Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today is Haggai Day!

I have never accomplished a New Years Resolution before and I am bound and determined to reach this one: to read the Bible through in a year. I'm well on my way to doing that, and I have a lot more work to do, but I figured that I'd use the down time I have waiting for my little girl to get here to read and share my notes and observations with you! If you're interested in joining me, check out what I've done so far...

Read the Bible in a Year Plan
Old Testament Daily Readings
PLEASE, remember that I am reading each of these books in one day. What I write here are my initial observations. They are not an "experts" opinion, or a historians study, I am simply reading the Bible to gain insight about our amazing, unchanging, faithful, sovereign God and grow in my relationship with Him. I take Paul's charge in 2 Timothy 2:15 very seriously, wanting to handle God's word correctly, and I do not want you to use what I say as absolute truth. I AM HUMAN and humans make mistakes.

My notes and observations on Haggai:

1:1 "... the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest..." Haggai heard the word of the Lord gave it to Zerubbabel the governor and Jehozadak, the high priest.

If you read the Old Testament you will find that it is very good about repeating stories. I wanted to know more about this time period (because I noticed that Haggai is very specific with times...) and I wanted to know more about King Darius, Haggai, Zerubbabel and Joshua. I found this story in Ezra 1-6:1-18! So, of course, I read it. Darius follows King Cyrus on the throne of Persia. God stirred King Cyrus to build the temple in Jerusalem, so he wrote a proclamation proclaiming this. The people who were in exile in Babylon (because of King Nebuchadnezzar) returned to Jerusalem upon hearing this proclamation. Jeshua and Zerubbabel built an altar to God and offered burnt offerings, and kept the Feast of Booths. They then built the foundation and had a great celebration. However, adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the temple was being rebuilt and caused problems, thus delaying the rebuilding until King Darius took the throne. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews and the building began again, once the rebuilding began, an investigation also began. They found a document showing King Cyrus' decree to rebuild the temple, so Darius too, made a decree to let them build it, that the costs would be paid to them in full, and whatever they needed would be given to them. I like how King Darius ended his decree: (Ezra 6:11-12) "Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and shall be made a dunghill. May the God who caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence." (Dunghill. It made me giggle.) The temple was finished and they celebrated!

That's a summary of Ezra 1-6, telling the story of rebuilding the temple in the time of King Darius. Ezra was also specific with the timing of the rebuilding: "... and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king." (Ezra 6:15)

Back to Haggai:

1:5 "Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes." Hm, why are they not prosperous? Read 1:9 "You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away." Want to know why? Keep reading... "Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house." and if you go back to verse 8, "... that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified..." (It isn't about us and our glory!) So what did God do about it? Keep reading... "Therefore the heavens above you have witheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce." God calls for a drought so that nothing produces. Who's in control? =)

1:12 The people obeyed the word of the Lord and feared Him (which is the beginning of all knowledge!)

1:13 "Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord's message, 'I am with you, declares the Lord.'" If you read how the story plays out in Ezra, that is pretty obvious.

1:14 Throughout Haggai and even Ezra (God stirred King Cyrus!), I noticed a common phrase: "And the Lord stirred up the spirit..." (God is in control!)

1:15 More specifics on time, when they began again the work on the temple, "... on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth onth in the second year of Darius the King."

The beginning of chapter 2 has more time specifics when the word of the Lord came to Haggai once again suggesting that there are those left in Jerusalem who saw the former glory of the temple, perhaps in the days of King Solomon? "In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month..." Haggai was told to ask, "Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? is it not as nothing in your eyes?" So it obviously wasn't as magnificent? But He continues to say, "Yet now be strong, O Zerubbael, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts; yet once more, in a a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts." (2:4-9)

2:10 More time specifics, "On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in teh second year of Darius..." God blesses these people even though they are unclean. I love verse 2:17 that shows just how much control God really has: "I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the Lord. Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider: Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you." I highlighted I will to emphasize God's sovereignty. He is in control!

More time specifics in 2:20, when the word of the Lord came to Haggai "... on the twenty-fourth day of the month..." promising that on the day He restores Jerusalum, He will make Zerubbabel like a signet ring, "... for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts." (2:23) I had to ask, what is the meaning behind the signet ring? What I know about them is that Kings had them with their specific "markings" to sign a decree or document, showing its validity. Sealing the deal, so to speak. Right? So obviously, God is making Zerubbabel a very important man, aka a king? If this is so, then I went back to 1 Chronicles to check out the genealogy of David's line and guess what I found? Zerubbabel is in the royal line of kingship (1 Chronicles 3:19), so God promises to restore to Jerusalem a king! Cool.

Now I go back to another nagging question: Why so time specific? One of the commentaries I read on e-Sword caught my eye (because it made the most sense) that they were without a king at this time (Darius is the king of Persia) so they kept time "by those of the empire to which they were subject."

My application - How many times do we wonder why we work and work yet see little results? I have to ask myself why they worked for a harvest and yielded little, or tried to earn wages, and yet it disappeared? Who were they working for? God said in verse 1:8 that He wants to be glorified! So ask yourself: Do I glorify God in my work? With my finances? If not, is that why I'm not seeing growth? Heck yes, read 2:8 "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of Hosts." If you truly believe in God's sovereignty (How can you not after reading through these books with me?) you must believe that He is in control of what we earn and yield, the blessings bestowed upon our lives are FROM HIM because everything is HIS anyway. If you still don't believe me, reread 2:17, "I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the Lord." The Bible was given to us for a reason, TO LEARN FROM IT. So take this lesson from the book of Haggai: He gives and He takes away, BECAUSE IT'S ALL HIS... SO GIVE HIM THE GLORY HE DESERVES!

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