Tag Archives: Haggai

Malachi – God’s Messenger

God’s love for His people is covenantal love. It is rooted and built up in the covenant of grace and since it is God’s initiative, God’s plan, God’s power, God’s love, and God’s sustainability, the covenant of grace with its covenantal love is forever, no matter what our circumstances and no matter how we feel.  A. W. Tozer once said, “Sometimes when we get overwhelmed we forget how big God is.” I would also say that we forget how big his love is as well.

That was the case with the people of Judah.  In a quick lesson of the history of Judah, we find that after the twelve tribes of Israel entered into the Promised Land and took over, they were 12 tribes loosely connected by blood, somewhat like the 13 original states under the Articles of Confederation. It wasn’t until David took over as the King of Israel that things really began to gel as a single nation.  Solomon expanded the kingdom, but his son Rehoboam split it again.  The ten northern tribes split from the two southern tribes. Thus we had two nations: Israel and Judah. Israel immediately became idolatrous, but Judah’s decent was gradual. Israel was overtaken by the Assyrians and dispersed all over the Assyrian empire. About 100 years later, Babylon invaded Judah and they were taken to all around the Babylonian empire. About 65 years or so, the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon, and about 70 years in their captivity Cyrus, King of Persia, released the people to go back home and rebuilt.  Some went and laid the foundation for their new temple, but after threats from outsiders, they stopped construction and just lived.  The prophet Haggai came upon the scene 17 years later and chastised the people and so they began to build again.  It wasn’t long before they got their temple built.  A few years later a man named Nehemiah came to govern the land and build up its walls of protection around Jerusalem.  He was governor of the land for a while, but was also the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia. He eventually had to go back, but would return for a second governorship. It was in this time that Malachi comes to prophesy to the people.

The people have a puny temple, a puny city, are still controlled by the Persians, and always under threat of future invasions or laws that are unjust.  It was, after all Artaxerxes father Xerxes who had married Esther and allowed Haman to decree the extinguishing of all Jews.

There is Judah afraid, angry, and apathetic.  And it is to this that Malachi speaks.  As we open up Malachi, you will notice that he has a unique writing style. He first gives an indictment against the people, then plays the role of the people by asking a question, and then finally gives the evidence.  So as we open up just the first portion of the first chapter, we will see that there is real anger in the hearts of the people which leads them to apathy. But in both anger and apathy, we find that God gives the answer.

Watch the video for the whole sermon and to hear the answer to our anger and apathy. This is the first sermon in this series on Malachi.

3 Matters to Rethink When Life Goes Wrong (Part 3)

Last week, I talked about needing to rethink our faith.  You can and should read that article before this one if you haven’t already. You can read it here.  However, the week before that, I dealt with the need to rethink our fear.  Again, read this one first, then last week’s, before this week’s. You can read it here.  These three matters build upon one another, and should be read in light of what the others say.

Having rethought our fears, where we tend to do and obey the persons or things that we fear, and having rethought our faith, having lost much of it in the trials and sufferings, it is now time to rethink our flame, our passion. When we get to the point where we are in awe of our God and are deliberate in our steps, knowing that He is with us and truly believe that He is for us, a flame will once again begin to move us.  We people are like steam locomotives.  Without a flame it is almost impossible to move us.  Many of us have lost our flame.  We have burnt out.  We’ve worked hard, the fire dying bit by bit.  Those fears of others being against us and the frustrations from those we thought were for us have killed the fire that once burned within us.

My favorite part of Pilgrim’s Progress is when Christian is being shown around the home of Interpreter and they enter the room where a fire is raging.  There is a man who throws water on the flames, but rather than extinguishing them they grow larger.  Christian asks how this is possible.  So Interpreter takes him to the room behind the fire.  There is a man who is simultaneously throwing oil onto the fire that the first is so desperately trying to extinguish.

The Interpreter answered,

This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart; by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still. 2 Cor. 12:9. And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire.[1]

It is the Lord who stirs our hearts and enflames us to His work.  And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Johozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people.  And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, (Haggai 1.14, ESV).

When we seek to fan our own flames in the work God has set for us, we will be extinguished, hard as we try not to be.  Those verses I gave to you last week are filled with men who were afraid of the work that God had given them.  People like Moses whom God called to stand up to the most powerful man in the world,  Joshua who had to lead the Israelites into enemy territory, and the disciples who had to take the gospel to all nations.  To each God let them know He was with them.  He supported them, and thus He stirred up their spirits; He fanned their flame.

It is time we rethink our flame.  Rethink the passion of our hearts, are they passions God has wrought and enflamed?  If they are, are we trying to keep the flame going on our own?  If not, are we desperately trying to burn them secretly, while God is calling on us to extinguish them for good?

There was a set time when Haggai saw all this come about: “On the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king,” (Haggai 1.15, ESV).  Today could be that day for you: the day that you rethink your fear of others and your fear of God, the day that you rethink your faith, realizing to the fullest extent that God is not only with you, but for you, and rethinking your flame.  Perhaps it is time to give up a passion, to take a up a new passion, or finally let God keep your passion blazing.

Over the next few days, I would encourage you think meditate on these truths below:

  1. Fear and love are not opposites. They are compatible. Our fear of God does not mean that we do not love Him, nor does loving God mean that we ought not fear Him.
  2. God is not only in your presence; He is supporting you in the task that He has called you to do. You are no different than anyone else in all of Scripture who was given a task by God. He was with them, supporting them, sometimes silently, sometimes miraculously, but He was for them, for their success.  As Richard Sibbes, the great Puritan Pastor said, “Having given up ourselves to God, let us comfort our souls that God is our God. When riches, and men, and our lives fail, yet God is ours. We are now God’s Davids, God’s Pauls, God’s Abrahams. We have an everlasting being with him, as one with Jesus Christ his Son.”
  3. Only God can ignite the flame in you and only God can keep it going. If you are burning out, it is because of doing the work on your own. Take time out daily to spend with God and allow Him to throw oil on your fire.
  4. God has not called you to do everything, but He has called you to do something. Do that by the flame He has put in your heart; do not be afraid of others not supporting you or being against you. Rethink: God is with You.

[1] John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, (Logos Software, 1995).