Monday, November 15, 2010

Consider your ways!

Ḥaggai 1 &2

Shabbat Shalom! Praise YHWH, all you servants of YHWH – praise His Name! Let me ask you all, “How many of you have had a really exhausting week?” I mean how many of you have worked really hard this week? You have laboured and found that there were simply not enough hours to get everything done! There just seems like there is too much to do and find that you have exhausted yourself and stretched yourself just to make sure that you can make ends meet so to speak and ‘get by’. You have done all you can to secure that next deal, or secure that next pay check just so that you can know that you will be able to pay the bills at the end of the month – and pay off the credit card debt for the things you just needed to have! How many of you, if you just think about it for a second, have been preoccupied with things like your career, the TV, the internet or hobbies – or so preoccupied with what is being built up in and around your life – that you seldom have a chance to stop and consider your ways? How many have had such a crazy week that, being honest with yourself, can admit that you found yourself so preoccupied with so much seemingly important things, which I am not suggesting they are not, but have, because of this, neglected to spend time in His Word? Tonight, we are here to ‘stop’ so to speak, lay down all the ‘stuff’ that has had your mind preoccupied and reflect on where your life is heading. My message tonight is called, “Consider your ways!” And that is what I am asking you to do tonight. The word ‘consider’ simply means ‘to think carefully about, contemplate, reflect on, examine, and give thought in order to reach a suitable conclusion.’ Turn with me to Ḥaggai and let us read this short yet powerful book. (Read)
The prophetic words of this book are as much alive for us today as it was for Yehuḏah back then, and we will do well to heed to words of YHWH of Hosts to consider our ways from this day forward! Let us look at this book and understand the setting for YHWH to tell them to consider 4 times in these 2 chapters.

Ḥaggai was one of the prophets to whom the word of YHWH came after Yehuḏah had returned to Yerushalayim from the 70 years captivity in Babylon. It was the second year of Dareyawesh, which would have been 520 BC when the word came to Ḥaggai. It was in 538 BC that the king of Persia allowed Yehuḏah to return to Yerushalayim to rebuild the temple of YHWH. Two years later in 536 BC construction began which was led by Zerubbaḇel the governor who was a direct descendant of King Dawiḏ. After 2 years the work had stopped, due to persecution and threats from the enemy and the restoration and rebuilding of the temple was grossly neglected. All that basically had been rebuilt was the altar and the foundation. The rebuilding process lay dormant for 14 years when work resumed in 520 BC and was then finished 4 years later in 516 BC in the 6th year of the reign of Dareyawesh (Ezra 6:15). So it is here in Ḥaggai that we pick up in 520 BC when construction resumed after the strong words of YHWH came by Ḥaggai the prophet. It is always important to note that the office of a prophet is always to point the people of YHWH way back to the right path and not simply to tell you nice fairy tales!
Ḥaggai’s name means ‘feast’ or ‘festival’ and some say it is a shortened form of ‘festival of YHWH’.
So we have here Yehuḏah, who have come back to Yerushalayim, has started with great zeal in rebuilding and after a wave of persecution stopped and for 14 years were more concerned about building their own lives as opposed to doing what was required of them and that was to rebuild the House of YHWH. In Ezra we can read how much j0y there was at the start of the rebuilding process:
Ezra 3:10-11 “And when the builders laid the foundation of the Hĕḵal of YHWH, they appointed the priests in their robes, with trumpets, and the Lĕwites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise YHWH, after the order of Dawiḏ sovereign of Yisra’ĕl. 11 And they responded by praising and giving thanks to YHWH, “For He is good, for His loving-commitment towards Yisra’ĕl is forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised YHWH, because the foundation of the House of YHWH was laid.
But after 2 years the building stopped under great discouragement and was derailed by a lack of focus.
There were many reasons I am sure why they would say that it was not time to build the House of YHWH, things like:
• Yerushalayim has laid waste for 70 years – a little longer won’t hurt
• It was too hard – often an excuse to put aside what needs to be done!
• Not enough resources and finance – lost focus on who the Provider is!
• Hostile enemies – Crumbled under enemy threat instead of standing firm in YHWH of Hosts!
• Crop failures – result of disobedience and lack of focus – they would have tried to fix their own problems!
• They remembered the seemingly ‘easier’ times in Babylon
What we clearly see here is that they made their excuse sound very spiritual by not speaking against the rebuilding of the House but rather against the timing of the building! The same happens today – where many will make their excuses sound very spiritual and will not argue against the need to change and do what the Word is telling them – they agree that it is right – but that it just is not the right time to do it!

YHWH had moved on the heart of an ungodly king to release Yehuḏah form bondage and go back to rebuild, for as we know YHWH can move anyone’s heart to action, yet now after 14 years of doing nothing the people’s faith had diminished to the point of living only for self, totally neglecting the work of YHWH.
Luke 18:8 Yahushua asked the question that when He comes again will He find faith on the earth! Or would He find a defeated bunch of faithless people?

It is interesting to note in chapter 1:2 of Ḥaggai that YHWH speaks of Yehuḏah as ‘this people’ and not ‘My people’. These words were a result of their pathetic excuses and their lack of priorities, and were certainly not living like His people should! There are many today who may fall into the ‘this people’ category as their priorities are not in line with the Word!
And so the word of YHWH came – He had an answer for their excuses. They were saying that it wasn’t time to build the House of YHWH, yet by their actions they were happily building their own houses and living in nice, secure homes while the temple was in ruins – their priorities were wrong. Again it is easy to see and understand how 14 years could have brought this lethargic approach to commitment unto YHWH – they had begun with great joy, yet when they encountered resistance from the enemy they very soon turned and got busy with their own lives, and how true is that today. Many of their excuses may have been something like:
• “I’ve got to first give attention to my home”
• “Yeah, I would love to help, but I got to finish my living room”
• “You know, someone should get to work on the temple – I can’t as I have to finish panelling my house”
• “We can get to it later”
• “Listen, the altar is there, so at least we can sacrifice and we are getting by, so no rush” – doesn’t that sound familiar in today’s world – “Listen, I go to church once a week if I can so that’s ok!” No it is not – firstly get out of Babylon worship (Sun-day worship), and stop neglecting the work of building the House of YHWH!!!
The circumstances of seeming defeat caused them to neglect what matters and ended up being so preoccupied by their own things that the work of YHWH got neglected, and as a result it showed. And YHWH came along and said emphatically, “Consider your ways!” An instruction He repeated showing the need for them to truly consider where their life was heading. In the Hebrew the term ‘consider your ways’, literally means to ‘put your heart on your way (path/road)’. In other words think carefully as to what direction your life is headed in, and do you want to continue along that path?
When one’s priorities are wrong, then the path will only lead to setbacks, destruction and never being satisfied.
One translation says to ‘take a good hard look at yourself’, and that is what they needed to do. They needed to see the world from a heavenly kingdom mind-set and not from the world’s standards and systematic approach to a look after yourself first attitude. This was a warning to them that they were more interested in their own personal agendas than with what YHWH expected from them. They had worked hard at trying to build up their own lives yet did not see the fruit of what they had put in. They never had enough – the never enough mentality is the result of wrong priorities – Sha’ul tells us that he learnt to be content no matter what, and here YHWH’s message to Yehuḏah here was simply to turn back to Him and take care of that which He has asked and He will take care of them. Matthew 6:33 Yahushua tells us to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (Food, clothes, houses etc.) will be added. Too many people today have the same problem as Yehuḏah had back then – their priorities are all messed up and as a result they are simply chasing endless schemes to try and survive the world’s rat race, growing weak and weary in the process to a point where YHWH has no place in their lives. YHWH by telling them to go up to the Mountain and get wood to build the house was a call for the righteous to come and build together. The response of the people was very positive and they quickly adjusted their priorities, looking beyond their own personal lives to build Yahweh’s House. Think about it – Once they started working again it took another 4 years – that means in total they rebuilt the House of YHWH in 6 years with a 14 year break in between – the last 14 years could have been so much more fruitful if they had just stuck to the plan!
But praise YHWH for He always works out everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purposes – that is He will work all out for the good of those who obey Him – for if you love Him you will obey Him. Obedience results in much blessing!
Let me ask you today, as you sit here and consider your ways before YHWH – have you truly given yourself fully to YHWH and His purposes? Or are there things that are keeping you from giving your all? Perhaps it is because of a little resistance that you have faced as a result of having come out of Babylon so to speak – by that I mean that all of us who are sitting here have come out of a Babylonian system of worship called ‘church’ and have acknowledged that many lies have been handed down to us, and as a result have started to rebuild the ancient paths of the True Word in our lives. However in the process, some resistance comes to this rebuilding and can cause many to adjust their priorities away from the rebuilding process. Ḥaggai’s message was to a discouraged and seemingly defeated people – people who were faced with the harsh reality of living by faith in the real world – does it sound familiar? Then this word is for us today! YHWH used Ḥaggai to call them back to the main purpose for their lives and that is to be about YHWH’s business and bearing His Name! It is all about His Name – YHWH chose a nation and put His Name upon them that they may go into the world and declare His Name. We see why YHWH disciplined Yisra’ĕl – because they profaned His Name – they did not represent who He was! And so brought dishonour to His Name – It is for the sake of His Name that He has chosen us to reveal who He is to the nations – and our priorities need to be in line with His Word in order to do just that and not profane His Name! So have you truly given yourself fully to Him and His ways or are you perhaps being found to also profane His Name?

We can see from this passage that there are at least 4 hindrances to full commitment to YHWH – 4 things that will hinder our ability to faithfully walk in Him:
They said that it was not time to build… who said it wasn’t? YHWH certainly did not! Let me ask you, when is it ever a time to not be building YHWH’s house? The problem here was that they had put their heart and soul in to building for themselves nice secure homes and lives and put all they had into ‘self’.
In the process they simply dressed up their spiritual wounds by saying it is not yet time, fooling themselves under the disguise of a need to build a secure life now while they can. This was a lie, as YHWH says that He will never leave nor forsake us and will always take care of us – He is our provider – as long as they had their priorities right – YHWH would lead them in the rest and the same is true for us today. They believed the lie that they couldn’t build.
What lies have you believed? Much of what we have been taught under the banner of ‘church’ has been a twisted truth – it sounded nice yet it has sadly left the True House of YHWH in ruins while it (the church) has been building up a system of religion that has sucked many into a false sense of security in building their own homes/panelled houses so to speak!
It is now time to truly shale off the lies and come back to the Truth and walk in it with our all despite the opposition we may face. When we believe the lies, we can so easily find ourselves caring more about what others or self says than what the Word says. They believed the lie and cared more about their comfort than the Truth – too many today choose comfort over truth and just want their ears tickled! The effects of neglecting the Truth was that they planted much yet harvested little, they wore clothes yet were cold and there money was never enough – sound familiar.
Believing the lies of the world and its system will have you so tied up in debt that you will never have enough and so get sucked more and more in to running after the deceitfulness of wealth and neglect YHWH. As you consider your ways, ask yourself, “Am I truly seeking YHWH first or am I rather seeking my own comfort, wealth, bond to be paid off, my next holiday etc.?”
This is a warning for us today to make sure our priorities are not upside down! It is time to reject the lies once and for all and desperately seek his Truth with our all!
Fear of the enemy is a huge hindrance in walking fully in YHWH – fear of the enemy, fear of circumstances, people and things robs us of the joy He commands us to have! In verse 13 of chapter 1 YHWH tells us that He is with us – this truth ought to chase all those fears away!!! As they heard the Word of YHWH we see a great turn of events taking place – in verse 12 it says they ‘obeyed’ the voice of YHWH and the words of Ḥaggai. The word obey is the Hebrew word ‘Shama’ which means to hear, listen to or obey. They listened and we know that faith comes by hearing the Word – which caused them to not only to hear but to listen to and obey and repent – that is to turn form serving self to serving YHWH. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance – His loving Kindness is ever lasting – he could have just wiped them out – yet in His great mercy gave them His Word. We are here today because of His loving-kindness – when we deserved to die – He gave us His Word – Yahushua Messiah is the Word. Our response is vital – we too should let his kindness lead us to repentance and fully walk in His ways.
So we can see a process here:
1 – Hear the Word – faith is stirred
2 – Obey the Word – faith in action
3 – Reverence for the Word
4 – Assurance in the Word
5 – Spirit is stirred
In a nutshell – Hear – Guard and Do = Great results!
When YHWH speaks to us and we listen and obey, He strengthens us to do, promising to be with us!
They immediately started building. May we learn to carefully listen, obey and do and let His Ruach Stir us.
The third hindrance to walking fully committed to YHWH is living in the past. Yahushua tells us that whoever puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom. We need to learn to leave Babylon behind!
Too many reminisce over the ‘good old days’ as if YHWH cannot do something new and radical again! The former temple had gone, yes, and we see in Ezra that when they built the foundations many who had seen the former house wept while others shouted for joy and YHWH tells them that the latter will be greater than the former. YHWH always progresses from glory to glory. Yahushua also said in Yoḥanan/John 14:12 that whoever believes in Him will do greater things than He. The latter is always greater than the former – so do not live in the past – it will stop you from fully living for YHWH!
YHWH reminds them that His Covenant given when they came out of Mitsrayim (Egypt) and his Ruach (Spirit) was in their midst. What Covenant? The marriage contract given at Mount Sinai – the very Torah – the Truth and the Spirit was with them. We have His Truth and His Spirit – and as Yahushua said the true worshippers will worship in Spirit and in Truth. When we have His Spirit and His Truth we need not fear and can go forward in Him no matter our past! This was the feast of Sukkot when YHWH spoke this to them and this as we know is a feast of rejoicing, and they were being encouraged that just as Sukkot promises His dwelling with us forever, here He tells them that His Truth and His Spirit is with them - a deposit and seal that will keep us for when He comes to Sukkot with us – we can look forward to a future tabernacle that far outweighs any that has ever been built by man – let us rejoice as we look forward expectantly, aměn!
Yehuḏah were back in Yerushalayim and just as they had now repented for living for self they had to remain faithful and devoted to a set-apart life that would not fall back into defeat on sin and compromise with world’s traditions and practices. This was a call to consider now their ways from now on and not to simply carry on living in defeat. Do not bring those Babylonian practices with you on your walk of faith! It is all a choice and we must choose – if we choose sinful attitudes, thought and lifestyle then we must be willing to accept sin’s curse at work in our lives as a result. This is the reason that we see so many defeated believers who are leading very complicated, joyless and fruitless lives – because they compromise and live a defeated life as though that is their lot and refuse to stand up for the Truth being afraid of persecution and confrontation. I have heard a friend tell me that even though he is battling so much in his walk, he has simply accepted that this is the way it should be and has accepted defeat in a sense, being unable to get up and live a joy-filled faithful walk of victory in Messiah. Too many today refuse to let go of Babylonian worship practices and live in defeat and so can never fully commit to YHWH, unless they defeat that which has defeated them and leave pagan worship behind and follow the Truth of His Torah! Too many today are too afraid of confrontation as they stand for Truth so they compromise into living a defeated life, afraid of having to stand, stand and stand again for the sake of His Name!
The call to consider carefully how you will go from this day forward – will you walk from victory going form strength to strength in Messiah or live defeated by sin and fear and regret?
YHWH promised them words that still ring true for us right here today – “From this day on I shall bless you!”
Wow – words we can certainly claim as we hear – guard and do His instructions!

The heart of this message is clear – consider your ways:
• Are you spending your time wisely?
• Are your friends helping you live a life of faith or are they taking you away from YHWH? If they are taking you away then they are not true friends!
• Are you helping others live a life of faith?
YHWH’s response to our obedience is clear – He is with us and He will bless us.
As we see from the 2 questions in verses 12-14 of chapter 2 – holiness cannot be ‘passed on’ simply by contact, however defilement can be passed on by touch. Just because some go to a prayer meeting and hold the hand of a believer doesn’t make them holy – each one must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling – each one must consider his own ways – if they are not holy they can and will defile others!!! Defilement is passed on by touch – if you spend time with the defiled you will become defiled – “Bad company corrupts good character”!

As we consider these words today, may we truly consider from this day forward carefully to obey YHWH. We are His Temple and let us not neglect His House – that is His Bride – you and me – that for the most part today is lying in ruins and it is now time to set our priorities right in line with His Word. This will mean for some a whole mind shift and a whole comfort shift – but carefully consider today and make sure your priorities and not upside down. Those things that you have been preoccupied with – things that have been in the way of His Word truly impacting your life – get them out of the way – lay down your life and follow His plans, aměn!

Do you need to fix your obedience toward Him, or do you need to fix your focus – then do so today and know that from this day on He will bless you.
Many have left Babylon, yet Babylon has not left them – it is time to let go of that which he has called you out from, step up and be faithful to what he has called us to do and that is to bear His Name – consider today your ways – may they forever be pleasing to Him – it is time to build His House. Do not allow anything to hinder your faithful walk of obedience – do not believe lies, do not live in fear, do not live in the past and do not live a defeated life. The Truth will set you free as you walk in reverent obedience looking forward to the Blessed Hope of the return of Yahushua and live a victorious life in Messiah, aměn!
It is certainly time for the Bride of Messiah to consider Her ways – and that means each of us here today need to heed this instruction form YHWH – Consider carefully your ways from this day on, for He promises that in turning wholly to Him, He will form this day forth bless you!!!

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