Haggai now takes us to the final stretch of the Old Testament. He is a post-exilic prophet used by God to challenge the people to complete the rebuilding of the Temple.
I appreciate the way Warren Wiersbe summarized the book:
“In 538 B.C., about fifty thousand Jews left Babylon and returned to their homeland to rebuild the temple and restore the nation. In 536, they laid the foundation of the temple; but the work was stopped by their enemies and was not resumed until 520 under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah. (Review Ezra 1–6.) The book is comprised of four messages that Haggai gave during a period of four months. His purpose was to get the workers back on the job and to keep them working until the temple was completed. His first message called them to be honest (Haggai 1:1–15) and put God’s house ahead of their own houses. Then he appealed to them to be strong (Haggai 2:1–9), be clean (Haggai 2:10–19), and be encouraged (Haggai 2:20–23). Whenever God’s work is being neglected, the preaching of the Word gets things going again.”
“The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not ‘What a lovely sermon!’ but, ‘I will do something!’” – Francis de Sales
Twice Haggai challenges the people to consider their ways (Haggai 1:5, 7). A good thing to do in every area of our lives, including the ways of our wealth. Are we giving to God what belongs to God? Are we obedient in tithes and offerings? Or are we spending it all on ourselves? That’s what the Jews of that day were doing – living in fancy paneled houses. God rebuked them through Haggai, but also stirred them up. The governor, the priest, and the remnant of the people were stirred up to be strong…to give, and to work.
If put side-by-side with the Temple of Solomon, there was no comparison, but they were not to be discouraged. The LORD was with them (Haggai 2:4) and that’s all that matters? Not only that, one day this temple would be greater than Solomon’s because one day Jesus would be there. This temple would be expanded by Herod the Great to a glorious “house.” May we never despise the days of “small things.” (Zechariah 4:10)
Haggai was not afraid to faithfully deliver God’s message – even the indicting ones. In Haggai 2:10-14 he informs and warns the people that they were unclean. What good is the work, the worship, the sacrifice, and service if it’s unacceptable to God? I thought of Paul’s words to Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:21 (NKJV) “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
In Haggai 2:15 he transitions into a prophecy that has to do with a promised future blessing. If they carefully considered the way they did not prosper because of their mismanagement of God’s resources, pouring everything into themselves; if they carefully considered God’s chastening to bring them back to Him, how they didn’t return, but if they now returned, they were to “Consider from this day forward,” God’s blessing upon their lives because of a discovery of their priorities. It would now be God, first…notice the promise:
Haggai 2:19b (NKJV) “…but from this day I will bless you.’ ”
Haggai speaks of the blessings upon the people and the blessing upon Zerubbabel – the way God would used him in mighty ways, some teachers even saying that this final prophecy has to do with he Messiah-conquering King who would come as a descendant of Zerubbabel. Haggai’s contemporary, Zechariah, used the messianic title “Branch” to refer to Zerubbabel (Zechariah 3:8; 6:12).
John was instructed to measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. This reveals a few things to us. For one, “ownership” – any time something is measured in a context like this, it is an indication of ownership. Secondly, the temple will be rebuilt.
In Israel today there is a great push for the rebuilding of the temple – we have all the articles, furnishings, and even the clothing necessary; the red heifer, the crimson dye for the garments, and even the necessary training is taking place. The following words from an interesting article in the Jewish Voice, explain:
“The Sanhedrin and the Temple Movement also hold reenactments of Temple ceremonies for the training of those who are from the priestly class known as Kohanim. This training involves special schooling on the duties of the priests, and the use of ritual vessels created for use in the Third Temple…”
More information on the rebuilding of the temple can be found at http://www.templeinstitute.org.
The third thing we notice in the measuring of the temple is that John was instructed not to measure the court which is outside that has been given to the Gentiles. On the Temple Mount today there is the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both considered to be sacred Muslim sites. We believe that the Antichrist will be able to make some sort of covenant to rebuild the temple, and the location may be just north of the Dome of the Rock. For that reason, John is instructed to leave that out of the measurement.
There may be some sort of connection with the two witnesses and the new temple. Eventually as these two witnesses prophesy, they will need to defend themselves and are instruments of God’s judgment as fire proceeds from their mouth, they shut the heavens to withhold rain, turn water to blood, and strike the earth with plagues at will. I believe that the two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah. A strong case can be made for Elijah by the simple fact that he never died and there are two prophecies of his return in the last of the last days (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:11). From there we remember that it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus in the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). Moses represents the law, and Elijah the prophets; and when we look at the nature of these miracles for ministry, it seems to fit the wonders done through the hands of Moses and Elijah.
Just as these men will be invincible – until they finish their testimony (Revelation 11:7) so are we. But then the Antichrist will be allowed to defeat them and the world will rejoice as their bodies lay in Jerusalem, which by this time has been reduced to a spiritual Sodom and Egypt (Sodom is known for homosexuality and Egypt is a “type” of the world).
As their dead bodies are on display for all the world to see through satellite television, after 3 ½ days God will raise them up and they will ascend (bodily) all the way to heaven. This will be followed by an earthquake; 7,000 people will die in Jerusalem and the others will be shaken up.
We’re getting closer. All the believers in heaven at this point will worship as we see the day drawing near, judgment and justice…King Jesus will reign forever and ever. What an answer to prayer! Revelation 11:19 mentions again the lightnings and thunder, similar to what we saw back in Revelation 8:1-5 – as prayer answered. Keep praying friend, it’s not in vain!
This is one of most amazing Psalms of all! I almost feel bad trying to summarize it.
In this Psalm we see the Omniscience of God (He knows everything). He knows everything about us, individually, and personally. We read of God knowing my sitting down and rising up – in Hebrew poetry this is called a “merism.” It’s when the poet uses two extremes or opposites with the intention to include everything in between.
We also see God’s Omnipresence. There is nowhere we can go to escape the presence of God, even if we traveled the speed of light, and took the wings of the morning (186,000 miles per second), God would be right there – with us.
If I had to neatly outline this Psalm I would say it this way:
I. God knows you Perfectly
II. God’s with you Constantly
III. God made you Purposely
And that latter point is what we see in verses 13-18. God knit us together in our mother’s womb for a life He planned out for us even before we were born.
Psalm 139:16 (NKJV) “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
I wish the world could see this truth – that life begins at the moment of conception. That God Himself makes us all uniquely (there are no mistakes on His part). There are purposes for every child conceived and their lives should not be taken from them.
I’m in awe of the way that God loves us so much, that His thoughts toward us, are as the sand of the sea.
Apparently David (the writer of this Psalm) is going through some hard times, some fierce opposition. With all this understanding He prays for God’s intervention. He also prays for God to search his own heart. It’s a good prayer to pray, “Lord, if there’s anything wrong in me that I can’t see – please reveal it, that I might forsake it…and lead me in life.”
David also prayed for God to help him with his anxiety.
Psalm 139:23–24 (NKJV) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
This is such a beautiful Psalm, making clear, God is near…working out this amazing plan for our lives.
Proverbs 30:15a (NKJV) “The leech has two daughters— Give and Give!”
Although leeches are very fascinating in nature, they are mostly known for being blood-sucking, selfish, takers.
They say a leech’s body is composed of 34 segments. They all have an anterior, or oral sucker attached to 6 other segments of their body which is used to connect a host for feeding, and also to release an anesthetic to prevent the host from feeling the leech. They use a combination of mucus and suction, caused by the concentration of those 6 segments, to stay attached and secrete an anti-clotting enzyme into the host’s blood stream.
In other words, they are equipped to selfishly get! Once the process begins an average leech would drink blood weighing as much as itself in as little as 15 minutes.
Tragically some people are like that, and so are their children – their prodigies are tragedies.
Proverbs 30:15b-16 (NKJV) “There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, “Enough!”: 16 The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water— and the fire never says, “Enough!”
Four things that are never satisified:
1. The grave (Hebrew = sheol) refers to the underworld, hell, the abode of the dead. (we read the same truth in Proverbs 27:20)
2. The barren womb. In those days barrenness was seen as a curse from God. This made Sarah sin and Hannah weep. Nothing else on earth will satisfy (not Abraham, or Elkanah).
It can still be tough today, the barren womb, even with New Testament light that reveals more clearly that the righteous don’t always experience health, wealth, and prosperity; that the blessings are often invisible and more eternal. Contentment is challenging in such a place.
3. The 3rd thing mentioned is the earth, with it’s never ending water cycle.
4. The 4th thing mentioned is the fire – it never says no, it never says enough. Left to itself it will continue to burn as long as there’s fuel for the taking.