FIRST THINGS FIRST ! ( HAGGAI). Lesson 10 for June 8, 2013. HISTORICAL CONTEXT. Some of the Jews came back to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in Spring 536 BC to rebuild the nation and the temple thanks to the decree of Cyrus .
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Lesson 10 for June 8, 2013
Some of the Jews came back to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in Spring 536 BC to rebuild the nation and the temple thanks to the decree of Cyrus.
They rebuilt the brazen altar in that year. The next year they laid the foundations for the temple.
The older men like Haggai remembered the glory of Solomon’s Temple which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar about 50 years before. Those elders remembered that glory and were crying while they laid the foundations for the new temple.
They became discouraged by the opposition from the Samaritans so the reconstruction slowed down until King Smerdis finally stopped the work.
Fifteen years after laying the foundations (520 BC), God called the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. King Darius approved the reconstruction again and God’s temple was finally rebuilt.
First message: August 29, 520 BC
“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.”’”
Why did they think that it wasn’t still the time to rebuild the temple?
According the prophecy of Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 36:20), the captivity of Israel would last for 70 years.
That prophecy was fulfilled the first year of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 36:22) with the return of Zerubbabel, just 70 years after the first Jews were taken captive to Babylon.
Nevertheless, after dealing with many difficulties when rebuilding the temple, they mistakenly deduced that those 70 years were not fulfilled yet because the destruction of the previous temple took place in less than 70 years before then.
First message: August 29, 520 BC
“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4)
The people had silenced their conscience with excuses. They worked in building their own houses and totally forgot about the House of God.
Now God used the prophet Haggai to make them consider the consequences of their acts.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!… 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”” (Haggai 1:7, 9)
If the people of God wants to be successful, the first things must be first: God’s things first, then ours.
September 21, 520 BC
Zerubbabel (governor), Joshua (high priest) and all the people listened to Haggai and obeyed the divine order.
They got everything ready to begin with the work in less than one month. In that moment, they received a second message from God.
“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the Lord.”” (Haggai 1:13)
“It was after Haggai’s second message that the people felt that the Lord was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard the repeated warning that their prosperity and the blessing of God were dependent upon their entire obedience to the instructions given them. As soon as they decided that they would do the words of the Lord, His messages of reproof changed to words of encouragement. O how merciful a God we have! He says, “I am with you.” The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. He assured the people that if they were obedient, they would place themselves in a position where He could bless them for His own name’s glory. If God’s people will only rely upon Him, and believe in Him, He will bless them.”
E.G.W. (SDA Bible Commentary, on Haggai 1:13)
Third message: October 17, 520 BC
“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?” (Haggai 2:3)
Some people were discouraged because of the cry of the elders when they laid the fundaments of the temple some years before (Ezra 3:12-13)
God used Haggai to promise to the people that the second temple would be much more glorious than the Solomon’s one, despite being half the size and without its gold, silver and jewelry ornament.
That temple would be blessed and glorified by the physical presence of God Himself in the person of Jesus: “and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory” (Haggai 2:7)
Fourth message: December 18, 520 BC
“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” (Haggai 2:18-19)
Sin contaminates everything in contact with it and quickly expands (Haggai 2:13-14), but holiness must be carefully and personally cultivated (Haggai 2:11-12)
When the people of God comes together to seek holiness like the people of Judah did in Haggai’s time, they are blessed.
Fifth message:December 18, 520 BC
The last message of Haggai is a personal message for Zerubbabel who was responsible for the work.
When Zerubbabel heard and obeyed the divine order, he became a “signet ring” (Haggai 2:23). That means that:
“God will not suffer one of His truehearted workers to be left alone to struggle against great odds and be overcome. He preserves as a precious jewel everyone whose life is hid with Christ in God. Of every such an one He says: “I ... will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee.” Haggai 2:23”
E.G.W. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, pg. 67)