Monthly Archives: May 2014

Obey The Lord

Sunday School Lesson                                          

 

Lesson: Haggai 1:1-11

                                                                                                  

Golden  Text: Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet,  saying, Is it time for  you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie  waste?” (Haggai  1:3-4).

INTRODUCTION.   No task is ever completed that is never started.   However for some people the biggest problem is not starting a job but  finishing what they start.  The Jews who returned to Judah after  the Babylonian Captivity needed encouragement about perseverance.   When King Cyrus of Persia issued his edict permitting the Jews to return  to their home land (see Ezra 1:1-4), over 42,000 responded (see Ezra  2:64-65).  They laid the foundation for the temple (see Ezra  3:1-13), but opposition from surrounding peoples quickly arose and the people  stopped the rebuilding effort (see Ezra 4:1-24).  The first group  of returnees arrived in Israel in 538  B.C., but because of the  opposition from their enemies, the work was halted for about 16 years until  Haggai delivered God’s message to rebuild the temple.  In this  week’s lesson, the people didn’t think that the time had come to continue to  rebuild God’s house.  However, through His prophet, God’s word to  rebuild went forth.  It was most important that God’s people obey  His command to rebuild the temple.

II. GOD REBUKES  HIS PEOPLE FOR DISOBEDIENCE (Haggai 1:1-6)

A. The historical setting  (Haggai 1:1).  Our first verse says  In the second year of  Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the  word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of  Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high  priest, saying.”  Haggai was very careful to give the exact time when he received  “the word of the Lord” meaning God’s  message to His people.  Haggai writes that he received this message  from God In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth  month, in the first day of the month.”   This would have been the  Hebrew month of Elul which corresponds roughly to our months of  August-September.  The “first day” of each Jewish  month was the day of the new moon and had special spiritual significance (see  Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15).  Business was suspended like it was on  the Sabbath (see Amos 8:5) and a special burnt offering was brought before the  Lord.  As a result, this was an appropriate time for Haggai to give  his message to those assembled in Jerusalem.  God’s prophecy to  Haggai was directed to “Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of  Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest.”   “Darius the king” refers to Darius I the Great, who reigned as  king of Persia from 522 to 485 B.C.  He  was also known as Darius Hystaspis or Darius, son of  Hystaspias.  He continued Cyrus the Great’s policy of restoring the  Jewish people to their homeland.  In his second year as king, the  Jews continued work on the unfinished temple in Jerusalem and Darius assisted by  sending a generous subsidy to help in restoring the temple (see Ezra  6:1-12).  “Zurubbabel” was the civil leader  appointed governor of Judah by King Cyrus.  He was also a  descendent of King Jehoiachin, the last in David’s line to be king of Judah (see  I Chronicles 3:17-19).  “Joshua” was the religious  leader and the son of “Josedech” who was the “high  priest” when the Captivity took place (see I Chronicles 6:15).   These two Israelite leaders were especially mentioned because they would  be needed to help persuade the people to continue to rebuild the temple.

B. A false view of timing (Haggai  1:2).  Haggai continued his  message in this verse saying 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.”   Although Haggai gave  God’s message to Joshua and Zerubbabel, the civil and religious leaders, it was  directed to all the people.  It’s interesting that the Israelites  were not called God’s people as they normally were, but God referred to them as  This  people” indicating His displeasure  with them.  They were of the mind that “The time is not  come, the time that the Lord‘s house should be built.”   But why was it not the  time?  No one told them to stop building the temple.   Their attitude about completing the temple revealed their spiritual  condition.  After all, the temple was crucial to Jewish life and  worship.  Yes, the previous Persian ruler, Artaxerxes had stopped  the construction during his reign, but there was no hindrance at this time (see  Ezra 4:21-24) and therefore they had no excuse.

C. A  question about their timing (Haggai 1:3-4).

1. (vs. 3).   This verse says  Then came the  word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying.”    This statement is made in order to  stress the importance of the divine origin of the question that God was about to  ask in the next verse.  Again, God’s message was given to  Haggai the  prophet.”  We know  very little about him apart from what is said about him in the book of  Haggai.  We do know that he and Zachariah prophesied during the  same time (see Ezra 5:1).  A study of the book of Haggai reveals  that the prophet had a two-fold ministry.  He was to rebuke and  encourage.  The people were rebuked for not continuing the work on  the temple, and they were encouraged to begin to build it  again.

2. (vs. 4).  The question that the Lord  directed to the leaders and the people through Haggai was  Is it time for  you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?   The people were saying that  it was not time to build the Lord’s house (see vs. 2), but God responded with a  question to them: “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled  houses, and this house lie waste?”  This question says  something about the life-style of the people.  They were living  luxuriously in “ceiled” or paneled houses.  The  wealthier Jews spared no expense in decorating their homes, but they didn’t have  any time to build God’s house.  The prophet wasn’t speaking against  the nice homes the people lived in.  He condemned them for  neglecting the house of God which was lying in “waste” or “in  ruins” while they had plenty.  The condition of the temple couldn’t  be blamed on the Captivity any longer.  It could have and should  have been rebuilt.  Note:  When the Jews returned to Judah  under Cyrus’ decree, he charged them to build God’s house (see Ezra  1:2-3).  He had even instructed those who remained in Babylon to  contribute generously to this project (see Ezra 1:4).  Cyrus also  returned 5400 gold and silver temple vessels that had been taken from the  original temple (see Ezra 1:6-11).  In addition, some of those who  returned contributed generously when they arrived (see Ezra 2:68-70).   So there was plenty available to be used in completing the temple.   We can only wonder what happened to much of this wealth after the temple  construction was stopped.  Did they use it for their own  homes?  Who knows?  It was supposed to be used for the  temple construction and nothing else.  Priorities had changed and  worship of the Lord no longer seemed important.

D. A challenge to rethink their timing (Haggai  1:5-6).

1.  (vs. 5).  Haggai  continued to say in this verse Now therefore thus saith the  Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.”   This was a call for God’s  people to self-examine themselves.  In other words, they were to  think about how they treated the Lord’s house was affecting their lives.   The next verse tells us what God expected His people to consider or think  about.

2. (vs. 6).  In this verse the consequences of their “ways” were  spelled out in detail as the prophet said “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.”  Because the  people had not given God first place in their lives, their labors were not  fruitful.  This is what is meant by the statement “Ye have  sown much, and bring in little.”  They had done everything  necessary to ensure a good harvest, but their fields were not productive.   Moses had predicted that this would be the result if people neglected God  (see Deuteronomy 28:15, 38-42).  In addition, the prophet said  “ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with  drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm.”  In other  words, even the basic necessities of life were not being supplied.   The food, drink and clothing were not sufficient (see Leviticus 26:23-26;  Hosea 4:10).  Not only were basic needs not being met, God also  said “and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with  holes.”  This means that the wage earner couldn’t  accumulate anything through his work; it was as if he was putting his wages in a  bag filled with holes.  This may have happened because the prices  of goods a person bought were so high, but also they may have developed such  expensive tastes that their wages didn’t stay with them long.   Note:  God has interesting ways of dealing with those who rob  Him in order to enrich themselves.  He allows their self-centered  desires to grow faster than their abilities can satisfy them.  He  leaves an empty space in them that will remain until they return to Him.   God asks His children to put Him and His kingdom first (see Matthew  6:33).  Then He obligates Himself to provide for all our needs  including the economic basics that so many worry about (see Luke  12:13-34).

III. GOD’S RESPONSE TO HIS PEOPLE’S ATTITUDE (Haggai  1:7-11)

A. God’s  will declared (Haggai 1:7-8).

1.  (vs. 7).  Again, the  prophet in this verse says Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your  ways.”  As he did in  verse 5, Haggai repeated the exhortation Consider your ways.”  This was another call to action.  The people again  needed to think about their behavior towards God and His  house.

2. (vs. 8).  Now God’s instructions to the  people in this verse was to 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.”  After commanding the people to consider their ways, God told  them what they needed to do in order to please Him, namely gathering materials  and finishing the temple.  They were instructed to  “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the  house.”  Since no particular “mountain”  is named, it seems proper to conclude that this refers to mountainous  regions in general where timber grew in abundance.  Evidently, the  mountains provided the best source of timber.   Note:  Although wood was a major ingredient needed for  building the temple, this command didn’t exclude the gathering of other  materials as well.  Some of the stones of the former temple could  probably be reused, but additional stones would have to be hewed to finish the  walls (see Ezra 5:8).  Whatever materials were needed, the call  went out to gather them and build.  The last phrase in this verse gives God’s promise  in response to the people’s obedience in building the temple.  God  promised “and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith  the Lord.”   The Lord would be pleased that His people had set aside their selfish  desires and were giving Him the place He deserves.  However, God’s  pleasure and His glorification depended upon their obedience to the commands He  had given.  True worship doesn’t focus on the blessings that can be  gained by the worshippers (although there are spiritual benefits), but it  focuses on the glory that God receives.  To glorify God is to give  Him the credit and honor He deserves because of who He is and the work He has  done.

B. God’s chastening explained (Haggai  1:9).  In this verse God said “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.”  At this time God wasn’t being glorified by His people nor was  He pleased.Therefore, through Haggai God explained why things had  gone so badly for them.The words “Ye looked for much”  reveals the great expectations they had for their harvests.The phrase “and, lo it came to little” refers to the  small amount of produce the crops brought forth which was a great disappointment  to them.  But this was only half of their problem.God also said “when ye brought it (the harvest) home, I did blow  upon it.”  It’s quite possible that when the people stored  their crops, God sent storms to destroy their barns, thus destroying their  harvest.The phrase, “Why? saith the  Lord of hosts” indicates that God was about to tell His  people why they were having all the troubles they faced.  The  people may have assumed that their losses were the result of natural causes, but  the Lord said it was “Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run  every man unto his own house.”  The reason why the people  were experiencing hardships and loss of their crops was because they had  neglected God’s house and His work while they lived for themselves in  luxury.But isn’t self-concern always the reason why we neglect  God’s work?  I think  so!

C. God’s actions detailed (Haggai  1:10-11).

1.  (vs. 10).  This verse  says Therefore  the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her  fruit.”  Still  responding to what was happening to His people because they neglected His house,  God said “Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew”  meaning that God had even withheld the “dew” from  heaven.  In addition, the earth is stayed from her  fruit.”  This means that their land didn’t bring forth any  harvest or crops.

2. (vs. 11).  In our final verse God  continued to say “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.”  God said that He caused  “a drought” or lack of water on everything.  The  word “corn” refers to all grains.  The words  “new wine” refers to grapes used to make wine, and  “oil” refers to olives from which olive oil was made.   Each of these items made up Israel’s major crops.  The  people depended on these while neglecting the worship of God.  As a  result, the Lord said that He sent the drought to destroy their livelihood and  to bring them back to Him.  All of these catastrophes that Israel  suffered were the price they paid for their disobedience.

            

IV.  Conclusion.  Haggai’s  challenge from the Lord was simple and direct.  It was time to put  God first and rebuild the temple.  God doesn’t want us to build a  temple, but He does want us to put Him first in our lives.  When we  put Him first in our lives, we know that He will be glorified and that He will  be there to give us the help and strength we need.  We should  regularly check our priorities and rearrange them if necessary so that God  really does have first place in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Chance To Bear Witness

John 18:17 “Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.

 

Here we have a cowardly denial, of both the world and Peter. Peter was innocently questioned by the door keeper he had a chance to bear witness, but Peter denied any association with Jesus. Peter made an attempt to be known as one of the crowd. He joined the crowd, standing around with the many, joining in their activities and conversation and the chance to bear witness was lost.

 

Too many today deny being associated with Christ and thus lose the chance to bear witness that He lives. People see us in church, or associating with other believers, and when the chance to witness is present, we deny any association to Christ. We deny him in the way we live our lives, the way we don’t show our love for one another, in our inability and unwillingness to forgive one another, and give to one another. We deny Him when a chance to witness is presented. We deny Him by not learning His doctrine, and by not proclaiming His teachings, we may not verbally deny Him as Peter did, but we deny Him in our actions. In a world were most religions allows man to be as he is, to do what he wishes and still feel acceptable to God. Just think for a moment, what this world would be like if all who professed Christ was to bear witness every time the opportunity presented itself, if we proclaimed the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. So few are willing to sacrifice their lives and bear witness to the Savior of the world

.

When we deny Christ, we deny the lost the chance afforded us, to know Christ and have a chance at salvation. How can we truly say we love one another yet deny each other Christ. How can we say that we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and life, and yet let His blood be trampled under foot, for when a witness is needed, when we need to stand up and speak for Christ, we hide in the crowd and deny Him when a witness is needed .

Freedom to Serve not Sin

1 Corinthians 6:14 ” And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power”.

 

Many who have professed to be born again Christians have a tendency to believe  everything is permissible to them. While it is true we do have freedoms and liberties in Christ, we cannot use this as a license to sin. Because it is permissible does not make it beneficial.  The Christian life is not just about freedoms, It is about living as ambassador’s for Christ, serving the Lord and leading lost souls to His salvation.

 

When you profess to be a child of God it comes with responsibilities. There is a way we must conduct our selves. Remember we are the light upon a hill that cannot be hid. We are the salt of the earth and we must be careful not to lose our savor. We must live in a manner that shows a lost world that there is a savior who can save the whole world. It is through the power of God that we have been raised from the death of the old man, into a life of the new man, the man born in the spirit of God. It is with the power of God that we can have the freedom to serve and not to sin.

 

We who are born of the spirit of God must remember that it is His power that keeps us. The life we have been called to live is a holy life, a sacrificial life. Christian should be a union with Christ. Following Jesus is a moment by moment walk with the Lord. We are free to love, serve, and point others to the cross, not to engage in sinful practices offered up by the world.

Know The Truth

Act 17:11 ” These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”.

 

The word of God tells us to study to show thyself approve unto God, yet many today tends to believe what is said about God’s word, based on who it is that said it. In this era of the name it and claim it prosperity message many are being deceive by those who are motivated by greed and popularity. Many of todays ministers of seem to no longer preach the Gospel but instead they have begun to proclaim a message of personal philosophies lined with just enough scripture to be disguised as a truth, full of the promise of material gain.

 

Here in our text we see that the people of Berea were happy to receive the word preached by Paul. But in their quest for the truth they would search the scriptures to make sure that what they were being taught, was actually what the word of God said. Even though Paul was a powerful preacher of God’s word, the people of  Berea didn’t let their knowledge of the word be limited solely on what Paul said, so they would study the word for themselves to make sure the message preached, matched what the word said. Salvation is way too important for us to leave it in the hand of men. The bible says it is better to put our trust in God than in man. We too need to search the scripture to make sure that what we are being taught lines up with what the word of God says.

 

We must be careful not to get hung up on the name, position or title of the one delivering the word of God, that we take what they say as gospel. Don’t let the fame and/or fortunes of the messenger, be the measuring stick to what is true when it come to the word of God, and your salvation. Study what God’s word says, that you might know the truth for yourself.