Saturday, November 16, 2019

Haggai 1 & 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is Haggai 1 & 2. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Today we read the entire book of Haggai - it's only 2 chapters. Our last weekend reading was Zephaniah, who predicted that, if God's people didn't turn from their sin and back to God, they would be destroyed. Unfortunately, it happened. In 586 B.C., the armies of the nation of Babylon came in and destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and much of the city (Jerusalem). Many of the Israelites were taken captive. But in 538 B.C. the King of Babylon let the Israelites return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. They started, but faced opposition and became apathetic. They stopped rebuilding the temple. Haggai speaks to the people (in 520 B.C.) after fifteen years of not working on the temple, urging them to finish the work of rebuilding the temple for God.
  • In chapter one, God asks the people how they can live in luxury while God's house was lying in disrepair. The people were focused only on getting more for themselves but were discovering that more was never enough (1:5-6). They "expected much" (for God to bless them, for themselves to be happy in their new homes) but it was "turned out to be little" (see 1:9). Why? Because God was not blessing them (see 1:10-11).
  • The people respond to God's challenge and begin to focus on God's house. Because of that, God tells them "I am with you" (1:13).
  • Some time goes by between chapter one and chapter two. The people had returned to worshipping God, but were not yet really committed to doing the work of rebuilding the temple. God challenges them, "Be strong ... and work. For I am with you" (2:4).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The book of Haggai may seem a bit foreign to us, as it took place on the other side of the world and about 2,500 years ago. Yet the themes still apply directly to us today. God has asked us to prioritize giving our money and our time/work to Him, and God has promised to be with us and to bless us when we do.
  • There are numerous verses in which we're told that the first priority we should have with any money we bring in should be to give generously back to God, and that God will bless us if we do. (In fact, the Bible talks more about money and giving than any other topic.) Here's just one example:  "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10).
  • There are also numerous verses in which God tells us our first priority with our time and talents should be working for him and his purposes. Here's one, "God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another! ... Do it with all the strength and energy that God provides" (1 Peter 4:10-11). Here's one more, "Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically" (Romans 12:11).
  • The Israelites back in Haggai's time were focused on getting more and serving themselves. They couldn't understand why it was leaving them feeling empty. The same is true today. If we use our money and our time for ourselves no matter how much we get we will feel empty.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Look at how you spend your money. How much goes to you and how much goes to God? God tells us everything we have comes from him, and asks us to give back to him generously, saying that generosity starts at 10%. Is that how you give to God? If not, are you "expecting much" but it's turning out "to be little"?
  • Look at how you spend your time and talents. How much goes to God? Are you working for Him? Do you have a volunteer position where you serve in the church? How else could you make God more of a priority with your time and talents?
  • God was upset that His people cared about their own homes but not his. He wanted them to prioritize his "house" over their own. What would it look like for you to live by that today?
Here's a helpful video from a great resource called BibleProject that reviews and summarizes the book of Haggai: