We saw in Haggai 1 that the prophet was sent by God to confront his people about their “godlessly selfish priorities” (Dever). The people had been discouraged by opposition from investing in the construction of the temple and had instead poured their investments into their own kingdom. Haggai rebuked them for their misplaced priorities and called them to return to building the temple. The people responded in repentance (1:12–14).

In chapter 2, God commends their obedience and promises them blessing in return. Specifically, he promises three types of blessing: spiritual blessing (vv. 1–9); physical blessing (vv. 10–19); and messianic blessing (vv. 20–23). The basic message of chapter 2 is that God will grant his blessings to those who truly fear and obey him.

The old covenant, of course, was built on a dynamic of blessings and curses. If the people obeyed God, they could expect his blessings. If they disobeyed, they could expect his curses. This was the stipulation on which their covenant was established. While we do not live under the old covenant with its stipulations, there does appear to be a general principle in Scripture that obedience invites God’s blessings.

One day, as he was teaching, a woman cried out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27–28). This is not some form of prosperity gospel. We do not obey in order to secure God’s blessing. Love motivates our obedience. But God is kind and gracious and tends to pour out blessings on those who obey him.

If this is the case, it is important that we understand the nature of true obedience. Novella Carpenter helpfully draws attention to three biblical realities of obedience. Allow these to motivate you to obedience if you will experience God’s blessings.

First, obedience is a choice. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:19–20). When we disobey God, it is because we have made the deliberate choice to do so. Similarly, obedience is an act of volition. God sets before each of us the choice to obey or disobey and we reap the blessings or the consequences of the choices we make.

Second, obedience is an attitude. Jesus said, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17). He spoke these words in the context of calling his disciples to serve one another. He had just washed the disciples’ feet—much to their horror—and he called them to take the same attitude of servanthood on themselves. He was not simply calling them to the rote duty of foot-washing but to a lifestyle and attitude of serving others. They would only obey his command if they adopted the attitude of servants. Likewise, our obedience is marked by the attitude of a servant. God is not pleased with empty actions if those actions are divorced from a servant’s heart.

Third, obedience is learned. If Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8) it is reasonable to assume that obedience is something we, too, must learn. As was true for Christ, obedience often costs us dearly. The path of obedience is not always an easy path to travel.  But the more we obey, the more we learn to trust God, and the more we trust the more we obey.

If our lives are characterised by the obedience described by the above, we can take to heart Jesus’ words: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Contrary to the prosperity gospel, those blessings may not always be material blessings, but we can nonetheless expect blessing for obedience.

As you meditate on Haggai 2 this morning, ask God to help you identify areas in which you need to heed the call to repentance and obedience. Embrace those opportunities and allow God’s blessings into your life as you know and keep his word.