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Haggai: Put God first
Put God first

Scripture reading: Haggai 1-2

Introduction to the Book of Haggai

-The Book of Haggai is comprised of 4 separate messages from God stretching over 5 months in the year of 520 B.C
-Haggai ministered in the days following the 70 year captivity of the Jews in Babylon (A captivity they experienced because of their persistent disobedience to God and refusal to repent)
-In 536 B.C approximately 50,000 people, taking advantage of the edict of Cyrus, King of Persia, returned from Babylon to Judah
-Upon their arrival the people quickly rebuilt the altar and began offering sacrifices to God.
-Within 2 years the foundation to the Temple of the Lord was built. At this point the Samaritans offered to join the work, but the Jews refused their offer. The Samaritans, in turn, threatened the workers and sent men to Persia to lobby against the Jews. In response to their lobbying a new King named Smerdis issued a stop work order.
-Note on Smerdis-- He was only on the throne for 7 months and was considered to be a pretender to the throne (There was a period of unrest in the Persian empire)
-Because of the opposition the Jews faced, for at least 14 years no work on the Temple was done--- Meanwhile people built for themselves fancy houses. This displeased the Lord and so He sent Haggai to rebuke the people and call them back to work

The big issue in the book is this: The returning exiles, instead of rebuilding the Temple- that it could be a house of prayer for all nations, left it as an abandoned construction site-- proceeding to pour all their time, effort and money into their own houses.

-Haggai's message bore fruit! The people, starting with the leaders responded to God's message. They obeyed God. They sought to honour the Lord.
-Haggai's name is thought to be derived from the Hebrew verb "hagag"-- meaning to celebrate or hold a feast
-There is a special verse in the Book of Haggai that has long been considered to refer to Christ. The verse is Haggai 2:7 "I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD Almighty." This verse inspired Bach's famous piano song "Jesus, joy of man's desiring"



The biggest principle of the Book of Haggai is this: PUT GOD FIRST

Put God first in your finances, relationships, education, job, church, community, as it regards your children and your spouse.

Thoughts on the subject of putting God first

1. The time is and always will be "NOW" for God to be first

God first is not something we do when we are retired or are on summer break.

Note the play in Haggai 1:2-4 as it regards the word "time" and putting God first

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD's house.'" Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"

No excuse will suffice for neglecting to put God first

No doubt, if the people had wanted to be argumentative, they could have said "But King Smerdis said we couldn't build God's house"-- Yet his edict was 14 years prior and he only lasted for 7 months as king

Opposition, lack of resources, ones age, your physical or mental abilities, the responsibilities one has, etc-- there is no good reason for God and his priorities not coming first in our lives

2. If putting God first is not a priority of ours, God is going to bring some hardship our way-- that He might get our attention and get us back on course. Read Haggai 1:5-11

The Bible tells us that God disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:12)

At times I notice in my life that my disobedience to God results in hardship. I interpret this as God's discipline and a reminder that His call is to holiness and righteousness.

Sometimes we are ignorant to the fact that certain hardships in our life are because we are not in tune with God or following Him as we ought. Such was the case in respect to the people Haggai spoke to. They had not made the connection between the poor harvests, the droughts, and their inability to keep their money in their pockets.

3. Putting God first is not always going to be easy. Putting God first will entail some challenges.

Putting God first will not always turn out the way we expect--- Yet don't be discouraged!!

Note the disappointment and encouragment provided in Haggai 2:1-5


See Haggai 1:13; 2:4-5

1. The LORD Almighty - Commander of the armies of Heaven will be with you

If God be for us, who can stand against us

THE LORD ALMIGHTY-- The commander of the armies of Heaven. The one who spoke the world into existence. The one who before whom all will bend the knee. The one who determined all our days before one of them even came to be.

14 times in the Book of Haggai, God is called "The LORD Almighty"

2. He will supply all we need
3. He will give us the strength we need
4. He will arrest our fears
5. He will take what we bring- no matter how feeble- and use it for His glory
6. He will bless you

Perhaps in a material or physical way (i.e long life), but for sure in the life to come



Practically speaking----What does it look like to put God first?

It's about God being in everything we do-- a consciousness of this needed. It's about factoring God into everything

1. Prioritize the gathering together of the saints for corporate worship, prayer, instruction in the Word, service.
2. Financially-- tithe. When you make an investment, pray about it
3. Pray before making a decision.
4. Prioritize the things we know are important to God: Justice, righteousness, holiness, the care of the poor
5. Periodically ask the question "Am I putting God first???"

Ask this as it regards the books you read or the magazines you consume. Ask this as it regards the purchases you make, the movies you watch, the concerts you attend, the way you use your time.

The point: God is to be in

6. Put God first in the way you work-- work hard, be honest, start on time, don't get involved in work gossip
7. Put God first in your relationships--- i.e Who you will date/marry. What invitations you will accept and where you will go with your friends. How you interact with your spouse-- To put God first in your marriage entails praying for your spouse, considering their needs, esteeming them, staying faithful

8. Serve others (church, community)


And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Closing songs: Jesus be the centre, Seek ye first