SET YOUR HEART ON YOUR WALK! An overview of Ḥaggai/Haggai

Shabbat Shalom family,

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 32:45-47 “And when Mosheh ended speaking all these words to all Yisra’ĕl, 46 he said to them, “Set your heart on all the words with which I warn you today, so that you command your children to guard to do all the Words of this Torah. 47 “For it is not a worthless Word for you, because it is your life, and by this Word you prolong your days on the soil which you pass over the Yardĕn to possess.

After Mosheh spoke the words of the song till its completion to the entire assembly of Yisra’ĕl, he further encouraged all Yisra’ĕl to set their hearts on the words of warning and how critical it was for them to command their children to guard the words of the Torah – for the Torah is not a worthless word – it is our life!!!

The Hebrew root word used for ‘set’ is שִׂים siym – Strong’s H7760 also with the meaning, set, ordain, establish, direct, appoint, determine, bring to pass, constitute, put or lay upon; and so we see here in the command to ‘set’ their hearts on all these words of warning, we can see that Mosheh was making it very clear that they must allow their hearts to be directed by these words and let these words be established in their heart, so that they would not falter in their walk of obedience! This word can also render the understanding of setting something down in a fixed place – in other words they were not to let their hearts be moved by the temptation to rebel – and these words of the Torah would help them to do that!

In our ability to set our hearts on the Torah, we recognise that our walk will reflect our response to this clear command – for those who refuse to ‘walk’ according to the Torah simply reveal that they have not set their hearts on the Torah of Elohim, while those who set their heart upon the Torah will be evidenced by their walk.

In a message tonight called, ‘SET YOUR HEART ON YOUR WALK!’ I want us to be reminded and encouraged to be a faithful remnant who are continually guarding to do all that our Master has commanded us to. While the trials that we face on a daily basis may seem to be overbearing at times, and the stress of trying to simply make ends meet causes us to be exhausted and feel all worn out and tired, more often than not we may just find that our need to be meditating daily on the Torah gets neglected under the extreme pressures of the world. 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! 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 I am asking you to simply stop and take a pause and think about where your heart has been at, and ask whether your mind has been so preoccupied with ‘stuff’ that has simply caused you to forget about where you are heading, in your walk of faith.

This is a time to stop and ‘consider your ways’! The English word, ‘consider’, according to a dictionary definition, simply means ‘to think carefully about, contemplate, reflect on, examine, and give thought in order to reach a suitable conclusion’. Please turn with me to Ḥaggai, and let us read this very powerful prophetic book as we are challenged daily to consider our ways (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 יהוה of Hosts, to consider our ways from this day forward! I want to give a brief overview of this book in order to get an understanding of the setting behind the reason for יהוה of Hosts telling His people 4 times in these 2 chapters to consider.

Ḥaggai was one of the prophets to whom the word of יהוה 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 יהוה. 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 יהוה came by Ḥaggai the prophet. It is always important to note that the office of a prophet is always to point the people of יהוה back to the right path and not simply to tell you nice fairy tales!

חַגַּי Ḥaggai – Strong’s H2292 means, festive, feast or my feasts, and we can see how this prophets name is ideally suited in bringing a clear message to a people who were to be about rebuilding the temple of  יהוה where they were to celebrate the Feasts of יהוה.

Yehuḏah had come back to Yerushalayim and had started with great zeal in rebuilding, and after a wave of severe persecution it stopped completely, and for 14 years were more concerned about building their own lives as opposed to doing what was required of them, which was to rebuild the House of יהוה. Despite starting with great zeal, we find that only 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 יהוה, perhaps they would have said things like:

  • Yerushalayim has laid waste for 70 years – a little longer won’t hurt!
  • It was too hard – often an excuse which is easily used to put aside what needs to be done!
  • Not enough resources and finance – they had lost focus on who their Provider was!
  • Hostile enemies – they crumbled under enemies threat instead of standing firm in יהוה of Hosts!
  • Crop failures – this was as a result of disobedience and lack of focus – they would have tried to fix their own problems!
  • They remembered the seemingly ‘easier’ times in Baḇelon.

While their excuses may have sounded very spiritual, as they did not speak 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, and they will get to it when they have all their stuff sorted out!

יהוה had moved on the heart of a wicked king to release Yehuḏah from bondage and go back to rebuild; and we certainly know that יהוה 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, while they totally neglected the work of יהוה.

There was no ‘faith in action’ – that is there was no obedience, which revealed that their hearts were not set on the Truth and their walk revealed the state of their hearts which had neglected the need to obey the Torah and guard to do what was commanded.

Messiah says asks in Luqas/Luke 18:8 whether He would find faith on the earth when He comes again – in other words – will He find His called out and set-apart ones doing what they ought to be doing by walking according to His Word or would they be living for self and neglecting true obedience.

In Chapter 1:2 יהוה speaks to Ḥaggai and describes Yehuḏah as ‘these 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!

No matter what excuses man tries to come up with – יהוה will always have an answer for excuses, showing that we can in no way ever try to excuse away obedience for a moment, and think that we can get away with compromise.

Their excuse was that it was not time to build the House of יהוה, while their own houses were being taken care of looked good and they were focused on their own lives while the House of יהוה was in ruins. Simply put – their priorities were wrong!

It is easy to see and understand how 14 years could have brought this lethargic approach to their commitment unto יהוה  – 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” –

These sound familiar in today’s world – some may even say something like, “Listen, I go to Shabbat fellowship once a week if I can so that’s ok”, while the rest of their lives are riddled with compromise, and to think that a weekly attendance to a meeting is all it takes is no different to a Baḇelon system of worship – that is a sun-day worship mentality that does what is believed to be the minimum requirements of attendance alone, while their walk reveals that the Torah is not the primary focus on their hearts!

Their seeming defeat under the enemies threats had caused Yehuḏah to stop doing what was required, and as a result of not doing what was required for an extended time, compromise became their standard; and after 14 years יהוה came along and said emphatically, “Consider your ways!” An instruction He repeated, showing them the need for them to truly consider where their life was heading.

The term used in verse 5 translated as ‘consider your ways’ is שִׂימוּ לְבַבְכֶם עַל־דַּרְכֵיכֶם  – ‘simu l’vavcham darcheycham’.

We have already mentioned the word שִׂים siym, which means, set, establish, appoint or determine, and the second root word used here is לֵבָב  leḇaḇ – Strong’s H3824 which means, inner man, heart, mind, understanding’. The root word translated as ‘your ways’ is דֶּרֶךְ  derek – Strong’s H1870 which means, way, road, distance, journey and is from the word דָּרַךְ  darak – Strong’s H1869  which means, to tread or march; and so speaks of our walk, and every step that we take – and our ‘ways’ we are to commit to יהוה; and so the term ‘consider your ways’ could be translated from the Hebrew in a more literal sense as, ‘SET YOUR HEART ON YOUR WALK’.

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 30:14 “For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it.

Dawiḏ says in:

Tehillim/Psalm 37:30-31 “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of right-ruling. 31 The Torah of his Elohim is in his heart; his steps do not slide.

As set-apart children of Elohim who walk according to the Spirit are to have the Torah on our heart, and when we ‘set our heart on our walk’ we are establishing our steps according to His Torah!

Yehuḏah were being told very clearly to think carefully as to what direction their lives were headed in, and whether they wanted to continue along that path that would lead to destruction? This command to consider came as a wakeup call that was not posed as a question but a command to clean up – and one would not clean up their walk if they did not think that their walk was wrong – but יהוה makes His standard very clear through His Word and He had once again sent His prophet to call people back to obedience.

When one’s priorities are wrong, then the path will only lead to setbacks, destruction and a state of 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 – a warning that revealed how they were more interested in their own personal agendas than with what יהוה expected from them, and more often than not we too need to take heed to this warning on a regular basis so that we keep our feet firm on the path of righteousness.

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 יהוה has no place in their lives.

 יהוה, by telling them to go up to the Mountain and get wood to build the house, was a clear call for the righteous to get back to the Covenants of Promise and get back to building His Dwelling Place together. The same call is being proclaimed today, in a clear call to return to the Covenants of Promise that we have been grafted into by the Blood of Messiah and recognise that we are collectively the Dwelling Place of Elohim, and our need to gather as commanded on His Appointed Times and encourage one another daily and be concerned for one another in order to stir up love and good works, as we build each other up in the most set-apart belief, must be the priority of our lives!

The response of the people was very positive and they quickly adjusted their priorities, looking beyond their own personal lives to build יהוה’s House. Think about it – Once they started working again it took another 4 years – that means in total they rebuilt the House of יהוה 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! If they had just stuck to the original plan they would have finished in 6 years and the 7th year they would have rested!

Let me ask you today, as you sit here and consider your ways before יהוה  – have you truly given yourself fully to יהוה  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 Baḇelon so to speak – by that I mean that all of us who are sitting here have come out of a Baḇelonian system of worship called ‘church’, and have acknowledged that many lies have been handed down to us, and as a result we 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!

As we consider the events contained in this book we are also able to see how we are to be on guard against those things that can hinder our ability to be about building the Dwelling Place of Elohim. Firstly we must be on guard against believing lies – they had said that it was not time to build – but who made them say this, for יהוה had not said this! Under the pressures of the world they had quickly slipped into compromise and made sure that they looked after their own needs, and in the process allowed the lies, that compromise breeds, to become an assumed reality to them, and so they believed the lie that they could not build as selfishness had blinded their eyes and closed up their ears to hear the Truth, while they tickled each other with words that defended the need to satisfy their own wants and desires at all costs.

What lies have you believed? We all were raised under a system of traditions that are based on lies and it is now time to truly shake off the lies and get back to the Truth and walk in it with our all despite the opposition we may face.

Lies will cause you to be more concerned about comfort rather than the Truth – too many today choose comfort over truth and just want their ears tickled!

The effects of Yehuḏah’s compromise and neglect for the Truth was that they planted much yet harvested little, they wore clothes yet were cold and their money was never enough – sound familiar.

This was a sever warning to Yehuḏah to make sure that their priorities were not upside down – and this same warning is being proclaimed today!

Another thing we are to be on guard against is living in fear. Fear of the enemy is a huge hindrance in walking fully in יהוה  – 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 יהוה tells us that He is with us – this truth ought to chase all those fears away!!! As they heard the Word of יהוה  we see a great turn of events taking place – in verse 12 it says they ‘obeyed’ the voice of יהוה and the words of Ḥaggai.

They listened, repented and obeyed and here in these events we truly see a true picture of the kindness of יהוה that leads us to repentance! His loving Kindness is ever lasting – He could have just wiped them out – yet in His great mercy He gave them His Word. We are here today because of His loving-kindness – when we deserved to die – He gave us His Word – יהושע  Messiah is the Word. Our response is vital – we too should let His kindness lead us to repentance and fully walk in His ways.

In a nutshell – Hear – Guard and Do = Great results!

When יהוה speaks to us and we listen and obey, He strengthens us to do what we are commanded to, promising to be with us! They immediately started building. May we learn to carefully listen, obey and do and let His Spirit stir us.

Another hindrance to setting our heart on our walk of faith is dwelling in the past.  יהושע 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 Baḇelon behind!

Too many reminisce over the ‘good old days’ as if יהוה 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 יהוה tells them that the latter will be greater than the former.

יהושע 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 יהוה!

יהוה reminds them that His Covenant given to them when they came out of Mitsrayim and His 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 יהושע 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!

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 Baḇelonian practices with you on your walk of faith! It is all a choice and we must choose – if we choose sinful attitudes, thoughts 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.

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 from strength to strength in Messiah or live defeated by sin and fear and regret?

יהוה 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!

Let us continually set our heart on our walk as we guard His Word and diligently obey. The effect of those who do not set their heart on His word will be that they will face devastating destruction if they stay out of the House so to speak, as we see in:

Shemoth/Exodus 9:21 “But those who did not set their heart on the word of יהוה left their servants and livestock in the field.

These were the people who refused to heed the warning of the plague of hail that would destroy all who were outside!

The heart of this message is clear – consider your ways – set your heart on your walk – that is a call to us who have the Torah written on our hearts – let our walk be evidence that the Torah is truly on our heart and that we set our heart on our walk. In saying that let me ask you this:

  • Are you spending your time wisely?
  • Are your friends helping you live a life of faith or are they taking you away from יהוה ? If they are taking you away then they are not true friends!
  • Are you helping others live a life of faith?

יהוה ’s response to our obedience is clear – He is with us and He will bless us.

From the 2 questions in verses 12-14 of chapter 2 – set-apartness cannot be ‘passed on’ simply by contact, however defilement can be passed on by touch. Just because some go to a set-apart gathering and hold the hand of a believer doesn’t make them set-apart – each one must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling – each one must consider his own ways – if they are not set-apart 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 to carefully obey יהוה . We are His Dwelling Place, and let us not neglect His House – that is His Bride – that is you and me – that for the most part today is sadly lying in ruins, and it is now time to set our priorities right in line with His Word.

Have you SET YOUR HEART ON YOUR WALK?

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom