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  • Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience

    Transcript - OT227 Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience © 2019 Our Daily Bread University. All rights reserved.

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    LESSON 01 of 02 OT227

    Haggai & Zechariah: Encouragement to Excellence

    Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience

    I. Introduction

    In this segment, we talk about two contemporaneous prophets: Haggai and Zechariah. We know from the book of Ezra that Haggai and Zechariah preached together and even worked together. They are mentioned as encouraging the people of God to work on the temple at Jerusalem. Here is the situation: As of 520 B.C. the returning exiles from Babylon to Judah had managed in eighteen years to build only the foundation of the temple. Jerusalem lay in ruins. The great flat rock area at the top of Mount Zion, where the temple had been, was nothing but bedrock since the first temple had been destroyed and removed entirely by the Babylonians, including its foundation. The progress made in getting the temple rebuilt had been limited in almost two decades to nothing but the foundation stones.

    This presented kind of a scary picture. The prophet Jeremiah had said the exile would last seventy years. That exile is measured from the time of the destruction of the first temple, the one Solomon had built, in 586 B.C., obviously to the point seventy years later, which would be 516 B.C. Yet in 520 B.C., for various reasons— namely fear, fear of what others would do, fear of attack from outsiders, fear of the opposition of enemy nations—the people of Judah had allowed the temple to get no further than just its foundation. There were four years to go to get that great massive structure, the biggest thing anywhere around, built. But there was a new political situation: a king named Darius had come to power in Persia. He was the new emperor. After a substantial period of several years of instability, he subdued all rebellion against the central authority in Persia. This meant that the empire was stable. God had, of course, brought it about and now it was time in that situation of stability for His people to get to work and build that temple. So Haggai and Zechariah were moved by God as prophets to begin preaching to the people words of encouragement.

    Douglas K. Stuart, Ph.D. Experience: Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-

    Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts

  • Transcript - OT227 Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience © 2019 Our Daily Bread University. All rights reserved.

    Haggai & Zechariah: Encouragement to Excellence

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    Lesson 01 of 02

    II. Book of Haggai

    Haggai’s prophecies are as limited in time scope as any we know of. In this short book, the four prophecies that we read about were all given within a three-month period in the year 520 B.C., the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia. Indeed, Haggai’s last two prophecies are delivered on the very same day, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of that year.

    A. First Message: Complete the Second Temple (Hag 1:1-15)

    He begins with these kinds of words, “the word of the Lord came . . . This is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but you have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.’” In other words, “You are having a terrible time. You are barely holding on financially here in 520 B.C. Why?” Well, the answer is “You have not been doing what you are supposed to have been doing. You have not been dedicating yourself to the first responsibility of every believer, and that is to worship Me.” So He says, “‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord.” That is what God wants done. “Why are these things happening to you? What have you brought home? Why has it gone awry? Why?” says the Lord. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” You preoccupied yourselves with what you thought were necessities, but your real necessity was to pursue My kingdom.

    It is just like Jesus’ words, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the other things will come in line, all these others will be added to you.” That is what the people of 520 B.C. in Judah were not getting. So God, as He says in chapter 1 of the book of Haggai, had given them drought so that the fields were dry; and, of course, there was little productivity to any of the crops, and a certain degree of misery was being experienced by the people. What they needed to know is that God wanted first things first. Now He encourages His people; He does

  • Transcript - OT227 Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience © 2019 Our Daily Bread University. All rights reserved.

    Haggai & Zechariah: Encouragement to Excellence

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    Lesson 01 of 02

    not want them just to be afraid of Him, and just to feel misery. He says, “‘I am with you’ (in chapter 1), declares the Lord.” That is an important statement. You read often in Genesis, “God was with Joseph,” bringing him out of the bondage. He found himself as a jailed person for charges against him that were not really true and elevating him steadily up through the civil service, until he becomes the prime minister of Egypt. “God was with Joseph,” we read. Or, the prophecy of Isaiah states that Immanuel will come, meaning, “God with us.”

    B. Second Message: Encouragement (Hag 2:1-9)

    For God to say to His people, “I am with you,” is to say, “I have got great things in store for you. It is not just “I am hanging around watching,” but rather, “I am supporting you, encouraging you; I am behind you, and I will do the things for you that you cannot do for yourself. Build that house. Get the temple done.” Is God petty? Does He have to have a temple to look good? No, not at all. With the temple built, the people could properly worship; they could honor God, and they could place Him first in their lives at the center, which they desperately needed to do. This was a responsibility that they had to undertake; people are not properly organized unless God is at their center. People are skewed and unbalanced, unless they see worship of their Lord as primary to their lives.

    C. Third Message: Instruction and Assurance (Hag 2:10-19)

    There is an interesting little story in the book of Haggai about something that might be called a priestly ruling question. The prophet goes around to some priests and asks them this question: “If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew or wine or oil or other food, does it become consecrated?” The priests answer, “No.” It is an interesting question and this is a ruling he is kind of getting from the priests. He is asking them about the way that consecration works. “If you have consecrated some food by offering it to God on the altar, you have that with you, and you touch other things with it, do they catch the consecration? Do they kind of get it by being near it? Does it filter off to them?” The priests say, “No, that is not how it works.”

  • Transcript - OT227 Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience © 2019 Our Daily Bread University. All rights reserved.

    Haggai & Zechariah: Encouragement to Excellence

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    Lesson 01 of 02

    You do not consecrate other things by touching them with something that has been consecrated, because the priests knew you had to consecrate each piece of food right at God’s altar in His very presence. God is the consecrator. You bring things right to Him and put them directly before Him. You put them close to Him, and they get consecrated.

    Haggai is led by God to ask another kind of question of the priests: “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” The priests reply, “Yes, it becomes defiled.” In other words, that which is itself unclean, like a dead body, can by contact spread defilement. So consecration cannot be spread automatically but defilement can. What is the message here? “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do, whatever they offer there (at the temple mount without a built temple) is defiled.’” In other words, good obedience to God is not automatic. You do not drift into it. It does not just happen; it is not something you can expect to take place just by waiting for it. That is not how it works. If God is to be properly honored and worshiped in a temple, that is in that day the way that people were supposed to worship Him, it has got to happen. It does not just take place in and of itself; whereas, defilement does happen somewhat automatically. If you do nothing, you are automatically going to fall into defilement.

    So the priests themselves, the ones who should have been pushing hardest for that temple to be built, were in fact standing around with everybody else worried about the consequences of building it—whether it would be too much money, too much time, whether it would somehow provoke the wrath of neighboring states. They need to learn the lesson, and teach it to the people, that you have to be proactive to reach God and His blessing. You do not just passively