Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Haggai- Introduction and Chapter 1

Haggai 1

-Introduction: Haggai is a prophet called to help the Jewish people complete the rebuilding of the Temple in the post exilic period following their first wave of return from Babylon. Haggai is a contemporary with the prophetic book of Zechariah, and just before the events of Ezra (Ezra 5:1) and Nehemiah in the history of Israel. When the people returned, they set about a rebuilding project right away under the approval of the Persian King Cyrus. Jerusalem had been destroyed in 586 B.C. with the invasion allowed by God of Nebuchadnezzar. In 538 B.C., Cyrus, during the time of Daniel, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their place of worship, the Temple, back in Jerusalem. The work began, but it was not completed. They began with the right heart and attitude, but slowness of work and wrong behavior eventually halted the project. As the work came to a standstill, the LORD began to use men like Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, Joshua, the high priest, and Haggai, the prophet, to get the work completed. The work had halted in 530 B.C., but then work resumed after ten years or so in 520 B.C. This short Word is written specifically for the people of God who had returned from exile, but it has far reaching affects for all God’s people today. Its themes revolve around the ideas of right priorities and the LORD’s encouragement. Right priorities can be summed up with the key verse of the text, Haggai 1:4, which states, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this House (the Temple) lies desolate?” It is so easy to get sidetracked from Kingdom work and do our own things. If we are not careful, we build our own kingdom over God’s. God always wants us to follow through and build up His Kingdom first and foremost. Therefore, we cannot make excuses. We need to set our heart on God’s priorities in righteousness. Our problems are never the volume of demands or the lack of scheduling skills, but our values. Our values must line up with God’s ideals. When we are more concerned about our own needs over and above God’s will, we all suffer. We must consider our ways (Haggai 1:7-8). When it comes to the idea of encouragement, remember that God’s Holy Spirit is with us and the final victory is ours in Christ. Haggai instilled hope, assurance, and vitality that the Messiah would eventually reign. God’s resources are infinite and He will give us all we need to complete our assignments in life. So, don’t worry and don’t be afraid. Further, we should give others encouragement along the way to do the same.

(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 1546-1547)

-Chapter 1: In the second year of Darius, who succeeded Cyrus the king, on the first day of the sixth month (Month of Elul, corresponds to August-September on our calendar), the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to the governor of Judah, who was Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and to the high priest, who was Joshua, the son of Jehozadak. God was telling the people that it was time for them to get back to work on the His House, the Temple of Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and began to be rebuilt in 538 B.C. upon their return under Cyrus of Persia. It was now 520 B.C., and ten years since the people had done any work on the Temple. The LORD was fed up with His people’s lack of fortitude in the rebuilding of His place to dwell on earth (Ezekiel 43:7). Haggai relates God’s concerns, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this House lies desolate?” The LORD beckoned them to “Consider your ways!” The Jewish people had sown much, but harvested little. They had eaten, but without satisfaction. They had drunk, but it was not enough. They had put on clothes, but they were still not warm enough. The wages they earned were put into purses with holes. God said again, “Consider your ways!” He told them frankly that they needed to go up to the mountains and bring in wood to rebuild His Temple that He may be pleased with their human efforts and receive His deserved glorification. They had looked for much, but it had come to little. When they brought their stuff home, He blew it away. “Why?” the prophet asks by the Holy Spirit, “Because of My House which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.” In other words, their priorities were totally screwed up. They had only thought of themselves, and they had not given credit and glory to God even in their return from exile. The LORD goes on with His indictment, “Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. I called for drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.” When the governor and high priest, men of influence, with all the remnant of the people heard these words, they obeyed the Voice of the LORD their God through Haggai the prophet, who was sent. “The people showed reverence for the LORD.” Then, Haggai, the one commissioned as a messenger of the LORD spoke again, “‘I am with you,’ declares the LORD.” The governor, the high priest, and all the remnant were stirred up by the LORD in their spirits to come and work on the House of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of that same year.

-*Application* How many times do we find ourselves struggling in want and perhaps even need? Just like the children of Israel, we can neglect the things of God and do our own thing to our detriment. We are wandering sheep who go astray (Isaiah 53:6). Resolve to establish and keep the right perspective and priorities with God at the forefront of every decision and action. Bless His holy Name. Do His work in His House first. Remember, now His Temple is in us, the believers (Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Timothy 1:14). This is where we will find success and every great blessing. God has a way of showing His favor when we put Him first. He also has a way of keeping us wanting when He is low on our list of priorities.

Verse to Memorize: Haggai 1:4

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