Haggai 1:14
So the LORD stirred the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, as well as the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and began the work on the house of the LORD of Hosts, their God,
Sermons
Stirring Up the SpiritHaggai 1:14
The Duty of RulersJohn Garbett, M. A.Haggai 1:14
The Hearty ResponseS.D. Hillman Haggai 1:12-15


The human spirit is so backward in respect to the performance of the duties and the fulfilment of the obligations it is under in relation to the higher life, that it requires stimulus, and acts of renewed dedication to the service of God cannot fail to be spiritually helpful. There are moments in life when we become specially impressed as God's servants with a sense of his claims to our most devoted service, and when holy emotions rise within us, moving us to a more unreserved consecration of ourselves to his service. And we do well to make these impressions permanent by placing upon them the stamp of holy. resolution. It is wonderful how soon, if we do not take this course, these impressions and emotions vanish. We should therefore foster all holy impulses, and take advantage at once of all emotions and aspirations which would constrain us to render to the Lord our God a truer service than we have rendered in the past. Such impressions are buds we should not nip, sparks of heavenly fire we should not extinguish, the breathings of God's own Spirit, from the influence of which it is at our peril that we remove ourselves. The interest in these closing verses (12-15) lies in that they present to us a bright example of this wise course being pursued. The earnest address of the aged seer touched the hearts of his hearers; they became painfully conscious of past omission and shortcoming and neglect of duty, and were led to consecrate themselves anew to the service of him who had brought them up out of captivity and to their own land.

I. THE SPIRIT THAT WAS CHERISHED.

1. It was the spirit of obedience. "They obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet" (ver. 12).

2. It was the spirit of reverential fear. "And the people did fear before the Lord" (ver. 12). "Whom God would make strong for his service he first subdues to his fear."

3. This obedient and devout spirit was cherished by all. Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest, and all the remnant of the people alike made this full surrender of themselves to the service of their God (ver. 14).

II. THE EFFECTS THAT FOLLOWED.

1. The Divine favour was experienced. Haggai was again commissioned to speak to them in the name of the Lord, and to say to them for God, as his messenger, "I am with you, saith the Lord" (ver. 13). The abiding sense of God's presence with them had made the heroes of their nation the men they were. Moses could face the whole Israelitish tribes when they were murmuring against him and against Aaron; David could confront the mail-clad Goliath; Daniel could be steadfast in the performance of his religions duties despite the lions; Ezekiel could utter burning denunciations against ungodly nations; - because they realized in their inmost hearts the consciousness of the presence and power of God. And now this same presence was pledged to them, and in the Divine might they would be able to overcome every obstacle. The promptness with which this assurance was given is instructive. "God is waiting to be gracious, and will meet the returning wanderer even before his hand has begun the work of service."

2. The spiritual life was quickened. "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel," etc. (ver 14). He gave new life to them all, so that they were ready with zeal and alacrity and with holy courage to do his bidding.

3. The good work was advanced. "And they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God" (ver. 14) - S.D.H.









And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel.
It is not right to restrict the influence of the Spirit to one thing only, as some do, who imagine that the Israelites were confirmed in their good resolution, as they say, having before spontaneously obeyed the Word of God. These separate, without reason, what ought to be read in the prophet as connected together. For God roused the spirit of Zerubbabel and of the whole people; and hence it was that they received the message of the prophet and were attentive to his words. Foolishly, then, do they imagine that the Israelites were led by their own free will to obey the Word of God, and then that some aid of the Holy Spirit followed, to make them firmly persevere in their course. But the prophet declared, in the first place, that his message was respectfully received by the ]people; and now he explains how it was, even because God had touched the hearts of the whole people. We ought to notice the expression, when it is said that the spirit of Zerubbabel and of all the people was stirred up. For much sloth, we Know, prevailed, especially among the multitude. But as to Zerubbabel and Joshua, they were already willing, but delayed until the coldness under which they laboured was reproved. But the prophet here simply means that they became thus obedient through the hidden impulse of God, and also that they were made firm in their purpose. God does not form new souls in us, when He draws us to His service, but changes what is wrong in us; for we should never be attentive to His Word, if He did not open our ears; and there would be no inclination to obey, were He not to turn our hearts; in a word, both will and effort would immediately fail in us, were He not to add His gift of perseverance.

( John Calvin.)

However vast may be the indifference to the cause of Christ, and, therein, to the well-being of the human race, it is a source of encouragement to feel that there is not only pervading our land "a holy seed, which is the substance" of the Church, from whence its fruit-bearing branches spring; but that the number is increasing — slowly, perhaps, but certainly — of those who, professing to believe the Gospel, feel the obligation of applying its truths and its responsibilities to the guidance of their conscience, and the regulation of their practice.

1. Consider the necessity of enlarged means of grace for our countrymen. This necessity arises from the incalculable increase of our population. Of these people, the immense majority are congregated in masses in the metropolis, and in the trading and manufacturing districts. But what are the moral circumstances under which they have arisen, and are hourly arising? Is it with an expansion of the national Church, commensurate with the wants of the nation? Unhappily not. Where then is the basis on which social duty is to stand? How can we indulge such wild fanaticism as to expect the fruits of honesty, sobriety, and affection, respect for property or office, authority, regard to decorum, peace, and virtue, among multitudes who are growing up utterly unacquainted with the only tie by which moral obligation binds the conscience; ignorant of the only fountain from whence relative and social affection flow, and unhabituated to that softening influence which familiarity with the means of grace, and the kind sympathy of pastoral intercourse engender and maintain? Moreover, every agency of mischief is set on foot to corrupt men more and more, to enlist their innate passions, and to array their imagined happiness and interest in opposition to all that is holy, venerable, and good. Few of us, perhaps, are acquainted with the extent of that agency of Satan — an evil press — working amongst us. The necessity being admitted, upon whom does the duty of meeting it devolve? Upon all, upon every one, according to the ability which God has given.

1. The voice of heaven appeals to the civil ruler. On him devolves the obligation of providing for the moral well-being of those who are entrusted to his charge, since by this alone can the ends of government, peace, order, and security be attained.

2. The obligation especially devolves upon the ministers of religion. The Church of Christ is to be a witness for God, bearing testimony to man of the things of eternity; to be a light of truth, dispersing the dark and troubled desolation of falsehood, superstition, and impiety.

3. The duty devolves upon "all the remnant of the people," the whole community of professing Christians. He who speaks of the "Church" as embracing the clergy alone, and not the "whole congregation of faithful men," speaks unscripturally, untruly, and unwisely. If there is any class of persons upon whom this duty devolves with more responsibility than others, it is upon the land-owners, merchants, and manufacturers, who derive their wealth and their enjoyment by congregating multitudes to dwell upon their lands, or to labour for them.

(John Garbett, M. A.)

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