International Sunday school lesson
For Sunday June 1, 2014
Purpose: To recognize that genuine worship of God makes claims on our time, energy, and resources
Scripture Text: Haggai 1:1-11
Haggai 1:1-11 (CEB)
(1 )The Lord’s word came through Haggai the prophet in the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month on the first day of the month, to Judah’s governor Zerubbabel, Shealtiel’s son, and to the high priest Joshua, Jehozadak’s son: (2) This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: These people say, "The time hasn’t come, the time to rebuild the Lord’s house." (3) Then the Lord’s word came through Haggai the prophet: (4) is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses while this house lies in ruins? 5 So now, this is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: Take your ways to heart. (6) You have sown much, but it has brought little. You eat, but there’s not enough to satisfy. You drink, but not enough to get drunk. There is clothing, but not enough to keep warm. Anyone earning wages puts those wages into a bag with holes. (7) This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: Take your ways to heart. (8)Go up to the highlands and bring back wood. Rebuild the temple so that I may enjoy it and that I may be honored, says the Lord. (9) You expect a surplus, but look how it shrinks. You bring it home, and I blow it away, says the Lord of heavenly forces, because my house lies in ruins. But all of you hurry to your own houses. (10) Therefore, the skies above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce because of you. (11) I have called for drought on the earth, on the mountains, on the grain, on the wine, on the olive oil, on that which comes forth from the fertile ground, on humanity, on beasts, and upon everything that handles produce.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Our text for this week is very unusual, it gives us an exact date. August 29, 520 B.C. Haggai was a restoration prophet, which simply means his prophecy occurred after the captivity, and during the time when Jerusalem was being repopulated by returning exiles.
After about fifty years in captivity, and the overthrow of the Babylonians by the Persians. The Jews that had been taken into exile in Babylon were now allowed to return, by the King of Persia, Cyrus. The original decree by Cyrus has been preserved in a nine-inch-long clay “Cyrus Cylinder” and is on display at the British Museum in London.
As the Jews return to Jerusalem some changes have taken place. Jerusalem, formerly a city of 6.000 and 7,000 was now a city of a few hundred. Where once Jerusalem and Judah were ruled by descendants of David, now it is ruled by the priestly line or descendants of Aaron. Prior the scriptures or holy text were handed down in an oral tradition, now everything has been put on scrolls. Where prior there had been worshipping of idols, now that had ceased. The northern part of the “United Kingdom,” has been separated. That area becomes Samaria, and it is separated from Judah.
There is a call for purity and marriages outside of Judaism are annulled. The prophet Haggai, sees an injustice, in that those that have returned have built new houses and finished them, but God’s house still sets in ruin. There is no place where sacrifices can be made. More importantly there is no single place where God and his people can come together.
There is tension between what Isaiah had said about God and the temple and what Haggai is now proposing. In Isaiah 1:11-15, Isaiah declares. “(11) What should I think about all your sacrifices? Says the Lord. I’m fed up with entirely burned offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts. I don’t want the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats.(12) When you come to appear before me, who asked this from you, this trampling of my temple’s courts? (13) Stop bringing worthless offerings. Your incense repulses me. New moon, Sabbath, and the calling of an assembly—I can’t stand wickedness with celebration! (14) I hate your new moons and your festivals. They’ve become a burden that I’m tired of bearing. (15) When you extend your hands, I’ll hide my eyes from you. Even when you pray for a long time, I won’t listen. Your hands are stained with blood."
Haggai has a new revelation from God. The Lord of hosts was bound by covenant to a relationship with His people. Haggai was convinced that the Temple was a symbol of an approachable God. It would serve as a focal point where God and His creation could meet. It was not for God, who was sovereign, but for the congregation. It represented an opportunity for them to turn toward God. It was action and reaction. God has turned toward you and you should now turn toward God. God appreciates our efforts in trying to please him, not because he needs us, but rather because we need Him. Our worship of God still presents us with the best opportunity for living a better and more productive life. God deserves that from us. When we go all in with God, we are always the winner.