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God’s Call to Revival
Haggai and Zechariah
Last week we looked at the return of the Jews to their homeland under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua. They just finished 70 years of Babylonian captivity, and what we looked at in God’s Call to revival is for them to
We ended where I would like to pick up today; and that is in the prophetic word God used to stir up their hearts to complete the work God had given them to rebuild the temple.
“The prophet Haggai and Zechariah…prophesied…So (they) rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 5:1-2 NKJV)
These words spoken by Haggai and Zechariah are found in the books written by them and are recorded for us in the Old Testament. But before we go there, I’d like to share with you a quote that outlines how this great work was accomplished. It’s something that I have used and believed in.
“The will of God will never take us where the grace of God will not protect us.”
God will always make a way, as we shall see in our time together.
The first prophetic word comes from the prophet Haggai. As we read these words it’s good to keep in mind that this was the first time God had spoken to the Jews since their return from Babylon. It’s the first time God’s voice had been heard in Judea since the days of Jeremiah, which goes alone with his prophecy given by God that we looked at last week.
“If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me.” (Jeremiah 15:19a NLT)
And so God had to stir up their hearts so that they would return and serve Him.
Let’s take a look then at what God tells them that stirs them to action.
In other words, stop all these excuses you’re using for not following and serving God.
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.’” (Haggai 1:2 NKJV)
Now there is something extremely disturbing in this passage. Notice how the Lord begins. He calls them “This people.” I find this disturbing because God always referred to them as “His people,” but never in such a distant form as “This people.”
There seems to exist a gap with these words that should make us all sit up and pay attention. It was a gap between the way they were living and God’s word, which they were using in order to excuse their actions of not building the temple.
OH how this speaks to us. Do we use God’s word to get out of Gods’ calling?
And the other part of this is that we live in a society where people no longer take responsibility for their actions. We live in a society of excuse makers. In our victimization culture it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s the government’s fault, it’s our parent’s fault, or it’s the school or teacher’s fault. It’s the fault of Hollywood, guns, co-workers, spouse, and the list just keeps going.
I found these excuses quite amusing that were made to insurance companies.
While these are rather silly, there are some excuses we give God as to why we won’t follow Him and His word.
I’ll do it Later – Telling God later is the same thing as telling God “no,” and later may also be too late for the good God intended when He said it.
It’s too Difficult – If this is what we believe then we should consider these verses. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
I’m too Busy – Nothing is more important than God’s calling. By saying we’re too busy we’re putting our agenda in front of God’s.
God let me Down – We rationalize that since God didn’t come when we wanted, then why should we do what He asks?
There are plenty of more excuses besides these, like “It won’t hurt anything if I just…” or “No one will ever find out,” or “I’ll just do it this one time,” or “At least I’m not as bad as…” or everyone’s number one, “Everyone else is doing it, besides God will forgive me.”
It’s amazing how quick we are to find excuses or blame God when we haven’t done what He has asked. So the truth is the fault’s ours and we need to fess up.
The exiles had more than enough time to rebuild the temple, but instead they made excuses. Consider what it says in Proverbs. This is a classic to me.
“The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!’” (Proverbs 22:13 NLT)
Now imagine you’re the boss. You’d probably say, “Have you looked out the window to see?”
Benjamin Franklin said, “The person who is good at excuse-making is seldom good at anything else.”
God’s prophetic word to us is to stop making excuses and start fulfilling God’s calling if we want to see revival in our lives, in our homes, in our church, and in our nation.
The second thing we see here in Haggai goes back to our second point last week
We have to stop setting our own priorities and start following God’s priorities.
“Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:3-6)
This was God’s response to their excuses. The spiritual condition of the people’s hearts can be directly gauged by the attitude towards God’s call and working on God’s house. And while we’re talking about the physical temple, this applies to all believers because when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, then we become the temple of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
And so the building of the temple was and is the barometer of the people’s spiritual condition.
The Lord reveals the hypocrisy of their excuse, because while they said it wasn’t time to build His house, they did have time to build their own nice paneled homes. The word “paneled” refers to an overlay of some sort on the inside walls adding some measure of comfort.
As we contemplate these words of the Lord, contemplate something else. What happened to all the wood that was cut and was sitting for those 16 years to be used in the rebuilding of the temple? Did the wood end up rotting, or did the people use it to build their own homes. Either answer is bad and shows negligence and contempt for the house of God.
And so the Lord says, “Consider Your Ways.”
In other words give careful thought to what we’re doing and why. As God’s people we need to examine our hearts and search out the direction that our lives are going. And if God’s will and ways are not number one, then we’ve fallen into idolatry, which is putting any idea, person, goal, or commitment on par with or above God.
And so the Lord asks, “Are you sowing more but harvesting less?” “Are you eating and drinking more but not satisfied?” Are you wearing more cloths but still cold?” “Are you earning more but making less.”
Basically no one can cheat God and get away with it. We cannot con God. So God calls us to make His ways and goals our own, and to place them in front of everything and anything else we may have going on in life.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
And so a prophetic word is needed to encourage God’s people to accomplish His work, and God does so by shaking them up and reminding them of the divine resource that’s available.
Now to find out this divine resource would you please turn to the Zechariah chapter 4.
We see this divine resource in the words spoken through the prophet Zechariah. And this prophetic word of God’s divine resource is
“Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ So I said, ‘I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.’” (Zechariah 4:1-3)
When asked what this meant Zechariah admitted he had no idea, and so the Lord said,
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV)
God needs to wake us up. Notice the angel had to wake up Zechariah. It would seem that Zechariah had fallen into some sort of stupor, much like many who attend church.
The reason may very well be because of discouragement over the many delays God calls us to persevere through. What happens is that we become lethargic and blasé about God, His word, and His calling.
What is needed is for the Holy Spirit to wake us up and shake us out of our spiritual slumber and our being lukewarm.
The angel then asks Zechariah what he saw, which may very well be what the Lord is asking today.
What is the vision God has put in our hearts? What is that prophetic word God has spoken over your life? Is it a vision of Almighty God, and is it a calling that is beyond our own ability and capability, or is it our own vision with limitations and difficulties.
A vision from God is something that is beyond ourselves, beyond our own abilities, which is why we need the divine resources of the Holy Spirit.
Our vision dictates our lives in Christ. Vision, in this instance, is the God given ability to catch a glimpse of what He wants to do in and through our lives.
To Zerubbabel and Jeshua it was to be those conduits to bless God’s people. Scroll down to verse 14.
“These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:14 NKJV)
“Anointed ones” literally means, “Sons of oil.” They were set apart by God to be God’s representatives to the people pouring out His blessings.
As I look at this I see part of God’s call for each one of us. That we would be those conduits of the Holy Spirit reaching out and blessing all we come in contact with, with the good news of Jesus Christ.
If I were to capsulize this, I’d say that when we rely upon our own power to accomplish these God given tasks, without the supply of the Holy Spirit, then we’d just burn out.
Let me give you a keeper statement that helps explain this whole point.
God’s work done Gods’ way will never lack God’s provision or power.
The Lord emphasizes this in verse 7 when He said, “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!” (Zechariah 4:7a NKJV)
When we set out into God’s calling, mountains of resistance will rise up, like what happened to the Jews once they returned and the obstacles they faced not only in rebuilding the temple, but the wall as well.
But when we get verse six deep down in our souls and spirits, that the power to succeed doesn’t come from us but only from the Holy Spirit, that is when these mountains will come down and be made level.
The last prophetic insight is…
4 Don’t Despise Small Things
“For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10a NKJV)
This is what we see also happening for the Israelites when they left their Egyptian captivity and were on their way to possess the Promised Land.
The Lord said,
“Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.” (Exodus 23:30 NKJV)
The Lord said He would send His fear before them to cause the enemy confusion. This wasn’t to produce a mass exodus, but a slow one, and the reason is because immediate vacation of the land would do more harm to the land than good, because the Israelites couldn’t possess it all at one time.
God’s desire is to revive us today. And while God can blow our socks off by rending the heavens and coming down in instantaneous revival, He usually does it through small steps.
The reason God gives a little bit at a time is because we’re incapable of inheriting it fully. So He gives it little by little so we can grow and increase until God makes the next piece available.
Therefore, let’s not despise the small things or small beginnings. These are preparations for something greater God has in store. Jesus said that those who are faithful over the few or little things will be ruler over many, Matthew 25:23.
And so the message is clear in God’s call to revival.
We need to stop making excuses and start giving careful thought to our ways. We need to set our priorities in accordance with God’s word and not in accordance to the dictates of our hearts.
We also need to give it all over to God knowing that it’s not in our own power and abilities, but rather it’s through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that we’ll accomplish God’s plans and purposes.
Basically it’s this. We need to get revitalized by getting back to God’s priorities through a new and fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need to be those sons and daughters of oil, and anointed of the Holy Spirit to be those conduits of Gods’ grace5 and mercy to this lost and dying world.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study