Homes, Hills and the House of the Lord

By Russ Hiebert/ December 31, 2017

Series  Christian Discipleship

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Discipleship

Scripture  Haggai 1

When Haggai rebukes the people, he refers to three places, or spheres of work, where the people can apply themselves to: homes; hills; and the House of the Lord.

Sermon Notes:

  1. The events of Haggai take place in Jerusalem around 520 BC. The city is in ruins, and a small delegation have returned with Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the High Priest to begin rebuilding.
  2. 65 years earlier, God had caused His people to be carried away to Babylon, but promised that in 70 years they would be restored to the land if they would seek God with all their hearts.
  3. The overthrow of Babylon in 539 BC is the beginning of the return of the exiles (cf. Dan. 5).
  4. In contrast to Belshazzar, who profaned the sacred vessels of the temple, King Cyrus commanded that these be returned to the temple in Jerusalem, and sent men to rebuild it (Ezra 1:7-11).
  5. 18 years later, the temple is still in ruins; the people who should have been building it were focused on their own homes.
  6. Haggai’s rebuke focuses on three spheres of work: beautifying our homes, braving the hills, and building the house of the Lord.
  7. Persecution sprang up from the Samaritans, and the work of building the temple was abandoned.
  8. The people occupied their time with working on their own homes, concluding that now was not the time to build the temple after all (cf. Ezra 4).
  9. Although they had been chasing comfort and security, it had eluded them because they were not attending to the work God had assigned them (Hag. 1:6-11).
  10. When we back down in the face of persecution, we lose our vision.
  11. God’s people need to be on guard against the sin of discouragement.
  12. The work required braving the hills to get the materials to build the temple.
  13. In the church today, the body of Christ is built by the same means – we go out into the world, applying the Word of God to call people to repentance and belief.
  14. The idea that Christianity is a private matter is a demonic lie that has been used to keep us from building the house of God.
  15. When we seek to confine God to a single sphere of life, we will fail there, and in all the others as well.
  16. We need to adopt a worldview that sees God as sovereign over all things.
  17. The outward success of building the temple first required an internal, spiritual victory:  at Haggai’s rebuke the people feared the Lord and obeyed (Hag. 1:12).

Application Questions:

  1. What do we have to show for our waning passion for the Lord and the work He has given us to do?
  2. What does it look like to fear the Lord?
  3. What is a godly attitude to take toward persecution?