Haggai

Big Brother Versus Heavenly Father #4

Thursday, November 7, 2013

“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5c,6 KJV).

Big Brother is watching; Heavenly Father is, too!

A brief survey of the Old Testament Scriptures reveals God’s chief nation in the earth, Israel, refused to submit to His will. Like sinful Adam, Israel had no interest in governing earth for God’s glory. Israel’s recurrent breaking of the Mosaic Law had a consequence: she could not be a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3-6).

In Leviticus 26:27-39, God had warned them that, after repeated chastisements and subsequent habitual disobedience, His final judgment on them would be that Gentile nations would defeat them in battle, and carry Israel out of her Promised Land. Israel’s monarchy would be lost, and not restored until Messiah-King would come (Ezekiel 21:26,27).

The culmination of this judgment against Israel was when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon successfully thrice invaded Jerusalem. During the last invasion (586 B.C.), Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, God’s Temple was burned to the ground, and the remaining Jews taken captive to Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 36:5-21).

Some Jews returned to the Promised Land after the Babylonian exile, such as with Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Nevertheless, the majority of the Jews are still scattered worldwide, still without a Davidic kingdom. By the time Jesus Christ came, Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece had already ruled over Israel. In Jesus’ day, the Roman Empire was oppressing Israel.

Ezekiel 21:26,27 said that Israel would not receive her crown again until her Messiah came. When Jesus finally arrived, and Pilate told Israel, “Behold your King!,” the Jews released themselves from their national heritage as they publicly declared, “Crucify him… We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:14,15). By rejecting Jesus their King and demanding His crucifixion, they hindered God’s earthly kingdom from being established (again!).

During the early Acts period, most of Israel still rejected Jesus’ right to David’s throne. The last week of Daniel’s prophecy, Israel’s spiritual cleansing and God’s wrath, would be postponed so God could commence another program… ours….

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #5

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

Thus far, we have seen the Scriptures that demonstrate the complacency of the post-exilic Jews living in Jerusalem and Judaea. They had forgotten about JEHOVAH’S unfinished Temple because they had forgotten about JEHOVAH. In His mercy, grace, and longsuffering, He sent prophets to preach His Word to those Jews, to the intent that they would see their error and turn to Him.

The Jews considered their ways, and they believed the Word of God that Haggai and Zechariah the prophets preached to them. “And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel…” (Ezra 6:14; cf. Ezra 5:1,2; Haggai 1:12-15). God’s Word encouraged them and, by faith, they finished the Temple about four years after construction resumed under Darius the Persian king (Ezra 4:24 cf. Ezra 6:15). As an interesting historical side note, circa 500 years later, Herod the Great refurbished that Temple, which Temple existed during Christ’s earthly ministry, and which Temple the Romans destroyed in A.D. 70.

Although these Scriptures were not written to us or about us, we can appreciate them in their rightful place in God’s inspired Word. Moreover, there are parallels to these Scriptures regarding the Bible books written to us and about us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. In the next 10 studies, two companion devotional arcs, we will look at how these Scriptures from the books of Ezra and Haggai help us to better understand and appreciate the purpose and plan that the Lord Jesus Christ has for us….

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #4

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

Although JEHOVAH is displeased with Israel for not completing His Temple, and while He has caused a severe economic depression in Judah and Jerusalem (verses 1-11), He, through the prophet Haggai (and Zechariah, too), encourages Israel to put Him first—and get rid of that curse—by completing His Temple!

Verses 12-14 document Israel’s response: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, 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 did fear before the LORD. Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God….”

Ezra 5:1,2 supplement Haggai’s words: “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.”

By faith, Israel is encouraged in God’s Word, and thus resumes building her God’s Temple….

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #3

Monday, September 23, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

Through the prophet Haggai, JEHOVAH corrects the thinking of the post-exilic Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judah. Haggai, in today’s Scripture and its context (verses 1-11), speaks forth God’s Word and prompts Israel to think critically: why are things amiss in Jerusalem and Judah? These Israelites have forgotten about JEHOVAH’S unfinished Temple, which they had begun to rebuild nearly 20 years earlier.

In short, God is not blessing them. Actually, they are under a curse. Verses 8-11 explain that God has closed the heaven that it rains not, and because of this drought, Israel’s harvest of crops in Jerusalem is almost nothing. What little profit they are making in the area is wasted (today’s Scripture). The purpose of the prophets—in this case, Haggai—is to lead Israel back to JEHOVAH’S Word. Will Israel repent (change her mind) so that her behavior reforms?

Read verses 12-14 to learn Israel’s response: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, 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 did fear before the LORD. Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God….”

Let us now briefly consider their actions….

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #2

Sunday, September 22, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

Today’s Scripture is amplified in the succeeding verses:

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands” (verses 7-11).

At this point, the LORD through the prophet Haggai has twice-instructed Israel, “Consider your ways” (verses 5,7). They are to reflect on the way they are behaving, to the extent that they will repent (change their minds), and then change their actions.

In verse 6 (today’s Scripture), we read how Israel is planting many crops, but their harvest is meager. Food, drink, and clothing cannot not and do not satisfy them. The futility of their actions is summed up in the phrase, “he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”

Verses 7-11 explain that God has caused Israel’s economic inefficiency. As per the Mosaic Law, God is chastising Israel, attempting to reform them. Will they reform, or not…?

Consider Your Ways, Israel! #1

Saturday, September 21, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

In the context of today’s Scripture, only a remnant of Jews has returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity (606-536 B.C.). Like Zechariah and Malachi, JEHOVAH has sent Haggai to instruct, encourage, and rebuke these post-exilic Israelis in Palestine. Both Haggai and Zechariah preached prior to Ezra, the priest-scribe who led a group of Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Today’s Scripture, dated approximately 520 B.C., parallels Ezra 5:1.

Haggai, preaching to the returned Jews in Jerusalem and Judah, reminds them that though are now living again in the Promised Land, their lives are futile and empty (today’s Scripture). Some 15 years earlier, King Cyrus of Persia had granted the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Solomon’s Temple (destroyed 586 B.C. by the Babylonians). However, Gentile opposition to the Jews building at that site halted construction until the time of the context of today’s Scripture (Ezra 4:23,24 cf. Haggai 1:1,2).

The prophet Haggai rebukes the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah who have built their own homes, but who could not care less that JEHOVAH’S Temple is still unfinished, nearly two decades since its construction began. “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled [roofed, covered] houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:2-4).

We will better understand the meaning of today’s Scripture by taking a closer look at the minor prophet’s book. Let us see why Israel’s strenuous labor is yielding little reward, and if she will reform her ways….