“‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the Lord Almighty’” (Haggai 2:8, NIV).
[Thought questions for First Things First June 5, 2013]
1. Are we there yet? How did you feel the last time you read the Old Testament from start to finish and came to the small book, Haggai? Was it tempting to page through the few verses of this book to get on to the New Testament? Or did you slow down to linger through these final pages of ancient prophecy for God’s people? Would you be surprised months after a tornado ripped through your town if the churches were the last to be repaired? How do our actions determine our priorities? Or is it the other way around?
2. Prosperity hangs on a promise. Did God promise His people wealth and prosperity if they would follow Him? According to Haggai, God sent a drought as an expression of His exasperation over their persistent disobedience to His will. What impressed Haggai about the temple at that time? When a leader is impressed that priorities need to be re-examined within the church where he or she has responsibilities, how can the example of Haggai encourage that person? Does your church have a careful program for keeping the building and surroundings looking like they belong to a people who care? How do you express your gratitude for this aspect of worship?
3. God’s greatest purpose. Like a resurrection in a cemetery, the sleeping people of Judah rose out of their doldrums and began working to restore the temple. How did that come to be? Did Haggai work a miracle? Would you like to be able to rouse people to return to the work of the Lord like that? What is the only way that could happen? Why did the people obey so quickly? What brought them back to the work God had set for them to do? Is this power to unify and inspire the people of the church still available to our leaders? How?
4. Do not fear! How would you like to lead a church building program when the local economy is in serious trouble? How could the flimsy make-do materials and art pieces for this temple honor God in comparison to the magnificent temple of Solomon? Can you blame the believers for being discouraged when they remembered or knew someone who remembered the glory of the former temple? How could it be that this humble temple would one day out shine the splendor of that place of God? Did that promise give the people hope? Is it possible for you and I to be talented and wealthy in God’s eyes when we give ourselves completely to Him?
5. The Desire of All Nations. When did Jesus shake heaven and earth as predicted in Haggai 2:6-9? How did the coming of Jesus as a baby and a young man affect the humble temple that the people of Haggai’s day had constructed? Do we place enough emphasis on the power and glory of God? Is it easy to lay back and be content with whatever happens to happen from day to day? Or does the promise of the presence of God in our hearts bring us courage to step out and move ahead. What can we learn from Haggai’s experience about how to inspire others to give our energy and funds to God’s cause?
6. Zerubbabel the signet ring. How much credit should we give to Zerubbabel for the success of the temple rebuilding campaign? What did it mean to make him God’s “signet ring”? When was the prophecy of Haggai 2:22-23 fulfilled? What makes you think that most of this grand prediction would be put on hold until the Second Coming of Jesus? Can you imagine sharing your joy when Jesus comes with the joy of people like Zerubbabel and Haggai who were such faithful leaders in the time before Jesus came to earth?
7. Raised up by God. Was it a real revival when Zerubbabel and Haggai were filled with determination and skill to accomplish this great event? How did that happen? Could either of the men have said “No, thanks. Not now.” How much do you long to see Jesus? To be with Him? To talk to Him? And to be friends with the multitudes of people who knew Jesus and gave their hearts to Him? Why isn’t a bricks-and-mortar temple needed in heaven? When will we be able to understand the beauty of being in God’s presence forever?