God’s Word to the Discouraged
Preached at Main Street Church on December 22nd, 2019
This is the last message in our series through Haggai called “Building the Kingdom.” Throughout Haggai’s we’ve seen God’s call to his people to seek his kingdom first through building his temple and his promise to be with them in that. There are four different prophetic messages in Haggai, and this is the fourth, but it was given on the same day as the third. The first message was a call to return to God’s work, the second message was assurance that God would be with them, the third message was a reminder to maintain covenant relationship with God, and this last message is God’s assurance to Zerubabbel of his promise of a glorious future. This fourth and final message is the shortest of all of them, but it packs punch.
Haggai 2:20-23: “20 The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”
- God Has A Prescription for Discouragement
- God Has Power over Discouragement
- God Has A Promise for the Discouraged
God Has A Prescription for Discouragement (v. 20)
“20 The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month,”
- God’s prescription for discouragement is his word.
- God knew that Zerubbabel was discouraged, and why shouldn’t he have been? He was faced with a monumental task and faced serious opposition and discouragement. So what was God’s prescription? His word.
- Psalm 119:25, 28, “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!…My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!…Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.”
The day after Christmas two years ago taking JJ to the ER. He was dehydrated and the doctor ordered a prescription: An IV and graham crackers. That is exactly what my 1 year old needed to be rejuvenated back to his normal, energetic self. God’s word is the life-giving stuff that he doesn’t pump into our veins, but puts directly into our hearts and our hearts pump it through our whole body. “I have stored up/hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11).
Are you discouraged? Have you stored up God’s word in your heart? God’s word speaks life. The new year is an excellent time to start a new Bible reading plan. Get a theme verse for the year. Spend time reading the Bible together as a family. Read it, memorize it, talk with others about it. God’s word is his prescription for discouragement, because of the power of what it tells us.
God Has Power over Discouragement (v. 21-22)
God has power over our discouragement. Why are you discouraged? If you read God’s word you will find that God has power over whatever is discouraging you. Zerubabbel was discouraged over external political pressures. He was basically a ‘nobody king’ with no power or influence. But God has all power and all influence. Here’s what he says: “I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother.”
Sometimes when we’re discouraged, we just need to be reminded of what God is about to do.
- In Scripture, the moments of greatest darkness are always followed by the moments of greatest light.
- Joseph sunk all the way to prison before he was elevated to second in command of Egypt.
- The Israelites faced the harshest oppression before God raised up Moses and rescued them.
- Jesus was crucified and buried before he rose in eternal victory.
Are you discouraged? God says, if you look in my word, look what “I am about to do…”.
- God’s word to Zerubabbel here is about his power over all opposition to his eternal purposes, and God has an eternal purpose for your life, and nothing will stand in his way. He is about to shake the heavens and the earth.
- Keep in mind that might be different than what you think. Zerubabbel never saw the ultimate outcome of God’s word to him here, but he had a promise from God that he could cling to, and that’s the final key. God has a prescription for discouragement, he has power over discouragement, and finally he has a promise for the discouraged.
God’s Has a Promise for the Discouraged (v. 23)
The ultimate death knell to our discouragement in life is the promise of what God will do. In v. 23 God says, “On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”
- God had promised David that his lineage would bring the kingdom of God, and Zerubbabel was part of David’s line. At this point in history, it didn’t look like God was keeping that promise, but he reaffirms his promise with his word here to Zerubbabel by saying he would make him like a signet ring.
- A signet ring was the authoritative seal of a king that demonstrated royal authority and ownership. One scholar says, “Like a king sealing legal documents with his ring, the Lord will set his authentic impression upon the world through his royal representative. Zerubbabel is the ring placed back on the hand of the divine King. God’s promise to bless his people and the whole world through the house of David still stands.” (ESV Study Bible footnote on Haggai 2:23, pg. 1747).
Oftentimes when we look at prophecies in the OT we think of them as predictions, but God’s prophecies are not predictions, they are promises. If I tell my son that tomorrow I am going to take him to the zoo and we are going to ride the train around the park and look at the animals, that is not a prediction, it is a promise. God’s word to us is in our discouragement is not simply a prediction, it is a promise
God’s promise to us personally, isn’t that we will be his signet ring authorizing the restoration of his kingdom on earth, but his promise to us is actually even better than that! God’s promise to us, his church, is that we are active participants in the restoration of his kingdom on earth, and his spirit is with us in the process of realizing his kingdom on earth, and he is about to come again and set up his reign perfectly and eternally on the earth.
The Bible is a testimony of proof that God keeps his promises, and we see that here in this text, that God kept his promise to David, and to David’s descendent Zerubbabel, because ultimately, another king would come from that line, about five hundred years later Zerubbabel would have a descendent born in the city of Bethlehem of named Jesus.
- Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 which record the genealogy of Jesus both list Zerubbabel as a great great great great great grandfather of Jesus.
- God’s promise to the discouraged always takes it’s ultimate shape in the person of Jesus Christ.
- God’s promised David that his kingdom would see no end: Jesus was the promise
- God promised Zerubbabel that he would be like a signet ring in the kingdom: Jesus was the promise
- God promised shepherds that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem: Jesus was the promise
- God promised a young virgin girl that she would give birth to the Savior of the world: Jesus was the promise
- God promises you eternal life, unshakable hope, and everlasting joy: Jesus is the promise.
- God has a prescription for discouragement, if you look in his word you will find Jesus
- God has power over discouragement, the good news of Jesus is the power of God over discouragement
- God has a promise for the discouraged: Jesus is the promise
At Christmas time we celebrate the coming of God into his world to initiate the re-establishment of his kingdom on earth. Be encouraged this Christmas that the king has come, and he will keep the promise of his word according to his great power.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found