggai encouraged them to build the Temple
§ They obeyed and more than material blessings, they had God’s favor on them, and the joy of a task accomplished
§ For all of us, let’s listen to what the Lord wants us to do
§ Let’s ask what were we created for?
§ And in being obedient to that, look forward to the true happiness and the peaceful joy of being pleasing to our Lord.