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Lesson No. 35—Make the Bible Itself the Object of Your Study.

Lesson Them:—HAGGAI

Haggai 2:4-9.

  • KEY WORD—”REBUILD.”

  • KEY VERSEHaggai 1:8.

  • KEY PHRASE—”THE LORD’S HOUSE COMES BEFORE MEN’S HOUSES.”

Home Readings.

WRITER—Haggai was born in Babylon and was the first of the three prophets of the Restoration, the other two being Zechariah and Malachi. He was a prophet of great faith and was used of God to weaker the consciences and stir up the enthusiasm of the Jews to rebuild the temple. He appeared at a very critical time in the nation’s history, and it was through the pressure of his faith and prayers and appeals that the great task was accomplished.

DATES: 536 B. C. Return of exiles under Zerubbabel and Joshua.

535 B. C. Jews attempt to rebuild temple, but are discouraged by opposition.

520 B. C. Haggai and Zechariah urge the people to rebuild.

516 B. C. Temple finished and dedicated.

458 B. C. Ezra returns at head of 6,000 more exiles.

445 B. C. Nehemiah returns as governor of Jerusalem and rebuilds city walls.

TIMES OF THE PROPHET—When the Jews returned to their own land from the 70 years exile in Babylon, they were eager to set up again the public worship of the sanctuary, so at once built the altar of Burnt Offering upon the old site. Plans were also made for the immediate rebuilding of the temple, and the foundation stone was laid. When, however, the jealous, half-caste, semi-pagan Samaritans were refused a part in the work, they induced the king of Persia to stop the work, and for 15 years nothing was done. The Jews then lost heart, and thought only of good houses for themselves until Haggai and Zechariah stirred them up with fiery preaching.

PURPOSE—To show that the building of the Lord’s House should come before the building of fine homes by the people.

GREAT FACTS:—

  1. Call.

  2. Glory.

  3. Chastening.

  4. Victory.

Great Fact I. Call to Rebuild the Temple.

Haggai 1.

Haggai’s first discourse was delivered on September 1st, 520 B. C. In it he sternly reproaches the people for not rebuilding the temple, and warns them to consider their ways, for the delay is not due to a want of means, Haggai 1:4. He assures them that God is withholding crops from them because of their neglect, Haggai 1:10. The effect of his appeals was that 24 days later the chiefs and all the people began the good work, Haggai 1:14.

LESSONS

  1. Hard times are sometimes of God’s sending, and that because of our indifference to our religious duties, and our self-interest. It is true that crop failures and trade depression are due to natural laws, yet the Almighty is behind these laws. Repentance and prayer are the best remedies for hard times.

  2. The building and upkeep of Christian sanctuaries is the urgent duty of the Lord’s people everywhere. Without them vice and iniquity would abound. Worship would be a lost art. Men would forget not only to love God, but also to love their fellows.

  3. It is not commendable when the Lord’s people allow their church building to be dilapidated, as to be unworthy of the great head of the church, because of poor location, miserable accommodations or scanty furnishings. It is a noble ambition to make the sanctuary as convenient and as beautiful as possible. 2 Samuel 7:2.

Great Fact II. The Glory of the New Temple.

Haggai 2:1-8.

This address is one of encouragement to those who felt that the new temple would be much poorer than the one Solomon built, The prophet on the contrary assures them that the glory of the new House shall be much greater than Solomon’s magnificent temple, for it shall not consist of riches and jewels as did the glory of the first house, but rather the presence of Christ, the desire of all nations shall fill this house with glory. This prophecy was fulfilled by the presentation of Jesus in the temple 5110 years later, by His teaching therein, by His expulsion of the traders, and by His miracles in its precincts. Whenever He entered the temple it was filled with the glory of the Lord.

LESSON—There is but one thing necessary in order that the sanctuary may be filled with the glory of the Lord, and that is the realized presence of the divine Redeemer. Without His spiritual presence it matters not who occupies the pulpit, nor how exquisite the music. Except He shall meet each waiting soul and bestow His pardon, purity and love, there will be no hallowed worship, and no gate to heaven. The divine presence will enlighten our minds and fire our hearts, move our souls to the very depths, and rouse a great desire for holiness. In glowing fervour may the glory of the Lord ever come upon us.

Great Fact III. Chastening Because of Neglect.

Haggai 2:10-19.

This third address was delivered three months after work on the temple had started. In it the prophet explains why the prayers of the people go unanswered. It is because they have put off so long the completing of the temple, everything they did was spoiled because of this guilt, therefore blasting mildew and hail had made the seasons unfruitful. On the other hand, if they would renew their zeal and press on with the great work, then the Lord will bless them, and the earth shall yield her increase.

LESSON—Providence is God’s care exercised everywhere. That He controls the outward successes and failures of men’s lives is seen from Psalm 75:7. That He is responsive to our prayers is seen from Matthew 6:33 and Philippians 4:19. At this time the Jews had forgotten that the hand of God was in their affairs. He therefore took away the prosperity of their pocketbooks in order that they might get back prosperity for their souls. A godly man as he was going to take ship for France, broke his leg, and the ship he would have gone on was wrecked in a storm. By breaking a bone his life was saved. So the Lord many times breaks our bones, but it is in order to save our lives and souls forever.

Great Fact IV. The Final Victory.

Haggai 2:20-23.

In this address the prophet tells of the establishing of Christ as the head of the nation and the representatives of t h e house of David, when God shall shake or judge the nations, Matthew 25:31-32. The promise contained special blessedness for Zerubbabel, who was the head of the house of David at that time. That he should be a signet meant that he should be most precious in the Lord’s sight. No events in Zerubbabel’s time satisfied this ire-diction which awaits fulfilment in the Messianic age.

LESSON—When God destroyed His enemies. He will honour His servants, Revelation 20:6. There is a legend of 40 brave Christians soldiers who were called upon to give up Christ or be exposed on the ice of a lake on an extremely cold winter night. They said, “Let us ask God to send us forty to our reward together.” The heroes encouraged one another to play the man until they fell benumbed into their last sleep. One, however, could not endure the suffering and sought relief of the fire. A soldier of the guard was so impressed with the faith of these martyrs that he immediately took the weak one’s place, and they received a triumphant entrance into everlasting glory, singing, “Forty wrestlers we have entered the arena, let forty victors receive the prize!” Final victory ever perches upon the banner of faith.

Questions on the Lesson.

  1. Give the key word and key verse.

  2. Tell what you know about Haggai.

  3. Read the dates and events of this period.

  4. Tell the times of the prophet.

  5. What the purpose of the book?

  6. Name the great facts.

  7. Have you read the book?

  8. For what did Haggai reproach the people?

  9. Why did God withhold the crops?

  10. What was the result of the prophet’s appeal?

  11. What are the best remedies for hard times?

  12. What is the urgent duty of the Lord’s people?

  13. Should the homes of the people be better than the House of God?

  14. What should the glory of the new temple consist?

  15. Tell of Christ’s presence in the temple.

  16. What is necessary in our church services?

  17. Why were the prayers of the people unanswered?

  18. Show that God’s care is exercised everywhere.

  19. Illustrate how God sometimes holds us back in order to save us.

  20. Read Revelation 20:6; to show that Christ will honour His servants.

  21. Give illustrations to show that final victory perches on the banner of faith.

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