Daily Bible Reading

Daily Bible Reading
WBF Building before the Great Fire of 1909

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Sep 18, Hag 1-2

Today's readings are Hag 1-2. Tomorrow's are Zech 1-4.

Haggai fits right in the middle of the events depicted in Ezra and provides some of the details in how God used His prophets to jump start the rebuilding of the Temple once it stalled. The people returning to Judah allowed external pressures, resistance and self-centered interests to halt the rebuilding of the Temple while they lived fairly well. Their offerings were not pleasing to the Lord while the Temple was left to languish and in dire need of repair.

In Hag 1 we hear that God is displeased that His house lays desolate while the homes of the people are finished and comfortable. This is one of the reasons they are struggling (Hag 1:5-6). Haggai brings instructions for concentrating their efforts on finishing the Temple. Zerubbabel leads the people in being obedient. It is interesting that all this happens because the Lord "stirred up the spirits of the people" (Hag 1:14) and not that they simply felt like cooperating. The phrasing here implies that those who were asleep were awakened and motivated to do the work.

There's a clear lesson here that tells us the church, worship and expressions of our faith are to remain a priority even if the culture turns against them. King Artaxerxes commanded a halt to to the building of the temple. The people took that "break" as an opportunity to improve their own level of comfort. Meanwhile, they ignored God's directions to rebuild the temple. Haggai prophesies and the people get back on track and finish the temple.

While the people are discouraged that the new Temple doesn't compare well to Solomon's Temple, God encourages them to work hard, He will be with them and the glory of the finished Temple will surpass that of Solomon's Temple. There's a great lesson in here about judging humble beginnings too soon. God also promises to transform Judah's lot from despair to blessing right after the fall planting (Hag 2:18).

The people turned away from God. As a result, they struggled. Yet, God will bless by His grace alone. They will be cleansed and blessed from the day the work resumes. It's important to realize that the blessing comes from hearts that are motivated to please God (see 1:14), not from the motivation to receive a blessing.

Haggai ends with a Messianic prophecy. We see the immediate blessing of obedience and the long-term blessing as well. The people have stumbled again, fallen short of the things they have been called to do. By God's grace, they are restored and assured the His plan is still on track.

This should encourage us that God's plan is still on track in our lives even though we may stumble.

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