Get Your Act Together

Title: Get Your Act Together

Bible Book: Haggai

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: God, Will of; Will of God; Discipleship; Christian Living


[Editor's Note: This message is based on Haggai 1:1 - 2:23]

Get your act together is an idiomatic expression meaning, “to organize your activities so that you do things in an effective way,” according to the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, Second Edition.[1] The essence of Haggai’s message to his people was to get your act together.

Maybe you are thinking, “Who was Haggai?” Dr. Edgar C. James, professor of Bible and theology at Moody Bible Institute, explains, “We know little about him. Outside of his book, he is mentioned as a prophet in only two passages (Ezra 5:1; 6:14). He may have been born on one of the Jewish feast days, as his name means ‘festive’ or ‘festival.’”[2] Dr. George L. Robinson (1863-1959) explains in The Twelve Minor Prophets, you can “compare [Haggai with] the Roman name ‘Festus.’ Hebrew proper names were sometimes formed in this manner: for example, Barzillai, ‘a man of iron,’ from barzel, ‘iron.’ On the other hand, it is possible that the name ‘Haggai’ may be a contraction of Haggiah, meaning ‘festival of Jehovah,’ 1 Chron. 6:30; as ‘Mattenai’ is a contraction of Mattaniah, Ezra 10:26, 33. Or his name may be an abbreviation of Hagariah, ‘Jehovah girdeth’; as ‘Zacchaeus’ is of Zechariah.”[3]

Dr. Edgar C. James continues, “Haggai probably was born in Babylon during Israel’s 70-year captivity. He likely returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel the governor, because his book is addressed to him as well as to all the Jewish people (1:1, 13; 2:2). In 605 and 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian Empire had taken the Jewish nation captive. He wanted to amalgamate the Jews into his country and culture to serve his people. To prevent them from returning, he destroyed their city and their temple, built by Solomon. From the divine perspective, however, God allowed this captivity as punishment for Judah’s apostasy and sin. Many of the prophets had warned them of their evil ways, but the people did not repent.”[4]

There are times in the life of every believer when God says, “Get your act together.” This is the alignment of our affections, attitudes and actions with the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2b).

Allow me to share three things from our text.

I. We find a Godly Rebuke of Misplaced Priorities about Resources.

Dr. Paul N. Benware writes, “As the people gathered for worship one day in August of 520 B.C., the prophet Haggai stood and delivered his message of rebuke.”[5]

God through Haggai calls His people to “Consider your ways” (vv. 5, 7). Please note the boldness of his approach with these people filled with dissatisfaction and discontent. We read in Haggai 1:1-11, “In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, ‘Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.’ Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! ‘You have sown much, and bring in little; / You eat, but do not have enough; / You drink, but you are not filled with drink; / You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; / And he who earns wages, / Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord. ‘You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.’”

Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., writes, "God said, 'Hey, I want you to give careful thought to this once again. Think about this. Go up to the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and I may get honor to myself.’ There's an amazing thing in that verse! Why did they have to cut down more timber? Wasn't it true that sixteen years previously Cyrus had given them all the building materials they needed? What happened to those materials? I have two suggestions, neither of which I like. One is that they pilfered the lumber; that was where they got the material for their paneled homes. They stole off the job! The other possibility is that the wood rotted, and they had to get other timber."[6]

II. We find a Genuine Repentance for Meaningful Practice of Religion.

We read in Haggai 1:12-15, “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, 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 feared the presence of the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, ‘I am with you, says the Lord.’ So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.”

I remember reading a tract titled, How to Have a Full and Meaningful Life. [7] You will never have a full and meaningful life, while living in a state of rebellion, rejecting God’s will for your life. James refers to “pure religion and undefiled” (James 1:27). Please note the actions referred to by James are not works by which we achieve salvation, they are works after we are born again. As Ted Moffett shared on the church marquee this week, “Salvation is not a do-it-yourself job.” From Ephesians 2:8-10 we read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

We know their repentance and their religion was real because they began the process of rebuilding the temple three weeks after Haggai’s rebuke. Remember, they were living in the land for fifteen years building their own houses while allowing the Lord’s house to remain in ruins. They suffered fifteen years of disappointment under divine discipline. Every genuine believer knows the pain of divine discipline. Sadly, some do not make the connection to benefit from its high and holy purpose. From Proverbs 3:11-12 we read, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, / Nor detest His correction; / For whom the Lord loves He corrects, / Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” We read in Hebrews 12:1-13, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, / Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; / For whom the Lord loves He chastens, / And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

III. We find a Great Reassurance through Marvelous Promises for Rebuilding.

Dr. Eugene Haines Merrill, Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, explains, “[Haggai] is explicit in dating his various message, all of which fall between the first day of the sixth month (Elul) of King Darius of Persia’s second year (29 Aug. 520 B.C.) and the 24th day of the ninth month (Kislev) of the same year (18 Dec. 520). Thus, all of Haggai’s recorded ministry in the book that bears his name took place in less than four months.”[8]

We read in Haggai 2:1-23, “In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying: ‘Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ ‘For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.’ On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, / ‘If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?’ Then the priests answered and said, ‘No.’ And Haggai said, ‘If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean? So the priests answered and said, ‘It shall be unclean.’ Then Haggai answered and said, ‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. ‘And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord— since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord. ‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid—consider it: Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’ And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, ‘Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; / I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots / And those who ride in them; / The horses and their riders shall come down, / Every one by the sword of his brother. ‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

God’s people found themselves in a distasteful and disgraceful situation due to disobedience. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945) writes, "Whereas the house of God today is no longer material but spiritual, the material is still a very real symbol of the spiritual. When the Church of God in any place in any locality is careless about the material place of assembly, the place of its worship and its work, it is a sign and evidence that its life is at a low ebb."[9]

When the people repented God’s discipline ended and His blessing began (Haggai 1:13; 2:4). As they began to trust and obey God, He worked in their lives as we read in Ezra 5 and 6. Dr. Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”[10]

During a message at the 47th Moody Founder’s Week Conference, Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) shared, “I heard a missionary say the other day, the trouble is that too many folks are singing ‘Standing on the Promises,’ when they are just sitting on the premises!”[11] Are you standing on the promises or sitting on the premises?


Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, "Too often we make excuses when we ought to be making confessions and obeying the Lord. We say, 'It's not time for an evangelistic crusade,' 'It's not time for the Spirit to bring revival,' 'It's not time to expand the ministry.' We act as though we fully understand 'the times and the seasons' that God has ordained for His people, but we don't understand them (Acts 1:6-7)."[12]

Maybe you realize today, it is time to get your act together.

[1]Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd Edition, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Accessed: 06/01/13,

[2]Edgar C. James, Moody Monthly, “Time to ‘Get Your Act Together,”(Chicago, IL: Moody Press, January 1985), 66

[3]George L. Robinson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1965 [originally published by Harper & Brothers, 1926]), 138

[4]Edgar C. James, Moody Monthly, “Time to ‘Get Your Act Together,’”(Chicago, IL: Moody Press, January 1985), 66

[5]Paul N. Benware, Survey of the Old Testament Revised, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988, 1993), 270

[6]Walter C. Kaiser, The Christian and the Old Testament, (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1998), 261

[7]How to Have a Full and Meaningful Life, (Nashville, TN: The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1971), Accessed: 06/01/13,

[8]The Complete Who’s Who in the Bible, ed. Paul D. Gardner, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 224

[9]G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit: the Preaching of G. Campbell Morgan, Volume 8, (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1954) , 315

[10]"The Final Straw,” Valley Forge, PA: Scripture Union USA, June 18, 2012, Available from: Accessed: 07/20/12

[11]Hugh W. Davidson, “Crossing the Jordan,” Sermon Notes (Joshua 3:1-17)

[12]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary/Prophets, "Haggai," (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 441

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© June 2, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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