Zephaniah 1-3; Haggai 1-2 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight ZHA01
The Bible from 30,000 feet, soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Zephaniah and Hagai, Zephaniah and Hagai. Now as you turn there, there is a song that I remember being taught when I was a brand new believer at my church in Costa Mesa, California. My pastor taught it to me out of the book of Zephaniah. It's Zephaniah chapter 3, verse 17.
You could turn there in your Bibles, and it won't read the same because he taught it to us in the Old King James Version. If you have one of those, you've got the lyrics in front of you. I suppose that you didn't, so I'm going to have the lyrics up on the screen here any moment. There they are.
OK, so I'm going to teach you this chorus because we're in this book. I've taught you a couple choruses from way, way back. Do you mind if I teach you another one?
OK. You're OK with it.
OK, so, now if I teach it to you, you've got to sing it. You can't just stand there and watch, sit there and watch other people do it, or watch me. You have to engage with it. Do you promise you'll do that?
OK. OK, so the lyrics are-- and we'll bring them up. It's just that verse. Let me just run it through. I'll just say it. Then you'll see it and sing it. "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, he will rejoice over the with joy. He will rest in his love." Then we sing it again. "He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing."
OK, so it goes like this, very easy, very monotone. (SINGING) The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save he will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing. He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing. He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will rest-- joy over thee with singing, sorry.
OK, about half of you are singing. So the rest of you aren't joying. We want you to have the Lord joy over thee with singing. So let's all try this again. (SINGING) The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save. He will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing. He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
You got it? Now we're going to split it up into two sections. This section is the first section. This section is the second. I need a helper, a singer helper, somebody to jump up here right away and say, I'm your helper.
OK, Murray come on up. Come on up. Come on Muzz.
OK. I don't have a microphone for you. I do have a microphone. I don't know if this will work. Can you get this to work for Murray Byrne? All right? Do you know this song, Murray?
You remember this song?
Yeah, we've got it.
You're old. OK. Ready? OK. So when I tap you, you're going to start this section.
Turn the bottom.
Doesn't it work?
Is it working?
Turn the bottom on.
OK. They have a shelf life, these microphones.
They work for one service, then we throw them away.
Right on, right, yeah. All right, you blokes ready?
(SINGING) The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. OK, let's try this again.
Are you ready?
So when I tap you, you start singing.
You want to get the mic up here?
We were resting as well.
You're going to sing-- you're going to start at the beginning. The--
The Lord thy God.
The Lord thy God, yeah.
Are you ready?
Have you heard this song before ever in your life?
I'm good now. ready? Ready.
(SINGING) The Lord thy God in the midst of thee--
Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.
He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy.
He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy.
We will rest in his love. We will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over the with singing.
He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
Ready? Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.
He will save. He will rejoice over thee with joy.
He will save. He will rejoice.
I can't hear you.
--over thee with joy.
He will rest in his love.
--over thee with joy.
He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
He will rest in his love. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
Good job. We won.
A little like pandemonium. But it was good.
OK. We'll actually try that again at some future point. And we'll split it up into four sections instead of two. And it gets even better. But we've got to figure out the lyrics because when one part of lyrics then the other lyrics aren't up on the screen. So we'll get that fixed. Trust me. We can do this. OK.
Zephaniah, poor Zephaniah. I feel sorry for Zephaniah because, well, if I were to ask you, how many of you have heard of sermon from Zephaniah? And what was it? I bet most of you would be able to say, never heard one. And if I did, can't remember what it was. Most people, most believers have never studied this book. I would dare say, some have never even read this book for a few reasons.
It's a very small book. It's very hard to find in the Bible. People confuse Zephaniah with Zachariah. And it's got a very tough message. It's a message of judgment, so it's not like easy bedtime encouraging reading, though there are some very encouraging verses like the one we just sang.
The theme is judgment. But through the judgment comes splendor. That is what God has in mind at the end of the judgment.
So let me tell you this story. A man walked into a room where a little girl was laying in bed. She was crying. When she looked up and saw the man looking down at her, she screamed. And her mother came in and held her close. The man walked outside, got on the telephone, spoke to another man as they were setting a plot in motion.
Then he rushed into the room, grabbed the screaming girl in his arms, took the screaming girl and put her in his car, drove to a very stark looking building to a room on the top floor with a single light. And the man that he had talked to on the telephone was in that room. And when the girl was placed on the table, he plunged a knife into her belly.
Now by now you're thinking, I hope they find that guy, arrest him, or execute him. That's so cruel. But you need to know that actually what happened was a father who loved his daughter who had appendicitis and brought her to a doctor who performed an emergency surgery that night and healed her. That's the rest of the story.
So think of that as we go through this prophecy. God loves his people enough to bless his people. But God loves his people enough to buffet his people sometimes in order that he might bless his people even more. Like a loving father who knew this is the moment I can't waste any time. I have to rush her down to the hospital. This doctor must open her up, take out that inflamed piece of tissue, so that she might live a normal and healthy life. So God will use the knife of-- the scalpel of judgment to root things out so that he might bless us even more.
That is a setup for the prophecy we have ahead of us. These are two short books. It will not be a problem getting through. The only problem getting through these books, you're looking at him. Sometimes I'm the problem. I kind of get bogged down, and I explain things a little too much. So I want to travel at 30,000 feet.
But let me teach you two words. You're going to learn two words tonight, if you don't already know them, preexilic and postexilic. Actually you're going to learn three, exilic. Let's start with that one. Exilic refers to the exile. Whenever you hear the word exilic or you read exilic, we're speaking of the captivity of Judah in Babylon, the exile. 70 years they were taken captive. They were moved from Jerusalem. They were brought to Babylon. That's the exile.
So a preexilic prophet is a prophet who spoke before the 70 year captivity. A postexilic prophet is one who spoke after or gave his prophecy after the exile when they returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Zephaniah is a preexilic prophet. Hagai is a postexilic prophet.
Now I'm combining both of them together in one study for this reason. Zephaniah is the last of the preexilic prophets. Hagai is the first of the postexilic prophets. So one is there to warn of God's judgment, the day of the Lord is coming. The other is there to help them recover and get a move on what God wanted them to do. Zephaniah, that last of the preexilic prophets was a contemporary of another prophet that we've covered, Jeremiah.
Jeremiah superintended the death of the nation, was there during the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. But we believe that Zephaniah was the last voice to be heard just prior to the captivity, the last prophetic voice to hear in Jerusalem before the city walls actually fell. So he is the prophet of the 11th hour. It's very late in the season of judgment. They are ripe. The city is about to fall. And Zephaniah predicts that.
Now his preaching caused the reforms of a King you've heard about. Ever heard of King Josiah? He's a good one to remember. There's a lot of different names of different kings north and south. Most of us will never remember them all unless you intentionally commit them to memory. But Josiah was a good King down south, down in the southern kingdom of Judah.
He became King when he was eight years old. That's a little young to be a leader of a nation. Don't you think? But when he was 16 years old, he started seeking the Lord. He set his heart to seek the Lord. And right about that age when he was only 16, a young teenager on fire for God, one of the priests found a copy of the scroll in the temple and read it to this young King whose heart was already predisposed to love and worship and turn back to God. And Josiah brought reform, cleansing the temple, establishing true worship back in Jerusalem.
But those reforms lasted only for a short period of time. We believe that Zephaniah was preaching during that time and was the cause for Josiah, besides finding the law, the cause for Josiah to bring those reforms. Well, Josiah is long gone. After Josiah came Jehoahaz. After Jehoahaz came Eliakim. His name was changed to Jehoiakim. After Jehoiakim came Jehoiachin. After Jehoiachin came Zedekiah. That was the last of the Judean kings.
One thing about Zephaniah, we learned in the first few verses, is that he is the great grandson of King Hezekiah of Judah. So he is related to King Josiah, probably a cousin. The theme of this book is blessing after blasting. God does the blasting. He predicts the judgment that's coming. But after the blasting comes the blessing. Or after the retribution comes the restoration.
So we have three chapters. And though they're not outlined precisely to the chapter, generally the three chapters have three different viewpoints, a look within, a look around, and a look beyond. That will help you to organize the book. A look within, the coming wrath on the nation of Judah. A look around, the coming wrath on the nations around them. And then a look beyond, the coming blessing and well-being of the nation.
So we begin in chapter 1 verse 1 of Zephaniah, "The word of the Lord, which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah. In the days of Josiah the son of Amon, the King of Judah." So Zephaniah related to the King. He has royal blood in his veins. He has the message of God on his lips.
In verse 4, "I will stretch out my hand against Judah." So this is the look within. "And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place." The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests-- now you know about Baal. Or we sometimes call him Baal. That's the general Canaanite term for Lord. And this lord, the chief of the Baals was seen as the God of fertility, the one who controlled the sun, the moon, the stars, the rainfall. The one who was worshipped because of that.
Verse 5, "those who worship the host of heaven on the house tops, those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord but who also swear by Milcom--" Milcom is another name for Molek. Ever heard of Molek? He was one of the gods that was worshipped by infant sacrifice. They would take their babies. They would sacrifice their babies, killing them as part of the worship requirement of the God Molek.
And so, in the homes of ancient Jerusalem, they weren't stately homes. They were very, very simple flat roofed homes. And they often had stairs that would go up to the very top level of that flat roofed home. And they would build altars because it was exposed, now, to the sun, the moon, the stars. And they would worship those entities of heaven from their rooftops. It is something they learned from the Canaanite peoples around them, and they tried to combine the worship of other gods with the worship of Yahweh, the true God. We've told you about this before.
It wasn't that they just worshipped those gods completely. No, they worshipped Jehovah, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. But they also worship these other gods in concert with the true God. We call this syncretism, where you're joining false worship with true worship.
So you effectively dilute true worship because you break the second commandment or the first commandment and the second commandment. I am the Lord your God, you will have no other gods besides me. That's the first. And you will have no images in your worship. They broke one and two all day long. And they were doing it on their own rooftops.
Now they did consult the stars because they believed that the stars, the astrological signs, would tell them the future. It's interesting to me that things haven't changed much. To this day, in America 39.6 million people consult the daily astrological readings, whether it's in a newspaper or online. That's a significant amount. That's daily, not weekly. There are many more.
And they might just do it, well, it's just sort of fun. But you might be surprised. A lot of people actually take real stock in reading a horoscope. Believing that, well, I'm a Leo or I'm a Gemini. And what does it say about me this week? So in these United States of America, there are three times as many astrologers and psychics as there are clergymen, pastors, preachers, priests, and the like.
So it's still a significant issue. So we read these ancient things in the Bible, and we pride ourselves in being much more advanced and much more modern. Really? Not all that much. We're still practicing the same thing, consulting the stars. Why consult the stars when you can have a relationship with the one one who flung the stars into existence, the star maker, himself?
Well, in verse 10 he continues, "There shall be on that day, says the Lord, the sound of a mournful cry from the fish gate, a wailing from the second quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills. Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down. All who handle money are cut off."
Now these are words that don't make a lot of sense to us. But they made a lot of sense to ancient people who lived in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is surrounded by hills. On the east you have the Mount of Olives. And then you have a valley called the Kidron Valley. Then you have what we call today the Temple Mount where the temple stood. Then you have another little indentation valley. Then you have what is called, today, Mount Zion.
Then on the other side of that, you have the Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna, sometimes translated "hell." So if we had an aerial view, if we were over in a drone over the city of Jerusalem over the old city, if you flew a drone with a camera-- and by the way, you can't. It's a protected space. I know because last time I brought a drone to Israel and tried to fly it on the Temple Mount, highly restricted. You get in big trouble for doing that. We found that out.
So if you're looking from the sky, an aerial view, it looks like a W. So I'm holding up my fingers to give you that W. And I'll show you why. So it looks like a W to us, but the Hebrew letter that looks like a W is the letter shin, S-H-I-N, shin. And this little letter, shin, is what pronounces the sh sound in Hebrew. So it looks like a shin or, to us, a W. That's what the aerial view looks like. So you have three valleys that look like three fingers.
One valley is the Kidron Valley. One valley is called the Tyropein Valley or the Cheesemakers Valley. And the other valley is Hell, Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom. That one in the middle is what was called in ancient times Maktesh, because it was the marketplace. Now Maktesh today, if you've been to Jerusalem, is where the Western Wall is, or the Wailing Wall where the Jews congregate to worship. That's that little valley. That's Maktesh.
It talks about the second quarter, the second quarter would be-- Jerusalem, today, has four quarters, the Old City of Jerusalem. It has the Muslim quarter, the Christian quarter, the Jewish quarter, and the Armenian quarter. The second quarter mentioned in this verse would correspond roughly to the Jewish quarter, almost toward the Temple Mount. So that's what it's talking about here, about judgment coming on this place.
Now it mentions the Fish Gate. I won't get too bogged down. I just want you to know why it's here. The reason the fish gate is mentioned is because the fish gate is on the north part of the old walled city of Jerusalem. It is facing the north, facing to where the Jordan River would be accessed and where the Sea of Galilee would be accessed. If you want to go to Galilee, you go out the Damascus Gate. You go north.
So fish from the Sea of Galilee in the Jordan River was brought in through the Fish Gate, through that northern gate. The gate that corresponds with that today in the present day Old City of Jerusalem is the Damascus Gate. I bring that up because it was the fish gate, it was the northern part of the city that Nebuchadnezzar penetrated when he overthrew Jerusalem. He went through the fish gate. It was the most vulnerable part of the city. So that's part of the prophecy.
Verse 14, "The great day of the Lord is near. It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter. There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. It sounds pretty bad, doesn't it?
The day of the Lord is mentioned by the Old Testament prophets. And the phrase "the day of the Lord" shows up in the Bible 26 times in Old and New Testament, 26 times. Zephaniah, alone, uses it 18 of those 26 times, 18 times. When you see the term, "the day of the Lord," we're speaking about a day, a time, a period of direct intervention by God in the affairs of the earth. Most often the term, "day of the Lord" is used eschatologically. Do you know what that word means? End times, way out in the future, the end of the end, the end of times, the end of days. The last days of mankind on Earth. That's eschatologically.
But sometimes it is used in a noneschatological sense. So in Zephaniah, for example, and we have seen this with other prophets, a day of the Lord is sort of a lens through which we can also see the day of the Lord that is coming. A day of the Lord is coming on Judah, God's punishment, God's direct intervention. But mixed with that is some language that expands it into the ultimate day of the Lord in the future. Make sense?
So we have kind of a dual fulfillment. One that's coming up very soon. One that will be fulfilled in the end of days. I've taken out of chapter 2 verse 1 where the prophecy continues, "Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, oh undesirable nation." Before the decree is issued or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord's fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger comes upon you, seek the Lord all you meek of the earth." Do you know what meek means? Gentle. Humble.
Jesus said, blessed are the meek. Now I think the best way to understand the true meaning of the word meek is to take the word and divide it in two into two words, me, ech. It's when you really understand the truth about yourself before God. Before a holy God and you see yourself, it's like me, ech. When you really understand God, his holiness, his perfection, and you see yourself in the light of that, you get a true understanding of yourself.
Peter said, "depart from me Lord. I'm a sinful man." That's meekness. Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord in a vision. He said, "Woe is me. I am undone." That's meekness. He saw himself in the light of who God is. Seek the Lord all you meek of the earth who have upheld his justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. Now watch this. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger. The name Zephaniah means, "the Lord will hide."
And so you have here another play on words of the name of the prophet. You remember that from our last study. Micah means, "who is like God." "Micah, who is like the Lord." And toward the end of his book, he says who is a God like you? It's a play on word of his own name. So the name Zephaniah means, "the Lord will hide." And he says, it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger.
To me this is a principle. I find it in the scripture that when God judges, God makes a difference with whom he judges. His judgments are not indiscriminate. In fact, there are several occasions where when God's wrath is poured out he shelters his own from the expression of his wrath.
Classic example, perhaps the first example is the Great Flood. The flood destroyed the earth, but not everyone on the Earth. There were eight souls above the earth on an Ark. They were, now get this, lifted up off the earth. Judgment came on the earth. These righteous ones were lifted up. They were sheltered. They were taken up during God's time of wrath.
When God judged the Egyptians, he made a difference. Those were his words. "I make a difference when I judge." And he protected the children of Israel in Egypt. When it comes to the rapture of the church in the future, Paul says God has not appointed us unto wrath, but to receive salvation or to obtain salvation.
Now we're talking here about the day of the Lord. We're talking here about a day of wrath. There are, perhaps, no prophesies that are more detailed in the Bible than the day of the Lord. Now I know the phrase is mentioned 26 times, but the event is in great, great detail throughout the Bible. Matthew chapter 24, Luke chapter 21, revelation chapter 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, all of those chapters are details about the coming day of the Lord, the day of wrath.
It will be a time of progressively intense judgment. Let me just sum it up for you. You know how the Book of Revelation there are three courses of judgments? There are the seven seal judgments followed by seven trumpet judgments followed by seven bowls of wrath that are poured out on the earth. And some of the events that occur, smoke, fire, heat, lightning, darkness, falling stars, locusts that torment men five months on the earth.
Here's the snapshot. The opening of the fourth seal judgment in the Book of Revelation kills one fourth of the entire population of planet Earth. That's one of the seal judgments. By the time we get to the second course, and we come to the sixth trumpet, another one third of the population of the earth is decimated. So now we have in total, just at this point, somewhere in the tribulation period half of all the people living on earth destroyed in judgment.
That's why Jesus said, "There's not a time like it since the beginning of humanity, nor shall there ever be." When we get to the seventh bowl judgment, the islands flee away. The mountains are leveled. And hailstones come out of heaven that weigh 125 pounds apiece. And they are very targeted on whom they hit. God's a good aim.
But through it all, through that day of the Lord, through that tribulation period that is coming through, all that pain, all that suffering, God preserves a remnant. That also shows up in the Book of Revelation. So that's the first part of this book, a look within his coming wrath on Judah. The second part of this book is look around the coming wrath on other nations.
Now the nations that he's dealing with are in four different directions. He's going to speak emblematically of the nations. And he'll, first of all, speak of a nation to the east then-- excuse me, to the west. And then to the east, and then to the south, and then to the north, nations in all directions around Judah. The nations mentioned are nations that hassled God's people. God used those nations when they hassled God's people to spank God's people.
But he's not going to let those nations that went against Israel to get off easily. For, you remember, God said, whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye. So he will execute wrath on those nations that he used to bring judgment on his people because of their motivation. So look down at verse four. "For Gaza shall be forsaken, Ashkelon desolate. They shall drive out Ashdod at noon day, and Ekron shall be uprooted.
Four cities are mentioned. They are four of the five Philistine cities that were in ancient Israel. The Philistines were a sea people from the island of Crete and then Venetia, and they came down and settled along the coast of Israel, you remember in the Old Testament, and hassled the Israelites under King David, et cetera. There were five cities, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza. All of them are mentioned except the city of Gath were Goliath came from. The other four are mentioned.
Look down at verse 8, "I have heard the reproach of Moab--" now we're going to the east of Judah "--and the insults of the people of Amun with which they have reproached my people and made arrogant threats against their borders." Verse 12, you Ethiopians also, you shall be slain by the sword. Now he's going down south. The Babylonians not only invaded Judah, but they first invaded Egypt and Ethiopia. Verse 13, "He will stretch out his hand against the North, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation as dry as the wilderness.
Interestingly, the city of Nineveh-- now remember, Jonah preached against Ninevah. They repented. Then Nahum preached against Ninevah because they went back to their old ways. By the time Zephaniah preached, Ninevah was about to be destroyed. In fact, it fell shortly after this prophecy was given in the year 612 BC. So shortly after Zephaniah made this proclamation, that northern Assyrian capital of Nineveh fell.
So God is dealing with Judah. God is dealing with other nations. And guess what? God can because he's God. And he is sovereign. And the Bible says the King's heart is in the hand of the Lord. And like a course of river, he turns it wherever he wishes.
Isaiah 40 tells us, "Behold, nations are as a drop in the bucket, and are counted as small dust on the scales." All of these nations thought they were big stuff. And they were at one time. But God shows them they're just small fries. They're easy for him to manage. In fact, you probably have not met anyone who would be a Philistine, lately. Have you? Right, they're gone. They're long gone. These are nations, most of them have been utterly obliterated.
The third part is to look beyond. Now we're in Chapter 3, and I'm going to take you down to verse nine. Because after the day of the Lord, after the judgment that is coming comes the well-being and the blessing to his people. And I'm going to take you to a couple particular versus as we close. Verse 9, "For then--" For then, God is speaking through his prophet. "For then, I will restore to the peoples a pure language." Or it could be translated, "I will purify the lips of the peoples that they may call on the name of the Lord to serve him with one accord."
Now there is debate. There is dispute as to what this verse exactly means. And I don't know. So you're saying, well, then, if you don't know just move on. Well, let me give you a couple of ideas. Most people have the idea that God will take away profane speech, the language of idol worship, and in the coming kingdom put in its place the language of praise, the language of worship, purifying the lips of all the peoples to praise the Lord. Certainly that is true. That's what Charles Ryrie believes in his study Bible and in his literature and many other Bible commentators as well.
However, it could be, possibly, don't know, but some believe that it's a reference to the Hebrew language, that God will restore to Israel and eventually as the universal language during the kingdom age, a possibility, Hebrew. Now Hebrew is an interesting language. It it dates back to two Millennium BC. The second millennium before Christ was when Hebrew began.
And it was the official language in Israel until the captivity, until the exilic times. Preexilic, it was Hebrew. Now postexilic, when the Hebrews came back, even at the New Testament time Jesus-- the common language on the street, he didn't speak Hebrew. He spoke Aramaic. He spoke the language of the captivity that got inculcated and passed down even when they came back in post exilic times.
So Hebrew, up until the time of the captivity, was the official language. It has always stayed the ceremonial language, the language the priest used, the language in the temple and in synagogues. But the official language wasn't Hebrew. Interesting, however, in 1948 when the Jews were allowed to go back to their land and David Ben-Gurion, their first prime minister said, this is now the state of Israel, the official language, once again, became the Hebrew language.
What does that mean? It means the prophet Zephaniah, today, could walk down the streets of Tel Aviv and read the menu on the restaurants. Same language. It was brought back. A modern Hebrew can read even the ancient script like in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They can work their way through that ancient language.
Now, that may be true. That may not be true that that is what the verse means. I'm not sure. But it's interesting to think about. There's all sorts of legends around the Hebrew language. It is called by the Jews, La Shone Ha Kodesh, which means the holy language. They often say, this is the language the angels speak, and the language God himself speaks. This is God's language. Of course, God can hear any language at all, but they like to say it's the language of the angels.
So Paul said, "if I speak in the tongue of men or of angels and have not love, I am nothing." He could have that as a reference. Don't think so, but I'm just throwing all that stuff out there and seeing whatever sticks. Have fun with it. Look it up on your own. Verse 15, "the Lord has taken away your judgments. He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst. There's the promise. You shall see disaster no more.
In that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem, do not fear Zion. Let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, the mighty one will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing. Sound familiar now, right? We just sang it in the old King James. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save. He will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.
So like up bridegroom rejoicing over his bride, this is speaking of the future kingdom age, the millennial kingdom when Jesus will reign in the midst of Jerusalem with his people in a very real up close kind of a way for 1,000 years. Judgment is past. The King is in his midst. And that's the reason for the joy.
I've been to a couple of weddings. I've officiated a couple weddings where the groom as a surprise for the bride had written a song. And during the wedding he pulls that baby out and he starts singing over his bride. It's very touching, especially if he has a good voice. If he doesn't have a good voice, it can be an awkward moment. But it's still a lovely gesture.
I just love this thought of the Lord singing over you with joy. And it is speaking of God being present with his people. Do you remember in the Book of Ezekiel chapter 8, 9, and 10, especially chapter 10 where the prophet saw the glory of God depart from the city? It moved toward the eastern gate. Then it moved over the Mount of Olives. Then it was taken away. This is God saying, I'll be back. I'm coming back. I'm going to-- my presence is going to dwell in Jerusalem. And I'm going to be there in person and up close.
Now we get to the second book, the Book of Hagai. And I'm glad it's short. In fact, it is the shortest book in the Old Testament next to, what's the shortest book? What's the shortest book? What? The shortest book in the Old Testament, Obadiah, right? 21 verses, this has 38 verses. OK, so what's important about this book, Hagai? And, again, this might be a book you haven't spent a whole lot of time in. This book, this prophecy, is what got the people motivated to build the temple once they got back from the exile.
Remember, this is the first post exilic book. So they left Babylon, 50,000 of them returned to Jerusalem. That's not many because there's about a million Jews living in Babylon. 50,000, a very small amount, come back to rebuild the temple. They cleared out the courts. They put the brass altar of sacrifice out in the outer court. But it was really a trash heap. They started sacrificing. In 536 BC, they laid the foundation of the temple.
And then they stopped. The work ceased. They got hassled by neighbors, those in Judah, those in Sumeria. You can read about it in Ezra and Nehemiah. Plus Cyrus the King who gave the edict for the Jews to return has died. His successor doesn't know who these Jews are. He's not on Twitter or Facebook. He doesn't know what's gone on before. So he hassles the Jews who are in Jerusalem.
So what happens in Judah? The people building the temple stop. They turn to their own lives, their own pursuits. And they just sort of got complacent. They just sort of got used to worshipping in ruins. They were concerned about their own house, their own beautiful places, but they could care less about the temple. But now things change. Now the year is 520 BC and the building starts up again. Why? Because of four people, four people, Zerubbabel, Joshua, not the Joshua after Moses, different Joshua. Zerubbabel, Joshua, Hagai, and Zachariah, who we'll read next time we're together.
These four men become important. Why? Zerubbabel is the civic leader. He's the governor of the area. He's like the mayor of Jerusalem, civic leader. Joshua is the high priest. He's the religious leader. Hagai and Zachariah are the two prophets that inspire them, especially now, Hagai. OK, I'll jog your memory.
Most of you are going to remember this. In 1989, there was a movie put out about an Iowa farmer who was given this mysterious message to build a baseball field in his corn fields. And it was called Field of Dreams. And remember the message that he got? If you build it, they will come. The theme of this book could be, if you build it, he will come. If you build that temple, God will come in power and strength and glory once again. He will show his glory in that place. He will show up.
So in chapter 1 and chapter 2 and chapter 3, the prophet deals with different struggles that they're having. In chapter one, he's dealing with their struggle of being self-centered, their selfishness. You'll see it, verse one. In the second year of King Darius or Darius, depending on what part of the country you're from, "In the six month on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Hagai the prophet to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah and to Joshua the son of jehozadak the high priest, saying, "Thus speaks the Lord of hosts saying, this people says the time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built."
Now it was 16 years since the foundation was laid. And they have become complacent. They've lost their enthusiasm. Then the word of the Lord came by Hagai the prophet saying, is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses and this temple to lie in ruins? So Hagai gets right to the point. He says, you're building yourself nice pads. You're upgrading your kitchen. You're buying the big flat screen TV to watch the camel races on Monday nights. But nothing is happening in the temple anymore.
So they have all sorts of excuses. Well, it's just not the-- we don't feel led that it's the right time to build. You know, Billy Sunday, the evangelist who used to be a baseball player. Became an evangelist, said an excuse is just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. But it's amazing the excuses that people have when it comes to building a temple or coming to church or worshipping God. Oh, the weather's too bad. I don't want to go out in this weather. It's interesting the weather doesn't keep them from shopping or going to a movie.
Or they would say, well, I don't like the traffic, and I don't like the crowds. But on Black Friday they have no problem. Or, well, the preacher goes too long. But if the game goes into overtime, you're stoked, man. Well, I don't like to drive so far across town. It's too far away. I'm looking at a man in the second row. Sorry, Richard, to put you on the spot. But you drive how many miles? 65 miles one way out by Grants, and back on Wednesdays and on Sundays.
So I live in Rio Rancho. Whew. Now, therefore, verse 5, "now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways." Now this is a phrase that is endemic to this book. It comes up four times in this book. Consider your ways. Consider your ways. That means set your heart on your ways. Think about what you're saying, and readjust your priorities. That's the idea of consider your ways.
So they gradually, now mark this, they gradually lost interest in the temple. I find that to be our chief problem. My observation is the biggest problem in the Christian life is never a blow out. The biggest problem in the Christian life is a slow leak just pfffff, just very, very, very slowly. Not a blowout, just a slow leak.
So some of you came to Christ. You were all excited. You were all jazzed. I can't wait to come to church. I can't wait to worship. I can't wait to read the Bible. I'm going to buy another Bible. That was then.
Could it be like the Church of Ephesus, you start leaving your first love? You lose your enthusiasm. You lose your spark. The flame on the altar dies down a little bit. Look at verse 6, "You have sown much, and you bring in little. You eat, but you do not have enough. You drink, but you're not filled with drink. You clothe yourself, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages--" see if any of you can relate to this, "--earns wages to put into a bag with holes."
Now, they have reversed their priorities. Jesus said, seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you. Our problem is we seek all of these other things and hope that the Kingdom of God will be added to us. God says, forget about those things. Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness. And I'll make sure you're taken care of.
So what the prophet is saying, it's sort of like saying, you know, you take on an extra job. You work weekends. You work nights. You work on your lunch break, and you're broke. It's sort of like you're walking up the down escalator. [PANTING] Can't get ahead.
It's an interesting-- you know, in Proverbs 23, let me read it to you. He says, "Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings. They fly away like an eagle toward heaven." I've always been amazed and sort of interested that the back of the $1 bill has an eagle. Its an American eagle. It's not there to fulfill this prophecy. But I look at and I always get a kick out of it. I go, yep, bye. Because it's going to go phew, phew, phew pretty soon, right? It seems to grow wings and fly away.
Verse 7, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways. Go up to the mountain and bring wood and build a temple that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified, says the Lord." The solution, obedience on what God has said. If you build it, I will come. I'll be glorified. I'll show up.
Verse 12, "Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Hagai the prophet as the Lord their God sent him. And the people feared the presence of the Lord." Let me just tell you, this is what a preacher lives for. When people hear the word of God, the message prepared, the long hours of study and prayer, and people say I'm taking that too heart. I'm going to apply that to my life. I'm going to set it into motion, into action. I'm going to move and respond, there's no greater joy. John said it. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
So the word of the Lord came to this prophet, the prophet spoke it, and we we're told that the people heeded the message. The message fell on good soil. They recognized the preaching of the prophet for what it was. What was it? The word of God. Here is the New Testament correlation to this. 1st Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 13, Paul writes, "When you received the word of God which you heard from us you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
When any man or woman of God, any teacher of a small group or of a large group, a pastor of a church, whenever they see people respond, put it into action, drink it in, and are changed by it, hallelujah. It's what they live for. Then Hagai the Lord's messenger verse 13, spoke the Lord's message to the people saying, "I am with you, says the Lord." Now that's a PS. That's a powerful postscript to this prophet's message.
Hey, God wants you to know he's with you. If you have that, you've got it all. If the Lord is with you, you've got it made in the shade. "So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak 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," that is the temple. The Lord of hosts, their God. So God energized the people and the leaders to do the work of building.
God energized them, they did the work. That's the cooperation. Ever read that text in Philippians where Paul says, "Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling" followed by, "For it is God who works in you both will and do of his good pleasure." So you read that and go, well, who's doing the work? Answer, both. Work out your own salvation, for it's God who works in you. God gives you the energy, you do the work.
Here's what it's like. In Phoenix airport they have these escalator walkways from concourse to concourse. You know, some airports have the trams, the trains, the spaceships, I don't know. They have different ways to get from one place to the other. But Phoenix has this movable walkway. Now, when I get on it, if I have to get to another A or B concourse, I walk fast. I do it anyway, but I walk fast on that thing.
When I walk fast on that moving walkway, and I look at people walking next me, it's like foom. I go right by them. I love that baby. Now it's a cooperation between my walking and its working. It's working in me, right? But I'm actually doing the work. But it is propelling me, allowing me to go faster and further than I could on my own. So God energized them, but they did the work. They did the work.
So God has called you to do work, but God will give you what it takes to do the work. So don't shy away from whatever God calls you to do. Don't go, I don't know if I can do it. If God says do it, do it. Do it, just step into it. If you joined the United States Air Force and got trained to fly an F-18, you know what an F-18 costs? $70.5 million per airplane. After you're trained to fly an F-18, do you think our United States Air Force would say, well, now that you've learned to fly, if you save up enough money to buy one then you can fly in the Air Force? Because that would never happen. You couldn't even afford the fuel for a single flight.
No, the government says, we've trained you. We'll equip you with the plane and the fuel. We just want you to fly it. They'll give you what it requires. If you join the police force, they'll give you your car. They'll give you a badge. They'll give you a weapon. They'll equip you with what it takes. So do the work, but God will do the equipping.
Now, let's move on. In chapter 2 he's dealing with another issue, and that is a common issue. And that is nostalgia. I find this to be a problem with God's people. They're trying to go forward, but they're always looking backward. You know, they want God to do a new thing. But I remember what it used to be like, hardest people to work with.
Chapter 2, verse 1, "In the seventh month on the 21st day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Hagai the prophet saying, speak to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel the governor of Judah, and to Joshua--" boy, they say these names all the time a lot. "--to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak the high priest, and to the remnant of the people saying who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory?" Now, there would be a few older people who could raise their hand who were there 70 years prior and remember the glory of the Temple of Solomon.
"And how do you see it now?" question mark, "in comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?" Do you remember Ezra, chapter 3? There was a great rejoicing when the temple was constructed. But also on the same day, the sound of rejoicing was mixed with the sound of wailing and weeping and crying because there were some of the older folks who remembered how Solomon's temple was so much better than this pile of rubbish, stones. And so they're remembering back to the former glory.
And sound of the wailing and the sound of the rejoicing, you couldn't tell which was which. It was a cacophony of confusion. God is bringing that up. Is this not in your eyes as nothing? There was a group saying the old is better. The old temple, the old chairs, the old songs, the old stage, the old, the old. Yet, now, he tells this leader verse 4, "Yet now, be strong Zerubbabel, says the Lord. Be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. And be strong all you people of the land, says the Lord, and work. For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts." Verse 5, "My spirit remains among you."
If you want to be miserable, try to go forward while looking backward. And speaking of looking forward, I have to move very quickly forward because I am over time. I had more things to say about this, but I won't. Verse 10, "On the 24th day of the ninth month in the second year of Darius or Darius," depending on what part of the country you're from, "The word of the Lord came by Hagai the prophet saying, thus says the Lord of hosts. Now, asked the priest concerning the law saying, if one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?"
"Then the priest answered and said no. Ceremonial sanctity can't be transmitted by contact. If you get something holy and touch something unholy, the unholy doesn't become holy. The holy becomes unholy." It's contaminated, not sanctified, "And Hagai said, if one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will he be unclean? The priest said, It will be unclean. And Hagai answered and said, so is this people, and so is this nation before me, says the Lord. And so is every work of their hands, which they have offered there is unclean." So there was unconfessed sin in their camp.
I'm going to move down to the very end, verse 20. Thank you for indulging me. I'm three minutes overtime. I won't be more than 20 more minutes. No, I'm just kidding. I'm going to wind this time. They finally, they're struggling with their unbelief. And he addresses that.
"And again, the word of the Lord came to Hagai on the 24th day of the month saying, speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah saying, I will shake heaven and earth." This is quoted in Hebrews 12. "I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms," plural. "I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them. The horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother." This is a message specifically to the spiritual leader Zerubbabel.
He's wondering what's going to happen to the future of the nation of Judah. They were already taken captive by the Babylonians. The Babylonians were taken by the Medes and the Persians. There's a lot of superpowers. Who knows what the future holds. God is encouraging him. Look at verse 23, "In that day," last verse we're going to cover. "In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and make you like a signet ring. For I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts."
Signet ring is a ring with a stone. On the stone is carved the emblem of the one who is in charge. The signet ring becomes the signature of the one who has the ring. He puts it in clay, and that signet ring is a symbol of authority. In saying, I'm going to make you the signet ring, Zerubbabel, I believe he is speaking of Jesus Christ. It's a messianic prophecy.
The line of David included Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel shows up in the lineage in Matthew, chapter 1, Luke, chapter 3 from the line of King David as one of the ancestors of the Lord Jesus Christ. So he's saying like Zerubbabel in Jerusalem now, one day the greater son of David, son of Zerubbabel, the Messiah will have authority over all the nations of the earth, all the kingdoms of the world. Let me just close with Daniel chapter 2, don't turn to it.
The vision Nebuchadnezzar saw of the image, and then he saw a stone coming out of heaven not cut with human hands hitting the bottom of that statue. And the iron and the clay and the silver and the gold and the bronze was obliterated. And that stone grew into a mountain that filled the whole earth. Daniel said, Nebuchadnezzar, what you saw is the Lord God filling the Earth with another kingdom greater than all earthly kingdoms. And that will be in the future. All other kingdoms will be pushed aside. And the kingdom of God's Messiah will reign forever and ever.
And that ends that vision. That ends the book of prophecy. As we pray, let me just say to you-- see, I'm kind of cheating now. If you're feeling discouraged, you've started to work for God. You pulled back. You put it on hold. You stuffed it down. You stopped it. Maybe the Lord is saying, work. Get to work. Resurrect the vision. Resurrect what I've called you to do. Do it. Step into it. I'm with you. My spirit is with you. And fulfill what God has called you to do.
Father, we thank you for these your people. Strengthen them. Use them for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen. Let's all stand.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from the Bible from 30,000 feet.