"The Twin Secrets Of Haggai And Zechariah's Success"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2010 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Well, good evening to you all! It's good to be with you again tonight, thank you to the ladies and to the men for the singing, and all the musicians - it's been wonderful over the weekend and again tonight, and we do appreciate all the hard work that has been put into that. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Haggai - is that how you pronounce it around here? 'Haggai'? Spot on? The language classes before I came have paid off! Haggai, if you want to know where it is - when I announce 'Haggai' I can see the sweat breaking on people's brows! If you go to the back of your Old Testament to the book of Malachi, and go three back, you'll come to Haggai - that's the easiest way I can tell you to find it. Those three books comprise what we know as the post-exilic prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi - but tonight we're going to look at two of them: Haggai and Zechariah. I want to speak to you - and I apologise to the folk making the CDs, this is a bit of a long one, but you can abbreviate it some way - 'The Twin Secrets of Haggai and Zechariah's Success'. What I want to do as a reading is read chapter 1 of Haggai's prophecy, and then we'll be looking at various other verses as we go through.
Verse 1 of Haggai 1: "In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled", or paneled, "houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king".
Let us all pray together and, as I've said on previous nights, it is vital that all of us together now seek the Lord's face and open our hearts to Him. If you're a Christian, I want you to ask the Lord now to reveal Himself to you through His word by the power of the Spirit. If you're not a Christian, do you think you could pray a prayer and ask God to reveal Himself to you? If you do, I believe He will answer, and you will hear from heaven this very evening. Father, we thank You for Your revealed truth. Lord, we are reading an ancient prophet here this evening, and yet, O God, it's message is right up to date. Lord, we almost think that the prophet spoke and the pen wrote these words for us, and we know they did - for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. These things were written aforetime for our learning. O God, may we not miss the truths that You have to speak to us tonight. O Lord, we are a needy people, and we long to hear from heaven. O God, speak, speak with the voice that wakes the dead - and wake Thy people here. Lord, we need You, and we pray that Your Holy Spirit may descend on this gathering this evening and do a new thing. For the glory of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
You may wonder what a post-exilic prophet is. Well, very simply, these three prophets - Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi - had their ministries after the children of Israel were released from captivity where they had been in Babylon for 70 years. So that is the historic context of Haggai and Zechariah's prophecy. Judah has entered the land, and they have begun to rebuild the Temple that they had not, for 70 years, enjoyed. Just as we enter this prophecy in chapter 1, we find that the foundations of the Temple have been laid - but the historic background, as you read the account of Ezra, is that certain Samaritans opposed the rebuilding of the Temple. Their opposition caused the Jews to be so dejected and discouraged that they laid down their tools and stopped the work of rebuilding the Temple. It is to that situation that Haggai speaks, but I want you to understand the mental, psychological, the emotional, and - most importantly - the spiritual condition of Judah here. They had experienced 70 years in captivity without the Temple, and immediately exiting that captivity they begin to face further opposition, and they can't take any more and they give up.
They had laid the foundations, we can give them credit for that at least - but that's where it stopped. I have to say to you: in Haggai's prophecy there is a wonderful picture for us of the New Testament Temple. We talked about it last evening, God no longer dwells in temples made with men's hands, but God is building a spiritual Temple on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work - dying on the cross and rising again - and on the foundation of the apostles and early prophets and evangelists of the church. This is being built by the Holy Spirit of the Living God - but we are also the temples, plural, of the Holy Spirit. So, corporately, put together as living stones, we make an edifice that is the church - but individually we ourselves, personally, are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we are to build on a foundation.
Now, I want to ask you tonight: have you laid the foundation? 'What is the foundation?', you say. Well, turn with me for a moment to Hebrews chapter 6 - I hope you have your Bible with you, do turn to Hebrews 6 - and I'm beginning to read at verse 1. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts the people: 'Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection'. You see, the Christian message is always one of going on. So, if you're here this evening and you're a Christian, and you're stuck - well, that's not the Christian experience that God intends you to enjoy. He wants you to go on unto perfection. He elaborates, look at it, verse 1: 'Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment'. Now, there is foundation mentioned in verse 1: we are to go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works. Now, that's what happens when you're born-again: you repent of your sins, change your mind about your sin and your selfishness, and you turn and exercise faith in the living God - and that's part of the foundation being laid, repentance from dead works and faith toward God. Verse 2, part of the foundation is the doctrine of baptisms. The Jews had many baptisms, but of course this writer specifically is getting at the fact that they have had one particular baptism - not the baptism of John, but the baptism of Jesus that has identified their confession of the Lord Jesus. Then there is the laying on of hands, ministry involved - and we can read about it in the New Testament regarding that - for ministry, and for healing, and various other things. The resurrection of the dead - we believe in the resurrection of the dead, that's what we look forward to, and encompassed in that is the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ - we are to be waiting and watching for that. 'And of eternal judgement', can I ask you what you know about all those things, Christian? This is the foundation, but we are to go on from this - this is only the foundation.
Have you laid the foundation? Are you born-again tonight? Have you repented of your sins and had faith toward God through the Lord Jesus, who bled and died for you on the cross, and rose again that you may be right with God and have the gift of eternal life? Do you know anything about that? But, dear believer, this is only a part of the foundation - and yet we are to build upon the foundation. In fact, if we were to go this evening to Peter's second epistle and chapter 1, you can turn to if you wish - I'll just read it out to you. Peter tells us in chapter 1 and verse 5 of 2 Peter: 'add to your faith virtue' - so we are to add something to our faith. This is how we go on unto perfection: 'add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity'. This is God's intention, not that we should simply lay a foundation - have you done that already? - but we should build an edifice upon our lives to the glory of Jesus Christ, and as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Well, God wanted Judah to rebuild the Temple, but they had downed tools and been apathetic. So He led God's man, God's messenger in God's message, Haggai, to come and to preach - and what was his message? 'Consider your ways! Consider your ways!'. He says: 'Every one of you is running to his own house, and you have luxurious houses, but what about My house? My house', the prophet says, 'lies waste'. What a statement! It could be attributed to our 21st-century materialistic age in the Western world, is that not the case? We've all got time to fix our own houses, to decorate our own houses, to drape our own houses, but so often we have so little time for the house of God and the things of God. Yet we are in grave trouble, just as Judah was, because as you go on reading there were consequences for the spiritual famine in their hearts - a literal famine. The heavens had become brass, the earth had become rock, stone. The wages that they were making, they were putting them in their pockets, but there were holes in their pockets, there were holes in the bag they were storing them in. This was not something the devil was doing, the prophet Haggai says God was blowing upon their money and it was disappearing. They had a credit crunch! Do you know that God can bring credit crunches, financial crisis, in order to cause His people to consider their ways?
There are four messages, four sermons if you like, in Haggai's prophecy. The first one is in chapter 1, beginning at verse 1, and it takes place - let me translate for you the calendar - on August 29th. The message simply was: 'Build God's house'. Then the second message begins in chapter 2 and verse 1, and the date there 'In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying' - and that date is the 17th of October. Now they hadn't been building, they had laid the foundation, they had been opposed by the Samaritans, they had given up - and then the prophet came and said: 'Now, consider your ways, go up to the mountain and build the Temple'. So they start to get stirred up about it, we read that at the end of chapter 1 - Zerubbabel and Joshua were stirred up, and the remnant of the people were stirred up - and so they're about to get going and start the work again, and less than a month after beginning the work they are interrupted once more.
How are they interrupted? Well, they are interrupted by three religious feasts in Israel's calendar. In the seventh month, Tishri, in the Jewish calendar, that's our month between September and October, there are three religious feasts. First of all, on the first day of the month of Tishri, there is the 'Feast of Trumpets'. On the 10th day of the month there is the 'Day of Atonement', and from the 15th day of the month to the 21st there is the 'Feast of Tabernacles'. Now that is highly significant, because the 'Feast of the Tabernacles' was essentially a celebration of the tent in which God dwelt, and really the Temple. Can you imagine: these folk are discouraged, they have come out of Babylon, they have begun a work, laid the foundations, they get opposition from the Samaritans, they down tools; then God sends God's man with God's message telling them to consider their ways, repent, they are stirred up, they start all over again - and a month later it's all interrupted, why? By three feasts, and the last one is a celebration of the Temple, and they don't have one!
Not only do they not have one, the one they are building pales into insignificance in comparison to the one they remember before the Babylonians destroyed it, Solomon's great Temple. I don't have time to talk to you tonight about the glories of it, but we thought about it last night, didn't we? How God came to dwell, and He filled that Temple with His glory. Yet the old men, we read in Ezra, when they saw this new Temple, Zerubbabel's Temple, rising from the ground, it was so mean in comparison that they wept! Yet the second sermon here from Haggai in verse 9 of chapter 2 is that 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts'. I don't have time tonight to go into how this could possibly be greater than Solomon's, save to say that this would be the Temple that the Lord Jesus Christ, as a babe, would be carried into - it would be this Temple, that would make it greater. But you can understand how the people were feeling, can you not?
Then there is the third sermon, it's beginning at verse 10 of chapter 2. It's the 18th of December now, and it's a very strange and confusing time for Judah. Here's why: they have been stirred up, they have heeded the word of God, they have begun building again on the foundation, even through this discouragement of celebrating a Temple that they didn't have, and what was already erected of it paled into insignificance in comparison to the previous one - they now reach harvest time, and harvest doesn't come. Now you would expect that if you did what God told you to do that the blessing would fall, but it didn't fall. In verse 19 of chapter 2, if you look at it, Haggai asks: 'Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth' - these folk are confused.
I'll come back to that in a moment or two. But then the fourth message, on the same day incidentally, the 18th of December, begins at verse 20 of chapter 2. It speaks of a future day, it is the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the day when the Lord Jesus Christ will return again and set up an earthly kingdom in this world, it's the day when He will shake the earth and the heavens with judgement and bring righteousness to reign. What he's really saying is: 'You're having a hard time now, Judah, but one day your Messiah is coming and He is going to rule and reign'. This was two sermons on the one day, the 18th of December, and sometimes God has to speak twice on the one day to get the ear of His discouraged, downtrodden and apathetic people! You see, He wants to get our attention, He wants to waken us out of our slumber and our sleep.
But it's this third message that I want to concentrate on this evening. There was a famine and a drought, and understand that it was from God. God had blown on their produce, God had made the heavens brass, He had made the earth stone. The reason for that, when you go into the Old Testament law of Moses, He told them that they as the covenant people, if they did not abide by the covenant, this would happen - there would be famine and locusts in the land. They had sinned.
'Ah but', you say, 'Hold on a minute! You're forgetting that we read in chapter 1 that Zerubbabel had been stirred up, and Joshua had been stirred up, and the remnant had been stirred up'. We read in chapter 2 and verse 4 that the Lord says, 'I am with you, saith the Lord'; and you can read in verse 5 that 'My Spirit', at the end of the verse, 'remains among you: fear you not'; and then in verse 9, 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former', and God said He would put His peace there. Well, how can this be? Surely these folk have got it together? Why is the blessing not coming down? It's confusing, isn't it?
Sometimes we can get like that in our Christian experiences, and in the church. We think we've got everything in the right place, and we don't understand why God is not blessing, why the heavens are not opening, why it's not coming. Well, let's try and do a bit of detective work tonight and find out why the blessing had not come down. I want you to turn with me now to Zechariah 3, the next book, Zechariah 3. Now I want you to understand - you young people, you're often thirsty from school, so this will be an extra class, so switch your brain on now - this message that you are about to read from Zechariah 3 was preached on the eighth month of the same year that Haggai prophesied. Look at chapter 1 and verse 1 of Zechariah, and understand this, Zechariah 1 and verse 1, we see: 'In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD'. So this book, this prophecy, is in the eighth month, one month before Haggai's third message. Look at chapter 2 of Haggai, just to remind you, verse 10: 'In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month' - so understand, Zechariah 3 is coming a month before the message that we have just read in Haggai.
So a month before, this is what God says in Zechariah 3 and verse 1: 'And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by. And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by'.
Now, this is important: this was a month before Haggai's prophecy. What this statement from Zechariah is saying to Judah, to the High Priest and to the remnant, is: sin lies at the door. Joshua, the High Priest, is seen as having filthy garments before God. You say, 'How can this be? Surely the people are now stirring themselves up, we read in Haggai 1?'. Well, look at chapter 4 of Zechariah verse 10, and read at the end of the verse: 'The eyes of the LORD run to and fro through the whole earth'. Let me put that in colloquial language for you: God sees things the way they really are! When we read Haggai we superficially could come to the conclusion that everything was right with God's people, and to an extent they were getting to the right place, they were stirred up, they were beginning to be obedient - but you can often see that in the life of an individual believer and in the life of a corporate church.
When we go to the first couple of chapters of the book of the Revelation, the last book in the Bible, we read of seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor, written by the apostle John but given to him from the Lord Jesus. In chapter 1 there is a vision of the Lord Jesus who writes these letters, and He is dressed as a Judge-Priest, and He is seen to be walking in the midst of candlesticks - the candlesticks being those seven churches. In other words, He is walking and judging them, and in fact He is depicted as having eyes of fire and feet of bronze or brass - which means that He has x-ray, burning eyes, and feet of judgement. To one of those churches, the church at Sardis, He says: 'thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead'. He sees things the way they really are. Sardis had a reputation, but He saw they were dead. Judah seemed to have gotten things together, but the eyes of God, those omniscient eyes, running to and fro throughout the Earth, were able to see that - whether it was personal sin in the life of the High Priest, or whether he's representing the nation religiously - there was sin lying at the door.
Now, can I say to you believer, and Coffs Harbour Bible Church, and whatever other church is represented here this evening: the only opinion that matters is the opinion of Jesus Christ. What does He think? Here was Judah's problem - oh, and please get this - they had put things right publicly, but not privately. O, my dear friend, I want you to hear that: there was secret sin in the camp. Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying. If you look at Zechariah 3, we see that grace covered it. The Lord God Jehovah, the covenant God, came to the rescue of His High Priest and His people. The Lord, in verses 1 and 2, rebukes Satan, the accuser of the brethren. In verses 3 through to 5 He removes the iniquity, and He gives him new garments - but it's all with a purpose. As we read verses 6 to 10, we'll not take time to read it tonight, but the purpose of God in pouring grace and renewing his garments was to restore the ministry, the ministry of the priesthood. Here was the reason, look at verse 8: 'For, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH'. Now 'the BRANCH' is a prophetic description of Messiah, Jesus Christ. What was at stake in the ministry of the High Priest of Joshua, and the ministry of the remnant of God's people, Judah? The witness of Christ was at stake! That's always what is at stake when we harbour secret sin.
Why was the blessing not coming down? They had been stirred up, had they not? They had begun to build, they were being obedient, but listen: grace, yes, covered the sin, but they had to uncover it. O, what a truth: they had to uncover it, and they had to repent of it. Isn't it very interesting and instructive that the message from God, through the man of God, Haggai, first came to the leaders - Zerubbabel, the civil leader of the people, and Joshua, the High Priest, the spiritual leader of the people. We as leaders need to get it right, we as leaders need to be broken before God, we as leaders need to be low to be used. We need to be pure, we need to be sanctified if our people are ever going to be. They cried out: 'Why is the blessing not coming down?', and Haggai said: 'Here's how the blessing comes down', Zechariah said, 'Here's how the blessing comes down' - two barrels, and they both give them both barrels: confession of sin and holiness of life!
Oh, that's old stuff now, isn't it? But that is the only truth that brings the blessing down. That's why, at the end of verse 19 of chapter 2 of Haggai, look at it, God says: 'from this day will I bless you'. You see, these people, if they were going to uncover their secret sin, they were drawing a line in the sand, and God was prepared to say: 'Now, look, if you uncover what you're covering up, from this day on I will bless you!'. Now I announced this message as 'The Twin Secrets of Haggai and Zechariah's Success' - well, here they are. One: their preaching uncovered secret sin that was hindering the harvest. Their preaching uncovered secret sin that was hindering the harvest. We read in chapter 1 and verse 14 that the people's hearts were stirred, Zerubbabel, Joshua, the remnant - and that was on the 21st of September 520BC. They were stirred up to build the Temple, and yet the harvest that usually came between April and September - now we're at the end of September, and the harvest still hasn't come! Why? Yes, they were obedient, but it was only partial obedience.
How do you bring God's blessing down? You must give Him all. On the 18th of December there was a watershed. The people stopped just being stirred up, and they stopped being partially obedient, and they obeyed fully by repenting of all their sins - public and secret - and they gave everything over to God, and so God drew a line in the sand and said: 'From this day I will bless you'. Listen, dear child of God tonight, if you repent and if you give Him all, He'll draw that line for you too. He will say: 'Tonight, from this night, I will bless you' - but there's got to be absolute, complete surrender, you've got to give Him all! I know what these meetings can be like, I preach at enough of them, and people can be stirred up - like Zerubbabel, and like Joshua. God gave emotions, praise Him for them, but you know emotions are fickle without the will. It is with the will that we obey God. It's not enough to be stirred up at revival meetings, it's not enough to enjoy the songs, it's not enough to have sentiment toward the issues and the principles and the precepts that are being espoused from the pulpit and the preacher - no! God wants more! God demands more! I'll tell you: that will hinder God working, for God does not delight in partial obedience but in the whole man or woman given over to God, body, soul and spirit; mind, emotion and will!
Now my friend, you want God, you want blessing, you want to be used - but will you pay the price? It's like the ladies, forgive me it's maybe sexist, but you go into the store and you see a beautiful dress, and you can picture the dress on yourself, and maybe even take it off the dummy and - I'll not say what I'm thinking! - you put it on yourself, and you're walking around and parading in it and looking in the mirror, and then you look at the price tag. Oh! You still would like the garment, wouldn't you? But you're not prepared to pay the price.
I mentioned to you last evening C.T. Studd, the great cricketer and an inheritor of a fortune through his family, but he gave it all up for Christ. He wanted to go to the mission field, and he went to China first of all and then he came home for a while on furlough, and he felt the Lord leading him to Africa - but he was a man of very ill health, and there was no doctor that would sign him off to go to Africa. In fact he was described, and I'm quoting here, as 'a museum of diseases'. Yet somebody give him the OK and, as I said last evening, he was asked the question: 'Why do you want to waste your life in Africa, and give up all your talents and your riches?'. He said: 'I want to see God walking around in African skin'. This is the man who said: 'If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, what sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him?'. He made that sacrifice, and he went. When he was home on one occasion on furlough in England, he went to the Keswick Convention - I know you have them here. The speaker on that occasion was F.B. Meyer, a wonderful preacher of the word of God. Because they found out that C.T. Studd was in the congregation, they asked him would he just speak for 15 minutes, before the exposition of Scripture, about his work in Africa. When he stood in the pulpit to speak and related to the people what God was doing in Africa and in his life, there was a brokenness that came upon the whole gathering. The power of God fell, and then F.B. Meyer got up to speak - he could hardly say anything. He stumbled through his message, and afterwards he made a beeline for C.T. Studd, and he said: 'What is it?'. 'What is what?'. 'What is it!? What is it that you did when you stood and people were broken and arrested?'. C.T. Studd said to F.B. Meyer: 'Have you given all the keys of your life to Jesus Christ?'.
Do you know what that means? We've got rooms to our lives, we've got compartments, we've got little cupboards where there are personal things and hidden things. What C.T. Studd was getting at was that we've got to give all the keys of all these rooms and closets of our life to God. But that's not the way we operate, is it, Christian? We keep certain things for ourselves. We give the Lord the Sunday morning, and maybe the evening if we're really religious, and maybe during the week - but God wants it all! Listen: God can't do anything with us until He has it all. Meyer was really broken by this. He went to his room that evening and he got before God, and one by one he began giving the keys of his life to the Lord. He gave family over - that's a hard one, isn't it? It's hard for me to give my little girl over, my little boy, my wife. Once he got through his family he gave possessions over, material things. Once he had done that he gave his future over, his own health and his longevity. You see that's what the Bible teaches in Hebrews 12: we are to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and run the race. Not every weight is a sin, there can be legitimate things in our lives, amoral things, not immoral, things that are morally neutral - but they can weigh us down, they can keep us back. If we're going to run to win, we need to get rid of them!
But F.B. Meyer had one problem, there was one key he couldn't give over. He wrestled and he struggled, do you know what it was? His popularity as a preacher. He had a great reputation as a preacher, sure he was at Keswick! He couldn't give it up - you see, preachers, they can have idols, and sometimes it's themselves! God the Spirit spoke to F.B. Meyer, and said: 'It's everything or nothing, partial obedience is disobedience'. Are you getting it? It's everything or nothing! Don't pat yourself on the back if you haven't given everything over to God, and even if you do, and even if you have - the Lord taught us that even when we've done all we've been asked, we are only unprofitable servants. We've got nothing to pat ourselves on the back for.
Now let me say to you: this is not a once and for all thing that I'm talking about, this is an on-going lifestyle, this is the Christian life. Well, after that occasion C.T. Studd and F.B. Meyer became great friends, and they referred to one another as 'CT' and 'FB'. They returned on another occasion to the Keswick Convention as speakers, and they were staying together in a tent. One morning F.B. Meyer was awakened with the knowledge that C.T. Studd had been up a while. He looked over and he saw him on his knees with his open Bible and a little candle lighting him as he read. F.B. Meyer said: 'What are you doing?'. With tears trickling down his face, C.T. Studd answered, he said: 'The Lord woke me from sleep with this word, 'If you love me, keep my commandments''. He looked up with tears in his eyes, and he said: 'There are so many commandments that I have not kept' - it's an on-going thing.
Zechariah and Haggai's preaching uncovered secret sin that was hindering the harvest. This was the reason for the blessing on C.T. Studd's ministry, and every man of God's ministry. Malachi, another post-exilic prophet, speaking to the same generation of people, said: 'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, and try me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that you will not have enough room to receive it'. You say tonight: 'I can't. There's a sin in my life I can't let go of' - or maybe it's not a sin, it's one of these weights, it's a selfish thing in your life, like your reputation, or your career, or whatever it is, and you can't let go of it. Well, let me say, my friend, that's a lie of the devil: if you're a child of God, you can let go of it, for if you're a child of God, the old man, the power of Adam, has been broken through the cross. But I'll tell you more than that: you've the promise of God that you can do it.
Turn with me tonight to 1 Thessalonians 5 - I hope you'll give me the liberty to cover this, because this is vital truth. First Thessalonians chapter 5, here is a promise some of you need to claim and hold on to, verse 23: 'And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ' - there it is, a promise. God gave it and He is faithful to it, verse 24: 'Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it' God's desire is that we be sanctified, that we go on to perfection. Now we'll never be perfect until we get to glory and are in the image of Jesus, but - oh, I'm telling you - we can get very close to it in this life, and I'm not! I'm not. But here's the promise: the cross has freed us from sin, sin shall no longer have dominion over you - don't believe the lie of the devil that you have to be bound by that habit.
My dear one here tonight who's not saved, you've got to understand that if you come to the cross that can be yours too: you can be free of those sins, delivered by the blood of the Lamb! But here's the promise: sanctified spirit, soul and body - and God is the one who will do it. 'Oh', you say, 'that's alright, but practically how is it done?'. Well, turn with me to Romans 13 please, Romans 13. There are Christians here tonight struggling with sin, there are Christians here tonight and sanctification, holiness eludes them. They often wonder why. Well, this may well be your answer, Romans 13 verse 14, Paul exhorts the Romans: 'Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ'. Now one aspect of that is, certainly, when you get saved that's what you do. You don't look to your own righteousness, for we don't have any - even our righteousnesses are filthy rags in the eyes of the all holy God of heaven. So we need another's righteousness, and the only one who is good is God - and Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, He bled and died for us, He took our sins and was punished, He was our substitute in love for us - and now He offers to us the righteousness of God when we believe on Him, when we put Him on by faith. Have you done it? Oh, you need to do it to be right with God and to get to heaven.
'Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ', Christian you need to do this every day! Not get saved every day all over again, but you need to appropriate the provisions of Jesus Christ for you, and every morning of your life put on Jesus Christ. Put off the works of the flesh, put on Jesus Christ. But that's not enough - what? That's not enough. That is why the Lord Jesus taught us to pray: 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'. Do you know what some of us do? We pray: 'Lead us not into temptation', and our two wee feet take us into it, we take ourselves there. Look what this verse says: 'Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof'. You see, many a person, they come to a meeting like this and they claim the power of God over sin, and the fullness of the Spirit, and they claim a victorious life - and they really mean it with all their heart! But then they go out and they make provision for the flesh. Jesus said: 'If your hand offend you, cut it off. If your eye offend you, pluck it out'. He taught us to be ruthless with sin - and, my friend, if your problem is the internet, sort it out! If your problem is television, sort it out! If your problem is alcohol, sort it out! If your problem is promiscuity, if it's gambling, don't go near the places where you will be led into temptation - that's what it means when you say: 'Make no provision for the flesh'. Do you see when you do that? The fuel pump of sin is severed. You try it! You've got the cross that has delivered you, you've got the promise of God that assures you, and if you put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh - I'm telling you, you will have victory, and the blessing will come down on your life and on those whom you touch!
But there is another part of this message, it's a twin message. Their preaching uncovered secret sin that was hindering the harvest, but secondly - and it's going to be shorter, don't worry! - they preached that it was only in the strength of the Spirit that the Temple for God would be built. Secret sin had to be uncovered for the blessing to come down, but Haggai and Zechariah preached that it was only in the strength of the Spirit that the Temple for God would be built. The two of them were prophesying about building, weren't they? It's interesting to look at these two men and compare them. Haggai was an old man, Zechariah was a young man. Zechariah prophesies for three years, Haggai only prophesied for three months. Isn't it true that God uses different men at different times in different ways? I love this thought: Haggai, if you read it out loud - we read one chapter of it tonight, there are two - if you read it out loud it would only take a couple of minutes, but it accomplished more than all the preachers of 16 years did. Only four sermons - I've preached hundreds, but none of them have ever done what Haggai's four sermons did. The point is: a few words anointed by the Spirit's power can do mighty things.
We read in chapter 1 verse 13 of Haggai that this was 'the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message' - I love that! He was in the Lord's message, it was fire in his bones, it was part of this man, the man was the sermon! The man was the message! E.M. Bounds says it takes 20 years to make a sermon, because it takes 20 years to make the man. It's true. Are you getting this? This was a day of small things. Zechariah chapter 4 and verse 10 says there were mockers everywhere concerning the work of the Lord, they were saying: 'This is a day of small things' - but in verse 10 of chapter 4 of Zechariah we read that there was a day coming when 'the plumbline would be in Zerubbabel's hand'. That means he would be standing there, having finished the work of the Temple, no matter what the mockers would say. It speaks of seven lampstands, speaking of the Holy Spirit overseeing the work: 'Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts'. The work would be built by the power of God, the Spirit of God.
Now listen: if we're going to build the temple of the church today, we saw last night that we'll have to be in prayer. If we're going to see the temple built today it's God who does it, and He does it by His Spirit in answer to prayer. I would love - but we haven't time, maybe on another night we'll touch on this - John 14:15-16 are vital passages in the word of God for the church and for every Christian. Jesus said: 'I've got to go away from you, it's necessary for the Holy Spirit to come'. In Acts chapter 1 and 2 we see, He said again: 'He has to come, and you will be endued with power from on high', and in chapter 2 they were. We see normal Christianity at the birth of the church, the Temple of the Spirit is infused with the power of God, and the Holy Spirit takes the place of Christ as the only Vicar of Christ on earth, as the Administrator of the sovereign God. It's the divine plan of God to set the world aflame by the power of the Spirit, to build a temple by the power of the Spirit - that's what you read in the Acts of the Apostles.
Are we operating and living in the power of the Spirit? Are we as churches? Are we as individuals? It was the apostolic experience. Paul said he preached not in the wisdom of men's words, but in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost. He said his gospel came not unto the Thessalonians in word only, but in power in the Holy Ghost. He said to the Corinthians: 'I'll come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power'. Oh, and we can have heads filled with theology, and all the right theology - but hearts void and vacant of the Holy Ghost!
Paul said to the Ephesians, in fact he prayed for them, that they would know the power that raised Christ from the dead. Do you know anything of that power, dear one? That's the power that will get you the victory over your sin. Many of us are living our Christian experiences in the flesh, and it's utterly impossible. We are striving and we're struggling, we're merry-go-round Christianity, rollercoasters, up and down, up and down. Like the grand old Duke of York, once he was up he was up, when he was down he was down, and half the time he was neither halfway up nor down - that's the way we are, isn't it? Because maybe we're harbouring secret sin, or maybe we're not experiencing the fullness of the divine Spirit to live life - walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.
Let me finish with the story. The famous Boston preacher, Dr A.J. Gordon visited the World Fair in Chicago. In the distance he saw a very interesting sight, a man robed in bright gaudy Oriental clothes, who appeared to be laboriously turning the crank of a pump and making water flow out mightily from this pump. So he was intrigued and so impressed with the man's energy, and his smooth motions, and his obvious physical conditioning, that he decided to go a little nearer. He could see that he was pumping a tremendous amount of water! As he drew closer, Gordon was surprised to discover that the man was actually made of wood. Instead of turning the crank and making the water flow, the flow of the water was actually turning the crank and thereby making him go. That is the way the power of the Holy Spirit is meant to be in the life of the Christian, in your life. Not doing all the cranking, trying to work it up - that's what we do, isn't it? Reading, and praying, and witnessing, and serving, and teaching and all the rest - those things aren't wrong, but they're not to be done in the power of the flesh, they cannot be done, it will make you miserable! But the power of God out flowing through you, listen to this, John chapter 7, on that great day of the feast - do you know what feast it was? The Feast of Tabernacles! 'Jesus cried with a loud voice', do you remember what He said? 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)'. But He is glorified, and the Spirit has been given.
Let us all pray. It is vital, I feel it so as I travel preaching, mostly around Ireland, that I teach people to discern the presence of God. The stillness that you sense around you, the quietness, is evidence of the presence of God moving and speaking. We are very privileged that the Lord is here and we can sense His presence - but, my friend, that makes you all the more responsible to respond to the voice of the Spirit. Who here tonight will be saved? You probably haven't understood the majority of what I've said tonight, but you know this much: that it's not what you have. The Spirit has spoken to you, even though you can't understand what I'm saying, the Spirit has spoken to you - that's the way God works. Will you be saved tonight? Will you repent of your sins and believe the Gospel? Lay that foundation.
Believer, will you tonight renounce and repent of that secret sin. You're wondering why you have no victory in your life, but your sin and yourself has not been given over completely to God. There is a key that you're holding back, and if you should give that key or keys to the Lord, He will come down upon you in mighty victory and power. Christian, would you be filled with the Holy Spirit? It is by faith. Who here tonight will do dealings with God?
Living God, we acknowledge Your holy presence with us. Risen Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You that You have honoured Your promise to be here. We thank You that not only as You are always here have You been here, but You have in a special way shown You are here. We thank You for these dear ones who have exercised, we trust, their will and faith - and we pray that they will honour this acknowledgement and confession of You, and they will go on now on to perfection, having laid the foundation. Lord, may we all add to our faith, and build up our temples that You may come suddenly and fill us, and glorify Your name in us. For the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Coffs Harbour Bible Church, New South Wales, Australia, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "The Twin Secrets Of Haggai And Zechariah's Success" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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