Lesson 5 Summer Quarter
Lesson Text: Haggai 1:1-11
Golden Text: Haggai 1:3-4
This week’s lesson starts us into the next unit of lessons for the month – Faithful to Prophesy. In our lesson last week, we saw the leadership of godly leaders – Haggai and Zechariah – and how it encouraged the Jews in completing the rebuild of the temple. Our lesson this week actually gives us a peek into the encouraging words that came from the Lord through the prophet Haggai to encourage the rebuilding of the temple. This week’s lesson is being taught from Haggai 1:1-11.
Time to Get to Work
Our lesson opens with an introduction to Haggai and the time in which he prophesied to the Jews in Jerusalem. The time of Haggai’s prophecy, we are told, came in the second year of Darius (v.1). This is some important information for us when we consider that last week we saw that the rebuild of the temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius’ reign in Persia (Ezra 6:15).
We are also given information in this verse that we have seen relayed to us in the book of Ezra. We are told that in the second year of Darius’ reign, Haggai prophesied to Zerubbabel, who led the first wave in their return to Jerusalem along with Joshua, the high priest at that time. In the book of Ezra, we are told on two occasions that Haggai was prophesying to the Jews and these two men at that time (Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14). So, this confirms for us that the Haggai of this book is the same Haggai spoken of in the book of Ezra.
Jews slow to rebuild temple
Now, something we saw in our lesson last week was that it took quite some time for the Jews to complete the rebuild of the temple. We saw that the rebuild of the temple met adversity from adversaries who did not desire for the temple to be rebuilt. At the very same time, we saw that the Jews became lax in the rebuilding of the temple. The Jews became lax in the rebuild partly due to the constant adversity, however, we will see that there was something else that caused the Jews to be a bit lax in the rebuild.
Those that had returned in the first wave to Jerusalem had laid the foundation and rejoiced in the laying of the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:10-11). Yet, as we know, the work had come to a stop. What we did not see in the book of Ezra and what we see here is that those who had returned to Jerusalem had reached a point to where they began to believe that the time was not right for them to rebuild the temple (v.2).
As we will see in the next couple of verses, the Jews had rebuilt their homes and were satisfied with being able to dwell in their homes (vss.3-4). Through Haggai, the Lord said to the Jews, “Is time for you to dwell in your ceiled (furnished) houses, and this house (the temple) lie waste?”
Because they had been met with adversity in rebuilding the temple, the Jews had begun to rebuild their homes. They had not met the same kind of adversity in rebuilding their homes so that is what they stuck with doing. To be honest, I believe that all of us can actually understand this train of thought. However, the Lord questioned them when it came to this matter in how they were moving.
Putting God first
God tells them to consider their ways (v.5). What were the Jews doing that was wrong? What did they need to consider about their ways?
Something that I brought up in teaching last week’s lesson at church was the idea that some people view moving with humbleness, gentleness, and fervent love as moving in a manner that would one to being a pushover. Let me tell you something, when you are compassionate about something, the last thing you will ever be is a pushover! Compassionate people are fiery people! Compassionate people are the kind of people that will keep pushing forward regardless of what stands before them!
The Jews started out being very passionate about rebuilding the temple, however, at the first sign of adversity, their passion became passionless; there was no fire. You see, there should have been some fire when it came to rebuilding the temple but the Jews became lax because they didn’t meet any adversity in rebuilding their homes. Let me tell you something – adversity is meant to be run through and overcome!
In this lack of drive, the Jews, whether they realized it or not, began to put themselves over the Lord rather than putting God first. This is an idea that many people struggle with – putting God first. This is also a topic that I have taught and preached about in the past. We have to learn how to put God first in our life, even over our own personal desires.
This, again, will sound very strange to some when it comes to putting their own desires after the Lord. Yet, we must learn how to be dependent on the Lord; trusting in His guidance, depending on his protection, and providence. The Jews, as we will see, were doing things but in return for their labors, they were not gaining much or even satisfied with their labor (v.6).
Now, Solomon touched on this very same thought when he spoke about how our labor is vanity when we labor without the Lord or do not put Him first (Eccl. 1:1-3). Solomon then pointed out about the Lord, “God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God (Eccl. 2:26).” You should not want to simply be a gatherer and collector and not even end up being happy!
Consider your way
Again the Lord said to the Jews, “consider your ways (v.7)!” Did they want to continue living in a manner where they were not putting the Lord first? There was work for the Jews to do that they had been putting off. To be clear, again, we put the Lord first by being obedient to Him, His will, and His desire before any other.
The Lord commanded the Jews to get back to building the temple so that He, the Lord, would take pleasure in it and be glorified (v.8). Some of us may think that the Lord really wanted the temple to be rebuilt and He would take pleasure in the temple itself but I have thought about this that I want to share with you.
First, I do not believe that the Lord cared much about the temple being rebuilt; I don’t think that was what was important to Him. My thoughts on this matter comes from something that we read the Lord say in the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah, God said through the prophet, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, but on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word (Is. 66:1-2).”
The Lord, I want you to understand, is more concerned for the one who is lowly, of a contrite spirit, and trembles (respects) His word. In other words, there is nothing that we can make for the Lord – like a temple – that would please Him! No, what pleases the Lord is obedience to His word.
So, God was going to take pleasure in the Jews obeying His command to rebuild the temple and in their obedience, the temple would be completed, thanks to Him, and this blessing would glorify Him! It is when we are obedient to the Lord that we actually glorify Him. God will do for those that are obedient to His word and those that are obedient will be greatly blessed. When we are not obedient to the Lord, that is when we find great struggle and adversity; this actually added to the Jews adversity in completing the temple (vss.9-11).
If there is anything that we should take away from this lesson is that we should be diligent in putting the Lord first. When we put God first in our lives, our steps will be ordered. When your steps are ordered by the Lord, you will truly be blessed.