Also available as MP3: Give The Jews Credit! – Haggai 1:12-15
Most of the time when preachers talk about the Jews it is in a negative way, and there is nothing wrong with this. God recorded their sins “for ensamples” for us (I Cor. 10:11), and if preachers don’t use those examples, they can’t give us the “admonition” we need. So we should point out their sins as faithfully as we point out the sins of the Corinthians and other Gentiles. But we should also give the Jews credit when it is due, and it is due in Haggai 1:12! And when everyone in Israel obeyed God, from the governor down to the people, it was a type of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Zechariah also prophesied at that time (Ezra 5:2), and he gave another type of the kingdom. He tells how God told him to put two crowns on the high priest (Zech. 6:10,11), but high priests were only supposed to wear one (Ex. 39:27-30). Why two? The only other men in Israel to wear a crown were kings (II Ki. 11:11,12). But kings weren’t allowed to be priests and priests weren’t allowed to be kings! Saul lost his kingdom that way (I Sam. 13:9-14). So why would God tell Zechariah to put two crowns on the high priest? He was acting out a prophecy (cf. Ezek. 24:16-24) that he was about to give (Zech. 6:12,13). Christ will be a king and a priest in the kingdom, and Zechariah was acting that out. He says the Lord will build the temple (Zech. 6:13), so if the Jews at that time rebuilt the temple, they would be acting out their part of this prophecy of the kingdom!
They feared the Lord (1:12) because of the judgments that were already falling on them (1:6). They took Haggai’s advice and began to “consider” (1:5) that the last time they persisted in disobedience they ended up in Babylon for 70 years. Of course, grace believers think they needn’t fear God because He won’t chasten us like that, but Paul says otherwise (II Cor. 7:1). We should be afraid to grieve the Spirit who has sealed us to the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).
It’s for your own good. When Christ will be both the political leader and spiritual leader of the world in the kingdom, it will be heaven on earth. Well, Christ is already your spiritual leader. If you make Him the king of your life, you can experience a little bit of heaven on earth right now!
Any prophet who ever delivered a message from God was a messenger of the Lord, but only Haggai is called that (1:13). That’s because he was a messenger “in the Lord’s message,” which was “I am with you.” That was God’s main message for Israel, so the message was delivered by the messenger.
But God was only with them if they were with Him (I Chron. 15:2). And they didn’t start building the temple till Verse 14. So how could God say He was with them in 1:13? What proof did He have they were with Him? Well they resumed work on the temple (1:14) 21 days after Haggai told them to go gather the wood (1:1 cf. 1:8). That means they must have gathered the wood in those 21 days. That’s how they “obeyed” in 1:12, and how God could say He was with them.
God “stirred” them (1:14) as he did Cyrus (II Chron. 36:22,23). He stirred him by naming him centuries before he was born and predicting he’d build the temple (II Chron. 36:22,23). When Cyrus saw that, he knew Israel’s God was the true God, and knew he’d better do what His Word said! In other words, God stirred him up using His Word, and that’s how He stirred the Jews in Haggai’s day as well. Haggai and Zechariah preached and got them stirred up.
It’s a pastor’s job to get people stirred up, so if you’re not feeling stirred up about the things of the Lord, get to church! You may know the Word well, but it’s the pastor’s job to stir you up about the things in the Bible you already know (II Pe. 1:12,13). Peter stirred them up even though they were “established in the present truth.” The present truth then was the New Testament, but today we need to be established in the truth of the Old Testament, the truth of the New Testament, and the truth of the grace message (Rom.16: 25,26), and let the pastor stir us up about it all!