Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 17, 1968

Hindrances To Proper Building

Elvis Bozarth

1. We have studied two previous lessons on building up the church of the Lord. The first was based on Paul's statements in I Corinthians 3:10-11. The second on Psalms 127:1. In these lessons we pointed out from some incidents in the history of Israel how not to build for the Lord and how to build for the Lord.

2. In this lesson we propose to study some hindrances to proper building. Most of this lesson will deal with the Book of Haggai, but we will also note some lessons from Nehemiah.

3. Haggai was probably born in Babylon while his people, the Jews, were in captivity. He and Zechariah were the first prophets God sent to Israel after their return to Jerusalem. Haggai came about 15 or 16 years after the first group of 50,000 returned under Zerubbabel. We discussed them in the previous lesson and talked about their laying the foundation of the temple. Then when their enemies were not allowed to come among them, the enemies persuaded King Cyrus to stop their building by decree. But after two kings and some 15 or 16 years had passed, the decree was suspended and the people of God could resume their building.

4. But they did not take advantage of the opportunity. There were certain conditions among them that hindered them from building. Haggai was sent by God to rebuke, warn, and stir them up to fulfill their responsibility to build for the Lord.

5. From Haggai's messages we can learn much about hindrances to proper building of the Lord's house today.

Discussion: — Hindrances To Proper Building

I. Too much concern about personal matters — Haggai 1:4-6

A. They had time to build their own houses but not the Lord's. They could plant their vineyards, sow their seeds, and dress their olive trees, — all of this would build up their material interests. But they neglected teaching righteousness to their families, killed their animals to eat but none to sacrifice, and fattened their purses by robbing God of His tithes (Mal. 3)

B. We too may become so obsessed with our own affairs that pertain to daily living that we neglect the work of building for the Lord. In Matthew 6 Jesus admonishes that we should not be concerned with food, clothing and what we consider to be necessities of life. Yet most of us spend most of our time being concerned with those matters. We love that in which we invest our time, energies, and money.

II. Uncleanness — Haggai 2:10-19

A. Their lives were such that they were called "unclean." They had mixed with "the filthiness of the nations of the land" (Ezra 6:21). Some had given their sons and daughters into marriage with the nations about them. (Ezra 9:1-2) These evil associations had polluted them. Even some of their priests had done this. They were commanded to put away these evil associations, — even those who had children (Ezra 10:44)

B. Let us learn from these examples (Romans 15:4) the importance of Paul's statement, "Evil companionships corrupt good morals," (I Cor. 15:33), and to stay away from every "form of evil" (I Thess. 5:22), lest we become unclean. Unclean hands cannot build properly on the foundation of Christ. We may become unclean through our companions, recreation, lust for gain, unscriptural marriages, hardened hearts, etc. (See Titus 2:10, Phil. 1:27)

III. Listening to our enemies — Nehemiah

A. About 70 years after Haggai's prophecy, Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, was allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. When this work was begun, the enemies did all they could to prevent this building. First they tried ridicule (2:19, 4:1-3), then they started to fight (4:7- 8); and finally, they called for a unity meeting on the Plains of Ono (6:1-2).

B. Our enemies will do the same. More than a hundred years ago digressive-minded brethren who introduced the missionary society into the government and work of the church, and the mechanical instrument of music into the worship, used these same tactics.

1. First, they ridiculed those who were not "progressive." Prophecies were made that the "non-progressives" would die on the vine and never amount to anything "down there on the other side of the tracks." But loyal brethren continue to rebuild for the Lord. When the liberals lost ground, then they 2. Next, decided to do battle and we had a few debates. The innovators continued to lose ground and support with each debate, so they

3. Finally, suggested "unity meetings." Some brethren didn't have enough judgment to refuse and met with the brethren in error and agreed not to disagree. We need to avoid such pitfalls. (No criticism is made against meetings in which differences of brethren are discussed from the scripture.) If those who are in error will just lay aside their error, then we will not need any unity meetings. (See Old-Path Pulpit by F. G. Allen, pp. 9-36)

V. Pride in the material — Haggai 2:1-9

A. When some of the older ones looked at the finished building they were disappointed that it was not as pretentious, glorious outwardly, and expensive as the former temple, built by Solomon, had been. This one didn't amount to much to them. It was "as nothing" in their eyes. But God reminded them that he was with them, and this was what was all-important. He placed emphasis on the spiritual rather than the material.

B. We need to make sure our hearts are always on the spiritual rather than the material. Brethren sometimes become so obsessed with the idea of impressing the world with big buildings, big institutions through which to work, big programs, and big preachers, that they soon forget about the right point of attention. We certainly ought to have decent and respectable meetinghouses and private homes. We ought to keep it and ourselves physically clean. But we need to be sure we are spiritually clean. But we need to be sure we are spiritually clean, else we cannot build properly on the foundation of Jesus Christ.


1. By way of encouragement, God gave them a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah and his kingdom, the church. Haggai 2:4-9, 20-23.

2. The reason "the latter glory" would be "greater than the former" is that Christ would come and teach in it.

3. Exhortation to become "lively stones" in the building which is built "upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone" (I Peter 1:4-5; Ephesians 2:20).