A Call to Holiness of Life

Haggai 2:10-19 

Brief timeline to catch up: first message September 21, 520, people repented and got to work; second message of encouragement October 17; now third message, December 18 with further cautions and exhortations. This particular date, 24th day of 9th month not associated with festival but… is most important date in all of Haggai – repeated 3 times (v.10, 18, 20), significance identified in v.18

“from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid;”

A day of great significance / importance to Jews living in Jerusalem and surrounding area, the date when the Temple destroyed by Babylonians was refounded. 3 months after work started up again – ok, we’re doing the right thing but we’re still poor; what’s up with that? Had the outward marks of obedience, conformity to God’s expectations, but little had changed for the workers personally.

Would appear was not only construction crew that needed help, Temple staff hadn’t been doing all their job either. Got out of practice during time in captivity, had not recovered all their skills during 15 years back in Jerusalem. Were at least covering basics of religious rituals – regular sacrifice, observance of at least some of the feasts… no record of Passover being observed from time Solomon’s temple destroyed until after Zerubbabel’s completed. One thing lacking in interim: regular pastoral instruction designed to teach God’s people how to live pleasing to him. Haggai’s questions (supplied by God) help point that out to priests. Haggai’s dialogue carried on between him and priests but had people as whole in view.

Important part of work belonging to priests and Levites – Neh 8:8 “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” At least in matter of holy living, had not given adequate teaching and application of God’s Word. Haggai begins with holiness – where does it come from, how do you get it, why do you need it. Then he moves ot how the past relates to the future in relation to their way of life and their circumstances. Finally, addresses the possibility of change in the present bringing about change in the future.

A. what about holiness?  v.10-14

where it comes from

holiness is not contagious – not airborne, not transmitted by contact – something holy cannot make something else holy

holiness cannot be self-acquired or self-administered – no action can give it, no place can make person or thing in it holy

any ritual that is carried out may signify that something is holy, set apart for God’s use, but does not make it intrinsically so

holiness must ultimately come from the one who is perfectly holy – God alone meets that condition, he alone has authority to define terms of holiness

how you get it

holiness is not something you do, it is a condition of who you are – no one has the ability to change their nature or status before God

is something that God supplies, most powerfully by the presence and action of his Spirit – is what God does in us that also has external evidence

individual can make choices, engage in behaviors and ways of thinking to encourage growth in holiness – one who is genuinely holy (converted) will do so in some measure

e.g., regular sacrifice, attendance / participation in stated feasts, instruction from Law of God, close association with others who feared God and kept his laws, pattern of daily life consistent with godly principles

why you need it

God’s desire and intention that his work be done by holy people – according to his standard unholy people cannot offer satisfactory gifts to God

principle articulated earlier still applies: 1 Sam. 16:7 “the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

external appearance of person and gift might appear to meet God’s requirements but… without changed heart dedicated to pleasing God out of love for him, will not receive God’s approval

so… here’s starting place: if work on temple since restart to be acceptable to God and receive his blessing, people must be God’s kind of people doing it God’s way… in all respects – right work done right way by people living right and desiring what is right

B. how does the past relate to the future?  v.15-17

3x – “consider it” (v.15, 18, 19), looking forward – if you want a different future, you need to take these things into account

what you were doing

situation perhaps best expressed in way we can all relate to: the faster I go the behinder I get – harder I try to get ahead, more ground I lose – exactly what Haggai described in 1:6, summarized in 2:16-17

were doing right things, probably many of them good things – problem was they were not the “first” things, most important

God expected that his work would have first priority, then they could attend to own needs – in that order, would be adequate resources for both

putting personal needs / goals first, failing to meet them, adding more time and energy but with no positive change in results

what your circumstances were

didn’t matter how hard they tried, was never quite enough – more effort actually resulted in them losing ground, further behind

once again, God takes direct credit for their hardship – God caused their calamity… on purpose… to give  reason to turn to him

and yet… persisted in pursuing own solution… to their great disappointment – good reminder: if our way isn’t working, stop and check.. is it God’s way

does this sound familiar? anyone you know that might fit same pattern? a good set of principles here to challenge saved / unsaved family or friends

if God thought was good idea to remind both saved & unsaved of what he expected, what he was doing to get their attention, we shouldn’t be shy about using same reminders

C. how does the present potentially change the future?  v.18-19

what changed

people had changed in response to Haggai’s message – they obeyed God, they came and worked on the house as they were challenged

construction began again, serious enough effort that got Tattenai and Shethar-Boznai’s attention – correspondence w/Darius

apparently from God’s perspective: was a change but… was an outward / external change prompted by fear of God’s presence

same kind of motivation that keeps (at least for now) majority of citizens law-abiding – fear of consequences motivates compliance

what didn’t change

had returned to Jerusalem expecting certain things: basically smooth sailing in spheres of life… home, church, public arena

encountered opposition to their efforts – had material help, supplies and money, but… were opposed in their work by enemies and then (after they had changed focus) by God

from soon after first work on temple stopped, life got hard and stayed that way – everything came at great sacrifice w/ little joy

by God’s design, since in face of hardship they continued to do same thing same way for same reasons but maybe with more energy and greater effort, results did not change

what needs to change

was all about what they could see, what they could achieve or acquire… but see what God said he wanted, v.17 – he made life hard and they turned back to the work – God wanted them to turn back to Him

at beginning they had a desire for the temple, needed a desire for the God of the temple – lots of nostalgia for the way things were… sights, sounds, rituals of a religious culture, longing for the good ol’ days

God’s desire was for something different – he wanted hearts of his people first, then the work of their hands – he wanted them to want him first and most

desire for God is soon followed by desire to please God which then leads to desire for God’s benefits… as evidence of his favor

what will change

when all God had done – sent calamity and then sent prophets – brought about his desired result, then he promises to bless them

does require trust – that when we devote time and energy to God first, what we have left will be enough to meet our own needs

would actually be the reverse of their experience – more work brought less results, when God is first less work brings more results

means they had to trust God to provide results of his choosing when they lived and acted his way

Simply doing work of ministry guarantees only one thing – you’ll be tired at end of day. If we are to experience God’s blessing, must be committed to doing all of life his way… at home, at work, in community, in church.

What is “real” goal – that lots of people would show up, or that God would be present? The real goal as in what comes first and without it nothing else matters. That we would have this that or the other, or that God would bless the work of our hands as he sees fit?

Have opportunities each day to engage people who are just like Haggai’s neighbors. We know the principles to tell them, something else can have even greater influence – our own story, when/how God has blessed our devotion and obedience. And… let’s be sure we have right desires and attitudes about ministry work.

Who Is On the Lord’s Side?

Exodus 32:19-35

Hard to wrap minds around what Moses experienced there on the mountain. We talk about mountain-top experiences, those exhilarating times – opportunities for great spiritual encouragement and growth, gaining new insights into God’s word and character. Rewarding times of fellowship and joy, then comes time when must leave mountain-top, head down into valley, try to pick up threads of life where we left it. Sometimes take with us commitment to some sort of change, may or may not have lasting effect.

Moses had time of his life up there, unlike anything experienced after Adam and Eve’s first days in Garden. Kind of thing Moses didn’t even try to describe. And then… God, with gracious understatement, warned Moses about what awaited him at foot of mountain – read v.7-8. God told Moses enough… but not everything – what people were doing but not how outrageous behavior really was. God rightly called them “a stiff-necked people”, obstinate and rebellious.

Joshua, meanwhile, had no idea what was happening. Moses hoping for best, thinking worst had fears confirmed closer he got. No wonder he couldn’t bear to tell Joshua entire truth, what noise was really all about. Than as scene unfolded before eyes and ears, Moses knew had to act in decisive way. Like bucket of ice water in face of hysterical person, had to bring stampede to halt, then deal with horribly sinful behavior immediately. To deal with anything else first would minimize the outrageousness of their conduct.

And remember… could just as easily be written about us: 1 Cor. 10:6-7 “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.” No need for the warning if there is no risk!

A. confrontation  v.19-21

by the Law of God

given previous aggressive behavior at Massah and Meribah (ch. 17), disregard for God’s presence on the mountain, bullying Aaron, mob mentality – Moses’ authority nowhere near sufficient to turn tide of thought and act

only tangible thing he had… really the best thing he had… in his hands – very word of God, his Law, his standard, his expectations

was summary of what Moses read Ex. 24:7, people agreed to: “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.”

shattering tablets in sight of all the people simply displayed their breaking of God’s covenant by their sinful idolatry

by the futility of their idol

if god they were worshiping in place of YHWH really deserved their loyalty, how in world could he stand idly by while Moses single-handedly ground his image to powder?

if their substitute god could not resist Moses’ action, no way would ever lead them anywhere, at least not anywhere safe

even though talking about powdered gold, after people ate it nobody was ever going to try gathering pieces to reassemble

by the righteous displeasure of Moses

some had quieted down, were catching on to just how seriously angry Moses was, at that moment did not give any push-back

then… goes after his big brother – basically asking how the people sinned against Aaron in forcing Aaron to sin so greatly

Aaron catches on real fast that he’s in big trouble for facilitating such a big sin (his own and people’s) while standing in for Moses

B. excuses  v.22-24

not a big deal

“don’t get so upset” basically Aaron’s words as he shields face from heat of Moses’ anger – “Moses, you’re overreacting, not really that serious”

always one of first steps when confronted with sin – tone it down, try to make less weighty than really is; truth is, all sin is fatal

their fault

took page from Adam and Eve’s playbook – did speak truth, people were indeed set on evil; recognizing that should have made Aaron more vigilant instead of giving him excuse for weakness

second step in dealing with sin – “the devil made me do it” – blame-shifting, trying to lay blame on circumstances, companions

didn’t expect this

willingness of people to give up things of great value to Aaron might have surprised Aaron – certainly not a prudent order to give

ends with really ridiculous justification – claiming if God could speak from a burning bush, could make image from burning gold

C. separation  v.25-29

NOTE: task of leaders God gives to his people… restrain the people, keep them from running wild, refusing to enable their sin

this sad event in Israel’s history strong evidence for need to follow closely qualifications given for shepherds in local church

pick a side

talk about choosing sides as if more than one – really is only one worth considering: the Lord’s side – two options, the Lord’s side, not the Lord’s side… any other distinctions far less important

choosing to be on the Lord’s side requires: public action, public identification – acting to confirm choice and identity, clearly identified before watching world

given how out of control people were, taking stand like Moses required had great personal risk – not waiting for emotions to cool off, instead confronting sin at its peak and stopping in its tracks – man, tank, Tienanmen Square

take a weapon

only men from Moses’ tribe who stood with him… against tribesman Aaron… and took up arms… against neighbors and family

before you call God harsh in allowing this, think again – God declared his sentence up on the mountain, they all deserved to die

in this case, immediate consequences, at least for some, for their sin – clear picture for everyone else present just how seriously God takes idol worship

enjoy the reward

v. 29 – “Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

a hard stand for Levites to take but… any blessing God gives for obedience far surpasses any benefit from worshiping false god

blessing for Levites: because they took stand, confirmed by decisive action that they were serious, God gave priestly responsibilities

D. intercession  v.30-34b

a great sin

serious enough that even 3,000 lives not enough to cover the debt for this kind of sin against God – Moses could easily compare glory / holiness / purity of God he had just seen to blackness of people’s sin

at this point Moses could have agreed with God: as bad as these people are, you better start over – instead, acts with compassion

since Moses had spent weeks in presence of God, had ample opportunity to know his own heart, how on his own just as prone to sin as people were – so… commits to carrying on role as mediator

a great need… for forgiveness

seems impossible to come up with greater sin against God – thinking coud make better substitute than living creator God already was

no way would be possible for people to pay price for their sin by other than death – only source of hope… that God could / would somehow be inclined to forgive, not hold their sin against them

a great cost – disinherited

here Moses’ heart of compassion really shows – if you can forgive them…., if not, punish me in their place; take away my inheritance, take away my life instead of theirs

carries even greater weight because of God’s earlier statement about starting over with Moses – giving all of that up for the people

a great promise – the Angel

Moses cannot atone for even his own sin, much less that of Hebrew children – was also unable, on his own, to rightly lead them

so God graciously gives Moses assurance: can’t accept Moses’ terms, but will send his Angel, his presence to lead in right way

and… when God does punish, he will be merciful – he will not give them what they deserve, even though will be consequences

E. consequences  v.34c-35


judgment would be certain, not told explicitly what it was – some sort of plague that God sent, took 23,000 additional lives on that day (1 Cor. 10:8)

likely the ones who paid with their lives those who persisted in rebellion, who used idol worship as excuse for other immorality


once again God makes plain: sin must be punished, sin will be punished – because God is holy and just, no escaping that reality

Moses, most clearly of anyone in Bible up to this point, demonstrates principle of a substitute – Moses had the heart but not other necessities to fill that role… and he pictures that one for us… the Lord Jesus

What made Moses different? What helped him avoid sin of idolatry? Remember where he was – in presence of true God. So long as we drink crystal clear cool refreshing spring water, tap water will never satisfy no matter how thirsty we get. So long as we are satisfying our desires with God himself, no false god will have attraction for us. Safest place for us is at foot of the cross, constantly mindful that our hope must be in Christ alone, our trust in Christ alone, our satisfaction in Christ alone.

32. Which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold….the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?

Matthew 23:17, 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?

Read: Matthew 23:16-22

similarities to Lk 11:37-54 occurring earlier in Jesus’ ministry; one “harmony” looks for way to have Matthew’s account be out of place, better suited to small dinner setting; the rest take chronological placement as indicating 2 separate occasions when Jesus denounced religious leaders blindness and hypocrisy


in the Temple area; probably Tuesday of Passion Week; scribes, Pharisees, crowds and the Twelve present

Person(s) being questioned:

Matt. 23:1Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples”

“woe to you, scribes and Pharisees” – v.13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29; “woe to you, blind guides” – v.16

highlighting erroneous teaching of religious leaders, questioning them directly, encouraging all w/i earshot to think critically

Question behind the question:

What is the purpose of the temple?

What / who should be the focus of activities at the temple?

How does this teaching promote truth and justice?

Expected response:

should have responded – temple and altar – both have use and significance regardless of gold or specific gift

their teaching about oaths and vows implied just the opposite – apparently they couldn’t “see” the contradiction

description of Matt. 22:46 carried on even in face of Jesus calling down curses on them – “no one was able to answer Him a word”

Jesus’ point:

truth / integrity

what’s the use of an oath or vow if you can get out of it on a technicality?

how does it advance the truth if you say one thing and mean another?

how can you claim to lead others to the truth when your “rules” encourage deception?


think about why you go to church – to worship the things you bring… or the one who makes the church holy?

if the gold and the gift rank higher than anything else in their surroundings, what is the real focus of worship?

bottom line

nothing you are swearing by can hold you accountable and you know that… only God can – and where is he in the picture?

Modern Application:

effect of lack of trust on culture

society / community disintegrates, becomes radical individualism if there is no interpersonal trust – destroys relationships, paralyzes commerce, worship becomes self-focused

must be those known for commitment to truth and integrity – people of our word and the Word, upholding the truth: John 14:6; 1 Tim. 3:15

keeping right focus / emphasis in worship

what we call worship

shouldn’t call something worship that isn’t just because it happens at church, with Christians

how we do worship

each element of a worship service should intentionally draw attention to the proper object of worship, God

anything that encourages undue attention elsewhere should be avoided or eliminated

where we go to worship

whatever there is about the worship space that draws attention away from the proper object should be altered or removed

in all things, whatever does attract the attention of worshipers should focus it on a true representation of God


A Call to Find Courage in God’s Promises

Haggai 2:1-9

Entire time of “serious” building approx. 4-1/2 years:

Hag. 1:14-15 they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius. (Sept. 21, 520 BC)

Ezr. 6:15 Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. (Mar. 12, 515 BC)

Wasn’t all smooth sailing. Tattenai, Shethar-Boznai and allies challenged Zerubbabel and Joshua – who gave permission for this? (Ezr. 5:3ff) Gave straight answer, was Cyrus who issued decree, etc. Persians, of course, had to verify – sent to Darius, check the archives, tell us what to do. Darius took situation seriously, work on temple had first begun during his lifetime before his time as king with access to royal archives. Commissioned a search, decree of Cyrus found. Darius responded; gave partial quote of Cyrus’ decree, then gave his own orders:

Ezra 6:6-7 “Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions the Persians who are beyond the River, keep yourselves far from there. Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site.”

Doesn’t take long to tell the story, took much longer for it all to play out – mail back and forth, extended search (first at Babylon, then Achmetha 300 miles away). Meanwhile, Jews back at Jerusalem wondering how would all turn out, continuing to work and look over their shoulders. Several things that could certainly cause discouragement:

almost immediate opposition… again; left-over shame from prophet’s rebuke in first sermon; perhaps questioning by those who had not heard message (you sure about this?); and then the whole thing about comparisons… this worship center compared to that worship center.

7 weeks after first sermon… time for another – this to be a one-two from Haggai and then Zechariah a couple weeks later. Not meant to beat God’s people down, rather to build them up. Yes, there are elements of rebuke in last three prophets, but far outweighed by focus on glories yet to come. Even though intended to incite people to “labor for the kingdom”, prophets made it clear would be God’s power, God’s plan, God himself working his purpose through his people. Also keep in mind: prophetic lens doesn’t always give clear indications of perspective… how near or distant events in view are.

A. expanded audience v.1-2

cp. 1:1 and 2:2 – ” the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest” vs “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people

first message to political and religious leaders

would need their leadership if work was to get started again – and could not be half-hearted or people wouldn’t get on board

first sermon focused on principle, need to make God and his work the prioirity… even for those in ministry – simply being busy about church work doesn’t guarantee right / best things are being done

included ones leaders were directly responsible for

expected that Zerubbabel would call together government workers, declare to them what prophet had said, make sure they all knew what right response would be

similar scenario for Joshua and all religious workers associated with Temple (priests and Levites) – would hear from Joshua if not directly from Haggai

both groups of leaders needed to be on-board, committed to the work – in face of opposition, any weakness from leaders would spread like wildfire through the people

second message directed to same plus the remnant (2)

reinforcing message to leaders, one of encouragement to leaders and people – Haggai spoke as if they were all present and all on same page

was next to last day of third pilgrimage festival, excellent time for addressing crowd and drawing attention to work yet to be done

B. encouraging message v.3-5

doesn’t look like much (3)

real need for encouragement – seventh month the busiest one on calendar… three feasts: Feast of Trumpets (1), Day of Atonement (10), Feast of Tabernacles (15-22)

all taking place in middle of construction zone – “competing” interests… keeping the feasts, getting the work done, hard to do both

foundation had been laid, walls started, opposition halted progress but… obvious from what was done would never rival Solomon’s

be strong (4a)

is easy to hurry through verse 4, shouldn’t do that – those words were spoken by Haggai face-to-face with intended hearers

looking directly at Zerubbabel, making eye contact, maybe even up close and personal, given God’s personally directed exhortation

same for Joshua, the high priest, given God’s individual message to them in sight and hearing of crowd gathered for festival

then was crowd’s turn to hear same words – “be strong, all you people of the land” – some powerful associations: “be strong” 3x, the land… end of the Exodus / beginning of Entrance to Canaan, Josh. 1:6-9

almost a given: big promise coming up – just as God did big things in giving them land he promised, would again do big things

work (4b)

but… for promise to be fulfilled, God’s people needed to do their part – go back to work, complete assignment while trusting God

reminder that God’s presence is not always obvious – looked like God had left the job site, why progress halted… not true

could / should begin work again… even though nothing obvious had changed… yet there was change: two prophets on site, tangible representations of God’s presence and care

do not fear (5)

and… no need for fear if they move forward in his strength and directed / accompanied by his Spirit – after all, it’s God’s project

God who kept promises 1000 years before has not forgotten – God’s purpose to redeem his people from both slavery and sin still very much in force… and moving forward

C. expectant future v.6-9

God has the power (6-7a)

entire universe will be shaken up – heaven and earth – and all the inhabitants – sea and dry land and all nations

not something that could be mistaken for “forces of nature” at work, even in response to mankind’s presence and meddling

this the kind of response of earth in particular to immediate presence of God – Haggai’s listeners would make quick connections

during Feast of Tabernacles, time established by God for them to remember Lev. 23:43 “that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

at beginning of wilderness time Ex. 19:18 “Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.”

Sinai was preliminary example, Calvary another, will be final shaking when current order of things totally upended, restored

NOTE: don’t forget – people were being called to work, to do job God had assigned but… would be God exercising his power that changed the world

God has the Person (7b, 9a)

this poor substitute temple will be filled with glory, glory that far exceeds any associated with former (Solomon’s) temple

the place where this remnant were laboring would be place where desire of all nations would be met, would satisfy them

on that spot God would worship God – the Son worshiping the Father, the place where effect of Christ’s atonement first displayed… the rent veil, signifying free access to Father through Son

God has the provision (8)

God declares he owns all the resources, that statement the “filling” between “I will fill this temple with glory” and “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former”

yet God never states his intention to make gold and silver the glory of the temple – people needed to look for glory in something other than construction materials

whatever God provided for materials would satisfy him, should satisfy them – glory would come from who was there, who was worshiped there – Person greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42) would give greater glory to Temple

God will perform (9b)

God, YHWH Sabaoth, repeatedly declares what he will do – their future and future of Temple entirely in God’s hands

their responsibility to do the work, God is responsible for outcome/results – not to be distsracted by appearances… either potential hindrances or humble building

God could give the world a king from a stable; a savior from a criminal’s cross and borrowed tomb in city governed by pagans

Should not be either distracted or discouraged by appearances… if is clear God is at work. Is presence and power of God that gives glory to individuals as temple of Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19), a place of worship whether dedicated sanctuary or simply place where God’s people gather (Acts 16:13). Our responsibility to trust in God and his promises, work diligently at task he has assigned, count on God to bring about results according to his eternal plan.

Moses Stands in the Gap

Exodus 32:11-18

No clearer picture, no louder statement could be made than the worship of a golden calf – God’s covenant by itself is powerless to save. That is true of every covenant God has made in the history of mankind. Whether a covenant is in force or not, only the sovereign gracious act of God saves lost sinners. The same is true for all other forms of human effort – no preached message, no Gospel tract, no revival meeting altar call, no sinner’s prayer will convert a lost soul. Only the power of God can give life to someone dead in trespasses and sins. Without question, God uses Gospel preaching and tracts and the like as means that lead to salvation. But for there to be genuine conversion, God by his power must change a person from inside out,

Something else God has deemed necessary to relate to his people – a mediator. Job understood that – Job 9:32-33“For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” There must be someone to stand in the gap, to bridge the chasm between a holy God and sinful man, to bring them together on friendly terms.

There on the mountain, hearing righteous anger in God’s voice, understanding what it signified for his fellow Israelites, Moses acted.

A. Moses pleads with God v.11-13

questions God – “Why?”

more than simple desire to hear God explain and defend why he is so angry with the people – YHWH already told Moses what they had done… and Moses knew what that meant: rejected/abandoned God, broken covenant, etc

is asking how it can possibly be in God’s best interest to destroy people he did so much to deliver from slavery – how would that ever make God look good?

and… why would God do something that could so easily be “misunderstood”, that would make YHWH appear just like other gods

“corrects” God – “your people”

God said to Moses “your people… you brought” – Moses says “wait a minute, they’re not my people, they’re your people”

way more weight of responsibility than Moses would accept… and rightly so – really are not his people, are truly God’s people

Moses could only take credit for bringing people out of Egypt if Noah could take credit for rounding up animals and putting 2 x 2 in the ark – Noah and Moses both instruments God used, but… was God’s power, God’s mighty hand at work

confronts God – “remember”

no way that God forgot what he promised, did not need anyone to bring something back to his memory – Moses is changing the subject, shifting focus

takes as given that if God only looks at what people have done, if he judges based on their performance… they are goners

as if Moses said to God “let’s not talk about them, let’s talk about you – consider your character, your faithfulness, your promises”

is just as true for every lost sinner in need of salvation: if all we do is talk about the sinner and his sin, situation is absolutely hopeless

good news of Gospel – someone who stands in the gap to change the subject: salvation comes about solely by power of God, action of God

Moses’ changed character

Psa. 106:23 “Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.”

Moses volunteered to stand in the gap – God didn’t ask him to do it, in fact offered Moses huge bonus if he did nothing – “I will make of you a great nation.”

Moses not only considered treasures of Egypt as having little or no personal value, had come to value the lives of Israelites

Moses freely refused the gift, put himself personally at great risk… for sake of rebellious obstinate idolatrous people… who deserved to die – does that sound familiar??

B. God responds to Moses v.14

teaches value / power of intercession

was in response to Moses’ pleading that God changed course – God would not bring destruction on his people as he threatened

from our perspective God changed direction, changed his mind – from God’s POV, was all going precisely according to plan

God teaching Moses, Israelites, and us vital lesson – prayer, in particular prayers of intercession matter: should be regular part of our prayer life to intercede for others expecting God to change course of events and expected outcome

let’s make relevant application: see what’s happening in our country, with our friends/neighbors/fellow citizens – don’t give up and pray for Second Coming – instead pray like Moses for God to be merciful

came time later on in Israel’s history when God said:“I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” Eze. 22:30

may we not give God opportunity to say that about us, our nation

shows greatness of his mercy

consider what is taking place: God is furious, threatens to utterly destroy his people and start over with Moses, then draws back

remember how paragraph ends in v.18 – people haven’t changed, still engaged in worship of idol, while they were doing that God turned away his wrath… because of the mediator

Ex. 34:6-7 “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Tit. 3:4-5 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us”

goal is repentance

God takes no pleasure in destruction of his enemies – wasn’t secretly hoping to carry out his threat, then got talked out of it

true of threats of disaster, even when God does bring calamity – his intention is that people will repent of sinfulness, turn to Him

Jeremiah 18:6-10 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.”

God is committed to doing whatever it takes to have a people who worship him in spirit and truth, a people he calls his own

in the process, God blesses obedience… because he is loving and gracious and merciful; he brings consequences for disobedience because he is just and righteous

and in all of this… Israelites would have been destroyed if there were no mediator – same is true for us… if no Mediator to reconcile us to God… to stand in the gap between us and God

C. Moses prepares to confront the people v.15-18

carries the work and words of God

the one who is effective mediator doesn’t make up his own script – in this case, script of covenant written down directly by God

gives confidence in both content of message and the one bringing it – since Moses is acting as God’s messenger, can be trusted

shows depth of God’s love for his people – he wrote out terms of covenant himself, didn’t dictate, communicated personally

intended there to be no doubt about who was source of message, what the actual content and meaning was

cautions Joshua – don’t misunderstand

Joshua thought one kind of music, Moses knew it to be another: not the sound of singing victory, not the sound of singing defeat, but the sound of singing I hear

regularly sing hymns with familiar tunes… different words – happens often in human communication… sounds familiar but has significantly different meaning from what we expect

and remember what Moses had in his hands… word of God – what he and Joshua heard must be in line with words on tablets or God would be displeased

clarifies the condition of the people

isn’t victory, isn’t defeat, is another kind of singing – was Moses too grieved to even identify out loud to Joshua what kind?

encounter with God up the mountain all behind Moses, God already relented… yet people still celebrating their sin and rebellion

would definitely be consequences for their sin, not the utter destruction God had threatened… because of the mediator who stood in the gap

Moses, mediator of Old Covenant, pictures for us nature of work that must be done. His is accurate but incomplete picture – Moses effective in interceding, representing God and people, could only go so far. New Covenant better than Old, its Mediator a better one too. Moses turned away God’s righteous anger over sin of people. Lord Jesus, mediator of New Covenant took full fury of God’s righteous anger over sin of his people.

Israelites were singing in their rebellion – we can sing in our redemption and so we should at every possible opportunity. Declaring the praises of God who sent his own Son to stand in the gap, put his hand on both God and his people. Didn’t simply make reconciliation possible:

2 Cor. 5:19-20 “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

A Call to Rebuild the Temple

Haggai 1:1-15

Big Theme: Redeemed from Ruin. Was God’s intent in 6th century BC, still is today to redeem a people from ruin (and not just the Jewish people). Zephaniah ended with Jewish people headed for exile (Josiah, prior to 612 BC, last good king of Judah), Haggai picks up the story 100 years later after return to Jerusalem (Darius, 520 BC). Zechariah was called into service two months later.

Small Theme: “the power of God’s redemptive purposes in overcoming the half-heartedness of His people. …The Lord will work with divine power to overcome the half-heartedness of His people in fulfilling His eternal worldwide redemptive purposes in Christ.” Parker

Post-exilic prophets much different tone from pre-exilic

Pre-exilic Prophets

Jonah — Joel — Isaiah — Amos — Hosea — Micah — Nahum — Habakkuk — Zephaniah — Obadiah

aExilic Prophets

Jeremiah — Ezekiel — Daniel

Post-exilic Prophets

Haggai — Zechariah — Malachi

Pre: warning, exhortation to come to their senses while still time; mostly about gloom and doom and destruction with bright spots here and there. No prophet from any period entirely without hope. During: focused on explanation and hope; here’s why it happened, not the end of the world… yet. More content dealing with what is still future than pre-exilic prophets. Post: encouraging God’s people to renewed faithfulness, focusing hope more explicitly on coming Messiah.

Important to remember: Haggai and Zechariah ministering to a “remnant of the people” (1:12, 1:14; 2:2), small portion of entire people group. Were the ones who expressed desire to return to homeland, rebuild a community there after Babylonian exile. Would be by means of that remnant that God would pursue his redemptive plan by sending a Redeemer. In fact, that Redeemer would bring an unsurpassed glory to God’s temple, even greater than that of Solomon’s temple (2:9). That in itself should stir God’s’ people to action!

A. setting v.1

immediate context: Ezra 4:24-5:1

after Babylonian captivity, Cyrus decreed return

set up altar, reinstituted worship, laid foundation for temple

opposed by enemies, stopped by Artaxerxes; languished for ~15 years

four “sermons” in four months

A Call to Rebuild the Temple1:1–15;A Call to Find Courage in God’s Promises2:1–9; A Call to Cleanness of Life2:10–19; A Call to Confidence in the Future2:20–23

not intended to beat the saints down, rather build them up – needed to understand God intended to use them in his long-term plan of redemption

their work to rebuild worship place and worshiping community essential for Jesus’ life and ministry

they didn’t need to fully grasp all the details (when, how, why) in order to carry out task immediately before them

Cyrus’ decree strongly implied he intended those who returned to Jerusalem would rebuild and start using the Temple

B. rebuke v.2-6

people express their inaction (2)

at time of first return 16 years earlier, had abundant resources – government support, many of furnishings/utensils returned, contributions given by themselves and those who stayed behind

ordered supplies, arranged contracts with craftsmen, then hit a wall – opposition by local enemies who manipulated political allies and halted work

simplest, least confrontational position to take: must be message from God, not right time to be working on Temple project

God asks about their indifference (3-4)

God through prophet Haggai challenges way of thinking about work of ministry – really amounted to choice for them how to use available resources

could use time / treasure / talents to further their own ends or use same things to further God’s kingdom… at that time by working on Temple project

laboring to feather their own nests equivalent to showing indifference to God’s work, progress of his redemptive plan

God notes their impoverishment (5-6)

were in fact missing one obvious and important detail – as hard as they were working, they were not getting ahead

work overtime to put money into hat only to find out hat has a hole – something must be wrong, not how God said it would be

was what God promised, for disobedience: Dt. 28:38-40“You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes”

C. resume v.7-8

think about it (7)

can picture someone, head down, feet in gear, headed for certain disaster – whoa, whoa, hold up, think about what you’re doing

happens often, get so focused on putting one foot ahead of the other just to try and keep up, can’t see the big picture

brother, stopped for gas, back on interstate… thought it odd which way mile markers were counting – figured out 50 miles later was going the wrong way

get going (8a)

need to turn around, refocus, go back to original plan… building the Temple – go get the stuff and go back to work like before

God told them that knowing all about the politics, knowing what his plan was to deal with it – expected them to act in faith

that was really the root problem – had been acting based on what they could see, not what God intended them to do

for God’s glory (8b)

their first priority needed to be God’s first priority… his glory – had put something else first for last 16 years, to no avail

now God sent prophets to encourage change – God could have gotten job done another way, didn’t choose to do so

all we need to know is that this way God used would bring greatest pleasure and glory to him while achieving his good purpose

D. reason v.9-11

impoverished because they let the temple lie in ruins (9)

great evidence here of God’s mercy – he sent messengers to his people to instruct them what was going on – didn’t leave them to stumble around in the dark

God puts it right out there, in plain language – life is tough for you because I made it that way; I did that because you didn’t put me first like you should have

God withheld His provision (10-11)

don’t blame it on climate change, untreated bird flu, trade war with China, GMO tinkering by Monsanto, weather control by Russia

was because God himself intervened and created their calamity (Isa. 45:7) – altering expected behavior of natural world, outcome of human and animal labor

God used means at his disposal to remove profit from disobedience… and can still do same and more today… and probably does

E. response v.12-15

leaders and people respond in fear and obedience (12)

certain level of indifference / complacency reached all the way to the top – Zerubbabel, godly governor of Judah and Joshua, high priest content with status quo

faithfully doing routine part of daily job, managing best they could “under the circumstances”, at least temporarily abandoned big goal of completing Temple

Haggai (and Zechariah) coming on scene with “YHWH’s message” a wake-up call – their normal not even close to God’s normal

nothing else mattered: recognized God’s messenger with God’s message… only one option: respect (fear) and obey

God reassures them of His presence (13)

had not only lost sight of goal, also lost sense of God’s presence – needed reminder: political opponents they could see did not outrank God they couldn’t see

God was present with his people even though no pillar of cloud / fire, other dramatic visible signs of his presence and availability

people are stirred up to begin work (14-15)

seeing and hearing from God necessary means to rouse people… but wait, there’s more that is absolutely essential

in order for everyone, leaders and people, to respond well, God had to “stir up the[ir] spirit” – energize and encourage (NET)

God not only sent the message by his messengers, God made the message effectual by His Spirit working with their spirits

Two things: pray that God will stir up the hearts of his people to do his work. Pray that God’s people will respond in fear and obedience when they hear his call. And remember – we are included in the group. To pray sincerely requires we be committed to obedience also, not content with status quo either in own immediate circle of influence or larger community of believers and the world.

Sin at Sinai

Exodus 32:1-10

Opening chapters of Exodus have all makings of blockbuster dramatic production – baby rescue, royal prince who goes bad, burning bush, rods become snakes become rods, ten plagues, crossing Red Sea and destruction of Pharaoh’s army. Story doesn’t end there, no happy ending yet either.

Our text describes lowest point of Exodus account – worship of golden calf (chapter 32); highest point comes soon after – revelation of God’s goodness (chapter 34). What’s amazing: those events come in that order – God shows goodness, mercy, grace to people who had just rejected him and his terms. Don’t be hard on Hebrew children… not so much different from everyone else in world… then and now.

Are series of circumstances that highlight true character – of Moses, of majority of Hebrew children, and of Aaron. Keep in mind, not all Hebrews were faithless… see that next week, DV. Their behavior, though, makes strong statement about idea that people are product of their environment, nature vs. nurture argument.

In very first verse, character strengths and weaknesses come to light; we see what kind of people Hebrew children really were, then God leaves us with cliff-hanger – what will happen not only to Jewish people but God’s whole plan and purpose of redemption?

A. character study


this the fellow who didn’t want job God had in mind for him – tried desperately to get God to leave him alone, pick someone else

finally convinced after he and God reached compromise – at one point, not sure wanted to keep job… frustrated w/ complaining

here he is, up on mountain… with the God he wasn’t sure he wanted to serve – and now doesn’t want to leave, 40 days and counting

know that later glow of God’s glory rubbed off on Moses’ face – love God had for his people already rubbing off on Moses’ heart

btw, should be same kind of experience for us – more time we spend with God, more we want to spend time with God… and more of God’s character rubs off on us

the people

had for several generations suffered under oppressive slavery in Egypt – pushed around by taskmasters, beaten and mistreated

led out of place of spiritual / physical / emotional oppression by God’s man Moses, now can hardly remember his name

doesn’t seem to matter how much “old what’s-his-name” did for them, not enough loyalty or concern to find out what happened to him, why he hadn’t returned

all their unjust mistreatment failed to make them more considerate of those who treated them well: Moses, Aaron, even God


apparently gifted speaker, in God’s opinion too: “I know that he can speak well” (Ex. 4:14) – God also knew he was not a gifted leader like Moses

Moses had left Aaron, Hur and 70 elders in charge – same ones who went partway up mountain and saw God (Ex. 24:9ff)

did not have strength of his convictions, firmness of loyalty to God and covenant to stand his ground – instead, facilitated sinful rejection of God

B. instant gratification

drive-thru (not drive-in) church

wasn’t really a big secret who Moses went to see – anyone who could see / hear knew God who had made covenant with them still on the mountain

weren’t sure Moses had survived, knew for sure God had – apparently had their own ideas about what they wanted to be doing, where they wanted to go – so far YHWH not cooperating

with each passing day, people less excited about this God who was making them wait – not very entertaining to just watch the mountain, see if anything would change

much more interested in god who would satisfy desires, provide exciting entertainment, not expect much from them in return

hearts had never left Egypt

Acts 7:39-40 “And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'”

purpose in wanting “gods to go before them” – take them back “home” – this a theme repeated throughout history all over world

God by means of Moses had led Hebrew children along with belongings out of circumstances of slavery in Egypt

all that changed for many / most of them was external situation – heart / desires / loyalties / comfort zone never moved

wasn’t that God made mistake, only did part of job: intended to make clear to them and us… not circumstances that make us the kind of people we are

also means their acceptance of / agreement to terms of covenant mostly for appearances, not based on heartfelt loyalty

if covenant benefits not enough or right kind, if covenant requirements too much, would bail on moment’s notice

and… looking only at physical / material aspects of covenant, had no interest / understanding of spiritual benefits

can make application to many different situations – people living in one kind of slavery or another: slaves to desire for things, particular kind of feeling, and more

change their environment, provide all kinds of help, if desire of their heart doesn’t change… will do just like Israelites… go back to Egypt at first possible opportunity

God on their own terms, not his terms

people were treating relationship between them and God like business deal – God providing product or service, people in the market, choosing provider that appealed to them

determined what they wanted from their god, what they were willing to give to their god, then went “looking for” god to satisfy

this kind of music, that kind of sharing, scheduled between these hours on this day, with these expectations in return

bottom line: not simply abandoning Moses and his leadership, were rejecting God and his covenant in favor of slavery to gods of Egypt and perceived benefits

C. cliff-hanger

God’s character

have been conditioned to think “God is love”, and that is true – but that is not all that God is: WSC Q4, What is God?

A. “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

have seen his love and goodness in how has cared for Israelites so far – now God threatens display of his holiness and justice

is God’s righteous burning anger against sin that is ready to break out and destroy those who so blatantly sinned against him

stand aside, Moses

God’s demand of Moses – “leave me alone so I can destroy them” – Moses in terrifying spot, standing before holy God whose nose begins to blaze up, breathing fire

Moses has already experienced similar emotion… saw great injustice when Egyptian was beating a Hebrew… killed the Egyptian (Ex. 2)

here another sinful injustice, which way would Moses’ heart go – would he side with God, join God in breathing fire on Israelites?

would he continue to stand between God and Israelites, if necessary take the heat himself so as to save his brothers from harm?

where would Israel be without a mediator?

whether Moses or another, seems clear nothing else would stand between Israel and the the consuming wrath of holy God

no mediator = no future = no hope — and at this point people absolutely clueless of their grave danger… no idea they are so close to utter ruin

even if they knew, little likelihood they would seek someone to mediate for them – way more intent / determined to make their own god, find their own way

where would we be without a mediator?

much as we might like to think otherwise, we are no wiser, more loyal to God, more desirous of God and his presence than Israelites

future without mediator just as bleak for us as for them – in a word, utterly hopeless, our sin problem just as deadly as theirs

Several take-away’s:

if we are to have relationship with God, must take him on his terms, not try to make own terms; if we do, will be making our own idol

if Mediator is standing between us and God, thank him for his love and grace and mercy in delivering from slavery, giving new heart

for those we know still in slavery, help what you can and always remember: true deliverance only comes with God-given change of heart