Study 10 HAGGAI: A CALL TO SELF-EXAMINATION
STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verse: Haggai 1:7)
From the brief prophecy of Haggai we select for our study the word of the Lord, that we should consider our ways. Notice that this command is repeated in Haggai 1:5 and 2:15,18. When God speaks once it is important, but when He speaks twice it is doubly important. So our whole duty as we share this Bible study is to examine ourselves, because if we fail to do this we are bound to suffer relapse, to backslide, and to get out of touch with the Lord. We cannot remain static: we must either go forward or go back, and in order to go forward we must frequently consider our ways. What are we exhorted to do?
- 1. We are to ”give careful thought”, or ”consider” (KJV). Sometimes, when we want to look at a very small object, we look at it through a microscope and discover (if for instance it is a cheese mite) how very horrible it is! Have you seen yourself under God’s microscope? The word also means “to inspect” - compare Psalm 139:23 and Proverbs 4:26.
- 2. We are to give careful thought to our ”ways”. This means surely that we are to consider our life and our service - all that has to do with our private life as God sees it, and our public life as man sees it. We are to check up upon our relationships, upon the time we give to prayer, upon the use we make of money, and upon the concern we have for the souls of others.
- 3. Give careful thought to “your” ways. What a tendency there is for us to judge others, to apply what God is saying to other people rather than to ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28)!
1. WHY ARE WE TO GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO OUR WAYS?
- 1. Because conditions require it. That is to say, conditions in our life and in our service for the Lord. Is our Christian life flourishing, and is our service fruitful? If so, well and good! But probably our honest answer to these questions is “No!” How essential it is, therefore, to stop and consider our ways! It is when we are unwell that we go to the doctor; and if we are unwell spiritually it is an indication that we need to pause and give careful thought to our ways in order to get the divine remedy for our spiritually sick condition.
- 2. Because wisdom demands it. In business stocktaking takes place at regular intervals; and every navigator knows what it is to frequently examine his chart to make sure he is going in the right direction. In the Christian life it is also wise, to say the least, to give careful thought to our ways.
- 3. Because God commands it. Notice how carefully it is emphasized in Haggai 1:5 and 7 - “…says the Lord.” This is something that God requires - look up Isaiah 1:3, and read Ezekiel 12:3, where God promises to send judgment in order to make His people give thought to their ways!
2. WHEN ARE WE TO GIVE THOUGHT TO OUR WAYS?
It must be profitable to do so all the time, but there are some special times:-
- 1. Look at verse 2. The foundations of the temple had been built but then, through no fault of their own, the people had been prevented from going on with the work of building the Lord’s house. But when the hindrance was removed they said… verse 2 - “O well, there’s plenty of time yet! No hurry to do the Lord’s work …!” Do we sometimes speak in the same way? No urgency about prayer… plenty of time for winning souls. “I’ll live a victorious life later on! One of these days I’ll be filled with the Spirit!” Whenever we find ourselves talking like that it is time to give thought to our ways.
- 2. Look at verse 4. The people were paying far more attention to their own houses than to God’s house. Christians do that today! They are not putting into practice the truth of Matthew 6:31. Self, pleasure and their own homes are given priority over God and His house. Do we wonder that revival does not come? At such a time as this we must give thought to our ways.
- 3. Look at verses 6, 9 and 11. The people had worked hard and sown much, but they had reaped little. Why? Because God’s chastening hand was upon them. All the time God’s house was waiting to be built but they were not concerned. Now look up Ecclesiastes 7:14. Is that a word for you? Is God chastening you because of your complacency? If we get slack spiritually God may touch us in our material circumstances – look up 1 Corinthians 11:29-30.
3. HOW ARE WE TO GIVE THOUGHT TO OUR WAYS?
Read through the whole chapter and you will find considerable help in seeking to answer this question; but notice the following:-
- 1. Wholeheartedly. Haggai 1:7 literally reads, ’Set your heart upon your ways’. This thing must be done with the heart and with the soul!
- 2. In the presence of the Lord. It is good to do it in the House of God, when we are meeting together with others, but it is better to get alone in God’s presence and there to give careful thought to our ways.
- 3. With a right motive. In verse 8 the prophet suggests a two-fold motive for considering our ways… in order that we may please God… and glorify Him.
- 4. With a view to obedience. Look at verse 12. The people considered and obeyed! Sometimes we give careful thought, but we do not obey. How foolish we are, for God’s commands are always for our good, and none of His commands are burdensome (1 John 5:3)! - look up John 2:5.
- 5. In the fear of God. Verse 12 tells us this.
If we will consider our ways like this two things will happen:-
- 1. We shall have a restored consciousness of the Lord’s PRESENCE (verse 13).
- 2. We shall have a renewed experience of the Lord’s POWER (verse 14). How we need stirring up and how we need the experience of Acts 1:8!